Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an internationally recognized competition that challenges PhD students to present a compelling oration on their thesis and its significance in just 3 minutes, in language that anyone can understand. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or ‘dumbing-down’ research but requires students to consolidate their ideas, crystallize their research discoveries and capture the imagination of their audience.
Any currently enrolled CMU PhD candidate may sign up to compete.
- Sign up to compete by January 31st
- Qualifying rounds will be held February – March in the Posner Center
- Finals/Championship round will be held April 7th in the Rashid Auditorium
Winners in the qualifying rounds will receive an iPad or the equivalent value as a research/travel grant. Championship winners in April will receive $3000, $2000 and $1000 research/travel grants.
Each of the three judging criteria has equal weight. Note what each criterion has in common: An emphasis on audience.
- Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
- Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
- Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
- Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
- Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
- Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
- Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
- Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
- Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
- Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
- Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
- Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?
- A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description; 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 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
- Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. 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 movement or speech.
- The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
- The Public Communication for Researchers is holding the workshop Briding the Gap on January 27th, 5 – 6:30 pm in Baker Hall 235B. This is especially recommended for 3MT participants.
- The PCR offers additional workships, handouts, and resources for communicating about research.
- The Global Communication Center has tutors who can provide advice and feedback on your presentation
- The GCC also offers an online video series on a succinct, effective presentation
- Subject experts are always available to offer advice and assistance in your field
- How to present your thesis in 3 minutes
- Videos of winning presentations from around the world
- How to Win the 3MT
Other US universities participating include
The first 3MT was held at The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 with 160 graduate students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of an international competition in 2010. Today students from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong take part in their own regional events.
Dean of Libraries Keith Webster, who brought the 3MT challenge to Pittsburgh from Queensland in 2013-14, has every expectation that CMU students will continue to embrace the concept and provide the momentum to join regional and international 3MT competition in the future.