Three Minute Thesis

Join the Graduate School for the 4th annual Three Minute Thesis on October 30, 2018 from 3-5 pm in Hunt Library’s Duke Energy Hall. Ten finalists will have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance. 3MT® develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills and supports the development of research students’ capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Cash prizes are awarded to first- and second-place winners and to a “People’s Choice” winner, chosen by audience members. See videos and other information from past winners and finalists:
2017 winners and finalists
2016 winners and finalists
2015 winners and finalists

Enjoy Howling Cow ice cream and support the finalists from your program or college. The event is free and open to the public. Visitor parking is available near Hunt Library.

Finalists Will Compete Oct. 30 in Three Minute Thesis

Ten graduate student finalists representing four NC State colleges will compete in the Graduate School’s fourth annual Three Minute Thesis on Oct. 30, as part of Red and White Week.

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Active graduate students — both Ph.D. and master’s students. Ph.D. candidates must have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation in order to participate. Master’s candidates should be in at least their second year of their program and have made significant progress on their research thesis. Alumni are not eligible.


1st Place $1,000 | 2nd Place $750 | People’s Choice $500

An 80,000 word Ph.D. thesis would take 9 hours to present. Their time limit... 3 minutes.

Competitor Information

Presentation Requirements and Guidelines

  • 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.
  • The PowerPoint must be NC State brand. Click here for template.
  • 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 (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • 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.
  • All competitors must be available for the required preliminary round and participate in one of two workshops (dates to be announced soon).


  • 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 trivialise or generalise 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?



Slide for 2015 NCSU winner; Haritha Malladi

Slide from 2015 finalist, Doreen McVeigh

More Resources and Examples

How to Talk About your Thesis in Three Minutes

NC State’s 2016 3MT Winners and Finalists

NC State’s 2015 3MT Winners