George Mason University
George Mason University Mason
George Mason University
Logo for the 3 minute thesis competition at George Mason University.

Communicating the importance of your work in a clear and concise manner to wide audiences is an important skill that can increase the success of job searches, funding proposals, and professional networking. The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is designed to give students a chance to polish these skills as part of an energizing, fun, and challenging academic competition.

What is 3MT®?

3MT® is a research communication competition where PhD students present their doctoral research to a non-specialist audience using only one single visual aid—all in three minutes. This exercise encourages graduate students to think about their research from an outsider’s perspective, hones their presentation skills, and provides a forum for a cross-disciplinary exchange of exciting ideas and information.

How Does 3MT® Work?

The preliminary elimination round will be held in March 2020. The Top 10 finalists will advance to compete in the final round at the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference in April 2020.


Registration for 3MT®

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) 2020 Application can be found here.

The Mason 3MT® competition will be held as part of the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference on Friday, March 27, 2020 at the Fairfax Campus. Registration will be capped at 50 entrants. Anyone registered after the first 50 entrants will be placed on a wait list. Registration will close on Friday, February 7, 2020. Your registration status will be confirmed via email within 48 hours. A preliminary elimination round will be held Friday, February 28 at the Fairfax Campus. Note: Only PhD students who have advanced to candidacy by the deadline are eligible to participate. 

The final round will be held Friday, March 27, 2020 in conjunction with the Mason Graduate Interdisciplinary Conference.

2019 Winners

First Place:   Stephen Kassinger, College of Science (see video to the right)
Second Place: Joel Hicks, Schar School of Policy and Government
Third Place:   Jenny Mischel, College of Education and Human Development


First Place: $1000
Second Place: $750
Third Place: $500

Rules for Presentations

Presentations exceeding 3 minutes in length will be disqualified.
  1. Presentations must commence from the stage.
  2. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts the presentation through either movement or speech.
  3. A single, static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations, or “movement” of any description are allowed. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the presentation.
  4. No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  5. Presentations must be spoken word (i.e., no poems, raps, or songs).
  6. No additional props (e.g., note cards, costumes, musical instruments, or laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  7. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
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?
  • Were 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 presentation 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 the 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?

For more 3MT® information contact Akitta Robertson. Visit Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) website to view winning presentations from around the globe.