Three Minute Thesis

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

Three Minute Thesis (3MT)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 a total of $2,500 in prizes and the opportunity to participate in the Northeastern (U.S. and Canadian) round or even to showcase your research at the annual Council of Graduate Schools meeting?

 3MT is an annual competition sponsored by the Cornell Graduate School. 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. All enrolled doctoral students at the research stage (with at least some results to share) are eligible. In 2024, the Graduate School 3MT is also open to research master’s students. The next competition will take place in Spring 2025.

Learn more about the 2024 Graduate School 3MT competition.

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 the Asia-Pacific region take part in their own regional and national events.

Cornell Graduate School hosted its ninth 3MT competition final round event on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. Video submissions for the preliminary round was due on March 1, 2024, and was reviewed by a panel of volunteer judges using a common scoring rubric to select the finalists.

At the final round event, held in person on the Ithaca campus, a panel of judges scored presentations and selected the top two finalists. Additionally, audience members were able to vote for their favorite presenter for the People’s Choice Award.

3MT Resources


  • 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 considered to have commenced when presenters start their presentation through movement or speech.
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any kind) and 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. 
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

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

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide a clear background and significance to the research question?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the conclusions, outcomes, and impact of the research?

Engagement and Communication

  • Was the oration delivered clearly, and in language appropriate for a non-specialist audience?
  • Was the PowerPoint slide clear and did it enhance the presentation?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research, and capture and maintain the audience’s attention?

For more information about the Cornell competition, email