University of Minnesota
student writing support
center for writing

Student Writing Support.Center for Writing's home page.

Dissertation Writing Retreat

image of writers workingThanks to generous support from the Graduate School, Student Writing Support offered a free annual Dissertation Writing Retreat from 2009–2015. Each May Term, fifteen dissertation writers from across the University gathered in 15 Nicholson Hall for three weeks of concentrated dissertation-writing time in a supportive group setting.

In December 2015, the Graduate School made the decision to no longer provide funding for the Dissertation Writing Retreat. We welcome all dissertation-writers to continue working with our writing consultants one-to-one during the academic year, and visit our Especially for graduate writers page for support during summer and breaks.

Retreat expectations and activities

Participants in the retreat…

  • do focused, sustained work on their dissertations in scheduled blocks of writing time
  • have access to one-to-one meetings with experienced Student Writing Support consultants
  • participate in brief warm-up activities designed to facilitate writing
  • pledge not to use the internet or email during the hours of the retreat
  • participate in three Tuesday lunch discussions on issues and strategies related to dissertation writing
  • participate in two 15-minute assessments of the program during the course of the retreat (to help make the retreat as useful as possible for current and future participants)
  • have no other teaching or research responsibilities during May Term

Go to Why participate in the Dissertation Writing Retreat? for quotes from past participants.

For a sampling of the disciplinary diversity of the retreat, see our list of Defended dissertations completed by retreat participants.

Writing retreat location and scheduleNicholson Hall

If you are selected, you will gather with other retreat participants Mondays through Thursdays, May 26–June 11 (no session on Monday, May 25, Memorial Day), from 9:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in 15 Nicholson Hall, the location for Student Writing Support, which also houses a computer lab. Coffee, tea, and healthy snacks will be available. We will break for lunch from 12:15–1:15 each day. On Tuesdays, participants will be provided with lunch during a discussion of dissertation writing issues and strategies. Participants must commit to the full 11-day retreat schedule.


If you have any questions or would like to learn more about how the retreat worked, please feel free to get in touch with Katie Levin (; 612.624.7720).

For a sampling of the disciplinary diversity of the retreat, see our list of Defended dissertations completed by retreat participants.