Three Minute Thesis Competition

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About the Competition

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland. The exercise challenges current graduate students to present a compelling oration on their thesis or dissertation topic and its significance in just three minutes. 3MT develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

2023 3MT competition

3MT Semi-finals
: Oct. 24 & 25
MSC 2222-2223

3MT Finals
: Nov. 14, 3:00-4:30 p.m.
MSC Ballroom


For more information, contact
Dr. Sheena Stewart, (334) 844-2130

3MT at Auburn

Auburn University’s 3MT competition is held once per year. To determine
who competes in the 3MT, a preliminary competition is held and the top
10 competitors advance to the university-wide final and compete for cash
prizes. Auburn’s winner will also have the opportunity to represent the
university in regional 3MT competitions.


Competition rules:

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or “movement” of any description)
  • 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 (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 movement or speech
  • The decision of the judging panel is final


Once a student begins their presentation, the clock begins to run. With 30 seconds to go, the timekeeper holds up a sign. A bell chimes at the end of the 3-minute period. If a competitor breaks any of the competition rules, they are disqualified.


Judging criteria:

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be judged by a panel of five judges on the three judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

  • Comprehension
    • 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?
  • Engagement
    • 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?
  • Communication
    • Were 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 too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
    • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation — was it clear, legible and concise?


Each judge assigns competitors a score of 1 through 10 for each of the three criteria. Once presentations are over, the judges’ scores are combined and the student with the highest points tally is declared the winner. Additionally, the audience casts their own ballots to select a winner for the People’s Choice Award (which is not awarded during the preliminary).


Prize money awarded at the 3MT final:

Winner $500
Runner-up $250
People’s Choice $250
We are working to obtain sponsorship for the 3MT competition. If we are successful, the amount of prize money offered is likely to increase.


The winner and runner-up are both eligible to receive the People’s Choice award. Prize money is deposited into each competitor’s student account.


3MT resources for students:


The first 3MT was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 RHD (research higher degree) students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of an international competition. The inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT was held at UQ in 2010 with 33 universities participating.


In 2011, 43 universities were represented in the Trans-Tasman 3MT which was hosted by The University of Western Australia, and for the first time students from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong took part in their own regional events.


Auburn University held its first 3MT in the summer of 2013.