Frequently Asked Questions about the Three-Minute Thesis Competition

Please review the IUP Three Minute Thesis frequently asked questions for details about this competition. Any additional questions or concerns not listed below can be brought to Sera-Leigh Ghouralal at

What is Three Minute Thesis (3MT)?

3MT® is a competition founded by the University of Queensland, Australia in 2008. It asks students to “cultivate [their] academic, presentation, and research communication skills. The competition supports their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience” (

How does the competition work?

Graduate students have exactly three minutes to succinctly and accurately describe their thesis/dissertation/research project to a group of judges who are not familiar with their research topics, utilizing only one static, non-animated PowerPoint slide to assist them as a visual aid. The top competitors from the preliminary round on March 4 will advance to a final competition on April 7 to determine the overall winner.

What do these competitions look like? Are there any examples of competitions?

Yes, you can visit the official Three Minute Thesis site to view videos from past competition winners at other universities.

When is IUP's competition taking place?

The preliminary competition will take place on Thursday, March 4, 2021. The top participants from the preliminary competition will advance to the final competition, which will take place Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

How do I state my intent to participate in this event?

If you would like to take part in this competition, submit a proposal via the competition on InfoReady Review by Monday, March 1, 2021.

What do I do in preparation for the event (after I state my intent to participate)?

Check your email regularly after you declare your intent to participate. You will receive a Qualtrics survey to schedule your competition time window on March 2. We will have a morning and afternoon time slots available. You will also receive an e-mail with instructions and deadlines for sending your PowerPoint slide for the competition.

What should the Power-Point slide look like?

The slide should include legible text and images, if desired. Competitors may present just one, static, non-animated slide without video or audio.

Are there prizes for this competition?

Yes. Two prizes are available: the top ranked judges award and the peer choice award.

Who can participate?

Any currently enrolled graduate student at IUP whose degree ends in a thesis, dissertation, or culminating project can participate in the competition.

At what stage in my graduate career can I participate? Do I need to be close to finishing my degree?

You do not need to have your thesis, dissertation, or culminating research project completed in order to participate in this event. As long as you have your topic for your project, you are invited to take part in this competition.

I am in my program's non-thesis track. Can I still participate?

Yes, you may still participate in this event. You can choose to present your culminating research project for this competition instead of a thesis or dissertation

What if I cannot attend the preliminaries in person? How can I participate?

We have a limited number of videoconference spots available exclusively to students enrolled at the Pittsburgh East or Dixon University Center campuses, or in an online-only or summers-only program.

I am not enrolled in a program at Pittsburgh East, the Dixon University Center, or one that is summers-only or on-line only but I cannot make it to the Indiana campus for the preliminary round. May I still participate?

At this time, we are only able to accommodate videoconferencing for students in our Pittsburgh East, Dixon University Center, summers-only, and online-only programs.

Can I participate in both the Graduate Scholars Forum and the Three Minute Thesis competition?

Yes, you can present a poster or oral presentation at the Graduate Scholars Forum and still also compete in the Three Minute Thesis event. In fact, it is our hope that graduate students will participate in both the Graduate Scholars Forum and the Three Minute Thesis.

Can I present a past research project, or my thesis if I am a current doctoral student?

The presentation should cover research that you are currently working on only, not something you have done in the past.

Can I present on research I am conducting for/with a faculty member as part of their larger research project?

The research presented should be your own original research for your thesis, dissertation, or culminating project, not research conducted for a faculty member.