Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia.


3MT (Three Minute Thesis) is an international research competition where graduate students have 3 minutes to present their research and its impact to a panel of non-specialist judges and peers. The exercise develops academic, presentation, and research communication skills. It also supports the development of research students' capacity to effectively explain their research in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience. This year marks the fifth time York University has participated in the Canadian competition.

Why should you participate in 3MT?

A fun, challenging, and unique academic competition, participating in 3MT can have many benefits to your personal and professional development:

  • It is a great opportunity to develop a valuable and sought-after skill set – to communicate complex ideas in a concise, clear, and engaging way;
  • Winners of the York competition will get prizes ($1,000 for the first prize) and the chance to compete at the provincials at York University in April;
  • And most importantly, you’ll have the chance to share your most important academic endeavor – your doctoral or masters research – with people beyond your circle of peers and faculty members.

The ability to clearly communicate complex topics is a highly useful and sought-after skill set, and participating in 3MT is a great way to hone this skill for use in the classroom, the boardroom, and beyond.


  • 1st place: $1,000
  • 2nd place: $500
  • 3rd place: $250
  • People's Choice: $250

2018 Schedule

Preliminary Heats

3MT Preliminary Heat (open to all disciplines)Wednesday, March 21, 2018 - 10:00am-12:00pm
519 Kaneff Tower
Registration to open in January
3MT Preliminary Heat: (open to all disciplines)Thursday, March 22, 2018
519 Kaneff Tower
Registration to open in January
York University 3MT Finals Competition and ReceptionThursday, April 5, 2018
Senate Chamber (940N Ross)

Preparation Workshops

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) 101: What, When, HowTBARegistration to open in January
Creating a winning 3MT: "How to pitch a proposal" with Richard PhillipsTBARegistration to open in January

PowerPoint Slides and 3MT Title

Please submit your 3MT title and a single, static PowerPoint slide using our online form by Wednesday, March 14, 2018. This form will be emailed to all graduate students later in January.
Current York University graduate students are invited to be 3MT competitors if they meet the following conditions:

  • Students must be registered in a research-based Master's (Thesis or MRP) or PhD program at the time of the 3MT competition, and must have made substantial progress on their research and analysis. Course-based Masters students are ineligible.
  • PhD and Masters students who have defended, but have not yet convocated at the time of the York University 3MT competition, are eligible to participate.
  • 3MT presentations must represent the primary research the student is conducting in his/her graduate program (i.e. thesis, dissertation, or MRP research).
  • Presenters must agree to be video-recorded, and to allow those recordings to be made public (Note: This applies only to the winning student who participates in the Provincial Finals. York's internal 3MT competition will not be videotaped).
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted
    • No animation or movement
    • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files)
    • No additional props (e.g. costumes or instruments)
  • Must present in-person
  • Presentation must relate directly to student’s thesis/dissertation research
  • No laser pointers are permitted
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes
  • Adjudicating panel decisions are final
Presentations will be judged on the basis of the following:

  • 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 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?

Provincial and National Events

3MT Ontario and CAGS 3MT

The winner from York's finals is invited to attend the 2018 3MT Ontario final on Thursday, April 19, 2018 at York University. This is a great opportunity to showcase your research to a wide range of scholars from across the province. Approximately 20 Ontario universities will be participating this year.

Winning presenters from the Ontario provincial finals are invited to compete in the Canadian national virtual finals hosted by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies. This virtual competition, to be held in summer 2018, brings together contestants from the Ontario, Eastern, and Western regional competitions. More information about the 3MT national competition can be found at CAGS - Three Minute Thesis Competition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ's for 3MT

What proportion of my degree has to have a research component for me to be eligible to compete?

– You are eligible to compete if your degree involves a thesis, major research paper (MRP) or dissertation. If your program is course based, you are not eligible.

I was a student at the time of my competition at my university, but will graduate before the Ontario competition. Am I eligible to enter?

– Yes. If you are eligible at the time of your university’s competition, you will remain eligible for the Ontario competition, regardless of your program status.

I have participated in the Ontario 3MT before. Can I participate more than once?

– Yes. The winner of their university final will be expected to attend the Ontario competition in person as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Can I present my oration via Skype?

– No. Participants are expected to attend the York and Ontario competitions in person.

Can I present my oration as a poem, rap or song?

– No, 3MT is primarily about developing students’ oration skills.

Can I use a laser pointer?

– No, a laser pointer is not allowed.

Does my slide have to be in PowerPoint?

– Yes, this ensures it will appear properly on the operating system that will be used.

How many transitions or animations can I have in my slide?

– None. The slide must be static and not change in any way during the presentation. Your slide must be displayed for the duration of your presentation.

Can I use notecards?

– Yes, you are permitted to use notecards during the York University competition. Even if you have your talk memorized, we still encourage you to bring up notes just in case.
– However, you will not be permitted to use notecards at the Ontario final.

Will I be able to see a countdown timer during my presentation?

– Yes, a countdown timer will be visible to you at all times.

What happens if my presentation is longer than 3 minutes?

– A countdown timer will be visible to you. If you continue to speak after the timer ends, you risk having points deducted by the judges.

Is there a dress code?

– There is no stipulated dress requirement such as “smart casual”. Please wear whatever is comfortable for you. NO COSTUMES (including hats, masks, etc).

Will my presentation be videorecorded?

– York University's internal 3MT will not be videorecorded. The provincial final (hosted at York University) will be videorecorded, and in agreeing to participate in the provincial competition, you are also agreeing to have your presentation videotaped and the video posted online.

Can I win more than one category?

– Yes, it is possible to win a place (1st, runner up etc) and win the People’s Choice Award.

What happens if I cannot attend the Final?

– The winner of each heat or final is expected to represent their School/Institute/Faculty/University at the next stage of the competition. If the winner is unable to attend, the runner-up will proceed to the next round of the competition.


Additional Resources and Guides

Questions regarding this event can be directed to Yuko Sorano, Research Officer at, or ext. 44168.