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Three Minute Thesis

An 80,000 word thesis would take nine hours to present. Your time limit ... Three minutes.

In spring 2017, the Graduate School and Blackstone LaunchPad hosted the university's inaugural Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. This competition provides all participants with a unique and invaluable professional development experience and competition winners are awarded monetary prizes up to $1,000.

3MT Winners

We are pleased to announce that the winners of UB's first annual Three Minute Thesis competition are:

First Place:
Philip Schneider
Second Place: Danielle Twum
Third Place: Hooman Ansari
People's Choice: Saeede Eftekhari


Click here to meet each of our winners and all of our finalists.

About the Competition

The 3MT competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students. Developed by the University of Queensland, the exercise cultivates students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills.

In the 3MT competition, graduate students convey the essence and importance of their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation research in an engaging way to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes and with one PowerPoint slide. A panel of judges will determine the first, second and third place prize winners.

The first 3MT competition was held at the University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 170 universities across more than 18 countries worldwide.

Prizes and Eligibility


  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $750
  • Third Place: $500
  • People’s Choice Award: $250

In addition to monetary prizes, all applicants will learn how to:

  • communicate your ideas effectively to the wider community,
  • describe your research findings to a non-specialist audience,
  • increase your profile within the UB research community,
  • network with other UB doctoral students, and
  • develop your “elevator pitch” of your research (especially useful for job interviews).


Doctoral students currently enrolled at the University at Buffalo and actively engaged in dissertation research who have completed their Application to Candidacy are eligible to participate. A competitive candidate should have a well-conceived dissertation project, compelling data collected and a novel story to share. Work presented must have been conducted at the University at Buffalo for the student’s current degree program.

Participants must be available to present, in person, at the 3MT Competition on Friday, April 7, 2017 in the UB Center for the Arts Screening Room.

All presentations will be videotaped and will appear on the Graduate School's website.

Rules and Judging Criteria


  • 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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., 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

  • Communication style: Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?
  • Comprehension: Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
  • Engagement: Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?

How to Enter

Enter the 3MT competition by completing steps 1-3:

Registration deadline: Wednesday, March 15, 2017 at 11:59 p.m.

Step 1:   

Create a 90 second audition video of yourself describing your dissertation research and its importance. When creating your audition video, please adhere to the rules outlined in the rules and judging criteria section on this web page. Upload your audition video to YouTube as a “public video.”

Video recording studios are available by reservation and free of charge in UB’s Silverman Library in Capen Hall. Watch yourself, assess your performance and share with others to get their feedback and improve your presentation.

Audition video submission requirements

  • If you do not already have a YouTube account, you will be required to create one.
  • Audition videos must be a maximum of 90 seconds in length.
  • Your audition video title does not need to be the title of your dissertation.
  • Audition videos must reflect the entrant's original dissertation research (modification of a previously published work will not be considered an original idea).
  • Audition videos must comply with YouTube terms of service and specifications for user submissions and/or video uploads, located at: and as may otherwise be posted on the YouTube website.
  • After all necessary information is verified, the audition video submitted to YouTube will be added to a playlist on the UB Graduate School’s YouTube channel.
  • Audition videos must be available for viewing from the time of submission through April 7, 2017.

Audition videos must NOT:

  • Exceed 90 seconds in play time.
  • Include mention or performance of any copyrighted media production including but not limited to music, films, books, television programming, etc., or identifying descriptions of any media property.

Step 2:

Complete the online UB 3MT registration form at:

Step 3:

Tweet your video at @UB3MT by using the phrase below and inserting your YouTube link:

  • Ready to compete! @UB3MT here’s the link to my pitch! #UB3MT #LaunchPadUB


Audition Video Judging

The judging period begins on March 16, 2017 and ends by March 24, 2017. A panel of judges selected by the Graduate School and Blackstone LaunchPad at UB will judge the entries and select 12 finalists to compete in the live 3MT competition on Friday, April 7, 2017 at the UB Center for the Arts Screening Room. Decisions made by the judging panel are final.

Finalists will be notified via email by March 24, 2017.

Preparation Workshop Videos

Three 3MT preparation workshops were offered this year to explain the competition and how to communicate your research to a non-specialist audience.  Each workshop was recorded in full, and can be used as a helpful resource for those preparing for the 3MT competition.

Additional Resources

Practice your presentation

Video recording studios are available by reservation and free of charge in UB’s Silverman Library in Capen Hall. Watch yourself, assess your performance and share with others to get their feedback and improve your presentation.


Other Resources

Questions? Please review our 3MT FAQs page.