Student giving presentation

Three Minute Thesis logo
An 80,000-word thesis could take hours to present. Their time limit... 3 minutes!

In the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, graduate students convey the essence and importance of their master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation research in an engaging way to a non-specialist audience in just three minutes using one static Power Point slide.

This research communication competition originally developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008. Over time the contest has exploded in popularity, and 3MT contests now occur worldwide at over 600 universities/institutions across 65 countries.

3MT is not an exercise in trivialising or ‘dumbing-down’ research, but challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries so they can be presented concisely to a non-specialist audience. The challenge for participants is to take all the months spent on research and writing their thesis or dissertation and distill it down to a three-minute summary! Up for grabs are cash prizes and a chance to represent Ball State in the regional Three Minute Thesis Competition.

Eligibility and Requirements

  • A student must be enrolled in a Master’s or Doctoral Program; the student must be actively enrolled in their program at Ball State at some point in the 2019-2020 academic year.
  • The student’s program of study must contain an original research project. This can be at any point in the course of study, and can be attached to a required class or a capstone or independent project.
  • The degree program need not formally require a thesis or dissertation; however the presentation topic must cover an original research project.
  • Minimally, some preliminary data must be collected on the topic. 

Judging Criteria

  1. Comprehension and Content: Rating 10-1 (strong-weak)
    •      How well was the research motivated (i.e. background and significance)?
    •      How well was the research design explained (i.e. methods or approach)?
    •      How well were results, conclusions, or outcomes described?
  2. Engagement and Communication: Rating 10-1 (strong-weak)
    •      How well did the presenter capture and hold your attention?
    •      How well did the presenter make their work comprehensible (i.e. avoided jargon)?
    •      How well did the Power Point slide enhance the presentation?


  1. A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted.
  2. No slide transitions, animations or ‘movement’ of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
  3. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  4. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  5. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  6. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  7. Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  8. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
  9. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

2020 3MT Finalists

(left to right): Lindsay Schultz, Mary Henehan, Heather Richards, Abelline Fionah, Joshua Grzywana, Amber Urban, Elizabeth Young, Mylie Brennan, Lindsey Wiehl, Karly Poyner

2020 First Place:

Amber Urban, Sociology
"Menstruation: How We Tell the Story"
Advisor: Dr. Mellisa Holtzman, Sociology

2020 Third Place:

Mylie Brennan, Communication Studies
"Northern Irish Women, the Peace Process, and Brexit: An Extended Narrative Empathy Approach "
Advisor: Dr. Marcy Meyer, Communication Studies

2019 3MT Finalists

2019 Finalists

(left to right)
Melinda Zurcher, Dayna Arnett, Byron Long, Melodie Griffin, Rebecca Rudolph, Jordan Patterson, Kirsten Vacura, Christopher Reinhart, Anna Farello, Nathan Edwards

2020 3MT Winners

(left to right):
Amber Urban (First Place), Karly Poyner (Second Place), Mylie Brennan (Third Place), Abelline Fionah (People's Choice)

2020 Second Place:

Karly Poyner, Communication Studies
"'Jesus Made Me a Feminist': Communication of Dual Evangelical Feminist Identities" Advisor: Dr. Glen Stamp, Communication Studies

2020 People's Choice Award:

Abelline Fionah, Chemistry
"Synthesis of Engineered Pd/Cn20/BiOBr Heterostructures for Enhanced Light-Driven Degradation of Organic Contaminants"
Advisor: Dr. Elsayed Zahran, Chemistry

2019 3MT Winners

2019 Winners

(left to right)
Byron Long (Second Place)
Kirsten Vacura (First Place)
Dayna Arnett (Third Place and People's Choice)

2019 First Place:

Kirsten Vacura, Biology
"Invasion superhighways: How fishing paves the way for the spread of exotic species"
Advisor: Dr. Paul Venturelli, Biology

2019 Second Place:

Byron Long, Counseling Psychology
"The Insecure Brain and Brief Meditiation"
Advisor: Dr. Kristin Perrone-McGovern, Counseling Psychology

2019 Third Place and
People's Choice Award:

Dayna Arnett, Chemistry
"Binding Studies of mitoNEET with Products of Lipid Peroxidation"
Advisor: Dr. Mary Konkle, Chemistry

As Ball State's overall 2019 winner, Kirsten Vacura represented Ball State at the 3MT competition held at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools in St. Louis, Missouri where she placed in the top 8 out of 45 finalists!


For more information, please contact Dr. Nathan Hitchens.

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