Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Pitt Competition


What is a 3MT competition?

The 3MT competition celebrates the exciting research conducted by Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) students. Developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), 3MT cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Read about the 2019 3MT Pitt Competition.

Read about the 2018 3MT Pitt Competition.

Who is eligible to enter?

PhD students who have successfully completed the dissertation proposal defense (PhD candidate status) and are actively in the dissertation stage of training are eligible.

A preparation workshop is being conducted on February 5, 2019, to both review the rules and eligibility requirements and to provide helpful tips to prepare a 3-minute oration and an presentation slide.

How do I enter the 2019 Pitt 3MT Competition?

  • Win your school-level competition. Each school will run a competition. (Check back as more schools announce their competitions.)
  • If no competition in your school is held, place in the online competition:
    • Record your 3MT presentation and upload it to a YouTube account. Note that if you do not already have a YouTube Account, you will need to set one up.
    • Email the link to view your YouTube presentation to Vice Provost Nathan Urban at Provide your school and program. Deadline is noon, Monday, March 25, 2019.
    • You may find it helpful (but it is not required) to use the “One Button Video Recording Studio” available at Hillman Library to record your 3MT.
    • Finalists of the online competition will be notified by the end of the day on March 29 that they have advanced to the Pitt Competition.

3MT Rules for the Pitt and Online Competitions

We are following the 3MT rules suggested by the University of Queensland, which founded the event.  

Noted are a couple variations for the online competition.

  • 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 online competition, simply attach a file to your email submission.)
  • 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. (Not relevant for the online competition.)
  • 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.

Prizes for the University Competition

First place prize:                 $1,000 travel grant

Two runner-up prizes:        $500 travel grant

People's Choice prize:        $1,000 travel grant — NEW to the 2019 competition

Judging Criteria

Check back to see who our celebrity judges will be—and who will hear our competitors talk about their research.

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?

Presentation Resources

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

Preparation Workshop

Pitt Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition: Speaking to Non-specialists Workshops

March 7, 2019, noon–1 p.m.
Alumni Hall B32 

February 5, 2019, 4 p.m.–5 p.m.
57th Floor Auditorium, Alumni Hall

Come and learn all you need to know in order to compete in the second annual Pitt Three Minute Thesis (3MT), to be held on April 1, 2019. In this workshop, Meghan Culpepper (Office of the Provost) will review the rules and eligibility requirements for the 3MT Competition, and Dr. Joel Brady (Center for Teaching and Learning) will provide students with helpful hints and tips to prepare a three minute oration and an accompanying presentation slide of their research.

Note that participation in the workshop is not required to enter a school or online competition.