Penn 3MT

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a competition for doctoral and research students to develop and showcase their research communication skills through brief, 3-minute presentations. 

2021-2022 Penn 3MT Competition

Penn 3MT is a university-sponsored competitive speaking competition designed to showcase graduate student research in three-minute talks to a general audience. This is a terrific opportunity for graduate students engaged in substantive original research to develop communication skills and share their work with faculty, students, and staff from across the University.

  • Information Sessions: September 8-23, 2021
  • Research Communications Workshops: November 2021
  • Practice and Feedback Sessions: November 1-December 8, 2021
  • Final submissions due: Sunday, December 12, 11:59 PM (local time)
  • Campus-wide, live Competition: February 2022

In addition to bragging rights, prizes will be awarded to the top three winners and an audience choice winner. Winners will also have the opportunity to participate in regional and national 3 Minute Thesis competitions!

To enter, students must submit a video of their three-minute talk to Penn 3MT (details below). From those submissions, finalists will be chosen to compete in the campus wide live, in-person competition in the Spring. Colleagues and friends of the competitors are warmly invited to attend and vote for the audience choice winner!

Why Should I Enter Penn 3MT?

The 3MT competition will teach you how to communicate effectively to specialists and non-specialists alike, preparing you to present your research at scholarly conferences and to take part in both academic and professional job markets.

  • Professional Development: Penn 3MT is a great opportunity for graduate students to practice sharing original research to general audiences. Participants have the opportunity to attend workshops and receive group and one-on-one coaching to develop oratorical skills, dynamic deliveries, and compelling content when presenting their academic research.

  • Networking: 3MT participants will have an opportunity to meet and engage with new faculty, staff, and students from across the University.

  • Impact: Participants have the opportunity to make the importance and relevance of their research visible to a non-specialist audience. Participants will can elect to have their presentation shared online, promoting both your own work and the value of graduate student research to a much wider audience.

  • Prizes: Everyone who submits a video will receive prizes from GAPSA! Please fill out the interest form below if you plan on submitting a video so we can collect your contact information. Judges will select a first, second, and third-place winner. There will also be an audience choice winner. Those four finalists will receive monetary prizes of at least $200.

Who Can Participate?

All graduate students enrolled in a full-time Masters or doctoral program at Penn who are engaged in substantive original research projects. Entries from all disciplines are welcome and encouraged.

In cases of presentation of a collaborative research project, the presenter’s contribution to the project must be salient and clearly specified.

If you are unsure of your eligibility or would like more information about 3MT, please contact

How 3MT works

To enter, you must submit a three-minute video of your presentation by 11:59 p.m. (local time) on Sunday, December 5, 2021.

Please complete the Penn 3MT Interest Form if you are interested in participating. Be sure to read through the Rules and Guidelines also before submitting your videos!

Competition Process

  • Students may submit their slide and video anytime before December 8, 2021 for feedback. You can also request a 1:1 sessions during this time for immediate feedback or to go over your presentation by emailing

  • Research Communications Workshops offered by the Graduate Student Center will occur in November. See our Events page for details.

  • Student videos submitted by the deadline of December 12, 2021 at 11:59 p.m., EST are reviewed by a panel of faculty and staff for compliance with the eligibility requirements.

  • Finalists are selected for the online competition by January 25, 2022.

  • A live campus-wide competition between the finalists will be held on TBD.

  • On the basis of these presentations, four winners will be selected, three by the panel of judges and one “people’s choice” by audience members.

Judging and Selection

A panel of non-specialist faculty and staff judges will evaluate student presentations. Presentations will be evaluated based on clarity, comprehension, content, engagement, and communication.

Everyone who submits a video will receive a gift for participating! Please fill out the interest form above if you plan on submitting a video so we can collect your contact information. Judges will select a first, second, and third-place winner. There will also be an audience choice winner. Those four finalists will receive monetary prizes of at least $200.

All decisions of the judging panel are final.

Rules and Guidelines

Video submissions 

  • Video should be submitted as an MP4 file if possible. A MOV file is also acceptable.
  • All video files should be named: “Title_of_talk.mp4” or “”. Please do not include your name or any other identifying information in the name of the video file.
  • At the very beginning of your video, please state your full name, graduate program, and the title of your presentation. The time it takes to do this will not be counted against the three minutes to present your research.
  • You will not be judged on your skills as a videographer, and you do not need to use professional video equipment. As long as the judges can see your slide/image, and the audio is clear and understandable, that is sufficient. You can record yourself in Zoom while sharing your slide and have your video on, for example. You may ask a friend or colleague for help creating your video, or you can get assistance and borrow equipment from the Vitale Digital Media Lab. You can also follow these tips for recording a presentation in Zoom. Here is one demonstrated on a Mac

Visuals: Presenters may use a single image or static PowerPoint slide (no Prezi or other presentation formats) to enhance their presentation.

  • Students must create their slides themselves – they cannot ask someone else to design the slides. Use of PowerPoint templates is allowed.
  • Slides can include visual elements (charts, visualizations, photos, clip art, etc.) created by someone other than the student, as long as the slide credits the original creator.
  • Embedded audio, animations, and/or video clips (including but not limited to .gif, .avi, .mp4, .mp3, and .wmv file types) are NOT permitted.

Length and Timing: Presentations should be a maximum of three (3) minutes in length, commencing from the moment the speaker starts the presentation through movement or speech.

  • The presentation begins at the moment the speaker engages with the audience (if s/he starts with a hand clap, a gesture, or any other such engagement, prior to speaking, the clock begins at that time; if there is no such engagement the clock starts when the student begins speaking).
  • If the speaker continues past three minutes, points will be deducted from the final score, beginning with one point at 3:03, and one point every two additional seconds thereafter.
  • No props of any kind are permitted, and notes cannot be used during the presentation.
3MT Resources and Help Getting Started

Want some help getting started? In need of Inspiration? Check out the resources below!

3MT® Resources

Past Penn 3MT® Competitions


Research Communications Workshops with Penn Libraries and CWiC
All events will be recorded and links provided here and in our YouTube Playlist.

Additional Resources