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.

3MT at CMU

Think you can describe your research and its importance in 3 minutes?

Who's eligible to compete: CMU doctoral candidates. Come one, come all.

Why compete: Meet peers from around CMU and hear about what they're doing. (Very) good chance to win research/travel grants or technology prizes and gain early career recognition.

What happens next? Start practicing. All 3MT registrants will be scheduled to compete in preliminary rounds. All rounds run from 5:00 – 6:30pm in the Sorrells Library.

Then what? CMU's 2018 3MT Championship. Winners of preliminary rounds will compete for $500-$3000 in research/travel grants in the Three Minute Thesis Championship. The Championship will be held on Tuesday, April 10 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm in Kresge Theater, CFA Building. 

All preliminary rounds and the championship are open to the public to attend. 

  1. Only 1 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).
  2. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  3. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  4. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  5. Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. no poems, raps or songs).
  6. Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  7. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  8. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

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?


The Preliminary Rounds are held from 5:00pm to 6:30pm in the Sorrells Library, Wean Hall. The dates for each round are:

Round 1: Thursday, February 8
Round 2: Tuesday, February 13
Round 3: Wednesday, February 14
Round 4: Tuesday, February 20
Round 5: Friday, February 23
Round 6: Wednesday, February 28
Round 7: Monday, March 5
Round 8: Thursday, March 8
Round 9: Tuesday, March 20
Round 10: Wednesday, March 21

Preliminary Rounds are public, and all are encouraged to attend. The winner of each round will move on to compete in the 3MT Championship on Tuesday, April 10. 


The 2018 3MT Championship is being held during Graduate and Professional Student Appreciation Week on Tuesday, April 10 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm EST in Kresge Theater, CFA Building. The 3MT Championship is a public event, all are encouraged to attend. 


Students who compete in the 3MT Competition have a chance to win research/travel funds or technology.

The winner of each preliminary round will have the choice of either $500 towards a research/travel grant, or their choice of the latest iPad or Apple Watch.

At the 3MT Championship, students will compete for several research/travel grants.

  • 1st Place: $3,000
  • 2nd Place:  $2,000
  • 3rd Place: $1,000

Additionally, there are prizes for audience votes:

  • People’s Choice Award, live vote by audience: $500
  • Alumni Choice Award, live-streamed vote by Alumni Association: $500


In partnership with the CMU Global Communication Center, two Workshops have been scheduled to prepare students to compete in the Three Minute Thesis Competition. 

This workshop will help you explain your dissertation research in a compelling way for the 3MT competition. Successful 3MT presentations balance technical content with audience considerations. In this workshop, you will learn about a series of moves to help frame your research, focus on the most compelling aspects of the work, and make a strong case for your work's importance to non-specialist audiences. Register for this workshop.
 

This workshop will allow you to practice performing your 3MT talk while receiving peer feedback on your content and delivery. The low-stakes workshop environment can help you get valuable feedback and ease your nerves before the preliminary rounds. You should arrive with your 3MT script and be ready to deliver it orally. Register for this workshop.


The Public Communication for Researches offers additional workships, handouts, and resources for communicating about research.

Subject experts are always available to offer advice and assistance in your field.

Watch a prezi demo on how to present your thesis in 3 minutes 

Watch videos of winning presentations from around the world

How to Win the 3MT