Graduate Symposium

Friday, May 17, 2024
1:00-4:00 p.m. Pacific Time
McHenry Library | Information Commons South on the Main Floor

The Graduate Division hosts the Graduate Symposium annually in the spring at McHenry Library. All graduate students are eligible to participate and may do so in person or virtually via Zoom. (Recipients of qualifying fellowships are required to participate.) The event is free and open to the public. Judges representing UCSC staff, postdoctoral scholars, graduate student alumni, UCSC Foundation trustees, and community members determine an overall best presentation and five academic division best presentations.

Professional Skills: NetworkingResearch & Data AnalysisWriting & Communication


  • Best Overall Presentation of the Symposium: $1000
  • Best Presentation of the Arts Division: $250
  • Best Presentation of Baskin Engineering: $250
  • Best Presentation of the Humanities Division: $250
  • Best Presentation of the Physical and Biological Sciences Division: $250
  • Best Presentation of the Social Sciences Division: $250

Presentation Formats

  • Short talk (5-minute maximum presentation, with up to 2 minutes of Q&A with judges), with or without slides or other visual accompaniment
  • Large (4'x3') research poster (5-minute maximum presentation taking attendees/judges through the poster, with up to 2 minutes of Q&A with judges)
  • Alternative media, such as video clip or software game demo (5-minute maximum presentation includes time to play or demonstrate alternative media, with up to 2 minutes of Q&A with judges)

Registration Limits

  • 36 short talk presenters
  • 48 large poster presenters (recommended for in-person presentation)
  • 10 alternative media presenters
  • 12 of the above may present virtually via Zoom

Participant Instructions

Regardless of the medium (talk, poster, alternative), each requires an oral presentation component for the judges. All talks may be no longer than 5 minutes, after which a Question-and-Answer may take up no more than an additional 2 minutes to allow judges to record their scores and move to the next poster or alternative media presentation, or for the next talk presenter to set up in the talk presentation classrooms or Quiet Study area, or to join via Zoom. Remember that judges are from within and outside of academia. You are bringing your work to a broad audience, many of whom may not be familiar with complex topics or topical jargon.


Scoring scale per proficiency: 1 (Low) to 4 (Expert)

Five Proficiencies

  1. Orally describes research or creative work in organized manner, clearly and concisely
  2. Communicates enthusiasm and great interest in the topic with confidence
  3. Uses accessible language intended for general university audience
  4. Uses visuals (poster, slides, alternative media) that are relevant, informative, and understandable with the oral presentation
  5. Articulates why this research or creative work is important to the field (theoretically and/or applicable to a problem) or, in the case of graduate artistic endeavor, its importance to the art medium and intended audience

Oral Communication

  • 4 Expert Oral presentation had clear organization, and each part was effectively and concisely delivered
  • 3 Proficient Oral presentation had clear organization, was easy to follow, and included relevant information
  • 2 Almost Proficient Oral presentation had some organization but was somewhat difficult to follow (e.g., too detailed, too general, missing important sections)
  • 1 Developing Oral presentation was disorganized or unclear


  • 4 Expert Student explained their research with enthusiasm; their interest was palpable and infectious; their speech was appropriately confident throughout the presentation
  • 3 Proficient Student explained their research or topic with enthusiasm; their speech was engaging and confident for the most part.
  • 2 Almost Proficient Student showed general interest in their research or topic; often used tentative or hedging expressions
  • 1 Developing Student showed interest in their research or topic; overused tentative or hedging expressions

Accessibility of Language

  • 4 Expert Student used little or no jargon and defined terms without prodding
  • 3 Proficient Student used jargon frequently and defined terms without prodding
  • 2 Almost Proficient Student used jargon without explanation, but when asked could define terms
  • 1 Developing Student used jargon throughout and/or could not explain terms when asked


  • 4 Expert Visuals were professional and memorable; in case of poster presentation, poster is visually accessible with minimal text and few and clearly understandable graphics; in case of alternative media, visual demonstration of the alternative media is incorporated into the maximum five-minute talk in a clear and logical manner; in case of talks accompanied by slides, the slides are visually accessible with minimal text and few and clearly understandable graphics
  • 3 Proficient Visuals were of good quality and helped tell the story of the research
  • 2 Almost Proficient Visuals were of uneven quality; some parts were good and others not
  • 1 Developing Visuals were confusing, unprofessional, and/or not clearly relevant
  • Did not use visuals: In the case of talks, visuals are optional. If visuals were not used in a talk, then this criterion will be scored based on the judge’s assessment of whether visuals were needed.

Articulation of Research/Artistic Endeavor Relevance and Importance

  • 4 Expert Student clearly articulated importance by referring to a specific theory or problem; in the case of artistic endeavor, student clearly articulated the artistic objective of the work on the intended audience
  • 3 Proficient Student articulated importance in a general sense
  • 2 Almost Proficient Student seemed unsure about the importance of their research or artistic endeavor
  • 1 Developing Student did not attempt to articulate importance