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Three Minute Thesis Competition: 3MT Details

The first 3MT was held at The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 with 160 graduate students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of an international competition in 2010. Today, students at over 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide take part in their own regional events.

Helen and Henry Posner, Jr. Dean of Libraries Keith Webster, who brought the 3MT challenge to Pittsburgh from Queensland in 2013-14, has every expectation that CMU students will continue to embrace the concept and provide the momentum to join regional and international 3MT competition in the future.

Important Information

  1. Only one static slide is permitted.
  2. No slide transitions, animations or movement of any kind.
  3. The slide is to be presented at the beginning of the presentation and stay visible throughout the presentation.
  4. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  5. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, etc.) are permitted.
  6. No notes of any kind (e.g. written notes, cell phones, or other mobile devices) are permitted.
  7. Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum.
  8. Competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  9. Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. no poems, raps, or songs).
  10. Presentations are to occur at the front of the room or on the stage (as appropriate).
  11. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  12. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Competitors are judged upon three equally important criteria: 


  • 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?


  • 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?

Communication Style

  • 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 speaker effectively convey their research using a well-paced, clear, and consistent communication style?

  • 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 slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?

All 3MT competitors will be scheduled to compete in a preliminary round. These qualifying competitions will occur in-person in Room #308 within Hunt Library between February 5 and February 22, 2024 from 5:00 - 7:00 pm Eastern Time. Participants will be able to designate their top three choices for Preliminary Round and we will do our best to accommodate these requests. Preliminary Rounds are free and open to the public to attend.

Winners of preliminary rounds go on to compete in-person in the Carnegie Mellon University 3MT Championship on Thursday, March 14, 2024 from 6:00 - 8:00 pm EST.

Preliminary Rounds: 

  • Monday, February 5, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Tuesday, February 13, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Thursday, February 15, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Tuesday, February 20, 5:00 - 7:00 pm
  • Thursday, February 22, 5:00 - 7:00 pm

2024 3MT Championship

Thursday, March 14, 2024 | 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. | Simmons Auditorium, Tepper

The 2024 3MT Championship will be held in the Simmons Auditorium on Thursday, March 14 from 6-8 p.m.

Winners of the preliminary rounds will face off in this exciting conclusion of the 2024 3MT. Ph.D. students will present their slide one final time to a panel of high-profile judges from campus administration, academic leadership, the Board of Trustees and the CMU Alumni Association. Do you have what it takes to be this year's champion?

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.

Students who compete in the 3MT Competition have a chance to win cash prizes. The winners of each preliminary round will receive $250.

At the 3MT Championship, students will compete for several prizes.

  • 1st Place: $3,000
  • 2nd Place: $2,000
  • 3rd Place: $1,000

Additionally, there are prizes based upon audience participation.

  • People’s Choice Award, live vote by audience: $500
  • Alumni Choice Award, live-streamed vote by the CMU Alumni Association: $750

Additional Resources

  • Specialized workshops and other resources for preparing a three minute thesis slide and presentation will be scheduled and provided leading up to the preliminary rounds.
  • Subject experts are always available to offer advice and assistance in your field.
  • Watch videos of winning presentations from around the world.
  • How to Win the 3MT