2019 Grad Slam Logo

Launched in 2013, Grad Slam is an award-winning campus-wide competition for the best three-minute talk by a graduate student. Students present the central points of their project in a clear, direct, and interesting manner for a diverse audience comprised of students, faculty, and community members.

There are three rounds of presentations – preliminaries, semifinals, and finals – and prizes are given at each stage of advancement. Participants are judged on the basis of having a clear and effective presentation that is geared for a general university audience and has demonstrable intellectual significance. The competition also features a People's Choice component, where audience members select their favorite presenters in each of the preliminary rounds (see Rules and Judging below for more details).

​For more information on ​each year's Grad Slam competition, click below:


2018     2017     2016

2015     2014     2013 


2015 Grad Slam finalists Daniel Hieber and Selvi ErsoyVenue: Grad Slam rounds will take place in many different venues across campus. You will be notified of your presentation time and venue.

Equipment: All rooms will be equipped with a laptop, projector, speakers, slide advancer remote, and laser pointer.

Day-of: Please arrive at the venue at least 30 minutes before your scheduled round to allow for check-in and other preparation. Presenters will have assigned seating at the venue.

Slides: You must send your PowerPoint slides ​to Shawn Warner-Garcia ​at least 1 week prior to your scheduled presentation ​date. (See Rules and Judging below for more stipulations ​on slide design.) They will be pre-loaded onto a Graduate Division laptop for display during your presentation. Slides should be set to 16:9 aspect ratio in order to ensure proper display during your talk. A remote will be available to advance through your slides.

Photography and Videography: By entering the competition, you agree to allow the UCSB Graduate Division to use the resulting photographs and/or video from the 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. If you have questions or concerns about making your presentation publicly available, please contact Shawn Warner-Garcia.​

Practice: UCSB Library has a Presentation Practice Room available for reservation by UCSB students, faculty, and staff. Located on the 1st Floor Mountain Side (room 1506), the space allows you to practice, refine, and record oral and multimedia presentations for classes and seminars, conferences, teaching preparation, GradSlam, Lunch & Learn, thesis defenses, and other events. Learn more here.

Need Inspiration?


Karen Myers and judgesEligibility: All graduate students currently enrolled in UCSB Master’s or doctoral graduate programs are eligible to compete.

Collaboration: In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.

Visuals: PowerPoint slides are allowed but optional; no Prezi or other presentation formats.

  • Maximum of 3 slides, exclusive of title slide to be generated by the Graduate Division (note that each "click," such as to make an element appear on screen or to make a video/audio clip to be played, counts as a slide)
  • All work on the slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional
  • Embedding of audio and/or video clips is allowed, but no other animations or transitions
  • Props are allowed, but need to be cleared by the program coordinators, require minimal set-up, and not produce a mess

Timing: Timing will commence from the moment the student starts talking; 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)

A panel of two faculty members and one staff member 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).

People's Choice: During each of the preliminary rounds, attendees will have the chance to vote for their favorite presenter via anonymous ballots. Once the two Judges' Choice winners have been ​determined, the presenter with the most audience votes will be chosen as the People's Choice winner and will advance to the semifinal rounds along with the Judge's Choice winners. Note: Audience members must be present for all the talks in a given round in order to vote for People's Choice.

Winners: There will be 3 winners from each preliminary round (2 Judges' Choice and 1 People's Choice) that advance to the semifinal rounds. ​Each semifinal round will be composed of a mix of Judges' Choice winners and People's Choice winners. All of the ​presenters that advance from the semifinal rounds to the final round will be selected by that round's judging panel.

Scorecard: To download a PDF of the scorecard that judges will use, please click here.


Contact Shawn Warner-Garcia, Director of Graduate Student Professional Development at UCSB.