Grad Slam Participant Instructions

Graduate students who are enrolled in fall 2021 and winter 2022 and will not graduate earlier than at the end of spring 2022 are eligible to compete in Grad Slam.* In cases of collaborative research, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified. The first 30 graduate students to enter and complete their registration by uploading and sharing their presentation videos will receive $50 e-gift certificates to one of the vendors who offer these to UCSC! (E-gift certificate vendors include e-tailers, restaurants and coffee sellers, clothiers, movie theaters and ticket sellers, home supply stores, office supply stores, and cooking supply stores.)

The video-submission and registration period closes Friday, January 28, 2022, at midnight Pacific Time.

*Past Grad Slam champions, runners-up and peoples choice winners are excluded.

    Applying to participate in Grad Slam

  • Video Your Presentation

    Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum. Presentations exceeding three minutes during the video round of competition will be disqualified.

    Begin your recording with:

    1. your full name
    2. graduate program
    3. title of your presentation

    This information may be presented in the video as text, such as in a slide, or spoken. If presented as a slide, this slide is not considered one of your presentation slides. The time it takes to do the above will not be counted as part of your presentation.

    Your presentation may include up to three Microsoft PowerPoint slides in standard format (4:3 ratio). No other slide presentation tool allowed, and having slides is optional. Slides must adhere to the following:

    • All work on slides must be original to the graduate student and may not be generated by a professional. Slides may contain visual elements (charts, photos, clip art, and so on) created by someone other than the graduate student presenter, as long as the slide credits the element creator.
    • Embedded audio and/or video clips, including but not limited to .gif, .avi, .mp4, .mp3, and .wmv file types, are not allowed, unless they are deemed indispensable to the communication of the topic. Should any entrant who embeds an audio or video file in their PowerPoint presentation be selected as a finalist for the UCSC Grad Slam on March 5, 2022, they will need to provide the Division of Graduate Studies (Sonya Newlyn) with both the PowerPoint presentation file and the embedded audio or video file.
    • No PowerPoint animation effects are allowed (see the PowerPoint animation tab).

    Props are allowed but need to be cleared by UCSC Grad Slam organizer Sonya Newlyn and the Division of Graduate Studies. Consider the feasibility of giving the same presentation live on stage; thus, laboratory equipment to perform an experiment on stage, being unlikely to be allowed, will also be disallowed in a video.

    Unless these are integral to the graduate-level research or work being presented, costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, and so on are not permitted. Before using these in a presentation video, check with UCSC Grad Slam organizer Sonya Newlyn.

    Presentations are to be prose (no poems, raps, or songs).

    Your final, live presentation, should you be selected as a finalist, may differ slightly from your video presentation; however, the subject matter should be the same.

    Remember, the audio-visual technical quality of the recording is not judged; it’s the quality of the content that is important. McHenry Library’s Digital Scholarship Commons has video cameras, tripods, and video-editing software available to check out.

  • Upload Your Video to Your UCSC Google Drive

    In your UCSC Google Drive, create a dedicated Google Folder for your presentation video, and name the folder LastName_FirstName_GradSlam2022. Upload your video entry as an MP4, MOV, AVI, or WMV file.

    • Name your video file using this format: Lastname_Firstname_GradSlam2022_TitleKeyWordorKeyWords.mp4
    • Share the file with Editor access with

  • Register for Grad Slam

    • Complete the UC Santa Cruz Grad Slam Registration Form.
    • Enter the Google Drive link to your video presentation in the application form, in the Presentation Link field.

    The deadline to share your video and enter is January 28, 2022, midnight Pacific Time.

  • Judging

  • Two sets of judges determine the finalists and winners of the live event: video-screening judges, all of whom are staff at UCSC, and live-event final judges, recruited from among UCSC graduate student alumni and local Santa Cruz citizenry. The screening judges review the video entries submitted by the deadline of January 28 and choose the finalists. The finals judges attend the live event on March 5 and choose the winner and runner-up. The judges choices are final and binding.

    The audience of the live event on March 5, both in-person and virtual watching the livestream, votes to determine the peoples choice winner. Each audience member gets one vote. In the event that the peoples choice winner is the same as the winner or runner-up, that individual receives both prizes.

    In the event of a tie, in either the judges’ scoring or audience voting for the peoples choice, Vice Provost and Dean of Graduate Studies Peter Biehl makes the final decision.

    The Division of Graduate Studies reserves the right to replace any judge who has to withdraw with another qualified individual and to cancel Grad Slam should too few graduate students enter the competition.

  • Judging Criteria

    Both the video and live-event judges score presentations on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 being the best score, in each of the following categories:

    Did the speaker provide adequate background knowledge to make the talk and the importance of the project understandable?

    Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?

    Pace, enthusiasm, confidence, body language, eye contact, and vocal range.

    If used, did the slides and/or props enhance the presentation and help to emphasize the primary points of the talk? Were the slides well designed, clear, legible, and concise? (If visuals were not used, a score of 5 points indicates the judge understood the presentation and that it kept their attention perfectly, so no visuals were required; a score of 1 point indicates that visuals were needed for the judge to understand the presentation.)

    Was the topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience? (For example, did the speaker avoid or explain discipline-specific jargon?)

    Intellectual Significance
    Did the speaker explain why her/his/their project matters (for example, its significance to the academic discipline)?

    To what extent did the talk speak to the judge’s intellectual curiosity? Did it make the judge want to learn more about the topic?


    In the live competition, timing will commence from the moment the student begins their presentation. The presentation begins at the moment the student engages with the audience (if they start 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). 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.

  • Prizes

  • The winner receives $3,000; the runner-up $1,500; the peoples choice $750. Winnings may be taxable.

  • Disclaimers

  • The March 5 live UCSC Grad Slam event will be photographed, livestreamed, and video recorded. By entering the contest, you agree to allow the UC Santa Cruz Division of Graduate Studies to use the resulting photographs and video, which may include your image or presentation, in publicity for the contest and in other contexts, such as websites, promotional materials, etc. (The initial video entries will not be shared with anyone except the screening judges.)

  • Finalist Coaching and Participation

  • Live Event

    Finalists selected from the video round of competition will be required to participate in the live event of UCSC Grad Slam scheduled for March 5, 2022, at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center, 320-2 Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. In addition, finalists must submit:

    1. a headshot to be used for event publicity and the printed program
    2. the up to three Microsoft PowerPoint slides (standard format of 4:3 ratio) for the live event presentation, if this option is desired
    3. any embedded audio or video file, if presenter has received permission to use from the Division of Graduate Studies

    These materials are due to the Division of Graduate Studies by noon on February 14.


    The Division of Graduate Studies will host two finalist coaching sessions, to be scheduled for February 2022.


  • UCOP System-wide Grad Slam Participation

    Finalists who participate in UCSCs Grad Slam on March 5, 2022, agree to attend and represent UCSC at the UC system-wide Grad Slam in early May 2022, at LinkedIn, 222 2nd Street in San Francisco should they win the overall UCSC competition or take second place. The second-place finisher should be prepared to present and compete as an understudy to the winner in the event of any emergency that prevents the winner from competing.

  • Event Cancellation

  • The Division of Graduate Studies reserves the right to cancel UCSC Grad Slam if fewer than 20 video entries are received.