The Graduate College

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

Overview of 3MT

The Graduate College is proud to present North Carolina A&T State University's Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. For information about past winners, please see our 3MT competition archive.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition asks graduate students to present their research to a general audience in just three minutes and with one PowerPoint slide. The 3MT competition is one of the Graduate College's professional development initiatives. 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 prize money (up to $500) and earn the opportunity to represent N.C. A&T at the regional 3MT competition.

The 3MT Competition will consist of a Preliminary and a Final Round. Judges will screen registrants and determine who will be invited to the Preliminary Round, and then who will move on to the Final Round. The finalists will compete for prizes in front of an audience of students, faculty, administrators, and invited guests. The Final Round presentations will also be recorded and shared online. First Place, Second Place, and Third Place awards will be determined by the judges at the Final Round, which will be immediately followed by a reception to commemorate the event. The winners and their advisors will also be honored at a Graduate Student Awards Luncheon event in the Spring.

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

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, participants must be currently enrolled in a Master's or Ph.D. program at N.C. A&T and engaged in active research. The Preliminary Round will be capped at 30 participants. Note that participants must be able to attend both rounds (Preliminary and Final Round).

How Do I Register to Compete?

To register to compete in the Fall 2023 3MT Competition at N.C. A&T, you must COMPLETE THE 3MT REGISTRATION FORM by 4pm on Monday, October 23rd.

Note that the registration form requires you to upload a 1-minute video in which you: 1) state your name and give a very brief overview of your research, and 2) state how participation in the 3MT competition will support your professional development as an A&T graduate student. You will also indicate your preferred time slots for the Preliminary Round on Wednesday, November 8th, should you be selected to compete.

Key Dates

  • REGISTRATION DEADLINE: Complete the Registration Form no later than 4pm on October 23, 2023 (see additional details above).
  • QUALIFYING SCREENING: October 24 - 26. Judges will determine which of the registrants will compete in the Preliminary Round.
  • INVITATION TO COMPETE: October 27. Students who qualify to compete (based on registration screening) will be notified by email. Each competitor will be assigned a time slot for the Preliminary Round.
  • PRELIMINARY ROUND: November 8. Competitors will be assigned to one of the following time slots: 9:00-10:00am, 10:00-11:00am, 11:00am-12:00pm, 1:30-2:30pm, or 2:30-3:30pm.
  • FINAL ROUND: November 15, 3:00-4:30pm. Select competitors will move on from the Preliminary Round to compete for prizes in the Final Round. The Final Round presentations will be recorded and shared online.

Official Competition Procedures & Rules

The main competition will proceed as follows:

  • Qualifying Screening: A panel of judges will review all registration submissions and determine who moves on to the Preliminary Round.
  • Preliminary Round: Competitors will be assigned to one of the time slots and will present in person in a front of a panel of judges. The panel of judges will determine who moves to the Final Round.
  • Final Round: Finalists compete for the cash prizes. The Final Round will be videotaped and shared online after the event.
  • In each round, a panel of judges will assess the presentations on the basis of the Judging Criteria. In the Final Round, a panel of judges will determine the first place, second place, and third place awards.

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 on-screen movement of any kind; the slide is to be presented from the beginning and throughout the duration 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. The time limit is strictly enforced. Competitors who go beyond the 3 minute time limit will be disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations in their entirety must remain in the designated staging area.
  • The 3 minute presentations time is considered to have commenced when a presenter starts the presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

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Benefits of Participation

Recognition and Prizes for Winners

Competitors have the opportunity to win one of three cash prize: First place ($500), Second Place ($300), and Third Place ($200), minus any applicable taxes. The winner will also participate in the regional 3MT competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools, scheduled for March 13-15, 2024 in Greenville, South Carolina. The Graduate College will help cover conference registration and travel expenses for the winner.

In addition, the winners and their advisors will be honored at the Graduate Student Awards Luncheon, scheduled for April 2024. 

Skill Development for Researchers 

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, 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. The 3MT competition thus serves the goals of the University's strategic plan, Preeminence 2020.

Building External Relations for the University 

Videos of 3MT finalists will be shared online and through the official Three Minute Thesis organization. Participation opens up new opportunities for networking and carrying NC A&T's name and reputation further afield.

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Judging Criteria

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

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 (or anticipated results)?
  • 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 trivialize or generalize 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]

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]

Resources for Competitors

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