Grad Slam Competition Information

About Grad Slam

Grad Slam is an annual contest in which master’s and doctoral students across UC campuses—in disciplines ranging from the hard sciences to the arts and humanities—sum up their research for a general audience. Students should present the significance and fundamental points of their work in a clear, direct and interesting manner. Participants are judged on how well they engage the audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all in three minutes or less.

The deadline for Qualifying Round registration and video submissions is February 16 at 11:59 p.m.

Click here to submit 


Competition Rules

  • Eligibility
  • All graduate students currently enrolled in UC Davis master's or doctoral graduate programs are eligible to compete in Grad Slam.
  • Collaboration
  • In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.
  • Technical
  • Please note: competitors will not be judged on video/recording quality. Judging will focus on the presentation and the ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience.

    -The three-minute video must be continuous—no edits or breaks—and the submitted video must be of a single, unedited take. Students may not use editing software to modify any part of the video. 

    -No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.

    -Submissions may not contain any copyrighted material, such as licensed graphics.

  • Presentation and Visuals
  • - One PowerPoint slide, not inclusive of the title slide that Graduate Studies will provide, is allowed but optional; no Prezi or other presentation formats. 

    - Students must create their PowerPoint slide themselves—you cannot ask someone else to design the slide. Use of a PowerPoint template is allowed. The slide can include visual elements (charts, visualizations, photos, clip art, etc.) created by someone other than the student as long as the slide credits the original creator. PowerPoint animation effects are allowed. 

    Embedded audio and/or video clips (including but not limited to .gif, .avi, .mp4, .mp3, and .wmv file types) are not permitted unless they are deemed indispensable to the communication of the research topic. To request the inclusion of audio or video clip, participants must send both the presentation with the embedded media and a short statement of justification to the UC Grad Slam Planning Committee.

    - Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the program coordinators, require minimal set-up and not produce a mess.

  • Timing
  • Timing commences when the student engages with the audience. (If engagement starts with a hand clap, a gesture, an audio or video clip or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time; if there is no such engagement, the clock starts when the student begins speaking).

    Timing will end after the last word is spoken.
     Points will be deducted from the final score as follows:

    - 3:03-3:04  1 point
    - 3:05-3:06  2 points
    - 3:07-3:08  3 points
    - 3:09-3:10  4 points
    - 3:11-3:12  5 points

    Speakers will be cut off at 3:30 (total 15 point deduction).
  • Judges
  • A panel of faculty and staff members will judge each preliminary round. The judges will be selected to ensure disciplinary diversity and every effort will be made to minimize conflicts of interest (e.g., a faculty advisor will not judge a preliminary round involving his or her advisee).
  • Winners
  • There will be 10 finalists from the qualifying round that advance to the semi-final round. ​In the semi-final round, the top winner will advance to the University of California final round. 

UC Davis Qualifying Round

This year's Grad Slam Qualifying Round video submissions will be due on Friday, February 16, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. A panel of judges will assess the quality and clarity of the three-minute presentations. The top presenters will be will be given instructions and tips for the UC Davis Final Round. All participants will also receive their scores and judge feedback.

Video Recording Information and Instructions

In addition to the rules above, please follow the video recording instructions below before submitting your video.

  • Video and Slides
  • After you have registered, upload your video and PowerPoint slide to the Grad Slam Qualifying Round Box Folder by Friday, February 16, 2024, by 11:59 p.m. in order to participate in the Qualifying Round.  
  • Photography and Videography 
  • By entering the competition, you agree to allow UC Davis Graduate Studies to use the resulting photographs and/or video from Grad Slam, which may include your image or presentation, for publicity surrounding the contest and/or in other contexts, such as promotional materials, website, etc.
  • Closed Captioning 
  • We are committed to creating the best Grad Slam experience for all of our participants, judges and audience members. This includes making sure that Grad Slam video submissions are accessible to all individuals. As such, we ask that participants consider providing closed captioning or a transcript along with their video recordings.

    We suggest that Grad Slam participants record their video in Zoom and take advantage of the auto-transcription feature. Before starting your recording in Zoom, click Closed Caption or Live Transcript and select the “Enable Auto-Transcription” option (only available if enabled in web settings). Once your recording is complete and saved to the Cloud, you can edit the transcript under “Recordings.” For more detailed instructions, please refer to this guide from Villanova University.

    If you choose to record your video using software other than Zoom, we ask that you please submit a written transcript of your presentation or an .srt file so that we can apply captions. Note that captions will not be judged as part of the Grad Slam competition. 

UC Davis Semi-Final Round

The UC Davis Semi-Final Round is scheduled for Friday, April 12, 2024 and will be held in person at the Graduate Center at Walker Hall. Our campus finalists will compete for prize money, the title of UC Davis Grad Slam champion, and the opportunity to compete at the UC level.

Semi-Final Round: Prizes and Designations

Participants who advance to the final round in the UC Davis Grad Slam competition will compete for a variety of prizes and designations.

University of California Final Round

Each of UC’s 10 campuses holds local Grad Slam competitions; the first place winners of each of those will square off at the UC Final Round for the systemwide title and more prize money.

Winners will be selected by a panel of judges representing industry, media, government and higher education. Viewers will also get a chance to vote for their favorite; the winner will receive the audience choice award. We encourage the UC Davis community to tune into the livestream and vote for your favorite finalist.

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