The Hub Upcoming Events

AU’s 2024 Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition

Date and Time:
April 24, 2024 1:00 pm - April 24, 2024 4:00 pm (Mountain)
Online event

Writing an academic thesis about your research is no easy task. Presenting that research in plain language to a non-academic audience in just three minutes can be even tougher! 

Athabasca University (AU) graduate students enrolled in a research-focused program are invited to take part in the annual Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition. This is a chance to improve presentation skills, get more comfortable with public speaking, and connect with other inspiring researchers. To sweeten the deal, the top three competitors will earn cash prizes, funded by the Research Office! 

The winner will also be invited to compete at the Western Regional 3MT competition hosted by the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus (date to be determined). 

Started by the University of Queensland in 2008, the competition cultivates students’ academic, presentation, and research communication skills. Presenting in a 3MT competition increases their capacity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in a language appropriate to a non-specialist audience. Competitors are allowed one static PowerPoint slide, but no other resources or props. 

Why should I compete in the 3MT? 

There are many benefits to competing in a 3MT competition. 

  • Share your research with the public 
  • Learn how to frame your thesis topic 
  • Generate an easy-to-understand statement for scholarships 
  • Get your name known 
  • Develop presentation skills 
  • Have a pitch ready for a job interview 
  • Meet other people in the research community 
  • Build your resumé/CV 
  • Win prizes: $1,000 for first place and an additional $800 for travel costs to the Western Regional 3MT®, $500 for second place, and $250 for third place, generously provided by AU’s Research Office 


Competitors are eligible if they meet the following requirements: 

  • Currently a research-focused graduate student (thesis/project-based) in an active AU master’s or doctoral program 
  • Good academic standing 
  • Available to present live at the AU competition on April 24, 2024. 

You are not eligible if any of the following apply to you: 

  • You have convocated in 2023 or prior 
  • You are a course-based student without a research focus 
  • You are a visiting student 

Note: Doctoral and master’s students who have defended their thesis/dissertation, but have not yet convocated, are eligible to participate. 

Competition rules 

  • 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 oration 
  • Students must be visible via webcam throughout the duration of their 3MT 
  • 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 (e.g., no poems, raps, or songs) 
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech 
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final 

What our judges are looking for 

Comprehension and content: 

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes? 
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence? 
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience? 
  • 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 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 speaker have a strong 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? 

AU’s 2024 3MT timeline 

March 14: A Guide to a Winning 3MT! This preparatory webinar, hosted by AU’s 2023 3MT winner Skyler Todd, will include valuable insights for participants 

April 10: The deadline to register for AU’s 3MT competition 

April 24: AU’s 2024 3MT competition 

Competitor resources 

For more information, contact Krystal Zahara.