McMaster 3MT Competition


Register now for McMaster's third annual Three Minute Thesis competition in February 2015!

McMaster's 3MT is focused on student development and learning to effectively communicate complex research in just three short minutes. This opportunity will allow students to expand their range of communication skills in a dynamic and challenging way.PitchBurnerLogoHiRes

The top eligible presenter at McMaster will attend the Ontario 3MT® competition hosted by Western University.

Registration is open until January 12, 2015.

New features to McMaster's 3MT® program this year:

  • Workshops to help you fine-tune your presentation.
  • Feedback from 3MT® adjudicators through Pitchburner, an online system.

Download the 3MT® Competition Guidelines in PDF format »

3MT Participant Resources »

More About McMaster's 3MT

How the competition is structured

  • The competition for 2015 will consist of 4 heats
  • In each heat, the top three competitors will go forward to the SGS Final*
  • Graduate Studies staff will choose two Wild Card selections from across all preliminary heats, to join the SGS Final*
  • All Final presentations will be recorded and available for viewing and voting for the People's Choice Award after the competition 
  • Top eligible competitors in the final will go on to represent McMaster at the Ontario 3MT® competition

*The number of heats and number of competitors moving to the final will depend on the total number of participants in the competition.



  • 1st place: $1000
  • 2nd place: $500
  • 3rd place: $250
  • People's Choice: $250


The Rules

  1. A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed), and the slide is to be presented from the beginning of the oration and remain in view for the duration of the oration.
  2. No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  3. Note cards are not permitted.
  4. No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  5. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  6. Presentations are to be spoken in standard oratory prose. (i.e., No poems, raps or songs, other than those that may be the target of research).
  7. Presentations are to commence from the stage.
  8. Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  9. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
  10. The competition will be administered in English.
  11. McMaster University has modeled the rules after the Ontario Provincial Competition for 2014. This was done to ensure the winners would be eligible to participate in the Provincial Competition and possibly an international competition in the future.

About Judging

Each competitor's presentation will be assessed according to the criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted.


  • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
  • Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and aims of research?
  • Do you know what is significant about this research?
  • Did the presentation follow a logical sequence?


  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or 'dumb down' their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their work?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Would I like to know more about the speaker's research?


  • Was the thesis topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate for a non-specialist audience?
  • Did the speaker use sufficient eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and a confident stance?
  • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology that needed to be used, and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
  • Did the presenter spend the right amount of time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long or were rushed?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance, rather than detract from, their presentation – was it clear, legible and concise?

Who is eligible to compete?

  • McMaster students must currently be registered in a Masters (thesis or MRP only) or PhD program at the time of the 3MT® competition at McMaster, and must have made substantial progress on their research and analysis. Course-based Masters students are ineligible.
  • PhD and Masters students who have defended but not yet graduated, are eligible.
  • 3MT® presentations must represent the primary research the student conducted in his/her graduate program. 
  • Presenters must agree to be video-recorded, and to allow those recordings to be made public.
  • Presenters must have registered using Pitchburner, and received confirmation of a place from the School of Graduate Studies.
  • Presenters must be available to present, in person. To advance in the competition, heat winners must also be available to present, in person, at the McMaster School of Graduate Studies final.
  • The Winner will be expected to represent McMaster at the Ontario 3MT® competition at Western University in London, Ontario.

Key Dates

Date & Time


December 8, 2014
Registration Opens »
January 12, 2015 Deadline to Register 
February 2, 2015 Deadline to Submit Your Slide
PLEASE NOTE If you register before January 12, you do not need to submit your slide at time of registration. Your slide should be submitted no later than February 2.
January 19, 2015 Workshop: Creating your slide
January 20, 2015 Workshop: Communicating research impact
January 22, 2015 Workshop: Delivering an elevator pitch
February 10-11, 2015 McMaster Heats
February 12, 2015
McMaster Final

April 23, 2015

Ontario 3MT® Competition, Western University, London



Why do some of the rules seem restrictive?

McMaster has modeled the rules after the Ontario 3MT® competition to ensure that eligible winners can participate in the Ontario 3MT®, and in future years, national and international competitions.

What proportion of my degree has to have a research component for me to be eligible to compete in the McMaster 3MT®?

You are eligible to compete if your degree involves a thesis, dissertation or major research paper. If your program is course-based, you are not eligible.

What proportion of my degree has to have a research component for me to be eligible to compete in the Ontario 3MT®?

You are eligible to compete if your degree involves a thesis, major research paper or dissertation.

I was a student at the time of my competition at my university, but will graduate before the Ontario competition. Am I eligible to enter?

Yes. If you are eligible at the time of your university's competition, you will remain eligible for the Ontario competition, regardless of your program status.

Can I present my oration via Skype?

No, you must present in person. The winner of the university final will be expected to attend the Ontario competition in person.

Can I present my oration as a poem, rap or song?

No, 3MT® is primarily about developing students' oration skills. A laser pointer and/or note cards are not permitted in the Ontario competition.

Can I use a laser pointer?

No, neither a laser pointer and/or notes are permitted in the Ontario competitions, so they cannot be used in the McMaster competition.

Does my slide have to be in PowerPoint?

No, however it is the preferred format as all slides will be collated into a single PowerPoint presentation for the competition. A slide template is available here: JPEG, Keynote or PDF formats are acceptable.

How many transitions or animations can I have in my slide?

None. The slide must be static and not change in any way during the presentation. Your slide must be displayed for the duration of your presentation.

Do I have to use a slide?

No, the slide is optional as the emphasis is on the oration.

Do I have to add citations/references to the slide?

Yes, if appropriate. Note: you can use very small font for the citation/reference.

What happens if my presentation is longer than 3 minutes?

In all finals, a 30-second warning will be provided to competitors (a coloured card held up by the timekeeper) and a bell will sound at the three-minute limit. If a presenter continues to speak after the bell, they will be automatically disqualified.

Is there a dress code?

There is no stipulated dress requirement such as "smart casual." Please wear whatever is comfortable for you but no costumes are allowed (including hats, masks, etc).

Will I be able to see a countdown-timer at my final?

Yes, the countdown timer will be visible to you.

Can I win more than one category?

Yes, it is possible to win a place (1st, runner-up, etc.) and win the People's Choice Award.

What happens if I cannot attend the Final?

The winner of each heat is expected to participate in the next stage of the competition. If the winner is unable to attend the final, the runner-up will proceed to the next round of the competition.

Intellectual Property

A competitor's research in 3MT® will be publicly accessible, i.e. in the public domain.

The presentation of the research will not affect any pre-existing rights following the competition, except as stated below:

  • Due to the nature of the competition, we will not ask judges, reviewers, staff or the audience to sign non-disclosure statements. If your research is being/has been conducted under contract with an outside sponsor, please discuss the related contractual terms of confidentiality and intellectual property with your supervisor before participating in this competition.
  • All public sessions of the competition, including but not limited to oral presentations, are open to the public at large. Any and all of these public sessions may be broadcast to interested persons through media which may include the Internet.
  • Any data or information discussed or presented in public sessions should be considered 'public.' If your research includes confidential or culturally sensitive material, we advise that you discuss your competition entry with your supervisor(s) before entering the 3MT®.

Download the guidelines for McMaster's 3MT Competition »


If you have any accessibility requirements or special needs, call Correen Smith at ext 23710 or email grad3mt@mcmaster.ca.

Contact Information

If you have any queries about the 3MT® competition, contact Correen Smith, McMaster's School of Graduate Studies, via grad3mt@mcmaster.ca or phone ext 23710.

School of Graduate Studies

AVP & Dean
Associate Deans
Graduate Council
Policies & Guidelines
Student Responsibilities
Supervisor Guidelines
Postdoc Policy
Graduate Calendar
Graduate Students
Future Students
How to Apply
Campus Life
Living in Hamilton
Virtual Tours
Campus Services
Tuition and Fees
International Students
Current Students
Graduate Calendar
Sessional Dates
Policies & Guidelines
Financial Matters
Tuition and Fees
Payment Information
Health Plan Information
2014 Tax Receipts
Financial Aid
Teaching Assistants (TA)
Completing Your Degree
Step 1 - Write
Step 2 - Defend
Step 3 - Submit
Thesis Defence FAQs
Campus Services
Helpful Forms
Admission Forms
Student Forms
Department Forms
Thesis Forms
International Students
Graduate Student Life
Watch the 2015 3MT Finalists
McMaster 2015 Competition
2015 3MT Preliminary Heats
3MT Participant Resources
Past 3MT Competitions
2013 3MT
2014 3MT
Heat 1
Heat 2
Heat 3
Heat 4
Ontario 3MT 2014
Falling Walls Lab
Falling Walls Lab 2014
How to enroll in mygradskills.ca
LinkedIn Month
Career Skills: Grant Writing
Job Search in 10 Minutes a Day
Academic / Research
Study Space
Teaching and Learning
Grad Writing Centre
Grad Writing Bootcamp
Library Workshops
Writing Circles
Campus & Beyond
Graduate Student Recognition Awards
Graduate Student Week
Grad Week Volunteers
Indigenous Students
International Students
Community Resources
Sponsorship Requests
Take a Virtual Tour
2015-16 SPICES Projects
2014-15 SPICES projects
2013-14 SPICES Projects
Graduate Student Life Team
Postdoctoral Fellows
Future Postdocs
What to Expect
Current Postdocs
Funding Opportunities
External Opportunities
Policies and Guidelines
Professional Development
Club/Event Sponsorship
Postdoctoral Fellow Support Fund
Postdoc Appreciation Week
Faculty Supervisors
Scholarships And Funding
Scholarship Recipients
Major Scholarships and Awards
Internal Scholarships
Internal Bursaries
Travel Awards
Undergraduate Research
About the Office of Undergraduate Research
Indigenous Undergraduate Scholars Program
About the IUSRS
IUSRS Scrapbook 2015
Research Training Series 2014
USRA Poster Session
USRA Recipients
News and Events
Events Calendar
Emergency Information
McMaster Daily News
Reports and Resources
Upcoming Events

Graduate Calendar button 2

Apply Button Home

Do you have a question?


Administrator Tools