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How to apply for the Dissertation Writing Retreat


Applications, which involve both the writer and their advisor(s), are due in two stages:

  1. By 11:59 pm Central time on Friday, April 5, writer submits online application in InfoReady. Upon submission, the application will generate an automatic email request to the writer's advisor. No late applications will be considered.
  2. By 11:59 pm Central time on Friday, April 12, advisor completes and uploads a form indicating whether they endorse the writer's participation in the 2024 Dissertation Writing Retreat. (This step takes no more than 5 minutes; no letter is required.) No applications with missing or late advisor forms will be accepted.

To be considered, applicants must commit to participating in all 11 days of the retreat.

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.

What the InfoReady Application asks of the writer

  • Their first name, last name, UMN internet ID, home department(s), and college that houses the department(s); the writer's commitment to participating in all 11 days of the retreat (Mondays through Thursdays, May 13 through 30 [no session on Monday, May 27, Memorial Day]); information about the writer's DDF or IDF status; their advisor's name and email (for automatic endorsement request), and two longer texts:
  1. a brief abstract of their dissertation (no more than 300 words). We ask for an abstract even though applicants are, by definition, still working on the dissertation, because the review committee would like an overall sense of each writer's project. Accordingly, even if the writer is early their process, we ask that they please share an abstract that reflects what they currently plan for their dissertation to look like. ProQuest is a great place to find sample dissertation abstracts.
  2. a statement (500–600 words, 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?

What the automatically-generated endorsement form asks of the advisor

  • Their first name, last name, and UMN internet ID; the writer's UMN internet ID; and a "yes" or "no" endorsement. "Yes" endorsements also require that the advisor affirm the writer's completion of prelims and (if required) departmental approval of their dissertation prospectus. Advisors must complete this form themselves; we will not accept submissions from writers on behalf of/at the behest of their advisors.


Neither advisors nor writers will see each other’s responses. Writers may contact Katie at to ask whether a submission is complete, but she will not initiate communications about completeness with writers, and she will not share application status information with 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 600-word statement were more successful than those that did not. Evaluators look for full answers to the questions that are asked.
  • Applicants who have not yet won IDFs or DDFs will receive preference over applicants who have already won IDFs or DDFs.

Interested? Questions?

All applicants will be notified of their status by 5 pm Central time on Friday, April 19. 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.

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