Announcing inaugural Three Minute Thesis competition hosted by the Graduate School

Author: Evan Bryson


The Graduate School will host Three Minute Thesis this spring, a competition showcasing graduate student research. Qualifying heats begin in late February and will culminate in a Final Round on March 16 (Wednesday) with a first prize of $1,000.

The goal of the 3MT competition is for Ph.D. students across all disciplines to explain their research, its breadth and significance, in a language appropriate to an audience of specialists and non-specialists alike, all within three minutes.

“The competition challenges participants to really polish an overview of their work, to distill its essentials, and to dynamically present it,” said Lisa Michaels, program manager for 3MT Notre Dame and Graduate Career counselor. “Fundamentally, 3MT is about communication and inspiration.”

Competitors must address a live audience and a panel of judges. Their presentations must be accompanied by a single static slide.

3MT will be a venue for graduate students from various disciplines to interact with one another and discuss their research and its implications. Additionally, the competition provides an opportunity for undergraduates, alumni, industry partners, various on-campus departments and institutions, and the community to be exposed to the high-level, cutting-edge research being performed at the University of Notre Dame.

Laura Carlson, Dean of the Graduate School, adds that, “Like TEDxND and the McCloskey Business Plan competition, my hope is that 3MT will ignite graduate students’ passion for discovery across disciplines, and foster a greater sense of community."

Although the competition is the main event, preparation for 3MT informs the content of several Professional Development workshops dedicated to developing confident, articulate scholars throughout January and February. “Distilling Your Scholarly Research” and “Improvisation for Scholars: Utilizing Improv Techniques to Connect with an Audience” are examples of workshops offered in association with the competition. The Graduate School also provides sessions for virtual one-on-one coaching.

“Whether you’re competing this year, or preparing for future competitions, any graduate students can take these workshops,” emphasized Michaels. “We can all benefit from learning how to be more engaging presenters, more poised and confident scholars.”

Visit the 3MT website for more information on competition rules and deadlines.

About 3MT

3MT is an academic competition developed by the University of Queensland, Australia, for Ph.D. students, launched in 2008. Since then, the competition has spread to 19 countries, with more than 35 research universities participating in the United States alone, including Cornell, Carnegie Mellon, and the University of Iowa.

3MT Event Schedule

January 19 & 20- Information Session – 5–5:30pm – 119 DeBartolo Hall – Light Refreshments will be served. Students may register for workshops at the Professional Development events portal.

January – February 2016 – Students participating in 3MT will be expected to attend 1 Professional Development workshop of their choosing in order to be eligible for division qualifying heats. Workshops offered are as follows:

  • Distilling Your Scholarly Research
  • Stage Presence: Drawing in Your Audience via Communication & Visuals
  • Improvisation for Scholars – Utilizing Improv Techniques to Connect with an Audience
  • Creative Storytelling for Scholars
  • Virtual Coaching – One Button Studio (Hesburgh Library)

Students may register for workshops at the Professional Development events portal.

February 22-25 – Qualifying heats will be run within each Division (Science, Engineering, Social Science, and Humanities).

  • 3 Judges will determine 1st & 2nd Prize which will move on to the Finals
  • 1st Place $100, 2nd Place $50 (2 Winners from each Division)

March 16 – Final event at Jordan Auditorium, 8 participants

  • Judges will determine 1st and 2nd round prizes for the competition
  • Audience will vote on a People’s Choice Award – 3rd Prize
  • Prizes: 1st Place $1,000; 2nd Place $750; People’s Choice Award $500
  • Networking reception to follow awarding of prizes

April 6-8 – 1st Place Winner will represent the University of Notre Dame at the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) 3MT Regional Conference