Rules & Judging


2018 Grad Slam finalsEligibility: 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 individual contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.


Presentation slides are allowed but not required. Presenters are encouraged to remember that Grad Slam is a public speaking competition, not a slideshow competition, so the focus should remain on the content of their talk rather than on their slides. If presenters choose to prepare slides, they must adhere to the following rules:

  • Presenters are allowed a maximum of 3 slides (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)
  • Presenters are encouraged not to include a title slide as part of their 3 total slides, since the Graduate Division will use the information provided on the submission form to inform judges about each presenter's name, department, and talk title
  • Use of animation and transition effects (e.g. any of the features on the PowerPoint Animation or Transition tabs) is not allowed
  • All slides must be original to the student and cannot be generated by a professional; inclusion of photos, visuals, charts, and graphics created by others is allowed but must be properly cited or attributed
  • Embedding of audio and/or video clips is allowed, but no other animations or transitions; the content of the audio or video clip must be deemed indispensable to the communication of the research topic

If the presentation visuals do not adhere to these standards, presenters will have points deducted from their final score as follows (not to exceed a total of 15 points deducted for all slide penalties):

Number of Slides

  • 4 total slides/clicks - 3 points deducted
  • 5 total slides/clicks - 6 points deducted
  • 6+ total slides/clicks - 9 points deducted

Use of Disallowed Animations/Transitions

  • 1 instance - 1 point deducted
  • 2 instances - 2 points deducted
  • 3 instances - 3 points deducted
  • 4 instances - 4 points deducted
  • 5 instances - 5 points deducted
  • 6+ instances - 6 points deducted


Videos should be no more than 3 minutes total in length. If the video is longer than 3 minutes, points will be deducted from the final score as follows (not to exceed a total of 15 points deducted for timing penalties):

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


Judges: All judging will occur asynchronously during the 2021 competition. For the qualifying round, judging panels of two faculty members and one staff member will judge each video submission according to the UCSB Grad Slam Scorecard. The final round will be judged by four prominent members from the campus community. Judges are selected to ensure disciplinary diversity and every effort will be made to minimize conflicts of interest.

People's Choice: During the livestreamed final round, audience members will get the chance to participate in a real-time People's Choice award vote. Once all presentations have been premiered, viewers will be able to access an on-screen link to a poll where they can cast their vote. The winner of the People's Choice Award will be announced at the end of the final round, along with all of the judges' selections.

*Please note that the information contained on this page supersedes any other communications about Grad Slam guidelines in previous years, and is only applicable to the 2021 competition.