Three Minute Thesis Competition

Three Minute Thesis Competition logo

What is 3MT®?

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. It was first held in 2008. This event challenges graduate students to present a compelling speech about their research and its significance to non-academic persons in just three minutes using only one presentation image. Currently, 3MT is held in over 600 universities across more than 65 countries worldwide.

The goals of the competition are to (1) highlight the excellent research conducted by graduate students and (2) improve graduate students’ communication of research to non-specialist and non-academic audiences. The judges of the competition are educated professionals in a variety of positions in corporate, government, and non-profit industries. 

Fall 2019 KU 3MT®

Participating students will first compete in preliminary Heats on Oct. 24; top presenters from the Heats round will be selected by judges to compete in the Finals round on Nov. 5. In the Finals, judges will select the first place winner ($500) and second place winner ($250), and a People's Choice award winner ($125) will be selected by the audience. The first place presenter will represent KU at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 3MT® Competition April 1- 3, 2020, with travel, lodging, and other expenses paid for by the Office of Graduate Studies. 

Application Deadline: October 14
Presentation Slide Deadline: October 21
KU 3MT® Heats: October 24, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Parlors and Centennial Rooms of Kansas Union
KU 3MT® Finals: November 5, 6:00 – 7:00 pm, Kansas Room of Kansas Union
MAGS 3MT®: April 1-3, 2020, Milwaukee, WI

Eligibility to Participate

• A participating student must be enrolled in credit hours in a master’s or doctoral program at the University of Kansas for the Fall 2019 semester.
• A student’s graduate program need not require a thesis or dissertation.
• A student’s 3MT® presentation topic must cover an original research project that is being conducted as part of the student's graduate program.
• Students may not give a presentation on research completed as an undergraduate or research completed at another institution.
• Students are not required to have reached a particular stage in their research, but those who have achieved significant progress in their research are likely to be more competitive.
• If presenting research that includes sensitive or proprietary information, students should seek approval from their advisor or principal investigator before applying to participate in the competition.

Presentation Rules and Requirements

• One single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted.
• No slide transitions, animations, or movement of any kind of the slide content are permitted.
• The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the presentation.
• No additional electronic media are permitted (e.g. sound and video files).
• No additional props are permitted. (e.g. notecards, scripts, pointers, costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment)
• Presentations are to be spoken word only ( poems, raps, or songs).
• Presentations are live and in-person; no pre-recorded or remotely transmitted presentations are permitted (e.g. Skype or Facetime).
• Presentations are to commence from the stage.
• Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter begins through movement or speech.
• Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
• No questions, comments, or conversations are allowed between presenting students, judges, and the audience, whether before, during, or after the student’s presentation. (Applause is welcome, though!)
• Presentations are evaluated by the Presentation Judging Criteria
• The decisions of the judges are final and not negotiable.

Application to Participate

Application Form: Apply by filling out this form.
Application Deadline: October 14, 2019. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.
Presentation Slide Submission: After the application deadline you will be provided a link to a presentation slide submission form. You must submit your PowerPoint slide in 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio by 11:59pm on October 21, 2019. Slides will not be accepted after this deadline. If you do not submit your slide by the deadline, you will be required to speak without one!

3MT Presentation Workshop

Want a leg up on the competition? Consider coming to the 3MT Presentation Workshop!

Date: Wednesday, October 16
Time: 2:30 - 5:00 pm
Venue: TBD

As you get ready for this workshop, please prepare:
• A draft of your slide for 3MT
    ** The slide can be just a sketch of what you expect to present. It will most likely be greatly changed after the workshop.
    ** Please send your PowerPoint draft slide in 16:9 (widescreen) aspect ratio to by 11:59pm on Monday, October 14.
    ** This will be taken as your RSVP for the workshop
• A list of 5 or more key words for your presentation
• An outline of your 3 minute presentation
    ** You don’t necessarily have to write it down, but you will practice a version of it in the workshop.
    ** This is not something that has to be polished, but you should be able to talk for 3 minutes about your research

Competition Prizes

Sigma Xi will provide free membership to their society to the top presenters in the Heats whose research is in the social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

1st place - $500 award and serve as KU’s representative at the MAGS 3MT® competition, April 1-3, 2020 (travel, lodging, and other expenses paid for by Graduate Studies)
2nd place - $250 award
People’s Choice - $125 award

First and second place is determined by the judges. Judges are educated professionals in a variety of positions in corporate, government, and non-profit industries. The presentation that receives the most votes from the audience will be selected as the People's Choice awMT ard winner. The People's Choice award winner may also be selected by the judges as their first or second place winner.

Resources for Preparing your 3MT® Presentation 

NOTE: 3MT® is the legal property of the University of Queensland and KU has signed an agreement to follow the rules and requirements for the competition. Deviating from the rules and requirements disqualifies KU from holding a 3MT® competition and disqualifies KU students from competing in other 3MT® competitions.

Sponsorship: KU 3MT® is sponsored by the Office of Graduate Studies and the KU Society of Sigma Xi.

Do You Have Questions?: Please contact Graduate Studies,  

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