Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation

About Stanford Debate Society

Main content start

Who We Are 

Stanford Debate Society (SDS) participates in a variety of different debate events on campus, throughout the United States, and across the globe. We compete on the intercollegiate circuits of APDA (American Parliamentary Debate Association), NDT (National Debate Tournament) and the global British Parliamentary circuit. We represent Stanford at the World Universities Debating Championships (WUDC), the international championships held annually in the British Parliamentary format. We also bring debate to the campus and greater Stanford community by engaging in public debates on various issues.

Each year we hold the Stanford Invitational High School Tournament for the benefit of high school speakers and debaters nationwide.

SDS Demo Debate

Our Legacy

Re-founded in the late 1970s by Professor Mark A. Lemley, Stanford Debate has a long, rich history of competitive success and is one of the top-ranked university debate organizations in the world. SDS are the current U.S. National Universities Champions (USUDC), and won both the North American Universities Debating Championships (NAUDC) and the North American Debating Championships (NorthAms) in 2018 and the APDA National Championship in 2008.  SDS has appeared in the final round of the World Universities Debating Championships (BP) in 2018 and in 2012, and has appeared in the final round of the North American Universities Debating Championships (BP) & US Universities Debating Championships (BP) many times.  SDS members have won numerous APDA tournaments, top speaker awards and other honors.

SDS Enshia

Our Community

SDS is composed of approximately 60 undergraduate and graduate Stanford students from all academic disciplines and year groups. We welcome anyone in the Stanford community with an interest in competitive debate. We are committed to being a community of equal access, free of discrimination, prejudice, or bias and upholding the Stanford Fundamental Standard.

SDS members range from people who were international debate champions in high school to people who did not know what debate was until they joined the team. No previous debate experience is required, and we pride ourselves in our history of training members to become world class debaters no matter their prior background. 

SDS members become part of an extended campus family. We train together, with weekly practice rounds and personal feedback from our world-class coaches. We travel and compete together across the globe from the East Coast to London, to Sydney and Vietnam. Most importantly, we bond together with regular socials and team dinners on campus and during our travels. SDS also contributes to our local communities by giving members the opportunity to organize our high school and college tournaments, demonstration debates and coaching local high school students. 

SDS is entirely student run and operated, with elected team leaders planning the schedule of competitions, conducting introductory training and running the program.  Our coaches work with students to improve skills and prepare for competitions by reviewing preparation, observing practice debates and leading lectures and seminars on a variety of relevant topics.


Life Beyond Stanford

SDS's alumni have had a remarkable record of successes in their careers during and after Stanford. They have attended top graduate schools, have worked at leading companies, and served as senior government officials. Our member and alumni destinations have included: 

  • Accenture
  • Alphabet (Google)
  • Amazon
  • Bain & Company 
  • Bank of America
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Bridgewater Associates
  • The D.E. Shaw Group
  • 8VC
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Government of Singapore
  • Intel
  • KKR
  • Meta
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Microsoft
  • NASA
  • Samsung
  • SpaceX
  • The University of Oxford on Rhodes Scholarships
  • The World Bank Group
  • The White House
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. State Department
  • U.S. Department of Transportation
  • Visa
  • Law Schools including Yale, Harvard and Stanford 
  • MBA Programs including Stanford, Harvard and Wharton