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How to apply for the Dissertation Writing Retreat


Applications must be submitted via Google form (available beginning Monday, March 19) no later than Friday, April 6, 2018, at 5:00 p.m. Central Time.

Note: this application form is restricted to people with addresses; please be sure you are logged in to your UMN email account, and no other gmail accounts, when you fill out the form.

Two parties are involved in the application process:

  • dissertation writers are responsible for providing information and text about themselves (see below).
  • advisors are responsible for providing basic identifying information and answering a single yes-no question about whether they endorse the writer's participation.

Advisors are not responsible for writing recommendations or assessing writers' fitness for the retreat—indeed, we ask that advisors NOT provide any written recommendations because we believe that writers are their own best advocates.

For an application to be complete, both writer and advisor will need to have submitted their own form no later than 5 pm Central Time on Friday, April 6. No late or incomplete applications will be considered.

What the application form asks of the advisor

  • Their first name, last name, and UMN email; the writer's first name, last name, and UMN email; and a "yes" or "no" endorsement. Advisors must complete this form themselves; we will not accept submissions from writers on behalf of/at the behest of their advisors.

What the application form asks of the writer

  • Their first name, last name, UMN email address, home department(s), and college that houses the department(s); the writer's commitment to participating in all 11 full days of the retreat (Mondays through Thursdays, May 21 through June 7 [no session on Monday, May 28, Memorial Day]); the writer's affirmation that they have not won a DDF or IDF; and two longer texts:
  1. an abstract of their dissertation (9,000 characters, which amounts to about two single-spaced pages with additional room for references in whatever style is appropriate in the writer's discipline). Because so much of the retreat is devoted to sustained writing (rather than research) time, writers whose prospectuses have not yet been approved by their departments or who still need to complete fieldwork should wait until next year to apply.
  2. a statement (3,500 characters, which amounts to about one single-spaced page) in response to the following question: During this retreat, you will be participating in a structured community of dissertators from across the disciplines, with access to support from writing consultants. How might this be different from your current writing practice, and how might it contribute to your making progress on your dissertation?


Neither advisors nor writers will see each other's responses. Both parties may ask Katie Levin ( whether a submission is complete, but Katie will not initiate communications about completeness with writers or advisors.

Selection criteria

  • Our goal is to accept fifteen participants from a wide variety of disciplines. Our first consideration will be the quality of each application; ultimately, in the event of numerous highly competitive applications, we will favor applications representing candidates from a diversity of disciplines to enrich the retreat.
  • Historically, applications that took full advantage of the space allotment for the 3,500-character statement were more successful than those that did not. Evaluators look for full answers to the questions that are asked.


Interested? Questions?

All applicants will be notified of their status by 5 pm Central time on Friday, April 20. Given the large number of applications we receive, the review committee is unable to provide feedback on individual submissions. If you have any other questions or would like to learn more, please feel free to get in touch with Katie Levin (; 612.624.7720).

Light bulb photo by Kat Clay, used with permission under a creative commons license. See more of this photographer's work here.