Dissertation Bootcamp

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Boot Camp is a 3 to 5 day workshop that provides you with
focused writing time to make significant progress on your thesis or dissertation! Faculty/Staff mentors will be available to help you with writer’s block, motivation, and more!

In some semesters, we offer a 5 day choose your schedule option!!  During those semesters, you will be required to attend at least 3 days of the 5 day week. You can choose Monday-Wednesday-Friday or you can choose Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday. You can choose to come four of the five days - or all five days! However, the minimum requirement is to attend 3 full days and Monday is required. 

If the session is only a 3 day session, then you are required to attend all three days of the session.

Your Dissertation or Thesis Director must provide a letter of support—to ensure that this is an appropriate time for focused writing in your project’s timeline. An email to Kathleen Cox at coxka@ecu.edu serves as this letter.

Each day will have a schedule that includes setting your daily writing goals, mini-lessons on writing, citing sources, motivation, etc., and 2.5-3 hours of focused writing time.

Wed, Apr 5, 2017

Summer 2017 Dissertation Boot Camp (LA 380L) sessions: 

June 1-16, 9:00am-12:30pm  Instructor Senior Associate Dean Esther Raizen, College of Liberal Arts

June 12-30, 9:30am-1:00pm  Instructor Dr. Sara Saylor, UWC Graduate Writing Coordinator  

July 10-28, 9:30am-1:00pm  Instructor Dr. Sara Saylor, UWC Gradauate Writing Coordinator


The overarching goal of the Dissertation Boot Camp is to provide graduate students at the dissertation-writing phase with the strategies, framework, and tools that they need to be highly productive and to complete their dissertation projects successfully. The course was originally proposed to the College of Liberal Arts by a group of Graduate Coordinators. It was piloted in the summer of 2013 and has been offered each summer since then. In summer 2016, the Dissertation Boot Camp expanded to two sessions to accomodate enrollment of 42 students from 17 different departments. The course is designed for Liberal Arts doctoral students who have successfully defended a dissertation prospectus or completed their comprehensive exams. Students who have completed some or all of their dissertation research will benefit the most from the course, which provides group support during a time period that is often solitary and stressful.


The Dissertation Boot Camp is held during the summer, meets daily for two-and-a-half weeks, and begins with a workshop presented by writing specialists from the University Writing Center (UWC). The daily meetings include structured 2- to 3-hour writing blocks, editing and peer review, discussions about writing techniques, and presentations on time management, wellness, and work-life balance. A light breakfast is provided each day before students meet as a group with seasoned faculty and graduate coordinators, who share their experiences and address the strategic and procedural aspects of writing a dissertation. Students also meet individually with writing mentors from the UWC and are given access to a dedicated writing room in the CLA building, where they can work individually or in writing groups formed during the course.

During the Dissertation Boot Camp, students are expected to write roughly 2-3 pages per day, completing one 25- to 35-page dissertation chapter by the end of the course. They assess their strengths, weaknesses, and writing preferences in order to develop long-term writing strategies. They experiment with a variety of time management techniques for effectively handling a large writing project like the dissertation, and practice organizational skills and generative writing techniques. Finally, they provide constructive criticism of their peers' writing, consider aspects of effective communication with their dissertation supervisor and committee members, and develop strategies for balancing personal wellness, both physical and mental, with academic and professional demands.

During summer 2014, students wrote on average 34.5 pages, and during summer 2015, 34.8 pages. 

For more on how to jumpstart your dissertation, see: http://lifeandletters.la.utexas.edu/2013/09/dissertation/

Contact Erica Whittington (whittington@austin.utexas.edu) with questions. 




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