Three Minute Thesis

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

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On Friday, March 2, 2018, PhD research will come to life in the university's second annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition. This competition, hosted by the Graduate School and Blackstone LaunchPad, features PhD students communicating their research to non-experts and competing to win monetary prizes up to $1,000.

The deadline to register for the March 2, 2018 Three Minute Thesis competition will be early December. Check back on November 1 for more information.

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.

Doctoral students who have filed an Application to Candidacy are eligible to participate in the 3MT competition. Participants are judged on the ability to effectively convey the essence and importance of their research in an engaging way to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes, 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 600 universities across more than 59 countries worldwide.

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?

Preparation Workshops

Three 3MT preparation workshops will be offered in fall 2017 to help all graduate students learn how to communicate research to a non-specialist audience. Workshops are open to all graduate students and are a helpful resource for those PhD students preparing to enter the 3MT competition.

  • Communicating to Non-Specialist Audiences – Friday, October 27, 2:30-4:00 p.m., 210 Student Union
  • November: Public Speaking and Presentation Zen – details coming soon!

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 Three Minute Thesis FAQs page.