Coolidge Cup Online Qualifiers

If you are not able to make it to one of this year’s Qualifying Tournaments, or were not one of the top finishers that received a bid from one of those tournaments, you can still compete for a bid to the 2020 Coolidge Cup via one of our online qualifiers. This year we are excited to announce that we are hosting FOUR Coolidge Cup online qualifiers. They are:

  1. OPENS October 16, 2019; CLOSES November 9, 2019.
  2. OPENS November 20, 2019; CLOSES December 31, 2019.
  3. OPENS February 5, 2020; CLOSES March 7, 2020.
  4. OPENS April 15, 2020; CLOSES May 16, 2020.

Coolidge Cup bids will go to at least the top five competitors in each online qualifier. In addition to the opportunity to earn a Coolidge Cup bid, the top three competitors in each qualifier will receive cash prizes in the following amounts: 1st prize $500, 2nd prize $250, 3rd prize $100.

You may enter as many or as few of the Coolidge Cup online qualifiers as you wish. To enter, follow the instructions in the form at the bottom of this page. The application asks you prepare and record a five-minute video of yourself delivering either an opening affirmative or negative statement on the resolution that we have provided. There is also a place to list your debating accomplishments. Note that submissions are accepted up until 11:59pm ET on the closing date for each qualifier. Applicants will be notified of the results three weeks after the qualifier closes.

Resolution for Online Qualifier #3 (Runs from February 5 – March 7)

Check back here in February for the resolution and the research brief for Online Competition #3.

Video Dos and Don’ts

  • DO keep your video to under 5 minutes
  • DO title your video online with your name and your chosen side (affirmative or negative)
  • DO feel free to choose either side of the resolution (there is no “right answer”)
  • DO NOT use any props, or edit your video to enhance it with music, photos, graphics, etc.
  • DO NOT use language that would make your video unsuitable for a general audience
  • DO NOT wear or display awards or medals from other competitions

Judging Criteria

Each application will be scored on two component areas: 1) speaking content from the video submission, and 3) speaking style from the video submission. Each of those two areas is worth up to 10 points for a total of 20 possible points. The scoring is done internally and confidentially by the Coolidge Foundation. We do not share final scores, and unfortunately due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot give individual feedback. We will, however, let you know whether you have won one of the available Coolidge Cup invitations within three weeks of the close of the tournament. The Coolidge Foundation will give out at least the number of invitations , and reserves the right to give out more if .

With regard to speaking content, we are looking for: a) a clearly articulated opinion in response to the resolution, b) a compelling argument that an educated citizen would understand, and c) use of good-quality evidence. You should structure your speech appropriately, with a clear introduction, body, and conclusion. Inclusion of Coolidge quotes or ideas can add a nice touch, but they are neither required nor expected.

With regard to speaking style, we are looking for students to speak at an appropriate volume, with good articulation, and at a reasonable rate of speed (i.e., excessively fast talking or “spreading” is not recommended). Other elements of style include good eye contact, appropriate gesturing, and good posture.

If you wish to list your major debate accomplishments in the space provided, you may do so. This information is not scored explicitly, but we may consider it as supplemental information if a tiebreaker is necessary.


This application is open to legal residents of the 50 United States and the District of Columbia who are current high school students and who have received permission in writing from a parent or legal guardian. (Students must be in grades 9-12 as of May 2020.) “Solo” or “independent” students are welcome to apply, meaning that you do not need to be part of a school debate team or club.

Information About Past Online Qualifiers

Online Qualifier #2 (Closed December 31, 2019)

  • Resolved: The United States should adopt a single-payer healthcare system (commonly known as Medicare For All).
  • Download the research brief
  • Winners have not been announced yet.

Online Qualifier #1 (Closed November 9, 2019)

  • Resolved: The United States should replace its federal welfare programs with a universal basic income.
  • Download the research brief
  • Winners have been announced


Enter the Coolidge Cup Online Qualifier #3

The Coolidge Cup Online Qualifier #3 submission form is not open yet. Check back in February!