Penn Three Minute Thesis (3MT)
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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.
Penn's annual 3MT competition is sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Education, with co-sponsorship and support from Career Services, the Graduate Student Center, and GAPSA.
Penn 3MT is a University-sponsored 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.
- 3MT Information Sessions: November 2023 & January 2024
- Research Communications Workshops: October - November 2023 & February 2024 (optional)
- Practice and Feedback Sessions: February 2024 (optional)
- First Round Video Submissions Due: Saturday, March 2, 2024
- Finalists announced: March 7-8, 2024
- Finalist Feedback Sessions: March 8-21, 2024
- In-person Competition: Friday, March 22, 2024
In addition to bragging rights, a prize of $1000 will be awarded to the first-place winner and $500 to both the second-place and audience choice winners. Winners will also have the opportunity to participate in regional and national 3 Minute Thesis competitions!
To enter, students must register below and submit a video of their three-minute talk to Penn 3MT (details below) by Saturday, March 2. From those first-round submissions, up to 10 finalists will be chosen to compete in the campus-wide, live competition on Friday, March 22.
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 their 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 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 and the Grad Center! Please register at the blue button at the top of the page if you plan on submitting a video so we can collect your contact information. Judges will select a first-place ($1000) and second-place ($500) winner at the live competition. There will also be an audience choice ($500) winner.
Active PhD, Professional Doctorate Research (program composed of at least 2/3 research and eligible for Research Training Program (RTP)), and full-time Masters 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 in 3MT competitions at all levels. Graduates are not eligible.
Please Note: Students enrolled in any of the following programs are not eligible to enter the 3MT Competition:
Professional Doctorate (less than 2/3 research)
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 email@example.com. You can also check the Graduate Catalog for your Penn School to see if your program is listed under the PhD and Research Master's Programs.
To enter, you must submit a three-minute video of your presentation by 11:59 p.m. (local time) on March 2, 2024.
Please register at the blue button at the top of the page if you are interested in participating. Be sure to read through the Rules and Guidelines also before submitting your videos!
Students may submit their slide and video anytime before Saturday, March 2, 2024 for feedback. You can also request a 1:1 session during this time for immediate feedback or to go over your presentation with the Associate Director.
Research Communications Workshops offered by the Graduate Student Center will occur October - November and January - February. See our Events page for details.
Student videos submitted by the deadline of Saturday, March 2 at 11:59 p.m., EST are reviewed by a panel of staff for compliance with the eligibility requirements.
10 Finalists are selected for the online competition by March 7-8, 2024.
A campus-wide competition between the finalists will be held March 22, 2024. A reception will be held after the competition.
On the basis of these presentations, winners will be selected by the panel of judges and a “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 ($1000) and second-place ($500) winner at the live competition. There will also be an audience choice ($500) winner.
All decisions of the judging panel are final.
- Your video and slide should be submitted using the button below. Please register at the blue button at the top of the page if you are interested in participating.
- All video files should be named: “Title_of_talk.mp4” or “Title_of_talk.mov”. Please do not include your name or any other identifying information in the name of the video file.
- You do not need to include your slide in your video. A video of you speaking is enough. You will upload your slide alongside your video.
- 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 you and the audio is clear and understandable, that is sufficient. You can record yourself using the Panopto interface in Canvas. You can also record yourself in Zoom. 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.
- 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.
- Powerpoint slides should be named "Title_of_talk.ppt". Please do not include your name or any other identifying information in the name of the PowerPoint file.
Powerpoint slides and videos can be uploaded below. If you are having difficulty, please upload it to Microsoft, Box, or Google Drive and email jomcb at upenn.edu the link to download.
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 they start 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.
Want some help getting started? In need of Inspiration? Check out the resources below!
- Three-Minute Thesis Showcase: Watch winning 3MT presentations from around the world.
- Three Tips to Help You Prepare a Winning Presentation
- 3MT: The Three Most Common Mistakes
- Sample 3MT Coaching Session
Past Penn 3MT® Competitions and Workshops
- Nature MasterClass: Effective Science Communication (PennKey login required)
- Alda Center for Communicating Science Creating Connections Workbook
- XKCD Simple Writer
- TED Talks: Short talks on “ideas worth spreading.”
- PhD Comics Two-Minute Thesis Competition
- Berkeley Grad Slam Competition