Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition at North Carolina A&T State University

[The next 3MT Competition at NC A&T will be held in Spring 2018. More information will be available soon.]

Details about NC A&T's 3MT Competition

1. Overview of 3MT

2. Who is Eligible?

3. How Do I Register?

4. Key Dates

5. Official Competition Procedures & Rules

6. Prizes! (& Other Reasons to Participate)

7. Judging Criteria

8. History of 3MT

9. Resources for Competitors


Overview of 3MT

In collaboration with the Graduate Student Advisory Council (GSAC), the Graduate College presents North Carolina A&T State University's Fall 2017 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition!

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition asks graduate students to present their master's thesis or doctoral dissertation research to a general audience in just three minutes and with one PowerPoint slide. The 3MT competition is part of the Graduate School's professional development effort. Graduate students who participate in the 3MT competition will work on critical communication skills that will serve them beyond their degree. Students will also have the opportunity to win prizes!

The 3MT Competition will consist of an open qualifying round, a semi-final round (ten competitors), and a final round (five competitors). The five finalists will compete for prizes in front of an audience on Friday, October 28 (note: the Final Round will also be recorded and shared online). The winners will receive prize money as follows: $500 for first place, $250 for second place, and $150 for third place (People's Choice--based on audience votes and online votes).

NOTE: The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research and communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. See for more information.

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Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, participants must be currently enrolled in a Master's or Ph.D. program and working on thesis or dissertation research. Participation will be limited to the first 50 students to register. Any eligible entries received beyond 50 will be placed on a waiting list to be reviewed if space becomes available. Note that participants must be able to attend all three rounds (Qualifying Round, Semi-Final Round, and Final Round)--see the dates and times below.

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How Do I Register?

To register to compete in the ____ 3MT Competition at NC A&T, you will need to fill out a registration form by ____. 


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Key Dates


____--QUALIFYING ROUND (all competitors)

____--SEMI-FINAL ROUND (10 competitors)

____--FINAL ROUND (5 competitors). This event will be videotaped and shared online.

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Official Competition Procedures & Rules

The main competition will proceed as follows:

  • Qualifying Round: All competitors will compete in this round.

  • Semi-Final Round: The top ten finishers in the Qualifying Round move on to the Semi-Final Round.

  • Final Round: The top five finishers in the Semi-Final Round will go on to the Final Round. The Final Round will be videotaped and shared online.
In each round, a panel of judges will assess the presentations on the basis of the Judging Criteria. In the Final Round, on the basis of the judges' scores, first place (prize: $500) and second place (prize: $250) will be awarded. Third place (People's Choice; prize: $150) is determined by "People's Choice" votes collected from audience members during the event and from online polling which will be open for a designated time period following the event (video of event will be posted online to allow for online People's Choice voting). The People's Choice award for third place will be announced a few days after the Final Round. In addition, there will be an in-person "GSAC Audience Award" at the Final Round, worth $100.

Competitors must adhere strictly to the following rules during the three minute presentation:
  • Presenter must use a single static PowerPoint slide (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 (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts the presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

[Adapted from]

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Prizes! (& Other Reasons to Participate)

Prizes will be awarded as follows:

  • First Place: $500
  • Second Place: $250
  • Third Place (People's Choice): $150
  • GSAC Audience Award: $100

In addition to the monetary prizes and the thrill of competition, there are other great reasons to participate in the 3MT Competition:

Skills development for research candidates
The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills, while emphasizing students’ ability to explain their research effectively in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Building research culture throughout the campus
3MT provides a valuable opportunity for students to come together across disciplinary boundaries, get to know one another, and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which academic programs and the campus at large can provide presentation skills training and feedback.

Building external relations for the university
3MT winners may go on to represent their university at other levels of competition, which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity. Previous 3MT finalists have benefited from invitations to a variety of other networking events following their participation in the competition.

[Adapted from]

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Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the two judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

  • 1. Comprehension & Content
    • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
    • 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?
    • 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 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?
  • 2. Engagement & Communication
    • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
    • Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
    • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
    • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
    • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
    • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

[Adapted from]

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History of 3MT

The first Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) was held at The University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its widespread implementation by universities has led to the development of an international competition.  The global reach of the competition can be seen by the extent of participation with universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Vietnam also hosting local 3MT events. [Adapted from]

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Resources for Competitors

Below, you will find several resources to help you craft your 3MT presentation:

-View examples of winning presentations from around the world

-How to Win the 3MT (PowerPoint presentation slides from the Australian National University)

-3MT: Three Tips (video featuring a former winner at the Australian National University)

-10 Hints for Improving Presentations for the Three Minute Thesis Competition (handout from Auburn University)

-Tips for 3MT Competitors (website from Flinders University)