Skip to main content

3 Minute Thesis logo

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience.

3MT was developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, and is now held in more than 900 universities in 85 countries around the world.

Master’s and Doctoral students enrolled at UNC from any discipline administered by The Graduate School are welcome to register and participate in the competition.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Rules and Eligibility

Key Dates:

September 16, 2020 – 4-5pm – 3MT Information Session and Workshop – REGISTER

October 1, 2020, 5pm – Video recording and slide submission due to join competition – Submit your 2020 Virtual 3MT Presentation

October 21, 2020, 7pm – Final 3MT featuring top 10 (live, virtual event)

  • First place – $1000 and participation in regional 3MT competitions to represent UNC Chapel Hill (TBD)
  • Second place – $600
  • People’s choice – $400

The Process for 2020 Virtual 3MT Competition

How to join the competition:

  • Create your slide and prepare what you will say. Practice, practice, practice
  • Get some tips on shooting a video with your phone (see tips below). Your slide and video will be shared with the judges so no need to capture the slide in the frame while you’re video recording yourself.
  • Check out the 3MT Virtual Competitor Guide for more tips
  • Upload your video to your own YouTube site, Vimeo account, or create in Zoom so that a URL can be shared and submitted for judging.
  • Submit your information, title, link to your three-minute video and slide by October 1, 5 p.m. using this form.
  • Judges will critique the videos and provide feedback to all participants. Ten finalists will be announced the week of Oct. 12.
  • The Big Event. The top 10 Finalists will present their 3MT presentation live on October 21, 7pm.– a panel of judges will vote on 1st and 2nd place winners
  • All in attendance will be able to vote in real time for the People’s Choice winner. All winners will be named in the live event.

Video Production Resources

Here’s some basic video production tips:

  • Shoot in landscape, not portrait
  • Use a tripod or lean your camera against something steady when shooting your video
  • Light yourself and don’t shoot video with a bright light behind you (like a sunny window)
  • Try to angle the camera so it’s not looking up or down on you.
  • Avoid background noise when filming
  • Don’t wear clothes with patterns or clothes that will make you blend into the background color

2019 3MT Competition Winners

2019 3MT Competitors:

Olufunmilayo Arogbokun, a doctoral student in epidemiology, “Can Obstructive Sleep Apnea Impact Flu Severity?”

Lauren Bates, a master’s student in exercise and sport science, “Exercise Training Immune Response in Breast Cancer Survivors vs. Healthy Controls”

Anna Batorsky, a doctoral student in biostatistics, “Going Above and Beyond the Human Genome to Solve the Mysteries of Chronic Kidney Disease”

Jenna Beam, a doctoral student in microbiology and immunology, “The Battle Against the Bugs: Antibiotics versus Staph”

Samantha Ervin, a doctoral student in chemistry, “The Role of Gut Bacterial Enzymes in Hormone-Driven Disease”

Alison Mercer-Smith, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, “Turning Skin Cells into Cancer-Killers”

Adele Musicant, a doctoral student in genetics and molecular biology, “Genes Gone Bad”

Tong Qiu, a doctoral student in geography, “Predicting When and Where Autumn Foliage Coloration Will Peak in the United States”

Shannon Speer, a doctoral student in chemistry, “Probing Protein-Protein Interactions: How Studying Proteins in Their Native Environment Can Help Us Treat Diseases”

Rylee Wander, a doctoral student in pharmaceutical sciences, “Harnessing the Power of Nature: Optimizing the Enzyme-Based Production of the Drug Heparin”

Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

Comprehension & Content

  • 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?

Engagement & Communication

  • 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?