Graduate Student Resource Center

Three Minute Thesis Competition

February 2018

Three Minute Thesis logo

Registration Deadline: February 16, 2018 at noon
Student Presentation Date: February 28


One Outstanding Achievement award and one Excellent Achievement award will be granted to the first and second place winners, respectively, in the Cleveland State University 3MT (Three Minute Thesis) Competition.  Oral communication of a student’s research to an educated layperson is often lacking in graduate programs.  The University of Queensland developed a program where students summarize their research in 3 minutes or less using pre-determined guidelines.  The format is one where students make a presentation in 3 minutes and a panel of judges scores each student to determine a final winner.  Cleveland State University hosts a qualifying competition to decide which student will represent our university at the regional competition sponsored by the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools.  THERE IS NO NEED TO NOMINATE A GRADUATE STUDENT FOR THE 3MT AWARD BEYOND THEIR SUCCESSFUL PARTICIPATION IN THE 3MT COMPETITION.   In addition, this is the only graduate student award that may be won in tandem with a second award.


The Cleveland State University 3MT (Three Minute Thesis) Competition is held in January or February each year.  To participate, eligible graduate students must e-mail Maribeth Kralik at  Please put “THREE MINUTE THESIS COMPETITION ENTRY” on the subject line in all capital letters.  In addition, your e-mail must include the title of your thesis or dissertation as well as a letter, statement or e-mail from the chair of your thesis or dissertation committee certifying that you are eligible to participate. 


Enrolled masters and doctoral candidates who have successfully passed their confirmation milestone (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate.  Participants must have been an enrolled graduate student at some point during the 2017/18 academic year.

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description, the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 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 movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  1. Comprehension & Content
  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background to the research question being addressed and its significance?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, key results and research significance and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation - or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
  1. Engagement
  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

Also visit to learn more.