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Three Minute Thesis Competition: 3MT at CMU

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 from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong take part in their own regional events.

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


  • A title slide will be provided for the presenter. This slide will include the presenters name, home department, and title of their presentation. This information does not need to be on the presenter's main presentation slide. 
  • Only 1 single static presentation slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description; 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. note cards, costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes. Time begins once the presenter begins to speak. Competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the front of the audience.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


Competitors are judged upon three 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 have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?

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


2022 3MT Preliminary Rounds will be held on the following dates and times in the The Sorrell's Library Den. Please note that due to current COVID-19 restrictions and protocols, this year's 3MT preliminary rounds will employ a hybrid model through Zoom, with the participant giving their presentation to a virtual judging panel.

2022 3MT Preliminary Rounds: 

  • Round 1: Monday, February 21. 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 2: Wednesday, February 23.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 3: Monday, February 28.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 4: Wednesday, March 2.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 5: Monday, March 7.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 6: Wednesday, March 9.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 7: Monday, March 14.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

  • Round 8: Wednesday, March 16.  5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. 

Additional Info: 

  • Students are given the option to indicate their top choice of rounds. 
  • Students will then be randomly assigned to compete in one of the rounds they had selected. 
  • Students will compete in the round they were assigned. 
  • The winner of each preliminary round will move on to represent the round in the 3MT Championship.


2022 3MT Championship

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Kresge Theater, CFA

The 2022 3MT Championship will be held in the CFA Kresge Theater on Wednesday, March 30, 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Please note that due to current COVID-19 restrictions, the 2022 3MT Championship will be held in accordance with campus in-person activity protocols and requirements.

Winners of the preliminary rounds will compete against one another in the championship round. Championship round competitors will re-present their same slides from their preliminary rounds. No changes can be made to the slides from the preliminary rounds. The rules and judging criteria are the same between the preliminary rounds and the championship. Judges of the Championship include members of the campus administration, academic leadership, Board of Trustees, the CMU Alumni Association, and the winner of the previous year's competition. 

The 3MT Championship typically occurs during the week of Professional and Graduate Student Appreciation Week. All 3MT finalists will be expected to share their presentations with alumni returning for reunions during Spring Carnival on Friday, April 8th, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.


Students who compete in the 3MT Competition have a chance to win research/travel funds or technology. The winner of each preliminary round will have the choice of either $1,000 towards research/travel needs or $1,000 credit to the University Computer store to be used at their discretion.


At the 3MT Championship, students will compete for several research/travel grants.

  • 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: $500

Additional Resources