Three Minute Thesis

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a competition for doctoral students to develop and showcase their research communication skills.

2022 3MT Competition

Could you present your 80,000 word thesis or dissertation in three minutes? Do you want the excitement of competing with other graduate students for $2,500 and the opportunity to compete in the Ivy competition, the Northeastern (U.S. and Canada) competition, and showcase your research at the Council of Graduate Schools annual meeting? 
3MT is an annual competition sponsored by the Cornell Graduate School. All doctoral students who have completed their research are eligible. Read about the 2021 3MT winners and watch recordings of the presentations.

Registration is now open for the 2022 All-Virtual 3MT.  Preliminary round virtual competitions are March 1-3, and Cornell’s final round virtual competition is March 22. 

Learn more about the Three Minute Thesis at one of our information sessions:

Email with any questions.

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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 and national events.

Cornell hosted its 6th 3MT competition in Spring 2021. 3MT challenges research degree students to present a compelling story on their dissertation or thesis and its significance in just three minutes, in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

In addition to first place and second place winners from among the eight finalists, audience members are asked to select a People’s Choice Award.

3MT Resources


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any kind; 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. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Zoom backgrounds are considered props. Please ensure your background is a blank screen or wall.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (i.e. no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when presenters start their presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Each of the three judging criteria has equal weight. Note what each criterion has in common: An emphasis on audience.


  • 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?
  • Were the thesis topic, key results, and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?


  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize the research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for the research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain the audience’s attention?

Communication style

  • Did the speaker avoid 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 the presentation – or did he/she 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?

For more information about the Cornell competition, contact Jan Allen ( or