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Three Minute Thesis (3MT®)

Three-minute Thesis

What is a 3MT competition?

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition for master’s and doctoral students to develop and showcase their research communication skills. Developed by The University of Queensland, 3MT cultivates students’ academic, professional, presentation and research communication skills. To be successful, competitors must effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

This year, Villanova will be hosting its inaugural 3MT competition on Friday, March 27, 2020, in Driscoll 134 at 5 p.m.

A panel of judges will select a first-place winner ($1,000 award), a second-place winner ($500 award), and audience members in attendance will select an audience choice winner ($250 award). In addition, the first place winner of Villanova’s 3MT® competition will be entered into the regional 3MT competition for the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools, taking place in Quebec City, Quebec, on April 16, 2020.

How do I enter the competition?

All students will first submit a self-recorded video of their presentation according to the timeline listed below. All video submissions will be reviewed and all finalists who are invited to present live at the final competition on March 27 will be notified by March 13. See below for specific submission details and submission form button.

What are the rules?

  • 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. For the initial video submission, the PowerPoint slide can be attached as a file along with the video recording of the oration.
  • 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 three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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.

What are the 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 and content:

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • 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 and 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?

Who is eligible?

All graduate students who have engaged a research project in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences are eligible to enter this contest. Whether you are a master’s or doctoral student, writing a thesis or dissertation, or just working on a research paper for a course, you are eligible to apply for this exciting competition!

What is the schedule for Spring 2020?

Date Time Happening
Wednesday, January 29

5:00 p.m.

3MT Information Session in Connelly Cinema

Friday, March 6

11:59 p.m. Online Video Submissions Due
Friday, March 13 5:00 p.m. Notification of Finalists
Friday, March 27 5:00 p.m. Villanova’s 3MT Competition
Thursday, April 16 TBD Regional 3MT Competition in Quebec City, Quebec

Information Session

The Dean of Graduate Studies, Dr. Emory Woodard, will host an information session about 3MT on Wednesday, January 29, 2020, at 5:00 p.m. in the Cinema in the Connelly Center. Dinner will be provided.

This information session will also be live streamed and recorded so that online students and students who cannot make it to campus can attend. You can view this 3MT® Information Session remotely by clicking the button below. 

Online Video Submissions

Students will be required to enter a video submission by Friday, March 6 at 11:59 p.m. Entries should be submitted through the form using the button below. Please share the URL link to your three-minute video stored on OneDrive or Google Drive, or you may share a link to a video uploaded to YouTube. There will be a file upload button to submit your single PowerPoint slide along with a link to the video of your three-minute oration.

You are welcome to record your video on your own using whatever device you choose. If you would like to record your video on campus or require any assistance, reach out to the CLAS Office of Graduate Studies.


Notification of Finalists

Finalists will be notified if they are invited to present at the March 27 competition by Friday, March 13.

Villanova’s 3MT Competition

The 3MT competition will take place on Friday, March 27 at 5:00 p.m. in Driscoll 134. The competition will be judged by a panel of three faculty judges. The panel of judges will award prizes to first and second place. The audience will select the winner the audience choice award.

Presentation Resources

Villanova’s Center for Speaking and Presentation (CSP) is an excellent resource as you prepare for your video submission as well as the final competition on March 27, 2020. CSP recommends scheduling several sessions with them as you prepare and perfect your presentation. Schedule your initial consultation.

Check out the videos of winning presentations from some of our peer institutions:

Finally, here are some online resources to promote your success:

3MT is a professional and highly engaging international research communication competition

To learn more about the competition history, rules, and to gain valuable preparation tips, visit the 3MT website.

Three-minute Thesis
Villanova University Graduate Liberal Arts and Sciences



3MT Winner 2019 - Cornell University

3MT Winner 2019 - UMass Amherst

3MT Winner 2019 - Notre Dame