Why Should You Host a 3MT?

  • Provide professional development for your students: The ability to clearly and concisely articulate complex research to non-specialist audiences is a vital skill for all graduate students. 
  • Develop research communication skills: It also is a great way to reward students for engaging their research in new ways. These competitions also make great additions to your recruiting events!
  • Showcase success for recruitment: Hosting 3MT during prospective visit days or events is a great way to show off your department and research being done.

Connecting to the Interdisciplinary Competition

Students can take advantage of participating in both departmental and the Graduate College 3MT competitions for a chance to go to the finals.  Those who are interested in competing twice will need to register for both competitions in order to participate.  

Suggested Timeline

The Graduate College hosts its 3MT competition as well as preparatory workshops each fall semester. Following this schedule will allow interested students to also register for the interdisciplinary competition. Below is the 3MT 2022 Competition Schedule. 

3MT Timeline

Eligibility & Progression

To compete in the Graduate College’s competition, participants must be currently enrolled in a Masters or PhD degree program that requires the student to conduct their own research.

Competition Rules

The standard rules for 3MT competitions are as follows:

  1. A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No animations, transitions, or sound effects.
  2. No additional media or props. 
  3. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes.
  4. Presentations are to be spoken word.
  5. Time starts when a presenter begins speaking.
  6. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

Winners should be determined by a panel of judges using criteria outlined by the official 3MT competition. For the Graduate College finals, judges will be invited from the University of Iowa faculty and staff, previous 3MT winners, and the local community. PDF & Qualtrics versions of the form are available by contacting grad-success@uiowa.edu.

When selecting judges for your competition, the Graduate College suggests a panel of 3-5 individuals. It is also suggested that no more than one faculty member from the home department sit on the judging panel.

  • 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?

Graduate College 3MT Homepage

See the 3MT homepage for information on the cross-campus competition

Past 3MT Winners Showcase

Check out past 3MT competition results and finalists.