General Information

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.

1st Place 2nd Place 3rd place
$750 $500 $250

Additionally, the first place winner is sponsored by The Graduate School to attend the regional competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. (March 13-15, 2024; Greenville, South Carolina)

Currently enrolled graduate students (at the time of the competition) and those who have graduated in December, 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 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.

3MT Rules

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?
How to Prepare

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 Graduate School will host workshops this fall. 

The workshop will…

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

Registration for a workshop will help our facilitator to prepare and plan. We recommend registering and attending a workshop to get ready for the competition. 

Workshops will be held:


Monday, November 13, 3-5 pm

Tuesday, November 14, 4:30-6:30 pm

Friday, December 1, 10 am- noon

Monday, January 8, 3-5 pm

Register for a workshop here.

Past 3MTs

In these links you can find information about our past 3 Minute Thesis competitions:

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