Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Debate Team Header


Do you have novices?

Absolutely. We accept debaters of any experience level, as well as students with absolutely no experience. Walk-ons are welcome, and indeed, have produced some of our finer debaters.

How much time does debate take up in a week?

It depends upon what you want to get out of your participation in debate. Do you view debate as one of many extracurricular activities in which you take part in order to enjoy yourself and enrich your education? Or is it your goal to become one of the top debaters in the country? On the average, our debaters seem to spend between five and twenty hours per week on debate work.

How many practice rounds do you usually have?

Each debater must participate in some practice rounds (we recommend two) before attending a tournament. This requirement may be modified if the debaters attended a tournament on the previous weekend.

What kinds of scholarships are available?

We work with the UGA administration to secure out of state waivers for qualified debaters. The University of Georgia Debate Union, in conjunction with the Richard B. Russell Foundation, has initiated the Richard B. Russell Scholarship, an award of $2500 awarded each year to outstanding Georgia High School interscholastic debaters. For more information about these scholarships, contact Dr. Bjørn Stillion Southard at the following address:

Dr. Bjørn Stillion Southard

617 Caldwell Hall

University of Georgia

Athens, GA 30602


The University also offers a vast array of other scholarships. More information can be found by contacting the financial aid office.

How much experience should I have to debate varsity in my first year?

Most policy tournaments offer only a single division of debate, but they vary widely in the intensity of competition offered. To compete in the open division, you should have varsity experience at the national or regional level. If you have such experience, and your work effort is sufficient, we are willing to travel you to top national tournaments during your first year of debate. If not, we'll likely travel you to the tournaments that do offer quality regional competition

How successful is Georgia Debate?

We regularly qualify teams for the elimination rounds of national tournaments, including the National Debate Tournament

Do you do CEDA or not?

That division no longer has any real meaning. With the integration of the two organizations and the choice of a joint policy topic, we are able to attend both traditional CEDA and NDT tournaments

Does the administration support debate?

Definitely. We occupy the entire ground floor of Phi Kappa Hall. We therefore have one of the largest meeting spaces of any debate program in the country. Our travel budget allows us to travel several teams on a complete national circuit schedule each year, as well as sending less experienced debaters to a variety of regional and local tournaments. The team pays for many ancillary expenses of participation in debate, such as supplies, photocopies, etc.

How will my travel schedule be determined?

The coaching staff decides which teams should be sent to which tournaments based upon two factors: (1) your work effort, and (2) at what level of competition you are capable of having a worthwhile educational experience. We are not averse to sending debaters to tournaments at which they will not qualify for the elimination rounds if they wish to attend such tournaments and they've done enough work to merit such privileges. Similarly, we do not feel obligated to send highly experienced, highly successful debaters to every tournament they wish to attend if their work output is low.

How big is the team? Would I actually get to go anywhere?

Between ten and eighteen students attend debate tournaments in the course of the year. Generally, the squad has between three and five stable teams that travel consistently throughout the year. And yes, anyone who works hard, both at research and at skill improvement will be sent to tournaments of sufficient competitive intensity to challenge their abilities.

What is your philosophy of coaching?

Debate is an educational opportunity. We are professional educators who work to facilitate your chances of (a) improving and (b) winning. You are not our mouthpiece. We do not dictate your arguments or strategies. Within ethical constraints, you are free to explore different argument types and styles and learn for yourself which arguments are more effective than others within the parameters of your talents. We give advice, conduct practice drills, and execute the bureaucratic tasks that enable you to compete. We conduct ourselves in a professional fashion, and we expect our debaters to behave in a similar fashion.

Does the Georgia Debate program have an expectation that students and staff will act professionally while attending tournaments?

Members of the Georgia Debate Union represent the University of Georgia at debate tournaments both locally and nationally. Professional and polite conduct is expected of all participating in any debate events. Disagreement should always be respectful. We expect everyone associated with the program to adhere to the behavior regulations found in the UGA Handbook.

Support our Team

We greatly appreciate your generosity. Your gift enables us to offer our students and faculty opportunities for research, travel, and any number of educational events that augment the debate experience. Support the efforts of the Georgia Debate Union by visiting our giving section.

Learn More