Three Minute Thesis

Imagine hearing an 80,000 word thesis explained in less than 180 seconds? Come out to this year’s Annual Three Minute Thesis competition. Enjoy some Howling Cow ice cream and support the finalists from your program or college. The 2017 competition will be open to both Ph.D. and master’s students. The event is free and open to the public, so check back for details.

The 2017 Three Minute Thesis competition will be held on Tuesday, October 31.

Submissions & Preliminaries

Submissions for Three Minute Thesis open Monday, Aug. 28. Submissions should include:

  • Graduation date
  • Title of presentation
  • One slide (minimum text) for your presentation (can also be emailed before prelims)

Preliminaries will be held from Sept. 26 – 28.

Research Communication Workshops

The Professional Development Team will be holding two workshops on research communication skills:

  • Friday, Aug. 25, 1-3pm – Register
  • Thursday, Sept. 7, 10am – 12pm – Register

These workshops are intended to prepare those individuals who are interested in participating in 3MT. Attendance at one workshop is mandatory in order to compete in 3MT. If you cannot attend either workshop due to scheduling conflict, please let a member of the Professional Development team know as soon as possible.


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an international research communication competition. The exercise challenges Ph.D. students to present a compelling oration on their thesis topic and its significance in just three minutes. 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 the 2016 winners and finalists and the 2015 winners and finalists!


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 are eligible to participate. Alumni are not eligible.


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

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 Sept. 26-28, 2017 the required preliminary round and participate in one of two workshops, Aug. 25 or Sept. 7 (see above, Research Communication Workshops).


  • 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

Example 3 MT Winners from the University of Queensland

How to Talk About your Thesis in Three Minutes

NC State’s 2016 3MT Winners and Finalists

NC State’s 2015 3MT Winners