Grad Slam

Regrettably, the SJSU Grad Slam for 2020 has been canceled. Please check back later for information about the next Grad Slam scheduled for May 2021.


APPLY by March 19, 2020


How to Apply

Apply through DocuSign - Applications are due Thursday, March 19, 2020
Preview Application [pdf]

Applications will only be accepted through Docusign. Applications must be completed (including Advisor's signature) by March 19, 2020.

Instructions and details on DocuSign can be found on the IT website. If you are experiencing issues with DocuSign please contact IT.

If you have additional problems or questions, contact Cheryl Cowan at 408-924-2485 or for assistance with the application.


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 second Grad Slam competition held at San José State University. Graduate students have three 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 on Monday, May 4, 2020 in the SJSU Diaz Compean Student Union Theater from 5pm-8pm.

Applications are due on March 19, 2020.

Competition Format

  • Graduate students apply to compete as individuals.
  • Presentations must be 3 minutes or less.
  • Participants can win one of these prizes:
  • Best Presentation - $800
  • 2nd Place - $600
  • 3rd Place - $400

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 presenters
  • Speeches must be 3 minutes or less.
  • 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.
  • Speech workshops hosted by the Writing Center will be provided to finalists. The workshops are helpful in preparing you for the event and also give students 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.
  • Each presentation will be judged using a common Competition Scoring Rubric [pdf]


Flyer (PDF)

Winners of the 2019 Grad Slam Competition

grad slam winners 2019

1st Place, Odiri Maku

MS, Family Nurse Practitioner Program 

The Valley Foundation School of Nursing

College of Health and Human Sciences

Disparity of the Maternal Mortality Rate of Black Women in the United States

2nd Place, Karen Ngo

MS, Biological Sciences

College of Science

Harnessing Evolution of Light-Directed Enzymes

Audience Choice, Apoorva Karekal

MS, Physiology

College of Science

Controlling Muscles with Laser Light to Study How We Sense We Are in Space