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Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

An annual competition for University of Rochester doctoral students

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that challenges doctoral students to describe their research to a global audience—within three minutes.


Fall 2023 competition

A new 3MT contest will be taking place this fall, culminating with final presentations during Meliora Weekend!

Key details

  • Registration is now open, and will remain open on a rolling basis until all contest slots are filled
  • Subheat schedule: Presentations will occur on September 18 and September 25, 2023
  • Finals schedule: The final round will be held on October 6, 2023

Explore this page to learn more about the contest parameters, eligibility, and past winners.

Contest overview

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) logo

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Visit the 3MT organization’s website for more details.

Eligible doctoral students at the University of Rochester can participate, and winners will receive travel funding prizes. The competition is brought to you by the University’s Graduate Education Office and University Libraries.

Fall 2023 schedule

The finals for the Fall 2023 competition will occur during Meliora Weekend on October 6, 2023. Additional schedule details are outlined below.


There will be two rounds of subheats; participants will compete during just one of the two days:

  1. September 18, 2023 from 4–7 p.m. at 109 Bausch & Lomb Hall
  2. September 25, 2023 from 4–7 p.m. at 109 Bausch & Lomb Hall

Competitors will be assigned to each subheat on a first come, first serve basis.                              If you have a scheduling issue that needs to be taken into consideration,                              please contact us at


The final round will be held on October 6, 2023 from 4–5 p.m. at 1-101 Dewey Hall. There will be an awards reception immediately following the final competition in Schlegel Hall, Eisenberg Rotunda.


The competition is open to current Ph.D. and Professional Doctorate (Research) candidates who have passed their qualifying exam or are in their third year of study or greater.

Rules and judging criteria

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. 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.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word.
  • 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.

Judging criteria

Judges are drawn from diverse disciplines within the university and the broader Rochester community. Review the judging rubric for full details on the judging criteria. Judging is broken up into two major categories:

  • 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?
  • 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?


Participants have multiple chances to win.

  • Top Two Finalists Per Sub-Heat: $100
  • Final Presentation:
    • Winner: $750
    • Runner-up: $500
    • People’s Choice: $250

2023 training sessions

There are several relevant training opportunities to help get participants prepared.

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