38th Annual California State University Student Research Competition

Cal Poly is excited to host the CSU-wide Student Research Competition on April 26 & 27, 2024 in San Luis Obispo!

The California State University Student Research Competition is an annual event that brings together scholars from the 23 campuses of our California State University system. The competition showcases undergraduate and graduate research, scholarship, and creative works by recognizing outstanding student accomplishments. across the 23 campuses.

Current undergraduate students, graduate students, and recent alumni from all academic disciplines can participate. Each year, over 200 students from the 23 CSU campuses submit written papers and make oral presentations before juries of professional experts from major corporations, foundations, public agencies, and universities in California. Students who compete in the CSU Student Research Competition can win $500 for first place and $250 for second place recognition in their session.

Each CSU campus appoints a campus coordinator and develops its own procedures for selecting student delegates to the system-wide competition. Interested students should contact their campus coordinator for more information. Only those students endorsed by the campus coordinator can enter the system-wide competition.

Students at Cal Poly

Cal Poly selects delegates to represent the campus at the CSU-wide competition via an internal research/creative activity competition that occurs in Winter quarter; applications are due January 19, 2024; the internal competition is February 23-24, 2024). Cal Poly students and recent Cal Poly alums can find information about how to enter our internal competition here: Cal Poly Internal Research/Creative Activity Competition.

Timeline for the CSU-Wide Student Research Competition

  • Wednesday, March 13, 2024: Campus coordinators will submit a list of students who have been selected by their campus for the system wide competition to CSUresearchcomp2024-at-calpoly.edu.  
  • Friday, March 15, 2024: Each student delegate must register via the CSU Student Research Competition 2024 Registration Form (link to be posted). A written summary of the research/creative activity must be provided as part of competitor/delegate registration. 
    • The summary must include the name(s) of the student(s) and the title of the presentation.
    • The written narrative should
      1. Utilize a font size of 10 or above
      2. Have margins of at least 0.75”
      3. Should be a minimum of one page and not exceed two pages in total (1-2 pages)
      4. Appendices (bibliography, graphs, photographs, or other supplementary materials) are optional, may not exceed three pages total, and will be uploaded separately from the written narrative.

What research or creative activity is eligible? 

Undergraduate or graduate students currently enrolled at any CSU campus and alumni/alumnae who received their degrees in winter, spring, summer or fall 2023 or winter 2024 are eligible.

Presentations from all disciplines are welcome. The ten disciplinary categories are as follows:

  • Behavioral, Social Sciences & Public Administration
  • Engineering and Computer Science
  • Biological and Agricultural Sciences
  • Health, Nutrition, and Clinical Sciences
  • Business, Economics, and Hospitality Management
  • Humanities and Letters
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Education
  • Physical and Mathematical Sciences

There will be separate undergraduate and graduate divisions for each category (unless a division has four or fewer entrants, in which case the divisions may be combined).

The research/creative activity presented should be appropriate to the student’s discipline and career goals. Proprietary research is excluded. All research must comply with all applicable policies and regulations. Research that involves human or animal subjects must have appropriate institutional review.

Competition Guidelines

Students will present their work orally before a jury and an audience. Students will compete by discipline category and, typically, by division (undergraduate/graduate). 

Student presenters will have 10 minutes for an oral presentation of their work and five minutes to listen and respond to juror and audience questions. It is expected that a student will not make a presentation by simply reading directly from the written summary. In cases in which entries are multi-author, we recommend that oral presentations be made by no more than two students, with any additional group members, as relevant, responding to juror and audience questions. 

All entrants may use audiovisual materials as appropriate, and presenters are encouraged to use delivery techniques that promote interaction with the audience. 

Entrants in the Creative Arts and Design category may present an audio and/or visual recording of a performance they have given or a work they have created; their oral presentation should focus on the rationale and historical context underlying their interpretation of the material.
Each entry (oral presentation plus written summary) will be judged on the following:

  1. Clarity of purpose
  2. Appropriateness of methodology
  3. Interpretation of results
  4. Value of the research or creative activity
  5. Ability of the presenter to articulate the research or creative activity
  6. Organization of the material presented
  7. Presenter’s ability to address questions from the jury and general audience

Travel Info for Student Presenters, Accompanying Staff & Supporters

All accompanying staff and supporters who will attend the competition must register (link to be posted) by March 29, 2024.

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Student questions should be directed to the local campus coordinator. Coordinators may contact CSUresearchcomp2024-at-calpoly.edu with any questions.


The 2024 CSU Research Competition is organized by the Cal Poly Office of Student Research in partnership with the Office of the Vice President of Research and the Division of Research. Additional support is provided by the Office of the Provost. The campus contact is Dr. Jane Lehr, Director of the Office of Student Research.

Cal Poly is a nationally ranked public university located in San Luis Obispo, California, known for its Learn by Doing philosophy. Each year about 22,000 top-tier students come to Cal Poly to put knowledge into action, taking their learning outside the classroom as they prepare for careers in areas such as engineering, agriculture, science, business, humanities and the built environment. Cal Poly’s hands-on approach, small class sizes and close student-faculty mentorships result in graduates Ready Day One to impact their communities, California and the world. Visit: www.calpoly.edu

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