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3-Minute Thesis Competition

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3-Minute Thesis Competition

Apply to this year's 3-Minute Thesis Competition here!  Our application deadline is 12noon on Friday, January 17, 2020.

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 can:

  • 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

Are you interested in polishing your public communications skills?  We have the resources to help you succeed! Make an appointment with a career advisor through the Yale Career Link, use the PitchVantage Studio at the Graduate Writing Lab, and read the GWL and OCS weekly newsletters to learn about upcoming workshops.

The 3-Minute Thesis Competition is a collaboration of the offices of the McDougal Graduate Student Center and is modeled on the 3MT® competition founded by the University of Queensland.  We gratefully acknowledge the support of Spark Investment Management, the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences, and the Graduate School Alumni Association Board for their financial support of this event.

2020 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. 

FAQ: How do I apply?

Click here to submit your application!  Applications are due by 12noon on Friday, January 17, 2020.

FAQ: Who is eligible?

All current, matriculated students enrolled in Yale's PhD programs are welcome to apply and compete.

FAQ:  When is the competition?

All accepted applicants will be invited to sign up for one of several preliminary rounds that will take place in late February/early March (specific dates TBD).  Twelve finalists will be selected for the final championship round. 

The championship round will be held on Friday, April 3rd, 2020 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 4th, 2020.  All alumni coming to campus for the event will be invited to attend the 3-Minute Thesis competition!

FAQ: How can I prepare?

Attend an Info Session!

  • The Office of Career Strategy & the Graduate Writing Lab will be hosting Information Sessions reviewing 3MT, including insight from past participants! Attend one of these sessions to learn more!
  • Tuesday, December 10th at 9am at CTL 120A (click to register)
  • Thursday, January 9th at 12pm at CTL 120A (registration link coming soon!)
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.  Selected workshops that were offered for last year's participants are listed below. Please consult Yale Career Link for the complete list of offerings.

  • PitchVantage Studio Info Sessions
  • 3-Minute Thesis Competition Introduction & FAQ session
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!)
  • Conferences from Abstract to Q&A
  • Designing Effective Slides for Humanities & Social Science Presentations
  • Career Lab:  Telling Your Research Story (3-Minute Thesis Preparation!)
  • Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research
  • Public Speaking Clinic for Humanities & Social Science PhDs
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences
  • Poster Preparation & Template Development for STEM & Social Sciences PhDs
  • Designing Effective Slides in Science Presentations
  • How to Present Engagingly in the Sciences [WEST CAMPUS]
  • Figure Making in the Sciences

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.

FAQ: 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?

FAQ: Rules

  • 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.


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

Read about the 2019 Ivy 3MT Competition in Yale SEAS News

Read about the 2018 competition in the Yale Alumni Magazine.

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!