3 Minute Thesis Competition



Graduate School
Western Carolina University
Three Minute Thesis Competition
Wednesday, November 8, 2017    Noon-1:00pm
University Center Theater
3MT® Application
Registration Deadline: October 23, 2017
Questions? Email grad@wcu.edu

What is a 3MT® competition?
Created at the University of Queensland (Australia), 3MT® provides graduate students the opportunity to develop their professional presentation and research communication skills. The objective of the event is to distill projects into an engaging three-minute presentation designed for a general (non-specialist) audience using just one slide.

Who is eligible to participate?
All WCU graduate students can participate, whether in a residential or distance program.

My program does not require a thesis. Can I still participate?
Yes! All types of professional projects are appropriate topics for a 3MT® presentation—business plans, meta-analyses (watch an example), literature reviews, and original research.

I am a first-year Master’s student and my project is not very fully developed. Can I participate?
Yes! Preliminary data can be presented in a 3MT® competition. After all, you are presenting for only three minutes. You can provide limited data in that amount of time; just be sure to inform your audience how this data highlights future research. (Watch an example of a 3MT® winner presenting preliminary research.)

Why should I participate?
3MT® will help you hone an important skill needed as a graduate student and professional. The ability to distill complex information into a short speech with high impact for a lay audience is a valuable skill for all aspects of one’s life.

If that is not reason enough, how about this? The top winner in WCU’s competition will receive a $500 scholarship to be credited to their student account. Second-place and People's Choice winners will each receive a $250 scholarship. The first-place winner will represent WCU at the Council of Southern Graduate Schools regional competition on February 22-25, 2018 at the University of Arkansas (expenses paid).

Do you have any tips for a good presentation?
YouTube has examples of good 3MT® presentations. An effective presentation tells the audience why the research is important, and it hooks the audience early. A metaphor or comparison is also useful for the audience. Be sure to tell the audience what your research reveals, but do not bog them down in the minutia. The Graduate School will provide coaching for students. You can learn more about 3MT® here: http://threeminutethesis.org.

Here are some example presentations related to subject/discipline that might inspire you to participate.


What are the rules?

  • 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.
  • 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 and 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 their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


How are the presentations judged?

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?


3MT® competition winners from 2015

1st Place
Lena Robertson - School Administration
Changing Our School Culture...One Habit at a Time3MT - Lena Robertson

Watch Video


2nd Place
Tiffany Harrop - Psychology
Problematic Behavior: Correlates of Psychological and Physiological Measures
3MT- Tiffany Harrop

Watch Video

People's Choice
Mitra Shabani Samghabady – Engineering Technology
Mathematical Modeling of Brain Cancer
3MT- Mitra Shabani Samghabady
Watch Video


Le Chen - Technology
SPR Data Estimation with Particle Swarm Optimization
3MT - Le Chen

Watch Video


Martha Davis – Psychology
Exploring How Love and Sex are Defined in Adulthood: Conversations with Women about Romantic Relationships 3MT-Martha Davis

Watch Video


Aaron Rapp
A Lifting of Graphs to 3-Uniform Hypergraphs, its Generalization, and Further Investigation of Hypergraph Ramsey Numbers 3MT - Aaron Rapp

Watch Video


Kyle Richardson – Psychology
Sexist Humor Diminishes Women's Social Influence
3MT - Kyle Richardson

Watch Video


Sabrina Teeter – Psychology
The Moderating Effect of Anti-Gay Humor on the Existence of the Rebound Effect
3MT - Sabrina Teeter

Watch Video


Kayla Tadsen – Health Sciences
A Systematic Review of How Telemedicine Can Increase Public Health Outcomes While Simultaneously Reducing Health Care Costs
3MT - Kayla Tadsen

Watch Video


We thank Dr. Kathleen Brennan, Department Head of Anthropology and Sociology, who served as the 3MT “Coach” for this competition.

We thank Professor Jack Sholder and his students, Scotlan Sturrock and Shyris Gamble in the Film and Television Program, for filming and editing the 3MT competition.

3MT Competition from 04 November 2014

Three Minute Thesis Video Examples

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