Rules and Judging for 3MT


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition is open to all graduate students. All work to be presented must have occurred while enrolled as a graduate student at East Carolina University. Students who have graduated their respective program at the time of the competition are not eligible to participate. All presenters must be listed as first author on their respective work and should not present work in which they did not contribute at least 70% of their time and effort. The first author listed is eligible to present. All decisions made by the head judge and moderator are final. Presentations that go over three minutes will be disqualified.


A 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; competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified. Presentations are to spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps, or songs). Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech. The decisions of the head judge and moderator is final.

Judging Criteria

At every level of the competition, each competitor will be assessed on the two judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience. Impact of the science is not a criteria that will be considered by the judges.

Comprehension & Content (10 Points):

  • Did the presentation provide and 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; was the presentation rushed?

Engagement (10 Points):

  • 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 the 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?

Selection of Winners and Awards Ceremony

Each participant will present their three-minute presentation within a group of 10-12 presentations. Two winners from each group (heat) will be chosen. The two winners of each heat will compete in a championship round. The Judges will decide the Grand Champion and the audience will choose the People’s Choice Awards. The Departmental Cup will be awarded to the department that has the three highest scores in the entire competition.

The presenter with the highest score will represent ECU at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools Meeting. The Spring 2022 event format has not been announced; the event may be in person, virtual, or both.  The ECU winner will be informed of details as the Graduate School learns them.