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We invite you to join us for the 5th annual Fall 2021 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition on Thursday, November 18, 2021Founded by the University of Queensland in 2008, the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an academic competition that cultivates students’ presentation and science communication skills. The competition challenges them to describe their research within three minutes to a general audience. This year’s competition will be a hybrid, online and in-person event, held at the L.E. & Thelma E. Stephens Performing Arts Center in the Black Box Theatre in Pocatello, Idaho. 

The idea for the 3MT competition came about at a time when the state of Queensland was suffering severe drought. To conserve water, residents were encouraged to time their showers, and many people had a three minute egg timer fixed to the wall in their bathroom. The then Dean of the University of Queensland Graduate School, Emeritus Professor Alan Lawson, put two and two together and the idea for the 3MT competition was born: to challenge grad students to describe their research in under three minutes to a general audience.

The first 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2008 with 160 students competing. In 2009 and 2010 the 3MT competition was promoted to other Australian and New Zealand universities and enthusiasm for the concept grew. Due to its adoption in numerous universities, a multi-national event was developed, and the Inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT competition was held at UQ in 2010. Since 2011, the popularity of the competition has increased and 3MT competitions are now held in over 600 universities and institutions across 59 countries worldwide.

The 3MT® competition was first developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, and they have prepared a comprehensive set of rules and judging criteria. The competition will employ these same guidelines. Please view the complete rules and judging criteria online.


  • A 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 three minutes maximum, and competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs).
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts his/her presentation through movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.


 Judging Criteria

Presentations will be judged based on the following:

Engagement and 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 PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation? Was it clear, legible, and concise?

Comprehension and 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 nonspecialist 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 the presentation — or did he/she elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?

To view videos of successful 3MT presentations visit the 3MT Website.

Applications are due by the end of the day, November 1st, 2021. When completing the online submission form, you will need to provide the following information.

  • Student’s information: name, program, advisor and degree program
  • Title of your 3MT presentation
  • Abstract of 3-5 sentences maximum that describe the content of the presentation
  • [Optional but highly recommended] Upload a profile picture of yourself to use for the event program and on social media to showcase your hard work.

Event date will be November 18th, 2021.  If participation exceeds the threshold, rounds will be implemented and the top competitors for each round will move forward to the finale.

Develop skills

Participation in the 3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition develops presentation and research communication skills, while honing graduate students' ability to effectively explain the breadth and significance of their research to a non-specialist audience. The ability to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences is a vital skill for all graduate students. Participating in the 3MT helps students develop communication skills, allows them to share and take pride in their work, and offers the chance to compete for prizes.

 Foster research culture on campus

The 3MT competition provides a valuable opportunity for graduate students to come together, get to know one another, and talk about their research. It also gives undergraduates, alumni, industry partners, and community at large the opportunity to be exposed to the breadth of research taking place at Idaho State University.


 Build your network

3MT winners will also compete in the state of Idaho 3MT competition against Boise State University and the University of Idaho (virtual for 2021). Additionally, the 1st place winner will represent ISU at the Western Association of Graduate Schools (WAGS) conference 3MT (virtual for 2021) which provides an excellent networking and professional development opportunity.


Obtain bragging rights

Have the chance to win up to $1,500  impress your friends and colleagues!


Win Monetary Prizes!

The judges will score based off the judging criteria. The final scores will indicate our 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winner.  All participants will be voted on by audience members for the People’s Choice Award.

Prizes will be as follows:

1st place: $1,500

2nd place: $1,000

3rd place: $500

People’s Choice: $500

2020 ISU 3MT Winners

2019 ISU 3MT Winners

2018 ISU 3MT Winners