Grad School 180

Go from student to researcher, presenter, colleague, and more!

Meet our 2021 Judges

View the 2021 Finalist videos and winners

What is Grad School 180?

Grad School 180 is an annual research competition at The University of Texas at Tyler. It is open to all UT Tyler graduate students, and challenges participants to present a compelling spoken presentation on their research and its significance in just 180 seconds, using language that can be understood by people outside the discipline. This competition helps to develop presentation, research, and academic communication skills and supports the development of research students' capacity to explain their work effectively. Participation also allows students to take pride in their work and show the community the impact UT Tyler’s graduate students are making in the local community and beyond. Competition judges will be alumni and community members.

Why should you participate?

  • Enhance your CV/Resume
  • Obtain a professional video of your talk to share with others
  • Prepare for a thesis defense, conference talk, or interview
  • Promote your research
  • Discover ways to convey the impact of your research
  • Network with alumni, faculty, staff, peers, and members of the community
  • Win prizes! People's Choice: $500, First prize: $500, Second prize: $250, Third prize: $125


  • Graduate students from all disciplines, campuses, and any year of study are encouraged to apply.
  • Students may present their research project, proposal, paper, thesis, or dissertation.
  • Students do not need to be writing their thesis or dissertation to compete. However, the student will need to be able to clearly establish the context of their research question, explain their methodology or approach, identify current findings and/or results, and convey the significance of their work.


  • Each contestant will have 180 seconds to engage the audience intellectually and communicate the uniqueness and significance of their research topic.
  • Contestants who exceed the 180 second time limit are disqualified. 
  • Contestants are required to participate in at least one coaching session prior to the competition. If you do not sign-up for coaching, you will not be eligible to participate.
  • PowerPoint Presentations are not permitted. One slide is allowed.
  • No props are allowed.

Scoring Rubric

  • Judges will score each contestant on a scale of 1-10, where 1 is poor and 10 is excellent, using this Scoring Rubric.
  • Contestants will be judged on message and delivery.


  • Contestants should be able to engage the audience, clearly communicate their research questions, explain the relevance of the problem, and describe the methodology and results in terms easily understood by a broad audience.


  • Contestants should engage the audience by projecting confidence and excitement and using appropriate gestures, vocal variation and clear diction.