Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Online Instruction

  • Why did the SDI choose to host online?

    There are lots of factors that influenced our decision to host the SDI online. A few of the key reasons:

    1. Cost/affordability - we felt like we could offer students a rigorous debate camp at a much lower price if the camp was offered online
    2. Tailored instruction - online platforms allow easier break-out capabilities and self-paced instruction so debaters can maximize what they get out of the camp
    3. Safety and planning - MSU has made the decision to not have the vast majority of students return for Spring Semester 2021. Rather that waiting to see what the future holds, which is difficult for families and the camp to plan for, we're going to spend our preparation planning to excecute the best online camp we can.
  • Will do you anything to build community since everyone will be remote?

    In addition to the competitive aspect, we realize the community component of debate camp is very important to students – we love that too and we’re going to do everything we can to maintain that. We’ll be doing some sessions live where students can join and meet each other and there will be opportunities for collaboration on the online platforms both through video and in discussion forums.

  • Can you describe more what you mean with online debating generally?
    You can find more information about online debating here.
  • What technological platforms will you be using?
    For the instructional platform, the SDI anticipates using D2L – the same system online classes use at MSU. We will also be using Zoom for video aspects. YouTube and Slack will also be used occasionally.
  • What are the technological requirements for attending?

    Students attending the online sessions of the SDI are required to have a computer, camera (external or on their computer), microphone (external or on their computer), and access to reliable internet. If you are interested in our recommendations for other technology, let us know.

    We realize that this potentially raises access issues for some families and will work as much as possible to have our financial aid awards this year reflect those needs.

  • What is the typical schedule for the days online?

    You can find a sample daily schedule here.

    The online days of the SDI will largely model daily activities at the previous brick and mortar SDI’s with more flexibility built in. Daily instruction will typically include a lecture, research activity, speaking drill and practice speech or debate. Lectures will likely combine some pre-recorded options as well as lectures that are recorded live and then posted later. A sample of some of those types of lectures can be found on our YouTube page. We also have a digital classroom with a sample day set up on the same platform that MSU uses for online instruction. If you’re interested in seeing that, just email us for login instructions.

    A huge upside to online instruction is access to high quality contributors from all over the globe. As part of our SDI 2019 beta-testing for remote contributors, students heard lectures from, Michael Horowitz, professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania and 2000 NDT Champion, Aaron Hardy, National Debate Coaches Association and NDT semi-finalist, and Alyssa Resar, Research Fellow at Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and multi-year TOC attendee.

  • How will you ensure safety of participants?
    MSU Debate abides by all MSU Youth Program requirements for hosting online programs. Platforms are password protected, interactions are monitored, and all staff undergo criminal background checks.



  • Can I switch sessions after I am accepted?
    Students may always request to switch into another SDI session. Acceptances and deposits (as well as any additional paid funds) are transferable into another session, as long as space permits. Deposits are not refundable if space is not available in the newly requested session if the camp was able to accommodate your originally requested session.
  • Is financial assistance available for students?
    Limited need-based financial assistance is available for students who qualify. All scholarship forms must be received by the end of April to be considered. Decisions will be sent out in early May. Applicants are asked not to contact the office about decisions unless they have not received a response by June.
  • When is the balance of my tuition due?
    After the deposit is submitted, the balance of the tuition is due at or before registration.

    All deposits are non-refundable for accepted students. Any tuition paid beyond the deposit is refundable before the start of the program. After the start of the program, all tuition and payments are non-refundable. By making a payment to the Spartan Debate Institute, you are hereby consenting to this refund policy.
  • Can I pay with a credit card?
    Yes, you can pay the deposit or entire balance of SDI tuition by credit card. We accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover. To pay by credit card, please visit
  • Is my deposit refundable?
    No. Deposits are non-refundable. The only exception is if we turn you away, e.g. if you apply after the program is already full.

    Any tuition paid beyond the deposit is refundable before the start of the program. After the start of the program, all tuition and payments are non-refundable. By making a payment to the Spartan Debate Institute, you are hereby consenting to this refund policy. 

    By making a payment to the Spartan Debate Institute, you are consenting to this refund policy and agree that decisions regarding refunds are made at the sole discretion of the Director of the Spartan Debate Institutes and are final.
  • Is my deposit due with my application?
    This depends on which camp you are applying for.

    For the two week session: A deposit in the amount of $300 is necessary to complete your application.

    For regular applicants to the four week session: You can apply without sending in a deposit. If accepted, students will have one week from the date of their acceptance to confirm their attendance with a $1000 deposit. Failure to submit a deposit on time may result in the forfeiture of admission.
  • When is the SDI application deadline?

    The early application deadline for the 4 week program and Spartan Scholars is April 5. Please note that in order to receive the tuition discount, we must receive your non-refundable $1000 deposit by April 5 as well.

    The traditional application deadline for the 4 week programs is May 17.

    The application deadline for the 2 week program is May 17. A $300 dollar deposit should accompany 2 week applications.