Grad Slam Competition Information

About Grad Slam

Grad Slam is an annual contest in which master’s and Ph.D. students across UC campuses – in disciplines ranging from hard sciences to the arts humanities – compete, to sum up their research for a general audience. Students should present the significance and fundamental points of their work at UC Davis 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.

Registration for the upcoming Grad Slam competition will open in early January 2022.

Eligibility, Rules, and Requirements

  • Eligibility
  • All graduate students currently enrolled in UC Davis master's or doctoral graduate programs are eligible to compete in Grad Slam.  Participants compete individually on their research, there is not a team component.
  • 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.

    • Participants must have a strong internet connection (preferably hardwired ethernet, but excellent wifi is also okay) and a suitable device (PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone with audio and camera).
    • 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.
    • Video submissions must be recorded in Zoom. One video per individual may be submitted. 
  • Presentation and Visuals
    • One PowerPoint slide is allowed but optional; no Prezi or other presentation formats.
    • The slide should be set to 4:3 aspect ratio in order to ensure proper display during your talk.
    • Maximum of one slide, exclusive of title slide provided by Graduate Studies.
    • Students must create their PowerPoint slide themselves - you cannot ask someone else to design the slides.
    • Use of PowerPoint templates 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.
    • 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 Graduate Studies Grad Slam Planning Committee. Requests must be sent to knraley@ucdavis.edu at least two weeks prior to the competition.
    • No PowerPoint animation effects are allowed (use of PowerPoint animation tab not allowed).
    • Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the committee, require minimal set-up, and not produce a mess.
    • Participants must use the Grad Slam Title Slide template
  • Timing
    • The timing commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video.
    • Timing will end after the last word is spoken.
    • Points will be deducted from the final score, beginning with one point at 3:03, and one point being taken off for every two seconds the speaker continues after that:
      - 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 the Qualifying 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 winners from the Qualifying Round that advance to the semi-final rounds. ​In the semi-final round the top winner will advance to the University of California final round, TBD. 

UC Davis Qualifying Round

This year's Grad Slam Qualifying Round video submissions will be due on Wednesday, February 16, 2022. A panel of judges will assess the quality and clarity of the 3-minute presentations. The top ten presenters will be announced the week of March 1 and 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.

  • 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.

    • Participants must have a strong internet connection (preferably hardwired ethernet, but excellent wifi is also okay) and a suitable device (PC, laptop, tablet, or smartphone with audio and camera).
    • 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.
    • Video submissions must be recorded in Zoom. One video per individual may be submitted.
  • Video and Slides
  • After you have registered, upload your video and PowerPoint slide to the Grad Slam Qualifying Round Box Folder by 11:59pm on February 11, 2021 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.

UC Davis Semi-Final Round

Details are still in the works, but the UC Davis Semi-Final Round is scheduled for Wednesday, April 6 and we are hoping to host in-person at the new Graduate Center at Walker Hall. Our ten campus finalists will compete for prize money, the title of UC Davis Grad Slam champion, and the opportunity to compete at the UC level.

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 their share of prize money.

Details about the 2022 tournament finale, including its format on location have not yet been released. However, the event is typically held in May and has traditionally been hosted live by UC President Michael V. Drake.

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 live stream to join the action and vote for your favorite finalist.