Graduate Writing Support
Graduate students must do a wide variety of writing, some of which is unfamiliar,
complex, high-stakes, and so on. From assignments for coursework (reading responses,
exams, research papers, reports, analyses, etc) to communication for professional
purposes (emails to all kinds of audiences, presentations, proposals, applications,
etc), they must write all the time, writing in all kinds of genres and on a variety
of mediums and platforms. Lacking sufficient writing skills can hold them back in
terms of time to graduate, dissertation/thesis (and therefore degree) completion,
professional development, job placement, and career success in and beyond academe
In addition to the tutoring support provided by the University Writing Center, the Program in Writing and Rhetoric offers a number of graduate-level writing support services to graduate students across campus, including the following:
Dissertation/thesis writing boot camps: An initiative created in collaboration with the Faculty Commons and with support
from the Graduate Student Organization, this program helps graduate students set writing
goals, practice disciplined writing habits, learn new strategies, and connect and
work with other thesis or dissertation writers. The program provides an energizing
environment to turn everything else off and turn writing ON: participants report in
to share their plans (10 minutes), write for 3.5 hours in a quiet library space, and
report out with a brief reflection (10 minutes). This is, as its name suggests, a
“blunt tool” to help students develop discipline and get writing done, but as past
participants report, it can help students do tremendous amounts of writing and find
great satisfaction from practicing disciplined writing. To sign up, click
Graduate writing groups: Also called Writing Accountability Group, this program too is organized collaboratively
with the Faculty Commons and is supported by the Graduate Student Organization (the
latter provides a $10 lunch card to participants who attend all weekly meetings, usually
5). Students set and share their weekly goals, stay in touch with their peer review
partners, and return for the weekly meeting where they read and comment on each other’s
work, before they set goals for the next week and leave. This program helps students
to learn from each other’s experiences, successes/failures, knowledge/perspectives,
skills/strategies; find emotional support, motivation, accountability, commiseration,
confidence, fun, etc; and benefit from sharing critique and feedback on their writing. To
sign up, click
- Graduate writing workshop series: Organized in collaboration with the Center for Multilingual and Intercultural Communication, the graduate writing workshop series offers 3-4 workshops per semester. These hands-on sessions help students to practice specific writing skills, share experiences, ask questions, and even offer to join as co-facilitators with writing professors. You don’t need to sign up, but do add workshop events to your calendar so you’ll remember (the calendar has Zoom links, that you can join with SBU log in).
Workshops cover topics like the following:
- Reading strategies for graduate students (reading faster and more effectively)
- Power tips for graduate-level writing (some art, more science)
- Literature review (the why, the how, and then the what)
- Strategies for citing and “engaging” sources (mechanically correctly, rhetorically effectively, ethically responsible)
- Exploring and writing for/in your discipline (strategies for genre and rhetorical analysis—using a disciplinary ethnography approach)
- Writing your dissertation faster and better (strategies for discipline, productivity, getting unstuck, staying motivated, and finishing it)
- Writing and communication skills for academic publication (navigating the process and politics behind the product)
- Communicating specialized knowledge (beyond just “dumbing it down”)
- Invention strategies: Thesis statement, topic sentences, and more (writing skills for establishing your own space and voice in your discipline)
- Productive use of writing technologies (some “tech magic” to help you write better)
- Writing the research (and personal) statement (using past achievements and current vision to describe a future research/career mission)
- Writing the teaching philosophy statement (identifying/showcasing your strengths and passion as a (prospective) teacher)
- Writing the cover/job application letter (responding to “what they need” with “what I have”)
- Social media and networking skills for the academic job market (curating your strengths and achievements on the web)
- Professional communication (analyzing communicative situation to write effective emails and to tackle challenging writing)
- Writing originally (transcending (unintentional) plagiarism)
Graduate writing webinar series: Webinars are web-based “seminars” but typically work more like “panels” of experts
who discuss issues before the audience joins the conversation. We modify that standard
format to redo the writing workshops (as described above) the same evening so that
students who can’t find time during the day can benefit. Look for the link for the
webinar wherever you find information/advertisement for workshops. You can also offer
to join as a panel member (talk to the facilitator when you join a workshop or webinar). Note:
During the pandemic, the workshops and alternative webinar format have merged.
Graduate tutor training: This is an initiative to train Writing Center tutors to better help graduate students.
Usually involving graduate student tutors, this program helps the tutors study research
and practice on graduate-level writing and writing support, going on to develop strategies
and resources that they can use and share with other tutors.
Graduate writing course (WRT 621): This course, designed for graduate students from across campus, is a workshop
style class that helps students with writing academic papers, theses, or dissertations,
with attention to research methods, drafting, organizing, revising, and editing work
that the students have already been assigned in their primary departments. While practicing
a range of graduate-level writing skills, student work with the instructor to draft,
revise, edit, and finalize a major writing-intensive project of their choice (ideally
one that they’re doing for another class, is part of their thesis/dissertation, or
is a manuscript of an academic journal). You can sign up for this course from Solar.
Modularized online version of WRT 621: Created by breaking down the onsite WRT621 course, the Modular and Student-Centered
Learning of Writing (
MASLOW) version of it is an online, student-centered, and modularized graduate writing course.
MASLOW also refers to the writing support platform and approach used by the instructors
who help graduate students complete the learning modules of the students’ choice and
at the students’ own pace. Originally designed with the needs of international graduate
students in mind, and now serving all students, MASLOW was created with the support
Innovative Instruction Technology Grant from the State University of New York (
Note: We offer the modularized course and the original onsite course alternately, and we’re hoping to offer both formats in the future.
Once again, for upcoming events, see the calendar above.
If you have any questions as a graduate student interested in writing support or resources, please contact us. We greatly appreciate faculty mentors and department administrators who recommend available writing support to their graduate students.
Contact: Dr. Shyam Sharma, Graduate Program Director ( firstname.lastname@example.org).