Three Minute Thesis

Second place winner, Danielle Twum, smiling and holding a large check.

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

Developed by the University of Queensland, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by PhD students by cultivating students’ academic, presentation and research communication skills.

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.

The University at Buffalo 3MT Competition is co-hosted by the Graduate School and Blackstone Launchpad powered by Techstars. All monetary prizes are generously funded by Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.

Fifth Annual 3MT Competition (2021)

The Fifth Annual 3MT Competition is currently being planned as a virtual event for Friday, March 5, 2021. This is subject to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Check back during the fall 2020 semester for additional details.


Currently enrolled UB doctoral students actively engaged in dissertation research who have completed their Application to Candidacy are eligible to participate. UB 3MT finalists who competed in previous years are not eligible.

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


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. If material for public use is included on a slide, the reference(s) must be clearly cited on the slide. 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?


All prizes for the fourth annul 3MT competition are sponsored by UB's Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.

  • First place: $1,000
  • Second place: $750
  • Third place: $500
  • People's Choice Award: $250 (Determined by an audience vote using a smart device, during the event.)

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.

Past UB Preparation Workshops

Additional, Non-UB Videos

Other Resources