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Three Minute Thesis 3MT®

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its inaugural Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) in Spring 2017. These popular competitions have become a global phenomenon and offer graduate students the opportunity to communicate the significance of their research to a general audience, all in three minutes or less.

Our 2017 competition included five preliminary rounds, with two finalists from each round advancing to the campus 3MT Final. Winners included: 

1st Place:  Katherine McClellan, Environmental Conservation

Runner up:  Shirin Montazeri, Electrical & Computer Engineering

People’s Choice:  Destenie Nock, Mechanical & Industrial Engineering

UMass Amherst’s 3MT event celebrates the research accomplishments of our graduate students while helping students develop their presentation and communication skills.

Click for details on:


Competition Rules

Prizes & Judging Criteria

Participant Registration & Preparation

Additional Resources


UMass Amherst graduate students from any discipline are welcome to participate if they meet all the eligibility requirements. Participants must:

  • be enrolled full-time as a graduate student at UMass Amherst;
  • be in good academic standing;
  • present on their independent academic research; and
  • be available to participate in a preliminary round of competition and the Final on March 24 in person.

Competition Rules

When preparing your presentation please keep the following rules in mind:

  • Participants are limited to three minutes for their presentation and time is strictly enforced.
  • Participants are allowed to use a single static PowerPoint-style slide.
    • no slide transitions, animations or “movements” of any kind are permitted;
    • your slide is to be shown from the beginning of your presentation; and
    • no additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presenters must remain on stage for the duration of their presentation (e.g. you may not walk through the audience as you speak or start your presentation from the back of the room).
  • Presentations (and the three minute timer) begin when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.

Questions on whether participants have adhered to competition rules will be referred to the judging panel; the decision of the judging panel is final.

Prizes & Judging Criteria

  • Final Round First Place Finisher: $1,000
  • Final Round Runner-Up: $500
  • Final Round People’s Choice (determined by audience vote): $500

The panel of judges will evaluate participants in the preliminary and final rounds based on the following:

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation clearly identify the research question/topic 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?
  • Did the speaker use language appropriate for 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, not elaborating for too long on one aspect or rushing through portions?

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?

Participant Registration & Preparation

Space is limited, so register here by 1pm on February 3rd to indicate your interest!

The Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) is organizing a series of events to support those interested in participating in the 3MT competition. These include:

  • 3MT® Information Sessions

Tuesday, January 24th,12:00-1:00pm OR Friday, January 27th, 2:00-3:00pm, both in 538 Goodell

This session will outline 3MT details and regulations as well as offer advice on why you should compete and how to best prepare. Refreshments provided; register here

  • "Telling Your Story in 3 Minutes or Less"

    Monday, February 13th, 10:00-11:30am, 162-75 Campus Center

    Does the thought of public speaking make you anxious? Do you have trouble explaining your research succinctly and for general audiences? In the UConn Department of Digital Media & Design, Tim Miller coaches individuals to pitch ideas in a short, powerful, memorable time frame. Join Tim to learn practical strategies for shaping your messages! Register here.  

Additional Resources

The Three Minute Thesis concept was developed by the University of Queensland; their website includes additional competition information and videos from outstanding presentations. 

Science magazine hosted a roundtable with several 3MT winners from around the globe, who share information about their preparation process and advice for future contestants: 

Questions on UMass Amherst’s inaugural 3MT competition may be directed to Heidi Bauer-Clapp ( The event is supported by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School and a grant from the National Science Foundation (Award #1451512).