A person stands on a raised stage next to a podium and speaks to an audience. A screen behind them shows a visual related to their presentation.

Three Minute Thesis

3MT® is an international research communication competition in which graduate students explain their research to a general audience. Students in research-based master’s and PhD programs from all disciplines are eligible to compete, and prizes will be awarded to the winners.

3MT Three Minute Thesis Founded by the University of Queensland logo

You’re Researching What? Lunch and Prep for the 3MT

Friday, September 27, 2024, 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

This event will help graduate students from all disciplines to prepare an accessible, intriguing three-minute talk about their research – and prepare to participate in the 3MT® Three-Minute Thesis competition.

Lunch will be provided to all attendees; those who sign up to compete in the 3MT will receive a t-shirt.

Registration link coming soon.


3MT® – Registration for Competitors

Semi-finals: Wednesday, October 23, 2024, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m., Memorial Union

Deadline to register: Wednesday, October 9, 2024

Can you explain your research in 3 minutes? Find out by participating in UW–Madison’s 2024-25 3MT® competition!

As you hone communication skills, you will be better able to expand the benefits of your research beyond the bounds of the university and convey the significance of your work to potential funders, legislators, the media, and more.

Registration link coming soon.

3MT® Competition Finals

Friday, February 14, 2025, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m., DeLuca Forum, Discovery Building

The top few contestants from semi-finals will reach receive $100 cash prizes and advance to finals. Finals will be held on February 14, 2025, where winners receive up to $1,000 in cash prizes.

Registration is not required.

What to expect when you compete in the 3MT:

  • A person uses hand gestures while speaking to an audience. They are standing on a stage with a projected PowerPoint slide behind them showing temperature dials with different numbers represented.
    Graduate student Rachel Hutchins gives a talk at the 2022-23 Three Minute Thesis final competition on February 17, 2023. Hutchins won second place in the competition.

    Preparation (4 to 7 hours)

    • Read the rules, requirements, and judging criteria
    • Browse the resources in the Canvas site, which you’ll receive access to after registering
    • View example presentations
    • Attend or watch the video of the the Writing Center workshop “You’re Researching What? Crafting a 3-Minute Research Talk that Appeals to the Public” – available in Canvas (optional but encouraged)
    • Meet with a DesignLab consultant (optional but encouraged)
    • Create your slide, develop your presentation, and practice
  • Competition (2 to 5 hours)
    • Divisional semi-finals
    • Finals

Additionally, the winner of the finals will travel to represent UW–Madison at the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS) regional 3MT® competition in spring 2025.

For Competitors

  • 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) is permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the judging panel is final.

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria listed below. Each criterion is equally weighted.

Comprehension and content

  • Presentation provided clear background and significance to the research question
  • Presentation provided clear positionality* of the presenter to the research and research approach
  • 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

*Positionality is the social and political context that creates your identity in terms of race, class, gender, sexuality, and ability status. Positionality also describes how your identity influences, and potentially biases, your understanding of and outlook on the world.

Engagement and communication

  • 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

Semi-Final Winners: $100 each


  • First place: $1,000
  • Second place: $750
  • Third place: $500
  • People’s choice: $500

3MT Communication Badge

Graduate students participating in the 2023-24 3MT® competition will be the first students eligible to earn the UW-Madison Graduate School’s 3MT Communication Badge.

Why earn a digital badge?

A badge demonstrates that you have gone above and beyond academic requirements to acquire specialized knowledge or expertise in a particular area. Badges serve as a visual representation of accomplishments, can enhance your resume or curriculum vitae, and showcase your achievements to prospective employers. Digital badges are easily shareable on social media, personal websites, and professional profiles.

How do I earn the 3MT® Communication Badge?

All semi-finals participants will be evaluated by competition judges on their ability to adapt messages to meet the needs of diverse audiences, create graphics as a communication tool that enhances the message, and demonstrate competence in presentation skills. If judges determine that all of these learning objectives have been met, you will be eligible to earn the badge at no cost to you. Decisions about earning the badge are separate from the judges’ decisions about which competitors advance to finals. The Graduate School will provide additional information about badges.

2023-2024 Competition

Eleven students competed in the 2023-24 Three Minute Thesis® final competition on February 16, 2024. To watch the winner’s recorded presentations, click on the title of their talks below.

Rudy Dieudonne

First Place and People’s Choice Award: Rudy Dieudonne

Lighting, Noise & Behaviors


The Three Minute Thesis® Final Competition is presented by The Madison Chapter of Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) and the Graduate School Office of Professional Development.

Sponsorship and judging are provided by BioForward, Elephas, Promega, Stem Pharm, Thermo Fisher, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, Science is Fun, and various individuals at UW–Madison.

GWIS Madison Chapter logo
UW Graduate School Office of Professional Development Logo
BioForward logo
Promega logo
Thermo Fisher Scientific logo
WARF logo
Elephas logo
Stem Pharm logo
Science is Fun logo

3MT Three Minute Thesis Founded by the University of Queensland logoThe Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is an academic research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ), Australia. Learn more about the 3MT® at threeminutethesis.uq.edu.au.