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3 Minute Thesis Competition

2020 Virtual 3MT® Competition
Video & Slide Submission Deadline : 11:59pm EST | Nov. 4, 2020
VIRTUAL Event: Thursday November 12, 2020 | 12-1pm


3 Minute Thesis


What is the Three Minute Thesis Competition?

Created at the University of Queensland (Australia), THE 3MT® competition provides graduate students the opportunity to develop their professional presentation and research communication skills. Students do not have to be completing a thesis in order to participate. This is an opportunity to showcase your graduate thesis, disquisition, project or business plan in a three-minute presentation geared to a general audience using only one slide. Even projects in a preliminary stage can be presented in a three-minute format. 

If you have any questions about the 3 Minute Thesis Competition, please contact the Graduate School:


First Place: $500 Tuition Award for the Spring 2021 term AND $500 Cash
Second Place: $250 Tuition Award for the Spring 2021 term AND $250 Cash
People's Choice: $250 Tuition Award for the Spring 2021 term AND $250 Cash

Cash awards provided by the Graduate Student Association

How to Compete in the 2020 VIRTUAL 3MT Competition

All graduate students who are currently enrolled in a degree or certificate program and who will be enrolled for the Spring 2021 term are eligible to participate in the Three Minute Thesis competition.. Graduate students who will graduate at the end of the Fall 2020 term are not eligible since the Tuition Awards are for the Spring 2021 term.

Registration is closed.


Recording your 3MT presentation can be done using a camera and or handheld video recorder however most phones allow you to record through the camera function and most computers have recording ability (via camera or webcam) using inbuilt programs such as:


Camera App
Microsoft Photos - Video editing feature

Online programs which you might like to consider include:

Zoom - see how to record yourself via Zoom.

Video presentations that exceed three minutes will be disqualified.

More resources to help you create your 3MT video and slide with be forthcoming.

When your video is complete, upload it to a One Drive file and provide the Graduate School with a link to your video.

Submit the link to your video AND your single, static PowerPoint slide to by 11:59pm EST November 4, 2020. In the Subject Line, reference 3MT Competition - Your Name.

After the October 15 registration deadline passes, you will receive more information on the Virtual 3MT Competition on Thursday November 12 from 12-1pm. This invitation will be distributed to the greater campus community, so encourage your friends and faculty members to attend and support you for the People's Choice Award. 

Please note: competitors *will not* be judged on video/ recording quality or editing capabilities (optional inclusions). Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide.

Depending on the number of entries, videos may be reviewed by a preliminary judging panel. Only the top 10 videos will be viewed and judged during the VIRTUAL event on November 12. 

A panel of judges will view and score the videos shown during the VIRTUAL event and will decide on the first and second place award winners.

All registrants present for the November 12 VIRTUAL event will complete a poll at the conclusion of the video viewing to choose the People's Choice award winner.


Judging Criteria:

1. Comprehension and Content

2. Engagement and Communication


3MT® 2019 Award Winners 

Kevin Jenson
"How Russian Rhetoric Predicted the Trump Presidency"

Master of Arts in English


Molly Gooden
"The Fitness Consequences of Parenting Styles in Carolina Chickadees (Poecile carolinensis)"

Master of Science in Biology


Holli Stillman

"Too Much Mattering?"
Master of Education in Higher Education Student Affairs


Frequently Asked Questions

All WCU graduate students can participate, whether in a residential or distance program.

Yes! All types of professional projects are appropriate topics for a 3MT® presentation—business plans, meta-analyses (watch an example), literature reviews, and original research.

Yes! Preliminary data can be presented in a 3MT® competition. After all, you are presenting for only three minutes. You can provide limited data in that amount of time; just be sure to inform your audience how this data highlights future research. (Watch an example of a 3MT® winner presenting preliminary research.)

3MT® will help you hone an important skill needed as a graduate student and professional. The ability to distill complex information into a short speech with high impact for a lay audience is a valuable skill for all aspects of one’s life.

If that is not reason enough, how about this? The top winner in WCU’s competition will receive a $500 tuition award to be credited to their student account. Second-place and People's Choice winners will each receive a $250 tuition award. The first-place winner will represent WCU at the Council of Southern Graduate Schools regional competition on March 5-7, 2020 in Birmingham, AL (expenses paid).

YouTube has examples of good 3MT® presentations. An effective presentation tells the audience why the research is important, and it hooks the audience early. A metaphor or comparison is also useful for the audience. Be sure to tell the audience what your research reveals, but do not bog them down in the minutia. The Graduate School will provide coaching for students. You can learn more about 3MT® here:

Here are some example presentations related to subject/discipline that might inspire you to participate.


YouTube has examples of good 3MT® presentations. An effective presentation tells the audience why the research is important, and it hooks the audience early. A metaphor or comparison is also useful for the audience. Be sure to tell the audience what your research reveals, but do not bog them down in the minutia. Faculty advisors/sponsors often serve as a coaching resource, but if you desire additional coaching assistance, please contact the Graduate School. 

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. Slide must be a normal 4:3 size. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. 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.
  • No notes, cards, or written sheets are allowed.
  • 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 either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


Comprehension & Content

  • 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?

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?

2017 Three Minute Thesis Award Winners

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