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Graduate School
The University of Mississippi

University of Mississippi

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) Competition


The 3MT® Competition (i.e., the 3 Minute Thesis) provides graduate students the opportunity to hone their skills talking about their research, scholarship, or creative work with a wide audience. This set of skills is critical for ensuring the impact of your work will extend beyond the small inner circle of those in your field who do related research/work. In addition, these skills are critical for communicating about the value of your work with potential funding agencies and society.

Learn more about 3MT® by checking out the official website at


The 2020-2021 UM Competition

Due to the risks associated with COVID-19, the competitions for 3MT® within the southern region of the U.S. are going virtual. We are excited to be able to participate in the competition this year despite the challenges posed by the pandemic.


How will it work?

We will follow the guidelines set by the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. We will be using the University of Queensland’s virtual 3MT® rules (found at with some small modifications (see below). Videos for the UM competition will be shared with the judges via Box. Unlike the regional competition, the judges for the UM competition will watch the videos on their own, scoring them with the standard 3MT® rubric.

If we have more than 16 submissions, we will hold a final round where students can (if they wish) submit a revised video. The final round will include between eight and 16 candidates with no more than 50% of the participants from the first round invited to the final round. New judges will evaluate the final round of submissions.

We will select one overall winner to represent UM at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools competition (hosted virtually in late February). Due to the virtual format, we will not have a people’s choice selection. In addition to the overall winner, we will select one doctoral/MFA and one master’s student winner. The overall winner will receive a $300 scholarship award and the other winners will receive $100 scholarship award.


What are the specific rules for this year?
  • The presentations are limited to 3 minutes. Anyone exceeding 3 minutes will be disqualified.
  • You are allowed a single static slide. You cannot have any transitions, animations or movements.
  • Presentations can only use spoken word. Poems, songs, and raps are not allowed.
  • Props and electronic media are not allowed.
  • We will use the standard 3MT® judging rubric.
  • Participants will create and submit their own video to instead of a live presentation.
  • Participants will not create a title slide.
  • The video must:
    • be filmed on the horizontal;
    • be filmed on a plain background;
    • be filmed from a static position;
    • be filmed from one camera angle; and
    • be one continuous 3-minute audio with no sound or visual editing or breaks
    • include a static PPT slide that is visible continuously along with the competitor (showing only the side at any given point is disallowed)
  • Other tips from the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools include:
            • Ensure that you have adequate lighting and that we can clearly see your face.
            • Ensure the audio is clear, loud enough, and does not digitize.
            • Standing while presenting can be helpful for creating the professional appearance and wearing professional attire can help elevate your message.
            • Avoid reading from a script.


When will the UM competition occur?

Your initial submission is due via email to the Graduate School not later than 5 pm on January 21st, 2021.

If the Graduate School receives more than 8 submissions, we will have a final round from which we will select the winner. The final round would occur on February 5th, 2021 with the videos due via email to the Graduate School by 5 pm. Students will be notified if there is an opportunity to refine their video for a final round of competition not later than February 1st.


Why are we doing it this way?

The Conference of Southern Graduate Schools will hold a virtual 3MT competition and they have set the rules. The competition will occur at their annual meeting in February.


How can I make my presentation more competitive?

There are a number of strategies that make for a competitive 3MT® presentation. This resource from the University of Queensland offers a number of tips to help you prepare a strong virtual 3MT®: Remember that the rules for the UM competition are slightly different as you take advantage of those tips.

A few other helpful suggestions include:

  1. Create a “hook” to draw in the audience. Sometimes people use humor to do this, or they may share a surprising fact, or pose a question to the audience.
  2. What is your goal? Be sure that your presentation tells the audience why they should care about your work.
  3. As you end the presentation, it may be helpful to circle back to your opening line or to summarize (in one sentence) how your research, scholarship, or creative work will make an impact.
  4. As you present, you want to remember that the audience will include people from many different fields of study. Avoid jargon that may not be known to individuals from other fields, but also avoid oversimplifying the content. Plan for an intellectually curious and educated audience that includes people from academic disciplines different from your own.
  5. Good 3MT® presentations often include a more conversational tone. This makes them quite different from the type of presentation you might give at an academic conference.
  6. Practice your presentation with other graduate students in your department as well as individuals who do not do research in your area (friends and family can help you evaluate whether there is content that assumes a level of knowledge that is not common to individuals outside of your field). Ask them to summarize the value of your work after the presentation. If they are not able to do so accurately, you can use their feedback to revise the content.
  7. Take maximum advantage of the slide you have to augment your words. The slide should be interesting (usually the content is visual rather than simply text), clearly relate to your work, and easy to see.


As you prepare, consider taking advantage of a few resources. For example, students can consult with The University of Mississippi Speaking Center; check it out at In addition, STUDIOone in the library offers a recording space option if students do not wish to use their smart phone or personal computers; check it out at


UM 3MT® Competitions in the Past

Check out these videos from past UM 3MT® Competitions