Rules & Eligibility


All graduate students are welcome to participate in 3MT Professional Development workshops and are encouraged to attend the competition as spectators.

Active Ph.D. candidates who have passed their candidacy exams* in the Colleges of Engineering, Science, and Arts & Letters by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels. Ph.D students who have graduated from the University are not eligible.

*The candidacy exam is a university requirement and its passing is monitored by the grad school.  If you have questions on eligibility please see highlighted section on p. 32.


Returning Competitors

Returning competitors presentations must be substantially different from previous presentations.



  • 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.
  • Static Slide needs to be made in Powerpoint format (Set slide to standard (4:3), 10" Wide, 7.5" Height)
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, notes) 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 to commence from the stage.
  • 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.


Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the judging criteria below.  Attached below is the rubric the judges will utilize.

Please note: Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience.

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?



University of Notre Dame Information Packet - Overview, Progression, Competition Rules & Guidelines, Judging Criteria, Event Specifics, and Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Guidelines (provided at 3MT Kick Off Information Session) Adapted from The University of Queensland Handbook for Participating Universities

Nd 3 Minute Thesis Info Packet 2018


Active Ph.D. candidates who have successfully passed their qualifying exams in the College of Engineering, Science, and Arts & Letters (including candidates whose thesis is under submission) by the date of their first presentation are eligible to participate in 3MT competitions at all levels. Graduates are not eligible.

Professional Development

Students participating in 3MT will be expected to attend 1 Professional Development workshop of their choosing in order to be eligible for division qualifying heats.  Workshops offered are as follows:

  • Once Upon A Time – Storytelling as a Tool for Teaching & Learning
  • Distilling Your Scholarly Research in a 3MT Format
  • Improv for Scholars – Utilizing Improvisation Techniques to Connect with an Audience
  • Visual Presentation of Information – Making Your Slide
  • Stage Presence – Drawing in Your Audience
  • Stage Presence - Nonverbal Communication
  • One Button Studio – Virtual Coaching for 3MT

Students may register for workshops at the Professional Development events portal.

Please note, One Button Studio does NOT fulfill the Professional Development workshop criteria and is to be used as a supplementary tool.

Static Slide

  • Please submit a single static slide for your presentation to Graduate School Professional Development ( by April 2, 2018 for the divisional competition and by April 16, 2018 for the finals.
  • After all slides have been submitted, presentation order will be generated at random.

Three Minute Countdown

Students will be provided a visual cue (such as raising a visible yellow card in the air) to illustrate a 30 second warning, and ringing a bell at the final three minute mark.

Confidentiality and Intellectual Property Guidelines - Adapted from University of Melboune

  • The 3MT® presentation must represent the original research of the competitor.
  • The authors of the 3MT® presentation will retain all rights regarding its use at all times prior to and following the competition except as stated below.
  • Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to agree to or sign non-disclosure statements for any participant.
  • All public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include the Internet.
  • Any data or information discussed or divulged in public sessions by entrants should be considered information that will likely enter the public realm, and entrants should not assume any right of confidentiality in any data or information discussed, divulged or presented in these sessions. This means, if your research includes commercial-in-confidence or culturally sensitive material you should think very carefully about how you can present this information. We advise that you discuss your competition entry with the party/ies before entering the 3MT® competition.
  • The University of Notre Dame 3 Minute Thesis Competition may make photocopies, photographs, videotapes and/or audiotapes of the presentations or material prepared for use in presentation at the 3MT® competition.