Three Minute Thesis Competition

The Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) is an exciting, fast-paced event showcasing the research of graduate students across campus. Each scholar is given three minutes to present their research displayed to the audience and judging panel in a single presentation slide. The competition boasts cash prizes for winners in each category.

You'll be amazed at what these scholars can fit into a three-minute presentation. You don't want to miss this competition!

Register for the 3MT competition

The deadline to register for this year's 3MT Competition is February 15, 2021.

Join us for the 2021 Three Minute Thesis competition!

The University of Nevada, Reno Graduate School is pleased to announce the Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT) will return for the 2021 spring semester. Based on the submissions received on the intent to compete forms, we will be recording the 3MT preliminary rounds virtually the week of March 15, 2021 and hosting final round in-person, socially distanced and without an audience on April 15, 2021 at the University of Nevada, Reno campus. The competition is open to students in master's and doctoral programs that require a thesis, dissertation or professional project.

Preliminary round - Registration deadline is February 1, 2021

The preliminary rounds will be recorded through a Zoom session scheduled with Graduate School Staff the week of March 15, 2021. The recordings will be shared with judges for scoring.

The top four contestants in each preliminary round category will win $300 and advance to the final round of the competition.

The preliminary rounds are subdivided into four disciplinary/degree categories, as follows:

  • Liberal Arts, Social Sciences, Education, Business, Journalism and Social Work
    • Doctoral, Group A1
    • Master's, Group B1
  • STEM and Health Sciences 
    • Doctoral, Group A2
    • Master's, Group B2

Final round

The 3MT finals will be held in-person on April 15, 2021, while following strict COVID-19 guidelines.

Attendance at the event will be limited to 22 in the Wells Fargo auditorium. Master's and doctoral students will be staggered in time, and there will be a separate large classroom available for the 3MT finals participants to use when not in the auditorium. Social distancing, wearing of masks, and sanitizing protocols will be enforced.

Due to in-person attendance limitations, the presentations will be live streamed for viewing by the general public. In the final round, you'll compete against the eight finalists at your degree level:

  • Group A — Doctoral Students (Four students from A1 and four students from A2)
  • Group B — Master's Students (Four students from B1 and four students from B2)

Awards for final round winners will be $1,000 for 1st place, $600 for 2nd place, and $400 for 3rd place.

Learn more about our competition

  • Competition rules and terms


    1. A single, static PowerPoint slide in 16x9 format is required (pdfs not allowed).
    2. Include your presentation title, full name, and graduate program on the slide.
    3. First-place winners from the last year's 3MT competition are ineligible to compete, however last year's second- and third-place winners are eligible to compete.
    4. No slide transitions, animations or on-screen movement of any description are allowed.
    5. The slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration.
    6. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
    7. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
    8. Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum; competitors exceeding three minutes are disqualified.
    9. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
    10. Presentations are to commence from the stage.
    11. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech.
    12. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
    13. All monetary awards for both preliminary and final rounds are pre-tax amounts.


    1. Abstracts are limited to 250 words.


    1. Students must be graduate students to enter the competition.
    2. While advancement to candidacy is not required, students must have made significant progress towards completion of their dissertation, thesis, or professional project in order to enter the competition.
    3. Winners will be announced approximately one week after the competition.
    4. You will be asked to sign a photo-video release at the event to allow the University of Nevada, Reno to use your likeness in photos/videos of the competition.
    5. The deadline for competition registration is March 15, 2020 at 11:59pm.
  • 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?
  • View past Three Minute Thesis winners

    View the winners of each year since 2014!

    View past winners

Group A Doctoral Dissertation Category

Rosie Shrout: Social Psychology, "What’s Mine is Yours, and What’s Yours is Mine: How Couples Cope with Chronic Illness"

Second Place: Emily Wood, Social Psychology, "Stigma Toward People Addicted to Opioids: The Intersection of Race, Social Class, and Gender"

Third Place: Mehdi Rahimi, Electrical and Biomedical Engineering, "Dip Your Finger in a Bowl of Science"

Group B Master's Thesis Category

First Place: Jamey Wilcher, Natural Resources and Environmental Science, "All That is Gold Does Not Glitter: Crosby's Buckwheat"

Second Place: Lauran Evans, Public Health, Mandate Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccination? (Southwest Showdown winner)

Third Place: Haley Moniz, Biology, "Jack of All Trades, or Master of One?"