Grad Slam 2024

A Graduate Student Giving A Presentation

About SFSU Grad Slam

SFSU Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition for the best short research presentation by a graduate student. It aims to make research accessible by providing emerging scientists and scholars with the skills to engage the public in their work. During the competition, graduate students will be judged by a panel on how well they engage the non-specialist audience, how clearly they communicate key concepts and how effectively they focus and present their ideas—all in three minutes or less. Panelists may include SFSU faculty, staff, students, alumni, leaders in industry, media, and government.

Grad Slam is designed to showcase and celebrate the wide array of research and creative activity taking place at the graduate level. We are excited to receive applications from students in all fields, from arts and humanities to engineering, education, science (social, biological, health), and others. This is an excellent opportunity for graduate students to present their work clearly and concisely in front of a broad audience.

Registration Deadline: Monday, April 8, 2024. Be sure to review the eligibility requirements, rules for participation, and structure of the completion below. Register here.

Why Participate

Participating in Grad Slam will not only advance the visibility of your research, but serve as an opportunity for you to deliver a professional presentation while representing SFSU. Grad Slam is an opportunity for you to network with fellow graduate students, alumni, staff and faculty. In addition, you will learn how to communicate your research concisely to a broad audience outside of your own field. Participation in the competition will provide lifelong public speaking skills which can be added on your C.V. Before the competition, Grad Slam participants will be given the opportunity to hone their public speaking skills by attending optional workshops. Those who participate in the SFSU Grad Slam may advance to a regional competition and win cash prizes.

Who May Participate

  • Currently matriculated master’s or doctoral student SFSU students are eligible to participate.
  • All disciplines are encouraged to participate.
  • Entrants must apply as individual presenters (no team presentations).

Competition Format

  • Students will prerecord a 3-minute video of their presentation and upload the video to their personal YouTube channel. Ensure your link settings are "public" "or "unlisted" to ensure your video link is viewable by our judges. Avoid setting your video to "private". For support changing your YouTube Video Privacy Settings, click here.
  • The YouTube link to the video will be submitted with this registration form. *Remember, the production quality of the recording is not judged; it is the quality of the content that is important.*
  • Judges will review video submissions and score based on the rubric.
  • A real-time, virtual event will showcase our selected semifinalists on April 11.
  • Two student delegates will be selected by the panel of judges to go on to compete in the CSU-wide live Grad Slam event on May 3.

Sample Grad Slam Presentations from San Francisco State University:

SFSU Grad Slam 2023 Finalist Katie Bui

SFSU Grad Slam 2023 Finalist Gabrielle Trejo

SFSU Grad Slam 2022 Finalist Dagny Yasis

SFSU Grad Slam 2022 Finalist Allie Margulies

SFSU Grad Slam 2021 Finalist Michael Brodheim

SFSU Grad Slam 2021 Finalist Jacob Dinardi

SFSU Grad Slam 2021 Finalist Jiovanny Soto

Important Dates

  • April 8: Deadline for Grad Slam registration (including video submissions). 
  • April 8-9: Semifinalist selection: Judges review video submissions and score based on the rubric.  
  • April 10: Scores due from judges.  
  • April 11, 2:00 - 4:00 PMSFSU Celebration of Research: A real-time, virtual event of Grad Slam finalist presentations and announcement of selected SFSU student delegates from 2:00PM-4:00PM. Zoom links forthcoming.
  • May 3CSU Grad Slam: Virtual 4th Annual CSU Grad Slam competition.

Presentation Structure

  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum. Competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be delivered in traditional presentation style.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when presenters start their presentation through movement or speech.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any kind; the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Each presentation will be judged using the rubric below.

Judging Criteria

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement and Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more? Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?


By entering the contest, you agree to allow the SFSU and the Division of Graduate Studies at SFSU 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.

Event Cancellation

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