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Three Minute Thesis 3MT®

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its second Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) in Spring 2018. 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.

Registration is now open--sign up now, spots fill quickly! 

UMass Amherst’s 3MT event celebrates the research accomplishments of our graduate students while helping students develop their presentation and communication skills. Plan to join us for the 2018 3MT, as a competitor or audience member.

2018 3MT Dates

Preliminary Rounds: February 14th-22nd

Final Round: Friday, March 2nd, 1-3pm, Campus Center Auditorium


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


Click for details on:


Participant Registration & Preparation

Competition Rules

Prizes & Judging Criteria

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 2nd in person.

Participant Registration & Preparation

Registration will open in January 2018. Watch your email and this space for more information--space is limited, so plan to register early!

The Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) is organizing a series of events to support those interested in participating in the 2018 3MT competition. These include:

  • 3MT® Information Sessions

  • Wednesday, Jan. 10th: 12-1pm  
  • Friday, Jan. 12th: 10-11am
  • Tuesday, Jan. 16th: 2-3pm
  • Wednesday, Jan. 24th: 11am-12pm
  • Friday, Jan. 26th: 1-2pm 

This session will outline 3MT details and regulations as well as offer advice on why you should compete and how to best prepare. Pre-registration required; refreshments provided.

  • Interactive Workshops to Improve Communication and Public Speaking

January 17th--more information, including registration links, available on the OPD website

Are you looking to develop your communication skills - both in general and in unexpected situations like a job interview, presentation or while working in teams? Would you like strategies for speaking publicly with confidence?  Join us for a highly interactive workshop faciliatated by Jake Livengood, PhD, who trained at Improv Asylum in Boston and works at MIT Career Services to reduce your anxiety about public speaking and improve your ability to communicate about your research with a variety of audiences.  

  • "Telling Your Story in 3 Minutes or Less"

    Monday, February 5th, 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 information coming soon.   
  • Peer Review Sessions

Multiple sessions in February. These low-stakes sessions allow 3MT competitors the chance to practice and receive feedback prior to the preliminary rounds. More details and registration information coming soon. 

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?

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.