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Debate and Speech

The Illinois College Debate and Speech program will connect you with the resources needed to compete at the highest level of intellectual sport, as you gain countless proven benefits for your future.


  • IC’s debate program will prepare you with the rigorous training needed to compete against the best college speakers, debaters, and actors in the country and around the globe at major national and international tournaments. 
  • Team members have access to expert coaches — including former national champions in all genres of debate and speech competition  —  along with state-of-the-art research equipment and practice facilities.
  • You will have the opportunity to study and compete abroad, learn to communicate in intercultural contexts, and grow your social networks by meeting future colleagues from across the globe. If you are an ESL student, you will have opportunities to develop high-level proficiency in English while traveling across the United States. 
  • All national and international competitions are funded by the Debate and Speech Team and you will be eligible to receive course credit for competing. 
  • Illinois College is committed to recruiting the best high school and community college students in the nation, while the opportunity to compete is open to the entire student body regardless of experience or current skill level. 
  • Debate and speech education has a long tradition as being a celebrated part of the student experience at Illinois College, dating back to Abraham Lincoln, who was an honorary member of two literary societies on campus. The tradition has continued throughout the years, with the team’s recent high rankings. 
  • The Debate and Speech program at IC is a member of the National Forensic Association and Pi Kappa Delta as well as proud sponsors of the annual Lincoln Douglas debate at the NSDA national tournament


The proven benefits of debate and speech include developing communication skills, research abilities, critical thinking capabilities, and intercultural competencies — all qualities that will help you stand out to a future employer or graduate school. 

Many students go on to use their debate experiences to pursue law careers, earning degrees at schools like St. Louis University, Baylor University, Loyola University of Chicago and University of Chicago Law School. Debate alumni also have reported being better prepared them for success in various professional environments - making them more effective educators, presenters, managers and team players with the ability to work effectively in diverse groups.