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 PowerPoint 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 900 universities across more than 85 countries.

3MT is not an exercise in trivializing 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 prizes and a chance to represent Ball State in the 3MT regional competition.

Watch the 2021 Competition

The third annual Three Minute Thesis competition premiered online on February 25, 2021. For a list of the 2021 finalists and judges, download the event program (PDF).

Competition Details

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 2020-2021 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 PowerPoint 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.

Helpful Tips

A special thanks to Ms. Mary Moore, Senior Lecturer of Communication Studies, for developing the helpful video recordings below. 

  1. Five tips for recording
  2. Advice on Delivery
  3. Introductions & Conclusions
  4. Speaking to a general audience

Previous Winners


2021 Winners and Finalists

As Ball State's overall 2021 winner, Ana Gabriela Calderón Cornejo represented Ball State at the 3MT regional competition held virtually at the 2021 Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools.


  • Jeffrey Miller
  • Gabriella Fluhler
  • Natalie Brooks
  • Joanna Daniyam
  • Lily Schwab
  • Briana Halloran
  • Sarah Espinoza Repp
  • Kurt Green
  • Ana Gabriela Calderón Cornejo
  • Anya Eicher

First Place

Ana Gabriela Calderón Cornejo

Ana Gabriela Calderón Cornejo

Watch Ana's Presentation

Second Place

Briana Halloran

Briana Halloran

Watch Briana's Presentation

Third Place

Lily Schwab

Lily Schwab

Watch Lily's Presentation

2020 Winners and Finalists

As Ball State's overall 2020 winner, Amber Urban represented Ball State at the 3MT regional competition held virtually at the 2020 Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools, where she placed in the top three out of 25 finalists!


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


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

First Place

Amber Urban

Amber Urban - First Place

Second Place

Karley Poyner

Karley Poyner - Second Place

Third Place

Mylie Brennen

Mylie Brennen - Third Place

People's Choice

Abelline Fionah

Peoples Choice Abbeline Fionah

2019 Winners and Finalists

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


2019 Winners

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

First Place

Kirsten Vacura

Kirsten Vacura First Place

Second Place

Byron Long

Byron Long - Second Place

Third Place & People's Choice

Dayna Arnett

Dayna Arnett - Third Place and Peoples Choice


For answers to your questions or to get more information, please contact Dr. Nathan Hitchens