Grad Slam

Would you like to share your research with the SJSU community? Think you can do it in three minutes or less? The College of Graduate Studies is excited to announce that applications are now available for the 2021 Grad Slam Competition at San Jose State University. Winners of the Grad Slam will receive cash prizes and gain valuable experience delivering a professional research presentation. 

This event is designed to showcase and celebrate the wide array of excellent research and creative activity taking place at the graduate level. We encourage students in all disciplines to apply for the Grad Slam. Whether you're building a widget, chasing fires, or unearthing discoveries in art history, we want to hear from you. 

We have created a dedicated 2021 Grad Slam event website. Please visit the site here to view full details about the presentation format and structure, prizes, information session dates, and application.

What is Grad Slam?

Grad Slam at San José State University is a campus-wide competition for the best short research presentation by a graduate student. During the competition, graduate students will be judged by a panel based on their ability to successfully engage a non-specialist audience while communicating key details about their research in three minutes or less. Panelists may include SJSU staff, faculty, students, alumni, city officials, and industry professionals. 

Who is eligible to participate?

  • Students enrolled in a master’s or doctoral degree program at SJSU
  • Entrants must apply as individual presenters (groups presentations not permitted at this time)
  • Note: Previous winners of Grad Slam may not compete in subsequent Grad Slam competitions

Presentation Format 

  • Presentations are to be spoken word and last three minutes or less.
  • 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 commonCompetition Scoring Rubric.
  • 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.
  • In the event of a tie, a representative from the College of Graduate Studies will break the tie. 

Why Apply to Participate?

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. You may also win one of three cash prizes for finalists.

A series of workshops hosted by the Writing Center will be available for semifinalists to learn public speaking skills in preparation 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. 


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