National Parliamentary Debate Association



UPDATED SEPT. 21, 2022


1. What is parliamentary debate?

Parliamentary debate is an extemporaneous, generally policy-oriented form of two-person debate that values audience adaptation. In each debate, a two-student team represents the government side (or the side affirming the resolution); a second two–student team represents the opposition side (or the side negating the resolution). Students are expected to present arguments supporting their side while refuting arguments of the other team. Parliamentary debate was based loosely on the British model of parliament, but has evolved to a more Americanized hybrid of extemporaneous speaking and debate.  As a unique format of intercollegiate debate, NPDA privileges a breadth of knowledge about current events, domestic policy, and foreign affairs; embraces a range of argumentative forms, including both technical and more traditional styles of argument; and, rewards extemporaneous delivery, i.e., “thinking on your feet.”

There are a variety of forms of debate popular among US colleges and universities including: BP “Worlds” debate, APDA, IPDA, NFA-LD, Policy Debate (CEDA/NDT) and NPDA.


2. Where can I find rules about parliamentary debate?

The website has the latest rules; Click on “About NPDA” Click on “NPDA Rules”


3. What are the time limits for parliamentary debate?

Prep time = 15 min+:  Although tournaments are free to change this, the official rule is 15 minutes of prep PLUS the amount of time it takes to walk to the furthest building.  This has resulted in most tournaments using 20 minutes as a de facto standard.

First Proposition Constructive: 7 minutes
First Opposition Constructive: 8 minutes
Second Proposition Constructive: 8 minutes
Second Opposition Constructive: 8 minutes
Opposition Rebuttal by First Speaker: 4 minutes
Proposition Rebuttal by First Speaker: 5 minutes
Please note that there is no prep time in between each of the speeches. The following speaker is recognized as soon as the previous speaker has finished.


4. Where can I find tournaments that have parliamentary debate?

A. On the front page of the NPDA website.

B. On the COFO national Calendar : (

C. On Net Benefits parli discussion site (


5. How do I get a tournament sanctioned?

  • First, the host needs to be either a) a member of NPDA or b) a regional, state, or national organization. Pay your dues here:
  • Second, the tournament should be entered into the tournament database AT LEAST 30 days before the start of the tournament.  The database is here:
  • Third, the tournament director or host must submit results within two weeks after the tournament’s conclusion.  (
    • Results must include prelims and elims
    • Must include all divisions
    • Must have a codebreaker for all acronyms or codes used for school data
    • Must be in a format that can be easily read or deciphered.

6. What is the difference between the NPDA and the American Parliamentary Debate Association?

This will depend on whom you ask; however, most believe that there are three major differences:

  • APDA debate features relatively loose links (connections) to the resolution; NPDA debate is often tight linked to the resolution.
  • APDA debate is student-run; while there are student-run programs in NPDA, many programs are faculty sponsored.
  • APDA debate is national, with a primary focus in the U.S. East Coast; NPDA debate is national, with a predominant focus in the West.

7. What are some reading resources for parliamentary debate?

There is a textbook written by Larry Galizio and Dr. Trischa Goodnow. You can find out information through the Addison Wesley Longman website.

Dr. Michael Eaves from Valdosta State University has also written a textbook, Fundamentals of Parliamentary Debate, which was published by Kendall-Hunt and appears to be out of print.

John Meany and Kate Shuster have also written a textbook, Art, Argument and Advocacy : Mastering Parliamentary Debate, published by IDEA press.

Dr. Mark Crossman has written a text, Burden of Proof: An Introduction to Argumentation and Guide to Parliamentary Debate, 3rd edition. It is published by Cengage Custom Publishing.

Eric Robertson from San Diego State has written Strategic Argumentation in Parliamentary Debate, which is published by Lulu.

In addition, Dr. Robert Trapp has written a chapter that appears in T.C. Winebrenner’s Intercollegiate Forensics and on the NPDA website.

Otherwise, the reader is encouraged to be well-read in current events, as well as history, philosophy, etc. Remember: the realm of knowledge is that of a “well-read college student.”

In addition to these more traditional texts, there are a variety of web resources that are updated more frequently and are reflective of contemporary trends in NPDA debate. Among these sites are: and [whatever the address is for that Blog that Nick Robinson has recently tried to get off the ground].


8. Where can I find a list of colleges that participate in parliamentary debate?

A. COFO has a list of all college programs in all events.

B. NPDA Website. “Members” “Current Members”

C. NPDA Website. “Nationals” “List of all National Participants”

D. West Coast Debate has a listing it updates regularly


9. When will the invitation to the next national tournament be released? What’s the tournament hotel?

The invitation should be released in December with entry and hotel information.


10. How do I subscribe to the parli-l listserv?

Go to the following website:

Archives for both the new and old parli listserve can be found at:

If you have any questions, contact , the list owner.


11. How do I enter the national tournament?

A. Visit and enter your teams and judges and judge philosophies. Site will be opened in January for the March tournament.

B. Visit the NPDA website and fill out the national payment form for credit card payment. Or mail a check directly to the treasurer, Brent Northup.


12. I am missing a national trophy. I want to replace a trophy.

Contact Brent.


13. Why should I become a member?

  Basically, there are four advantages to becoming a member:

  • Only member schools have the ability to vote on NPDA issues.  This includes, but is not limited to issues at business meetings and/or changes in the activity
  • Only member schools may have their hosted tournaments sanctioned
  • Member schools are eligible to participate in the national championship tournament
  • Only member schools are awarded season-long sweepstakes awards at the national championship tournament.


14. How do I become a member?

You can submit the membership form online (see Member Info link above). OR submit a check to Brent Northup — the contact information is on the membership form page.


15. Where do I send tournament results?

Simply posting results to the parli-l is insufficient! Results must be forwarded directly to the Executive Secretary. Her contact information will be found at the end of this FAQ, or can be found on the leadership page listed above.


16. How do I find out results of tournaments?

Consult the Note: previous years are available from the drop-down menu at the top.


17. Why is tournament x not yet listed on the results? How long does it take to post?

IT will take a MINIMUM of two weeks after the tournament has ended for results to be processed.  Beyond that, results are often delayed because the tournament director has not yet submitted information. Often a tournament will not be listed because incomplete information has been received (i.e., elimination rounds aren’t listed, etc.). If there’s a question about a specific tournament, please wait a week or two — if it’s still not there, contact the Executive Secretary.

Please note: The Constitution calls for two official postings per year of the results. The website results are meant to be used for proofing purposes, not as an actual “rank in progress.” Because not every tournament provides information in a timely fashion, the results on the website are not guaranteed to be accurate until the end of the season. Only the official results published by the Executive Secretary should be considered as official rankings.


18. How are sweepstakes points figured?

Teams will receive a preliminary round point total equal to the decimal percentage of preliminary rounds won, multiplied by five. Preliminary round point totals will be calculated to two decimal points. Teams will accrue two points for a win for ALL elimination rounds that meet NPDA sweepstakes specifications.

A school will earn points for the top 4 teams for the school regardless of division. Thus, a school cannot earn points from the top 4 varsity and the top 4 JV and the top 4 novice teams.

  • An elim win counts as 2 points per round advanced (including byes) provided there are a sufficient number of teams at the elimination round level. If, for example, the tournament goes to quarterfinals with 12 teams, then the quarterfinal round won’t count for NPDA sweepstakes purposes. Points are earned for the all elimination rounds.


  • A team that wins 3 of 7 prelim rounds will earn (3/7) x 5 = 2.15 sweepstakes points.
  • A team that wins 4 of 5 prelim rounds and their first elim round will earn (4/5) x 5 + 2 = 6 sweepstakes points.


19. What is the difference between Season Sweepstakes and National Tournament Sweepstakes?


The Season Sweepstakes is based on the results of the top 4 tournaments for each school. The National Tournament Sweepstakes is based only on the National Tournament, and is based on the results of the top 4 teams for each school at the national tournament. Both sets of sweepstakes are announced at the National Tournament.


20. How do I contact the Executive Secretary?

Dena Counts


21. How do I get copies of DVDs of final rounds from the national tournament?

Treasurer Brent Northup has copies. Order through the NPDA Website.


22. How do I pay money to NPDA?

Easiest: The NPDA Website. Click “Payments” and then click “membership” or “Nationals” or “miscellaneous” depending on your need. This is a secure credit card payment system run by


Old fashioned: Send the treasurer a check: Brent Northup, Carroll College, 1601 N. Benton, Helena, MT. 59625.