This paper presents a study of two international doctoral students’ perspectives on preparing to formally present the thesis proposal, which we conceptualise as a threshold in the PhD journey. They participated in a thesis writing group (TWG) that aimed to support international doctoral students to develop aspects of their scholarship in the early stages of their candidature. The case students reported feeling ‘stuck’ before joining the TWG run by the authors. After the writing group experience, they reported that they had gained confidence and developed the skills and knowledge required to prepare for their proposal presentation. Their perspectives were gathered through semi-structured interviews that were analysed using the conceptual framework of threshold concepts for doctoral learning. This small-scale study suggests that the collegial support provided by a TWG can be a powerful pedagogy enabling doctoral scholars to confidently negotiate crossing the thesis proposal threshold.