What is 3MT?

The University of Iowa’s Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is a research communication competition that challenges graduate students to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences. Contestants represent a diverse array of disciplines and areas of study and reflect the passion and thirst for discovery common among all of Iowa's graduate students.

Participating in the Graduate College’s public scholarship competitions helps students develop communication skills, allows them to share and take pride in their work, and offers the chance to compete for prizes. You can view the presentations of all of our finalists on the 3MT spotlight page.

ELIGIBILITY: Participants must be currently enrolled in a Masters or PhD degree program that requires the student to conduct their own research. You can prepare for the competition by following the steps below.

Step 1: Watch the Info Session

Watch the information session from 8/4 to learn about 3MT

Step 2: Register for 3MT

Sign up to compete in the Fall 2021 Virtual Competition

Step 3: Attend the Workshops

Take advantage of these 3MT training opportunities

3MT 2021 Competition Schedule

2021 3MT Virtual Timeline

* Due to COVID-19, the 3MT Competition will be a virtual competition for Fall 2021. 


Each contestant who advances to the final competition will win a $250 cash prize. There will be additional prizes for:

  • $500 dollars for 1st place (decided by judges) and the option for funded to travel to Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools (MAGS)  
  • $250 for honorable mention (decided by judges)
  • $250 for the "People's Choice" winner, selected by audience ballot
  • Gain everlasting glory for your college with the 3MT Dean's Cup 


Registration Deadline: Monday, October 4th, 2021
Students: To compete, you must register. After the registration deadline passes you will receive an invitation to join the 3MT ICON course that will include instructions on how to participate in the virtual preliminary competition. 

Judging Criteria

  • 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?

  • 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?

Winners will be determined by a panel of judges using the official 3MT competition rubrics to judge the video submissions. Judges will be invited from the University of Iowa faculty and staff, previous 3MT winners, and the local community.


Volunteer to be a judge at any of the qualifying rounds

Host a Departmental 3MT Competition

Find more 3MT resources and encourage your students to participate by hosting a departmental contest.