Grad Slam

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What is Grad Slam?

Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition for the best short-style research presentation aimed at a non-specialist audience.  This will be the first Grad Slam competition held at San José State University. Graduate students have three to five minutes to communicate the key concepts and significance of their research, and will be judged in part on their ability to engage their audiences. Competition judges will be composed of San José community members and San José State staff, faculty, alumni and students.

The competition will take place from 5:00 to 8:00pm on Wednesday, May 1, 2019, in the SJSU Diaz Compean Student Union Ballroom.

Competition Format

  • Graduate students apply to compete as individuals or as part of a two-person team
  • Individual presentations must be 3 minutes or less
  • Team presentations must be 5 minutes or less
    • There is a limit of two presenters per team
    • Presenters must share the time equally.
    • Each team member's portion must be 2.5 minutes or less
  • Participants can win one of these prizes:
    • Best Individual Presentation
    • Best Group Presentation 
    • Audience Choice: Individual 
    • Audience Choice: Team
    1st Place   $600
    2nd Place   $300
Audience Choice   $150


Presentation Format

  • Presentations are to be spoken word. Poems, raps, and songs are allowed in place of spoken word if directly related to project.
  • There must be a short introduction that explains the work at the beginning of the presentation. The introduction is included in the total time allotted.
  • Students may provide one static slide to display throughout their talk. No slide transitions or animations are allowed. Presentations cannot use any supporting materials unless they have pre-approval from the Grad Slam Committee. Any use of props will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Speakers will receive three time markers during their presentations signaling when students are halfway through the allotted time, in the last 30 seconds of the allotted time, and at the end of the time allotted.
  • Each presentation will be judged using a common Competition Scoring Rubric [PDF].


Why Sign Up?

Grad Slam is an opportunity for you to network with fellow graduate students, alumni, staff and faculty. In addition, you will learn how to communicate your research concisely to a broad audience outside of your own field. Participation in the competition will provide lifelong public speaking skills which can be added on your C.V.

A series of workshops will be available for participating students to learn public speaking skills and prepare for the event. Students will refine their research and have the opportunity to learn valuable skills needed to communicate effectively and keep an audience engaged.

  • Must be a matriculated graduate student to be eligible to apply.

    • Note: Undergraduates and members of the public are welcome to attend but are not invited to participate.
  • Graduate students can apply as an individual or as a team
    • Individual speeches must be 3 minutes or less.
    • Team speeches must be 5 minutes or less.
      • There is a limit of two presenters per team.
      • Presenters must share the time equally.
      • Each presenter must submit a separate application.
      • Teams are expected to discuss the same research topic and divide the speaking time equally.
  • Applicants must submit original research from their thesis, dissertation, graduate project, or any other research-based projects they are working on. The research can focus on the development of new ideas, methods, or products, or it may focus on the application and revision of current methods or models. Students in MFA or other creative degree programs should focus on how their creative work applies to the broader exchange of ideas and the role it plays in providing new perspective or changing attitudes.

  • We strongly encourage participation in the speech workshops hosted by the Writing Center. While students are not required to attend, the workshops are extremely helpful in preparing you for the event and also give you free, valuable, individualized training in public speaking.

  • Previous winners of Grad Slam may not compete in subsequent Grad Slam competitions.
  • In the event of a tie, a representative from the College of Graduate Studies will break the tie.


How to Apply?

Applications are now closed.

If you've applied:

  1. Applications will be reviewed and presenters will be selected by the Grad Slam Planning Committee.
  2. Presenters will be chosen and notified by April 1, 2019.
  3. Presenters will have the opportunity to attend workshops organized by the Writing Center to prepare for the presentation on the day of Grad Slam. 

Helpful Links

Presentation Examples



Contact Samantha Cardenas, A.S. Event Coordinator ( or Angela Iraheta, Graduate Studies Coordinator (