As one of the nation’s finest institutions of higher learning, UCLA is a leader in teaching, research and public service. The UCLA Department of Communication Studies is home to a nationally renowned speech and debate program that has been training thousands of students in the art of persuasive communication for nearly 100 years—in the process preparing them to become tomorrow’s leaders.

Students in the UCLA Speech and Debate Union gain much more than stellar verbal and written communication skills: they also learn how to thoroughly research and critically analyze a wide range of contemporary topics. This equips them to go head-to-head with their peers from other universities in debates about wide-ranging and complex policy issues.

Exposed to the intensity and thrill of top-level competition, students discover the extraordinary power of persuasion while participating in an intense, highly educational and deeply satisfying experience.

In the years ahead, UCLA is committed to continuing the program’s tradition of high standards and competitive excellence.


The Speech and Debate Union boasts a 96-year tradition of excellence in competition, diversity, scholarship and teaching.


  • UCLA has won seven national debate championships, more than any other school.
  • Since 1978, the Bruins have won the most individual debate tournaments in the U.S.
  • UCLA has captured numerous national titles in individual speaking events.
  • UCLA is the only program to have won four consecutive national debate championships (1982

    through 1985).


    Debate students come from a diverse range of socio-economic
    racial backgrounds. Together, they perfect their skills and study international debate topics, learning from and challenging each other along the way. This experience expands their world view and greatly enriches their undergraduate education.


    Research, organization, presentation, and defense of a debate position are invaluable skills applicable to many areas of professional and scholarly endeavors. The program encourages students to establish a higher standard of scholarly research and achievement than is expected of most undergraduates. At the conclusion of the debate topic, students present their findings in a colloquium with UCLA faculty members to ensure the research is of the highest quality.


    The program emphasizes quality instruction based on a close tutorial relationship between faculty and students. It offers students an intense, personal and nurturing undergraduate educational experience that develops a sense of intellectual community and belonging—all within the context of a major research university.