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.

About the Competition

The Three Minute Thesis (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.

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.

3MT competitions are held in over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide.


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. 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.


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.)

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.
  • Develop an “elevator pitch” of your research.

Rules and Judging Criteria


  • 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?

Preparation Workshops

3MT preparation workshops are offered each fall 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.

There are currently no preparation workshops scheduled.

Past Preparation Workshop Videos

Questions? Please review our Three Minute Thesis FAQs page.