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Three Minute Thesis - For Competitors

University of Essex Three Minute Thesis competition
Photo credit: University of Essex. License: Creative Commons

Students interested in participating in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition can review the below information to learn more. 

How to participate 

Registration for this year's competition is now closed.


To participate, you must be a doctoral, master's, law, or medical student conducting empirical research. You should also have completed enough of your research that you can share results and discuss conclusions.

Graduate students from all Penn State campuses are encouraged to compete. Students must be able to attend the final round in person to be eligible. Limited travel reimbursement funds are available and are awarded on a case-by-case basis. 

A graduate student's faculty adviser(s) must approve of the student's participation in the competition.

Penn State employees can participate in the competition but are not eligible for prize money.

Students in master's and professional degree programs are eligible to participate in Penn State's competition and compete for prize money, but only Ph.D. students are eligible for the regional or national competitions.


  • January 8: Submission period opens
  • February 9: Deadline to submit videos
  • February 19-23: First-round judging takes place
  • February 27: Finalists announced
  • March 23: Final round takes place, and winners announced shortly after the competition ends


  • First Place: $1,000
  • Second Place: $500
  • People's Choice: $500

Competition Format

Open call to any Penn State graduate student conducting research to submit three-minute videos, which will be judged by a panel that includes alumni, faculty, staff, and others. The top 10 students get invited to the final round.  

Saturday, March 23 
10:00-11:15 a.m. 
Penn Stater Hotel and Conference Center 

The final round will be live streamed from the University Park campus and will include a people’s choice prize selected by audience ballots. Winners will be announced during Penn State’s annual Doctoral Alumni Recognition Luncheon hosted by the Dean of the Graduate School, immediately following the competition.  

Penn State’s overall winner will be invited to the regional 3MT competition hosted by the Northeast Association of Graduate Schools in April 2024 (exact date to be determined). Winners of the regional competition are invited to the national competition hosted by the Council of Graduate Schools.   

Preparing Your Presentation

  • 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. *Note: does not apply to videos.
  • 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.

  • Filmed on the horizontal
  • Filmed on a plain background
  • Filmed from a static position
  • Filmed from one camera angle
  • Contain a presentation slide, which can be displayed continuously or periodically many times as you like
  • Audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks

Competitors will not be judged on video quality or editing capabilities. Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and presentation slide. 

  • You can record your presentation using any technology available to you, including your phone camera, Zoom, PowerPoint, or Penn State’s One Button Studio.
  • Refer to the official 3MT Competitor Guide for suggestions on how to put your slide and presentation together.
  • Review the judging criteria so you know how your presentation will be evaluated.
  • 3MT has been around since 2008, so you can search the internet for past competitor videos to understand how competitors have structured their presentations.
  • Have fun! This is an opportunity for you to hone your communication skills and share your research with a broad community.
  • You can also watch 3MT presentations on the University of Queensland website.

Video Production Support


Direct all questions about Three Minute Thesis at Penn State to:  


This page was generated on May 24, 2024 at 10:40 PM local time. This may not be the most recent version of this page. Check the Penn State Graduate School website for updates.