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Three Minute Thesis (3MT)

What is 3MT?

Do you want to learn how to share your cutting-edge research?

  • 3MT (Three Minute Thesis) is an international research symposium where graduate researchers from across disciplines are invited to share their research in three minutes.
  • It’s an opportunity to develop a valuable skill-set: to communicate complex ideas in a concise, clear, and engaging way.
  • It’s a chance to present your thesis, MRP, or dissertation work to people from beyond your discipline.
  • A panel of judges will select one researcher to represent York at the provincial finals… but that’s just gravy.

Why should you participate?

  • Hone your presentation skills for the classroom, the boardroom, and beyond.
  • Perfect your elevator pitch – hone a compelling explanation of your work that can be used for conferencing, networking, and grant proposal writing.
  • Present your work in a lively forum with compelling research from across the university.

What is required?

In short… not much!

  • Prepare one PowerPoint slide and a three-minute presentation
  • Attend one of two York University 3MT Heats to workshop your presentation
  • Deliver your three minute presentation at the York University 3MT Reception


Each university hosts an internal event and the winner will be invited to the Ontario Three Minutes Thesis.

  • 1st place: $1,000 (Additionally, winner will receive a travel honorarium to attend finals in Windsor)
  • 2nd place: $500
  • 3rd place: $250
  • People's Choice: $250


Current York University graduate students are invited to be 3MT competitors if they meet the following conditions:

  • Students must be registered in a research-based Master's (Thesis or MRP) or PhD program at the time of the 3MT competition, and must have made substantial progress on their research and analysis. Course-based Masters students are ineligible.
  • PhD and Masters students who have defended, but have not yet convocated at the time of the York University 3MT competition, are eligible to participate.
  • 3MT presentations must represent the primary research the student is conducting in his/her graduate program (i.e. thesis, dissertation, or MRP research).
  • Presenters must agree to be video-recorded, and to allow those recordings to be made public (Note: This applies only to the winning student who participates in the Provincial Finals. York's internal 3MT competition will not be videotaped).
  • 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.
    • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) is permitted.
    • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum and competitors exceeding three 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 judging panel is final.

Presentations will be judged on the basis of the following:

  • Communication
    • Did the presenter use language and terminology that was clear and understandable?
    • Was the pace of the talk effective?
    • Did the presenter use non-verbal communication (i.e. eye contact, voice modulation, body language, etc.) effectively?
    • Did the slide enhance, rather than detract from, the talk – was it clear, legible, and concise?
  • Comprehension
    • Did the talk help you to understand the scholarly research and creativity?
    • Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and purpose of the scholarly research and creativity?
    • Did the presenter clearly indicate what is interesting about the scholarly research and creativity?
    • Did the talk follow a logical sequence?
  • Engagement
    • Was the talk engaging?
    • Did the talk inspire you to want to know more?
    • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their work?
    • Did the presenter capture and maintain your attention?

Students must understand that the presentation of their research in 3MT will be publicly accessible (i.e., in the public domain).

The presentation of the research will not affect any pre-existing rights 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 sign non-disclosure agreements. If your research is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, students should discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with their supervisor(s) before entering the 3MT.
  • 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 a variety of media, including the internet.
  • Any data or information discussed or presented in public sessions should be considered ‘public.’ If your research includes confidential or culturally sensitive material, students should discuss your competition entry with their supervisor(s) before entering the 3MT.

Provincial and National Events

The winner from York's finals is invited to attend the 3MT Ontario Competition. This is a great opportunity to showcase your research to a wide range of scholars from across the province. Approximately 20 Ontario universities will be participating this year.

Winning presenters from the Ontario provincial finals are invited to compete in the Canadian national virtual finals hosted by the Canadian Association of Graduate Studies. This competition brings together contestants from the Ontario, Eastern, and Western regional competitions. More information about the 3MT national competition can be found at CAGS - Three Minute Thesis Competition.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What proportion of my degree has to have a research component for me to be eligible to compete?

– You are eligible to compete if your degree involves a thesis, major research paper (MRP) or dissertation. If your program is course based, you are not eligible.

I was a student at the time of my competition at my university, but will graduate before the Ontario competition. Am I eligible to enter?

– Yes. If you are eligible at the time of your university’s competition, you will remain eligible for the Ontario competition, regardless of your program status.

I have participated in the Ontario 3MT before. Can I participate more than once?

– Yes. The winner of their university final will be expected to attend the Ontario competition in person as long as they meet the eligibility criteria.

Can I present my oration via Skype?

– No. Participants are expected to attend the York and Ontario competitions in person.

Can I present my oration as a poem, rap or song?

– No, 3MT is primarily about developing students’ oration skills.

Can I use a laser pointer?

– No, a laser pointer is not allowed.

Does my slide have to be in PowerPoint?

– Yes, this ensures it will appear properly on the operating system that will be used.

How many transitions or animations can I have in my slide?

– None. The slide must be static and not change in any way during the presentation. Your slide must be displayed for the duration of your presentation.

Can I use notecards?

– Yes, you are permitted to use notecards during the York University competition. Even if you have your talk memorized, we still encourage you to bring up notes just in case.
– However, you will not be permitted to use notecards at the Ontario final.

Will I be able to see a countdown timer during my presentation?

– Yes, a countdown timer will be visible to you at all times.

What happens if my presentation is longer than 3 minutes?

– A countdown timer will be visible to you. If you continue to speak after the timer ends, you risk having points deducted by the judges.

Is there a dress code?

– There is no stipulated dress requirement such as “smart casual”. Please wear whatever is comfortable for you. NO COSTUMES (including hats, masks, etc).

Will my presentation be videorecorded?

– York University's internal 3MT will not be videorecorded. The provincial final (hosted at the University of Windsor) will be videorecorded, and in agreeing to participate in the provincial competition, you are also agreeing to have your presentation videotaped and the video posted online.

Can I win more than one category?

– Yes, it is possible to win a place (1st, runner up etc) and win the People’s Choice Award.

What happens if I cannot attend the Final?

– The winner of each heat or final is expected to represent their School/Institute/Faculty/University at the next stage of the competition. If the winner is unable to attend, the runner-up will proceed to the next round of the competition.


Questions regarding this event can be directed to the Research Officer by visiting our FGS Staff Directory.

3MT is committed to accessibility for persons with disabilities. Should you require accommodation in order to meaningfully participate, please contact the Research Officer by visiting our FGS Staff Directory as soon as possible to ensure your accommodation is available.