Pitch Your Study, Make Some Money: Apply to Three Minute Thesis Today!

Written by Erin Michel, Graduate Assistant for the Graduate College

Three minute thesis logo

Attention all master’s and doctoral students who enjoy talking about their academic endeavors, gaining professional skills, and winning money—there's still time to sign up for the Graduate College’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition! 3MT challenges students to summarize their research, creative, or scholarship project for a non-specialist audience in only three minutes, using only a single PowerPoint slide to guide their presentation. The competition is back at UC in-person for the first time since 2020 after a pandemic-related hiatus (it was held virtually in 2021 and not at all in 2022). All of us here at the Graduate College simply cannot wait for some bite-sized snapshots of groundbreaking scholarship! There’s nothing quite like being gathered all together in a room, listening to passionate students describe their work in a way that any one of us can understand and get excited about. 3MT gives us a chance to learn what our peers are doing, whether it’s discovering, innovating, or creating. Whether you want to present or simply sit back, listen, and learn, this is an opportunity that shouldn’t be missed.  

Presenters, get your application together quickly, though—this year, applications are due by February 6 at the latest. Preliminary competitions will be scheduled throughout February 1-8, and those who advance through the initial stages will take part in the final competition on February 22 from 2:30-3:30PM in Probasco Auditorium 210. Check out this page for more information about qualifying, preliminary competition locations and times, presentation guidelines, and to apply. The benefits are larger than ever: the first-place winner will receive a $1,000 prize, second-place $750, and third-place $500! And new this year, the Graduate College is excited to introduce a people’s choice award which will be selected by popular vote of all attendees for an impressive $1,000 prize. Since competitors can win both a judicial award and the people’s choice selection, one person could theoretically net up to $2,000, a pretty hefty sum for three minutes! Additionally, the first-place winner will earn an all-expenses paid trip to Chicago to represent UC in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools' regional 3MT competition on March 31.  

Monetary prizes and the chance to advance to further competitions are certainly not the only reasons to consider applying to 3MT, however. According to the University of Queensland, original developers of the competition, “Participating in 3MT develops academic, presentation and research communication skills, while developing research candidates’ ability to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.” Even if students do not choose to participate, they are still encouraged to attend and learn from their peers’ research. In fact, according to Dr. Li-Wen Lin, Program Manager for Graduate Student Professional Development and overseer of this year’s 3MT, the people’s choice award was instituted for this very reason—to better engage the audience and solicit peer feedback to provide a different perspective from that of the judges. As for how competitors can best prepare to impress this audience as well as the judicial committee? “The best advice is practice, practice, and practice,” she says simply, and recommends that competitors consult the official 3MT competitor guide for further guidance on drafting the presentation, creating their slide, and delivery.  

A man holding a microphone points at a screen and speaks.

A previous competitor presents his work at the 2020 3MT competition.

To sign up for 3MT, make sure you complete the following steps: 
  1. Apply online at this link, ASAP (by February 6 at the latest, but earlier is better to ensure there is adequate space in preliminary rounds!
  2. Send your slide to no later than 2 days before you compete in order to be eligible. Slide must be static (i.e., text only, no moving or interactive features)
  3. Attend an optional specialized training to further prepare for 3MT. Information on training will be sent to your email after registration. 
  4. Email the Graduate College 3MT organizers with any questions at