3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition

The 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition showcases the research of Columbia’s doctoral student community. Participants are challenged to share their research clearly and effectively with a broad, non-specialist audience in just three minutes.

3MT helps doctoral students to develop their presentation and communication skills, which are vital for academic conferences and careers both inside and outside of academia. Through the competition, participants also have the opportunity to share their work with the Columbia and local communities by presenting in front of an esteemed panel of University and corporate judges and a diverse audience.

Dates, Eligibility, and Rules


  • Application Period: October 1-21, 2018
  • Preliminary Rounds: October 30 and November 2, 2018
  • Workshops for Finalists: November 2-16, 2018
  • Office Hours/Individual Consultations for Finalists: November 12-26, 2018
  • Championship: December 7, 2018, 2:30-4:30 p.m.

Note: Those selected for the preliminary rounds must confirm their availability to compete in championship round on December 7 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.


  • All current PhD students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science are eligible to compete.


  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations, or “movement” of any kind are allowed. The slide is to be displayed from the beginning of the presentation.
  • 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. Competitors who exceed three minutes will be 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 his or her presentation through either movement or speech.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  • First Prize: $1,000
  • Second Prize: $500
  • Audience Choice Award: $300
How to Apply

Complete this short application form, which includes the submission of a research/dissertation abstract (200 to 300 words).

How to Prepare
Judging Criteria

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance of 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?
  • Were 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 the presentation? Did the presenter elaborate for too long on one aspect? 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 the research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for the 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?