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UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2023 3MT Competition

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that assists current graduate students with fostering effective presentation and communication skills. Participants have just three minutes to explain the breadth and significance of their research project to a non-specialist audience. Three Minute Thesis logo

3MT was developed by The University of Queensland in 2008, and is now held in more than 900 universities in 85 countries around the world.

Master’s degree and doctoral students enrolled at UNC-Chapel Hill from any discipline administered by The Graduate School are welcome to register and participate in the competition.

Preliminary rounds information

  • Friday, October 13, 2023
    Last day to register to participate in the preliminary rounds
  • Monday, October 16, 2023
    Preliminary Round 1, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Graduate Student Center, 211A West Cameron Ave.
  • Tuesday, October 17, 2023
    Preliminary Round 2, 3:00-5:00 p.m., Graduate Student Center, 211A West Cameron Ave.

Final 3MT competition

  • Wednesday, October 25, 2023,
    4:00-5:00 p.m., held during University Research Week.
  • First Place: $1000 and the opportunity to represent UNC Chapel Hill at the 3MT competition in Greenville, SC, March 13-15, 2024 as part of the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools annual conference.
  • Second Place: $600
  • People’s Choice Award: $400

**Note, the presentations for the 2023 Preliminary Rounds and Final Competition will be live and in person. Video recordings or Zoom presentations will not be accepted**

Relevant workshops

Communicating your research to the public (in person)
September 7 @ 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm

You know your research really, really well–but do you know it well enough to explain it in a clear and compelling manner to the broader public? Whether you’re giving a presentation to a lay audience, delivering a job talk, interviewing for an exciting role, or teaching undergraduates, the ability to present your specialized knowledge to a nonspecialist audience is crucial. In this interactive workshop session, we will explore and practice strategies to help you highlight the broader impacts of your research, so you can confidently share a message that matters. This session is held only in-person. Lunch will be provided for attendees.

Professional communication skills boot camp (in person)
October 2 @ 8:30 am – 4:30 pm

The Professional Communication Skills Boot Camp is intended to increase students’ confidence communicating to broader audiences and practice developing persuasive skills that will create effective messaging and relay the importance of one’s research. The Boot Camp takes a development approach and is based on practice and feedback. The expected outcomes include a polished elevator pitch for non-expert audiences, increased confidence in impromptu speaking as a novice scholar, and skills with responding to questions about your research. We anticipate participants to be from a broad range of disciplines.**Seats are limited. Please be sure to register only if you are able to attend the full day. Morning coffee and lunch provided. This is an in-person workshop only.** Facilitator: Bri McWhorter of Activate to Captivate.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT) information session (virtual)
October 4 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm

This session will highlight the requirements necessary to create an effective presentation for the Three Minute Thesis competition. The session will also involve review of sample 3MT presentations using the official judging rubric as well as allow participants an opportunity to conceptualize their own successful and effective 3MT presentation. The competition is open to master’s and doctoral students.

Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted on a 7 point scale (14 points total).

Comprehension and Content (7 points)

  • Presentation provided clear background and significance to the research question
  • Presentation clearly described the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research
  • Presentation clearly described the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research

Engagement and Communication (7 points)

  • The oration was delivered clearly, and the language was appropriate for a non-specialist audience
  • The PowerPoint slide was well-defined and enhanced the presentation
  • The presenter conveyed enthusiasm for their research and captured and maintained the audience’s attention

Rules and Eligibility