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

Registration for the 2020 3MT is open until Wednesday, February 26

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. Preliminary round winners have their choice of either $1,000 towards their research/travel needs or a $1,000 credit in the University Computer Store to be used at their discretion.

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

Then what? Winners of preliminary rounds will compete for an additional $500-$3,000 in research/travel grants in the Three Minute Thesis Championship.  Prizes will be given for 1st ($3,000), 2nd ($2,000), as well as the People's Choice ($500) and Alumni Awards ($500).

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 6:00pm in the Sorrells Library, Wean Hall.

Round 1: Tuesday, March 03
Round 2: Wednesday, March 04
Round 3: Tuesday, March 10
Round 4: Thursday, March 12
Round 5: Monday, March 16
Round 6: Wednesday, March 18
Round 7: Tuesday, March 24
Round 8: Wednesday March 25

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


The 2020 3MT Championship will take place on Tuesday, April 7 from 5:00pm – 6:30pm EST in Kresge Theater, CFA Building. 

The Championship is a public event, and 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 $1,000 towards research/travel needs or $1,000 credit to the University Computer store to be used at their discretion.

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 collaboration with the Global Communication Center (GCC), there will be a number of workshops geared towards students interested in participating in this year’s competition:

  • Date, Time, and Location: Wednesday, Feb, 12th, 6-7pm, Posner 280/282
  • Workshop title: "Communicating Research to Non-Experts (with examples from 3MT presentations)"
  • Workshop description: This joint GCC/PCR (Global Communication Center/Public Communication for Researchers) workshop will give you hands-on practice in
    • succinctly communicating the novelty of your research
    • developing metaphors that connect scientific concepts to daily life

We will use successful examples from CMU’s 3-minute thesis (3MT) competition to illustrate points and act as models for describing our own research.  This workshop is ideal for researchers planning to compete in the 3MT thesis, present their research in a job talk, or talk in some other public setting.


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