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 600 universities in 59 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. All are welcome to serve as audience members throughout the competition’s preliminary and final rounds.

  • First place – $1000 and trip to compete in regional 3MT competition – February 2019
  • Second place – $600
  • People’s choice – $400

October 9, 2018 – 3MT Information Session and Workshop – REGISTER

October 23 and 24, 2018 Preliminary rounds. 3:00-5:00pm at the Graduate Student Center, 211A West Cameron Ave. REGISTER- Registration closes 10/16/18

October 30, 2018, Final 3MT Competition.4pm, Bondurant G100. This event is open to the public and all are welcome to attend.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Rules and Eligibility


2017 competition winners:

  • First Place: Katelyn Arnold (pharmaceutical sciences,) – “Targeting Destructive Inflammation in Acute Liver Failure with Potential Therapeutic Compounds”
  • Second Place: Nicole Kahn (maternal and child health) – “Sexual Health and Sex Education in Populations with Disabilities”
  • People’s Choice: Aaron Devanathan (pharmaceutical sciences) – “HIV Reservoirs: a Step Towards a Cure”


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?