The Graduate College

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition at North Carolina A&T State University

Overview of 3MT

The Graduate College is proud to present North Carolina A&T State University's Spring 2020 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition. For information about past winners, please see our 3MT competition archive.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition asks graduate students to present their master's thesis or doctoral dissertation research to a general audience in just three minutes and with one PowerPoint slide. The 3MT competition is part of the Graduate College's professional development effort. Graduate students who participate in the 3MT competition will work on critical communication skills that will serve them beyond their degree. Students will also have the opportunity to win prize money (up to $500)!

The 3MT Competition will consist of a Qualifying Round, a Semi-Final Round, and a Final Round. Judges will determine who moves through to the Semi-Final Round and Final Round. The finalists will compete for prizes in front of an audience of students, faculty, and administrators. The Final Round presentations will also be recorded and shared online. First Place, Second Place, and Third Place awards will be determined by the judges at the Final Round. In addition, the finalists will be eligible to win a People's Choice award based on online votes. The winners and their advisors will be honored at a Graduate Awards Luncheon event.

NOTE: The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research and communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. See  for more information.

Who is Eligible?

To be eligible, participants must be currently enrolled in a Master's or Ph.D. program at N.C. A&T and working on thesis or dissertation research. Participation will be capped at 50 students. Note that participants must be able to attend all rounds (Qualifying Round, Semi-Final Round, and Final Round).

How Do I Register to Compete?

To register to compete in the Spring 2020 3MT Competition at NC A&T, you must COMPLETE THE REGISTRATION FORM by Monday, March 11th.

Key Dates

  • Monday, March 11th, 2019--DEADLINE FOR REGISTRATION.
  • Monday, March 18th, 2019--QUALIFYING ROUND (all competitors). There will be up to four 1-hour presentation windows (based on registration).
  • Thursday, March 21st, 2019--SEMI-FINAL ROUND, 3-4pm (select competitors from the Qualifying Round move on to this round).
  • Monday, March 25th, 2019--FINAL ROUND, 3-4:30pm (select competitors move on from the Semi-Final to compete for prizes in this round). The Final Round presentations will be recorded and shared online.

Official Competition Procedures & Rules

The main competition will proceed as follows:

  • Qualifying Round: All competitors will compete in this round. A panel of judges determines who moves on to the next round.
  • Semi-Final Round: A panel of judges determines who will move on to the Final Round.
  • Final Round: Finalists compete for the prizes. The Final Round will be videotaped and shared online after the event.
  • In each round, a panel of judges will assess the presentations on the basis of the Judging Criteria. In the Final Round, a panel of judges will determine the first place, second place, and third place awards. In addition, a People's Choice award will be determined by online voting, which will be open for a designated time period following the event (videos of the presentations and a voting link will be posted online to allow for online People's Choice voting). The People's Choice award will be announced a few days after the Final Round.

    Competitors must adhere strictly to the following rules during the three minute presentation:
    Presenter must use a single static PowerPoint slide (no slide transitions, animations or on-screen 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.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum. The time limit is strictly enforced. Competitors exceeding 3 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 the presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

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Benefits of Participation

Recognition and Prizes for Winners

Winners of the 3MT event will be celebrated at the Graduate Awards Luncheon. There will also be prize money for First Place ($500), Second Place ($300), Third Place ($200), and for the People's Choice Award ($100).

Skill Development for Researchers 

The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills, while emphasizing students’ ability to explain their research effectively in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience.

Building Research Culture Throughout the campus 

3MT provides a valuable opportunity for students to come together across disciplinary boundaries, get to know one another, and talk about their research. It also provides a supportive environment in which academic programs and the campus at large can provide presentation skills training and feedback. The 3MT competition thus serves the goals of the University's strategic plan, Preeminence 2020.

Building External Relations for the University 

Videos of 3MT finalists will be shared online and through the official Three Minute Thesis organization. Participation opens up new opportunities for networking and carrying NC A&T's name and reputation further afield.

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Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the two judging criteria listed below (with numerous sub-components listed for each criterion). Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.

1. Comprehension & Content

  • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?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 (or anticipated results)?
  • 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?

2. Engagement & Communication

  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise 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?
  • [Adapted from]

History of 3MT

The first Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) was held at The University of Queensland in 2008 with 160 students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its widespread implementation by universities has led to the development of an international competition. The global reach of the competition can be seen by the extent of participation with universities in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Vietnam also hosting local 3MT events. [Adapted from]

Resources for Competitors

Below, you will find several resources to help you craft your 3MT presentation: