What is NSDA?

The National Speech & Debate Association (NSDA) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational honor society founded in 1925. It is the oldest, largest, and most recognized speech and debate association in the U.S., and their national tournaments are the largest in the world. By 2023, it has 3,403 school members, 134,615 student members; 3,932 coach members;  and 2 million alumi.

NSDA alumi are known for their prominence and influence in the U.S. A few names from the 2 million alumi are: Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen Breyer, and Samuel Alito; media visionaries Oprah Winfrey and Ted Turner; actors Brad Pitt and Renee Zellweger; TV personalities Stephen Colbert and Tom Lennon; and Senators Richard Lugar, Russ Feingold, and William Frist.

The National Speech & Debate Tournament has been held continuously since 1931 (except during World War II). NSDA encourages improvement of students by awarding NSDA points and granting degrees for participating in contests. NSDA points are highly respected and recognized by the U.S. universities, and the statistics show that NSDA students are the top 5% of their classes, perform better in all standardized exams such as SAT, and have 22 – 30% higher chance of being accepted to the top notch universities in the U.S. Contests are held in the following areas:

  1. public forum debate
  2. policy debate
  3. value debate
  4. legislative debate
  5. U.S. topic extemporaneous speaking
  6. foreign topic extemporaneous speaking
  7. original oratory
  8. interpretation of dramatic literature
  9. interpretation of humorous literature
  10. duo interpretation
  11. commentary
  12. impromptu speaking
  13. prose reading
  14. poetry reading
  15. expository speaking
  16. storytelling

Colleges care about “which” tournament you participated in. The reason why NSDA is such a big name in the U.S. has all to do with their amazingly long history of over 90 years and distinguished alumni.

See More Alumni

NSDA (the U.S. National Speech & Debate Association) is a huge name recognition for U.S. college applications.

Here is a video link to help you understand about NSDA: 

Debate Articles

Your School Doesn’t Have to Win Nationals

  • Billman, J. (2008). Your school doesn’t have to win nationals: Pedagogical and practical benefits of forensics to educators and administrators. Rostrum, 82(8), 23-25.

Forensics and College Admissions

  • Luong, M. (2000). Forensics and college admissions. Rostrum, 75(3), 5-6.

An Investigation into the Relationship Between Participation in Competitive Forensics and Standardized Test Scores

  • Peters, T. L. (2009). An investigation into the relationship between participation in competitive forensics and standardized test scores. Rostrum, 84(2), 37-51.

Forensics Participation as Gifted and Talented Education

  • Carroll, R. C. (2007, February). Forensics participation as gifted and talented education. Rostrum, 81(6), 31, 34-36.

Assigned Advocacy, Argumentation, and Debate in High School Classrooms

  • Wade, J.M. & Zorwick, L. W. (2009). Assigned advocacy, argumentation, and debate in high school classrooms. Rostrum, 83(8), 13-15.

Enriching Education

  • National Forensic League. (2009). Enriching Education. Ripon, WI: Author.

A Better Investment Not Found on Wall Street

  • Carr, J.E. (2002). A better investment not found on Wall Street. Rostrum, 76(5), 25-26.

Your Community Doesn’t Have to Win Nationals

  • Billman, J. (2008). They don’t have to win nationals: The benefits of forensics to parents, communities, and society. Rostrum, 82(9), 97-99.

You Don’t Have to Win Nationals

  • Billman, J. (2008). You don’t have to win nationals: Cognitive, professional, and interpersonal benefits of forensics to student participants. Rostrum, 82(7), 35-37.

Powerful Preparation in the NJFL

  • Billman, J. (2009). Powerful Preparation in the NJFL. NJFL Newsletter, 1(3), n.p.

The benefits of debate for school administrators and board members

  • Letter in support of NFL speech and debate by Executive Director J. Scott Wunn.
  • Wunn, J.S. (2012). Advocacy Letter. National Forensic League: Ripon, WI.
  • Letter in support of NFL speech and debate by President William W. Tate, Jr.
  • Tate, W. W. (2012). Advocacy Letter. National Forensic League: Ripon, WI.
  • Letter in support of NFL speech and debate by Vice President Don Crabtree.
  • Crabtree, D. (2012). Advocacy Letter. National Forensic League: Ripon, WI.

Forensics Can Change Lives

  • Shaw, E. (1995). Forensics Can Change Lives. English Journal, 84(7), 51-54.

Scholastic Benefits of Speech and Debate Activities

  • National Forensic League. (2011). Scholastic Benefits of Speech and Debate Activities. Ripon, WI: Author.

Advocating Debate and Speech (Forensic) Education

  • National Forensic League. (2010). Advocating Debate and Speech (Forensic) Education. Ripon, WI: Author.

Forensics: Enhancing Civic Literacy and Democracy

  • Briscoe, Shawn F. (May 2009). Forensics: Enhancing civic literacy and democracy. Principal Leadership, 9(9), 44-49.

Making the Case for Forensics

  • Minch, K. (2006). The Value of Speech, Debate, and Theatre Activities: Making the Case for Forensics. Indianapolis, IN: National Federation of State High School Associations.

Find Your Voice

  • National Forensic League. (2012). Find Your Voice. Ripon, WI: Author.

Giving Youth a Voice: The National Forensic League

  • National Forensic League. (2010). Giving Youth A Voice. Ripon, WI: Author.

In Defense of Competitive Speech

  • Crawford, Rob. (2003). In Defense of Competitive Speech. Rostrum, 78(3), 19-21.

Read more from NSDA Website

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