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3-Minute Thesis Competition

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3-Minute Thesis Competition

The 3-Minute Thesis competition challenges Yale PhD students to clearly and compellingly describe their thesis to a broad audience - in 3 minutes!  By preparing a successful presentation, students will develop a key professional asset that is just as critical for academic conferences and job talks as it is for a job search outside of the academy.  We welcome all Yale students, postdocs, faculty, and staff to attend this exciting and enlightening annual event!

By participating, students will be able to:

  • Hone communication skills essential to any career path
  • Refine their "elevator pitch"
  • Learn about the research projects of their peers
  • Share their work with the Yale community


2019 Competition Details

Do you have difficulty explaining your research projects to friends and family? Do you wish you could describe your work more clearly in seminars and interviews?  Improve your ability to distill your main ideas, demonstrate the relevance of your research and creatively engage your audience. You will have 3 minutes and 1 slide to describe your research project to a broad audience. 

This competition is sponsored by the McDougal Graduate Student Center.  We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association and Yale GSAS alumnus Kemal Ciliz ('94, MA).

How do I apply?

Registration for the 2019 competition is currently open!  Students can submit their application hereAll applications are due by 12noon on Friday, January 18th!

Who is eligible?

All Yale PhD students from every discipline may participate.  

When is the competition?

All accepted applicants will be invited to sign up for one of several preliminary rounds that will take place between February 25th and March 6th, 2019.  Twelve finalists will be selected for the final championship round. 

The championship round will be held on Friday, April 5th, 2019 at 5:00pm.  All finalists must be able to participate in person in the championship round.  

The championship round will be held the evening before the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association's annual alumni mentoring event, "Where Do I Go From Yale?" on Saturday, April 6th, 2019.  All alumni coming to campus for the event will be invited to attend the 3-Minute Thesis competition!

What can I win?

Prizes are due to the generous contributions of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) and individual donors.  You could win one of the following prizes: 

  • 1st Prize: $1000
  • 2nd Prize:  Apple Watch
  • 3rd Prize:  $200 gift card to the Yale Bookstore 

Prizes will also be given according to a live vote by the audience!

  • People's Choice Award - Humanities and Social Sciences:  $350
  • People's Choice Award - STEM:  $350

All finalists will receive a professionally produced video of their championship round presentation.

How can I prepare?

Watch examples of other 3-Minute Thesis presentations
  • See last year's finalists from Yale's 3-Minute Thesis competition here.
  • View videos of 3MT winners from around the world here.
Review these online tips
Attend a workshop at Yale

To help you create a potentially winning presentation, OCS and the Center for Teaching & Learning will be hosting a number of workshops and special advising hours. Our upcoming workshops are listed below, with more to come! 

  • PitchVantage Studio Info Sessions
  • 3-Minute Thesis Competition Introduction & FAQ session - Tuesday, Jan. 15th, 12pm-1:15pm @ CTL 120A (lunch provided!)
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!) - Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 5pm-6:30pm @ 55 Whitney Avenue, 3rd floor - RSVP
  • Conferences from Abstract to Q&A - Tuesday, Jan. 22nd, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • Designing Effective Slides for Humanities & Social Science Presentations - Tuesday, Jan. 29th, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!) - Monday, Feb. 4th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 103 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research - Thursday, Feb. 7th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Public Speaking Clinic for Humanities & Social Science PhDs - Tuesday, Feb. 12th, 4pm-5:30pm @ CTL (Poorvu Center), room 121 - RSVP
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences - Thursday, Feb. 14th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Poster Preparation & Template Development for STEM & Social Sciences PhDs - Thursday, Feb. 21st, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • Designing Effective Slides in Science Presentations - Thursday, Feb. 28th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences [WEST CAMPUS] - Tuesday, March 5th, 5pm-6:30pm @ tbd on West Campus - RSVP link to follow
  • Figure Making in the Sciences - Thursday, March 7th, 5pm-6:30pm @ Hope 110 (315 Cedar Street) - RSVP

Sessions offered last year that we anticipate also being available this Spring include:

  • Presenting Engagingly:  Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Delivery of Your Research
  • Communication Skills for International Students on the Job Search
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Slides
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Data Visualization
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story
  • Career Lab:  Using Your STAR Story for Presentations & Interviews
  • Producing Successful Presentations with Angelika Hoffmann (Deputy Director, Corporate & Foundation Relations)
  • Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Slides
  • Career Lab:  Refining Your Professional Narrative:  Interview & 3MT Prep

The Office of Career Strategy will also be offering dedicated advising hours to assisting students with their presentations!  OCS will be announcing these hours very soon.

Be sure to check this webpage and the OCS weekly newsletter frequently for workshop announcements and register for these workshops on the Yale Career Link.


Contact Brian Frenette, Senior Associate Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Services.

Judging Criteria

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?

Engagement & Communication

  • 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?


  • Only 1 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 (i.e. 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.

Read about the 2018 competition in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

Read about the 2017 competition in Yale News: "A thesis in 3 minutes."

Competition origins

The 3-Minute Thesis is an internationally recognized competition founded by the University of Queensland in 2008. Today competitions are held in 600+ universities and organizations in 63 countries worldwide.  Learn more here!