Debate FAQs

Does Baylor participate in Individual Events or Lincoln-Douglas debate? What about Parliamentary Debate?
About the team
About college debate
Debating for Baylor
How do I join the team?

There is no formalized audition or try-out process. Rather, students may participate in the activities of the debate team in exchange for their contribution to the squad research effort on the college debate topic. Students are also expected to attend weekly squad meetings and schedule work sessions with their debate partners. The amount of resources that are spent on each student, in terms of travel, food, housing, will be commensurate to the level of work they contribute to the squad. If you would like to join the team, please contact Dr. Matt Gerber.

Does Baylor participate in Individual Events or Lincoln-Douglas debate? What about Parliamentary Debate?

No. Baylor has a rich tradition of success in intercollegiate policy debate dating back to 1865. We will continue this tradition by focusing on the policy arena. We feel that the policy debate format offers the most educational and competitive approach to the discussion of contemporary social issues.

How well would Baylor prepare me for graduate school or law school?

A recent study completed at Georgetown University shows that Baylor ranks first among 73 American doctoral granting private universities in the number of graduates who have gone on to earn doctorates in a professional field. Those students who eventually wish to attend law school may be interested to know that the Baylor School of Law offers a limited number of Leon Jaworski Scholarships for outstanding university debaters; these are full tuition scholarships to the law school.

How prominent nationally is the debate program at Baylor?

Baylor finished the 2008-09 season ranked 10th in the final national rankings. Baylor won the NDT (National Debate Tournament) in 1975, 1987, and 1989. Additionally, Baylor made an appearance in the semi-finals of the national debate tournament at the 1996 tournament. Baylor has one of the largest and oldest programs in all of intercollegiate debate.

Who are the coaches at Baylor?

The Director of the Glenn R Capp Debate Forum is Dr. Matt Gerber. Gerber was a 3-time NDT qualifier while debating at Southeastern Oklahoma State, 1992-1996. He coached at Baylor from 1997-1999 as a Graduate Assistant, and helped to coach two first-round at large teams while at the University of Kansas 1999-2003. Gerber returned to Baylor in 2003 as the Assistant Director under Dr. Karla Leeper, and was appointed Director in 2006. Dr. Gerber teaches courses in Argumentation, Persuasion, Legal Communication, The Rhetoric of American Foreign Policy, and Critical/Cultural Studies.

How many students participate in the Baylor debate program?

The number of debaters at Baylor will vary from year to year, but generally about twenty students participate in the program.

Is high school debate experience a requirement for participation?

No, high school debate experience is not necessary, but it is extremely helpful. Most Baylor debaters have participated in high school programs, but the extent and level of participation varies. The most important factors in achieving success in college debate are intelligence, motivation, and dedication.

How much time does it take to participate in debate at Baylor?

The amount of time a student spends on debate will vary with the debater's ability, motivation, and level of interest. Of course, participation in any worthwhile activity is time consuming. In addition to attending the squad meetings, debaters conduct extensive library research, site argument briefs, participate in practice rounds, and travel to tournaments. The amount of time a student is able to commit to debate will have a large impact upon the assignment of debate colleague and the selection of a tournament travel schedule.

How are debate colleagues selected at Baylor?

Colleagues are assigned by the coaches, but debaters have significant input into such decisions. We attempt to pair teams based on level of experience, desire, and ability level.

How many tournaments can I expect to attend each year?

The amount and type of travel is determined jointly by the individual team and the coaching staff. Students are not asked to travel at times that they prefer not to travel. The coaches make decisions about travel based upon student interest and level of preparedness. Some teams attend as few as one or two tournaments a semester; rarely will a team attend more than five tournaments a semester.

What types of tournaments does Baylor attend?

Baylor participates in NDT and CEDA debate at the college level, which is team debate involving policy resolutions (NDT stands for National Debate Tournament and CEDA stands for Cross-Examination Debate Association). We do not participate in individual events or Lincoln-Douglas debate competition. NDT and CEDA debate the same resolution for the entire season, with the following speaking format of 9-3-6 and 10 minutes of preparation.

How many classes are missed for tournament travel?

College debate tournaments are generally three day activities held Saturday through Monday. We typically leave for a tournament during the day on Friday and return on Monday evening. We usually drive to tournaments which are under 600 miles from Waco and fly to locations that are over 600 miles away. Whenever a student misses a class for a debate tournament, we provide a written notice to each of the student's professors indicating that classes will be missed for a University sanctioned activity. Students should, however, attempt to schedule as many Tuesday/Thursday classes as possible in order to minimize the number of classes missed. Since debaters enjoy the privilege of early registration, a schedule conducive to tournament travel is easily achieved.

Is debate at Baylor a squad or an individual team effort?

Most definitely, Baylor debate is a squad effort. College NDT topics are broad, and one team could not research a proposition adequately without jeopardizing grades in classes. Baylor's program relies on a central evidence and brief file. Each debater is assigned a topic area for research. Briefs related to specific arguments and cases are then prepared, duplicated, and distributed to each team. Baylor teams carry over 5,000 evidence briefs of original evidence. Given the amount of time we spend together, the squad develops a camaraderie which surpasses that of most college groups. Students are as excited about others' victories as they are their own.

Should I participate in debate my freshman year in college?

Yes, why lose the opportunity of a year's debate experience in any activity that offers so many individual advantages? Students who aspire to achieve the highest level of national competition generally need to begin the activity in their freshman year.

Can I participate in other activities while debating?

Yes, Baylor debaters participate in a number of other activities. Some activities include the band, varsity sports, and the campus newspaper. Fraternities and sororities take a great deal of time and may make debating difficult. While debate does take a great deal of time, debaters are encouraged to participate in other activities that will provide them with a well-rounded, broad-based college education.

What other activities are available besides tournament travel?

While tournament competition is the primary debate activity at Baylor, debaters also participate in public debate programs involving contemporary, controversial policy issues. Baylor debaters also judge in area high school tournaments as their schedule permits. Most Baylor debaters are also involved in teaching in the high school summer debate workshops held each year. Judging at tournaments and teaching in the high school summer debate workshops held each year can provide financial benefits to students.

Can I receive college credit for participation in debate at Baylor?

Yes, a debater can receive academic credit for participation in the debate program. While competitive tournament debate is an extra-curricular activity, the university recognizes the curricular value of debate and offers a student a total of 8 hours college credit for participation in debate. It is strongly recommended that incoming freshpersons interested in debate take CSS 1304 (Argumentation and Debate) in the fall semester.

Can incoming freshpersons work in the summer workshop?

Yes, some incoming freshpersons are accepted for employment in the Baylor High School Debaters' workshops. Contact Dr. Gerber for more information.

Are debate scholarships available at Baylor?

Yes, we have two Glenn R. Capp Debate full tuition scholarships to be awarded to incoming freshpersons. These awards are renewable for four years. There are also a limited number of smaller scholarships available for debaters. They are awarded or renewed annually based upon a student's ability and dedication to the program.

What if I have further questions?

Contact Dr. Matt Gerber at

Department of Communication

One Bear Place #97368
Waco,TX 76798-7368