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3-MInute Thesis Competition

January 24, 2018

The 3-Minute Thesis competition challenges Yale PhD students to clearly and compellingly describe their thesis to a broad audience - in 3 minutes!  By preparing a successful presentation, students will develop a key professional asset that is just as critical for academic conferences and job talks as it is for a job search outside of the academy.

By participating, students will be able to:

  •     Hone communication skills essential to any career path
  •     Refine their “elevator pitch”
  •     Learn about the research projects of their peers
  •     Share their work with the Yale community

    On This Page

  1.     2018 Competition Details
  2.     Judging Criteria
  3.     Rules

2018 Competition Details

Do you have difficulty explaining your research projects to friends and family? Do you wish you could describe your work more clearly in seminars and interviews?  Improve your ability to distill your main ideas, demonstrate the relevance of your research and creatively engage your audience. You will have 3 minutes and 1 slide to describe your research project to a broad audience.

This competition is sponsored by the McDougal Graduate Student Center.  We gratefully acknowledge the generous support of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association and Paul Bosco (MS ’94, Engineering & Applied Science).

How do I apply?

Register by Tuesday, February 27 at noon.


Who is eligible?

All Yale PhD students from every discipline may participate. 

When is the competition?

All accepted applicants will be invited to sign up for one of several preliminary rounds that will take place by April 6, 2018.  Ten finalists will be selected for the final championship round.

The championship round will be held on Friday, April 20, 2018 at 5:30pm.  All finalists must be able to participate in person in the championship round. 

The championship round will be held the evening before the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association's annual alumni mentoring event, “Where Do I Go From Yale?” on Saturday, April 21, 2018.  All alumni coming to campus for the event will be invited to attend the 3-Minute Thesis competition!

What can I win?

Thanks to the generous contributions of the Yale Graduate School Alumni Association (GSAA) and individual donors, you could win one of the following prizes:

    First Prize: $1000
    2nd Prize:  Apple Watch
    3rd Prize:  $100 gift card to the Yale Bookstore

Prizes will also be given according to a live vote by the audience!

    People's Choice Award - Humanities and Social Sciences
    People's Choice Award - STEM

All finalists will receive a professionally produced video of their championship round presentation.

How can I prepare?

Watch examples of other 3-Minute Thesis presentations

    See last year's finalists from Yale's 3-Minute Thesis competition here.
    View videos of 3MT winners from around the world here.

Review these online tips

    “How to Win the 3MT” from Inger Mewburn, Australian National University
    3MT Competitor Guide, University of Queensland
    Effective use of the 3MT slide, Vitae

Attend a workshop at Yale

To help you create a potentially winning presentation, OCS and the Center for Teaching & Learning will be hosting a number of workshops and special advising hours. Workshop topics will include:

    PitchVantage Studio Info Sessions:  1/29/18 through 2/2/18, 9am-11am & 5pm-7pm, CTL M104B
    Presenting Engagingly:  Crafting the (Short) Story of Your Research - 1/30/18, 4:45pm-6pm
                     @ ESC 110
    Presenting Engagingly:  Effective Delivery of Your Research - 2/7/18, 5pm-6:30pm @ CTL 121
    Communication Skills for International Students on the Job Search - 2/8/18, 4pm-6pm
                     @ 55 Whitney Avenue, 3rd floor, room 369
    Effective Slides
    Data Visualization
    Principles of Scientific Writing for Multilingual Writers
    And more!

Be sure to check this webpage and the OCS weekly newsletter frequently for workshop announcements and register for these workshops on the Yale Career Link.


Contact Brian Frenette, Senior Associate Director of Graduate and Postdoctoral Career Services.

Judging Criteria

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?


  •     Only 1 single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations, or ‘movement’ of any description; the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration).
  •     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 (i.e. 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 movement or speech.
  •     The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Reprinted with permission from