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Three Minute Thesis 3MT®

The University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School is proud to host its third Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT®) in Spring 2019. 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.

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 2019 3MT, as a competitor or audience member.

2019 3MT Dates

Preliminary Rounds: Mid-February

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


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 (Feb. 11-15) and, if selected as a finalist, the Final on March 1st in person.

Participant Registration & Preparation

Register for the 2019 3MT here. Spots fill quickly, so register soon!

The Graduate School Office of Professional Development (OPD) is organizing a series of events to support those interested in participating in the 2019 3MT competition. These include:

  • 3MT® Information Sessions (all in 538 Goodell)

  • Friday, Nov. 16th: 2:30-3:30pm  
  • Tuesday, Dec. 18th: 11am-12pm (register here)
  • Friday, Jan. 24th: 2:30-3:15pm (register here)
  • Monday, Jan. 28th: 3-3:45pm (register here)

This interactive session, offered Jan. 16th from 3:00-4:30pm in ILC N151, will focus on developing an engaging communication style and connecting with your audience. Register here.

  • 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. Videos from UMass's 2018 competition are available here

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 3MT competition may be directed to Heidi Bauer-Clapp ( The event is supported by the University of Massachusetts Amherst Graduate School.