Introducing the Three Minute Thesis at JMU

 3 Minutes to Inspire

January 25, 2018, 6 pm

Madison Hall, first floor

A 100-page thesis would take hours to present. They do it in 3 minutes.

Participating graduate students share their research in a high impact 3-minute presentation and compete for cash prizes and a chance to participate in the regional competition. The first place winner will receive $750, second place will receive $500, and third place will receive $250. The first place winner will be sponsored by The Graduate School to attend the regional competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools in Fayetteville, Arkansas, February 22-25, 2018 (for more information, visit In addition, the audience will vote to select the winner of the People's Choice Award, sponsored by the Graduate Student Association!  

The Three Minute Thesis competition, originally developed by The University of Queensland, gives students the opportunity to develop and present their research in a compelling and concise narrative aimed at engaging a general audience. Students are challenged to synthesize the core concepts of their projects and make meaningful connections to real-world issues. The competition celebrates the creativity and scholarship of our graduate students while helping them develop vital academic and communication skills.

For students who wish to participate and compete: 

Mark Your Calendars!

JMU’s first Three Minute Thesis competition is happening Thursday, January 25, 2018 starting at 6:00 p.m. Every participant is also invited to give an encore presentation at the Graduate Symposium on April 19, 2018.

The registration deadline is January 11, 2018.

Register Now to share your work at JMU's first annual Three Minute Thesis competition.

Get Ready!

We want to help you do your best.  Plan now to attend a Three Minute Thesis Preparation workshop to learn more and get started creating your presentation.

The workshop will…

  • Offer an overview of the Three Minute Thesis competition
  • Provide help creating your spoken and visual presentation
  • Teach you how to cover the key points of your project in only 3 minutes
  • Review important guidelines to ensure your presentation meets the official rules

The Graduate School is hosting two workshops this fall in Madison Hall, Room 4000, the Cohen Graduate Student Professional Development Center.

  • Wednesday, November 8 from 10:00am – 12:00pm
  • Thursday, December 7 from 6:00 – 8:00pm

Registration for a workshop is not required, but will help our facilitator to prepare and plan.  We recommend pre-registering and attending a workshop to get ready for the competition. 

Pre-register for a workshop

You can also check out these winning presentations and helpful tips:

Winning presentation by Megan Pozzi:

Winning presentation by Joseph Donohue:

Winning presentation by Rob Duguid:

Helpful tips file:

Helpful tips video:

The Fine Print


Currently enrolled graduate students (at the time of the competition) in all disciplines are eligible to participate in JMU’s Three Minute Thesis competition. Work presented must be from a current thesis or dissertation project, or other culminating creative or research project required by your program. The project should be far enough along to identify its practical impact and draw conclusions from the data. If you have questions, please contact The Graduate School at or by calling 540.568.6131.

Official Rules

  • Presentations must not be longer than 3 minutes. Any presentation that exceeds the 3 minute time limit will be disqualified. The timer is started when the presenter begins by speaking or moving.
  • One static PowerPoint slide is the only visual aid allowed (no slide transitions, animations, or movement of graphics in the slide).
  • Additional electronic media may NOT be used (e.g., sound and video files).
  • Additional props are NOT allowed (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment).
  • Presentations must be memorized and recited without the help of notes or cue cards.
  • Presentations must be spoken-word (no raps, poems, or singing presentations).

Judging Criteria

Presentations must meet the official rules and participant eligibility requirements to be included in the competition. Each presentation will be evaluated based on the equally weighted criteria listed below.


  • Did the presenter describe the thesis topic, significance, and key findings in language appropriate for a general audience?
  • Did the presentation flow at a comfortable pace without rushing or long pauses?
  • Did the speaker demonstrate good stage presence by making eye contact, using vocal inflection, and integrating natural gestures?


  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Did the speaker define key terms and provide sufficient background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter adequately develop each main point of the presentation?


  • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research question and its practical significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the methodology and significant findings of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or over-generalize their research?


  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm and make the audience want to know more?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain the audience's attention?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation as a relevant and appealing visual aid?

Register Now

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