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 2020 KU 3MT® Key Dates

The 2020 KU 3MT competition will take place virtually. Participants are expected to film a video of their presentation that meets the criteria outlined in the "Presentation Rules and Requirements" tab lower on this page. 

Participating students will first compete in preliminary heats beginning October 26; top presenters from the heats will be selected by judges to compete in the finals beginning November 4. 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.

Application Opens: September 14
Application Deadline: September 25
Deadline to Submit Video for Heats: October 21
KU 3MT® Heats: October 26-October 30
Deadline to Submit Video for Finals: November 4
KU 3MT® Finals: November 9–13

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 2020 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.The videos will be public

Presentation Rules and Requirements

  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech (timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
  • Videos must meet the following criteria:
    • Filmed on the horizontal;
    • Filmed on a plain background;
    • Filmed from a static position;
    • Filmed from one camera angle;
    • Contain a 3MT title slide;
    • Contain a 3MT PowerPoint slide (top right corner/right side/cut to)
    • Recorded using either Zoom or Kaltura
  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description). This can be visible continuously, or ‘cut to’ (as many times as you like) for a maximum of 1 minute or submitted via email if not included in the presentation.
  • The 3 minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted within the video recording.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • Video submissions must be made via URL format (a video link provided to Event Coordinators). You must record your video using either Zoom or Kaltura, and generate a link to the recording that you will use for your submission. Files sent in other formats will not be accepted. If you need any assistance in using these recording tools, contact the Media Production Studio at 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.

    Presentations are evaluated by the Presentation Judging Criteria.The decisions of the judges are final and not negotiable.

Application to Participate

Application Form:
Application Deadline: September 27. Applications will not be accepted after the deadline.
Presentation Slide Submission: After the application deadline, you will be provided with a link to a presentation submission form. You must submit your video presentation by October 21, 2020. Videos will not be accepted after this deadline. If you do not submit your video by the deadline, you will not be eligilbe to participate.

3MT Presentation Workshop

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

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

*An Outlook calendar invitation with the Zoom link will be sent to the those that confirm their participation through the application form.

As you get ready for this workshop, please prepare:
• A draft of your video for 3MT
    ** The video draft can be just a sketch of what you expect to present. It will most likely change after 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 (expenses paid for by the Office of 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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