For Graduates

The Center for Excellence in Writing has proven to be a powerful resource for graduate students. We offer individual consulting, writing retreats, and workshops. Also check out Write Through , an article series featuring the stories and insights of successful dissertation writers.

Graduate Writing Consultations

Feel free to come in with specific questions, a brainstorming session, or to request feedback on a specific aspect of your work.

Individual Consultations

We offer one-to-one consulting services on materials such as: 

  • Course papers
  • Dissertations
  • Theses
  • Proposals
  • Job application materials
  • Journal articles
Our Digital Composition Lab can help with:
  • Presentations
  • Posters
  • Visualizations
  • Document design
  • Infographics

Dissertation Retreats

Our Dissertation Retreats, co-sponsored by The Graduate School, help you to make bursts of significant progress toward completion of major projects.

Dissertation Retreats are five day, focused, writing events

Retreats are not instructional workshops. Rather, they provide
•    An intensive writing environment
•    A quiet, comfortable writing space
•    Accountability with peer support
•    Productive dialogue about writing processes
•    Light refreshments 

A minimum of four dissertation retreats are held each year:
•    Fall Semester, Finals Week
•    Spring Semester, Week before classes
•    Spring Break
•    Summer  (may be longer or multiple retreats in Summer) 

Email for information or to register for a retreat.   

  • 4/16/18
    "These retreats saved my project and put me in contention for a crucial departmental fellowship."
  • 4/16/18
    "The intense, extended focus on my dissertation helped me come to a breakthrough on a particularly intractable problem with my dissertation that I have been struggling with for almost a year"
  • 4/16/18
    "I would participate in this every day until my dissertation were complete, if it were available."
  • 4/16/18
    "Even if every day isn’t as successful or productive as I want – there is always solid progress made by the end."
  • 4/16/18
    "My anxiety has lessened surrounding my project and I’m just writing at a higher volume."
  • 4/16/18
    "I like the retreat for hearing the collective struggles and successes of the group. It makes me feel part of a community of writers and helps me to not be so hard on myself."
  • 4/16/18
    "The Dissertation Retreat is a great exercise to take part in."
  • 4/16/18
    "As a STEM doctoral student, it’s difficult to find time in the lab for writing. This retreat allowed me to set my lab work aside and truly focus on manuscripts that will ultimately make up my dissertation."
  • 4/16/18
    "I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to work within a supportive group such as this one!"
  • 4/16/18
    "I am definitely confident that I wouldn’t have accomplished my goal of writing the first draft of my PhD proposal during the break w/o the support I got! So thank you so much!"
  • 4/16/18
    "[This experience helped] to reduce the writing anxiety when working in a group."
  • 4/16/18
    "[This experience provided a] friendly, encouraging, supportive environment."
  • 4/16/18
    "[I] have the kind of feeling that I am not alone in the dissertation journey."
  • 4/16/18
    "[The] dissertation retreat gave me support to clarify my goal."

Write Through: A series of small ideas for big progress

Write Through is a series of articles highlighting the processes of writers who found their way through the dissertation process in a timely fashion. While everyone's process is unique, we hope you'll carry away some productive ideas and feel a little less isolated as you hear the voices of individuals who've been where you are and emerged triumphant in their dissertation journey. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Who are your consultants?

We employ MA and PhD level consultants from a variety of disciplines.  Our graduate consultants are successful writers in their disciplines and also may have coursework in composition pedagogy and/or experience teaching writing. 

Please note:  We employ both undergraduate and graduate level consultants.  If you are a graduate student, be sure to select a consultant at the appropriate level (designated as M.A. or PhD.)

Do you have a consultant in my discipline?

We may, but we may not.  Because of their experience with writing instruction and focus on language, many of our consultants are from English.  We are always looking to diversify our consultant pool, but it is impossible to represent every discipline.  You should not expect that your consultant be an expert in your content area.   Our consultants are, however, very good at helping you gain perspective on the writing process, evaluating and discussing the rhetorical elements of texts, providing thoughtful and sensitive readings of your work, as well as helping with stylistic and grammatical elements of texts.   Sometimes it is not an expert that you need, just a thoughtful reader with whom to “talk it out.”

What should I do to prepare for my session?

While we can look at an electronic version with you on your laptop, many consultants prefer working with a hard copy that can be easily viewed and that you can mark up during the session.  So, if you can, bring a hard copy along with any specific questions or areas of concern.  You will direct the agenda of the session.

My paper is very long. Will we be able to get through it in one session?

Our sessions are generally around 45 minutes long, so there is only so much that can be covered in that time.  If your paper is very long, decide which portion or portions you want to focus upon.   You can schedule follow-up appointments as needed.

English is not my native language, and this is making graduate study very difficult. How can you help me?

The CEW is a great place for international students because working one-to-one with a native speaker who understands the process of language acquisition is perhaps the most efficient way to grow as a writer.  Improving proficiency in written English is a long journey, so many international students choose to schedule regular, ongoing appointments.  As an added benefit, working one-to-one with a native speaking peer gives you excellent conversational practice as well!

May I drop off my dissertation to have it edited?

The CEW is not an editing service.  If the editing phase is a stumbling block for you, you may want to consider hiring an editor for the final stages of your writing process.  The GSA also has an editing service that is paid through your student fees.