Three Minute Thesis Competition at the Expo

A student stands in front of a mic and gives her three minute thesis talk, with her powepoint slide behind her.

All master's and doctoral graduate students are invited to compete in UC's annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition, held during the Graduate Student Expo on Thursday, February 20, 2020.

The winner of the 3MT competition will receive a $400 award, which will be posted to his/her Catalyst student account. Second and third place will receive $300 and $200, respectively.

The winner of UC's 2020 Three Minute Thesis competition will be registered to compete in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' regional 3MT® competition. The MAGS 3MT competition will be held during the MAGS annual meeting in spring 2020.

Register to Compete in the 3MT

Registration for the 2020 3MT will open in October 2019. All students who register by the deadline will be accepted to compete in the 3MT.

All registrants will be required to participate in the Three Minute Thesis practice session in early February. This will allow registrants to acquaint themselves with the space and set-up, practice their performance, and receive feedback and tips for improvement.

What is a Three Minute Thesis?

Logo for the international Three Minute Thesis competition, founded by the University of Queensland.

First developed by The University of Queensland, Australia in 2008, the international Three Minute Thesis competition challenges students to summarize their research or scholarship for a nonspecialist audience using only three minutes of speech and a single PowerPoint slide.

Sample some of the best three minute theses by watching winning 3MT presentations from around the globe

Competition Rules

A student gives a Three Minute Thesis presentation on a stage with her powerpoint slide projected onto the screen behind her.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

All presentations will be evaluated and scored using the following criteria, as established by the international competition. (The international Three Minute Thesis competition made some updates to improve the clarity of the competition's judging criteria in February 2018.)

Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation—or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect, or was the presentation rushed?

Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation—was it clear, legible, and concise?