3 Minute Thesis Competition

3MT Logo

An 80,000 word thesis would take hours to present. Their time limit...3 MINUTES.

3 Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland (UQ). Graduate students have three minutes to present a compelling oration on their thesis, dissertation, or research and its significance. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or “dumbing down” research, but rather challenges students to consolidate their ideas and research discoveries to present concisely to a non-specialist audience. 

More information about 3 Minute Thesis can be found on The University of Queensland's website (here). Check out this article in The Scientist Magazine (here) to learn more about the development of the 3MT competition and its adaption in the United States.

General Competition Information for UTHealth School of Public Health 


Master's: All master's students (both thesis and non-thesis) must have completed a minimum of 50% (22 credits or more for MPH/ 18 credits or more for MS) of their program to be eligible. Master's students must be involved in a Culminating Experience capstone course project, thesis, or another research project that meets the following standards:

  • The project must include specific objectives or investigative questions and a project design or plan for implementation
  • Data or information must be collected, analyzed, and findings reported (preliminary findings are acceptable)
  • Preliminary conclusions must be drawn from the project and broader impact discussed

Doctoral: Doctoral students must be in the post-preliminary examination phase of their program. The student's research must be at a stage where the findings/preliminary findings, conclusions/preliminary conclusions, and a broader impact can be discussed.

The UTHealth School of Public Health 3MT competition is open to all master's and doctoral students who meet the eligibility criteria at all campuses. Students must use a research project experienced during their current program of study. Please note that the 3MT competition is not a replacement for the proposal defense and final presentation or defense required of students as part of their degree.

Rules & Regulations

  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or “movement” of any description are allowed. The slide will 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 and competitors exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps, or songs)
  • Presentations are to commence from the stage/indicated platform
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement or speech
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final
  • Houston campus (preliminary competition)
    • Students will present in front of a live panel of judges
  • Austin, Brownsville, El Paso, Dallas, San Antonio campuses (preliminary competition)
    • Students will present to a panel of judges both in-person and via ITV
    • At least one judge and timekeeper/moderator will be present with the student at the campus location
  • The final competition will be held on the Houston campus
    • If a finalist is from a regional campus, they will be supported in traveling to Houston to participate in the final competition

Judging Criteria

Preliminary Round

Separate preliminary rounds will be held for master’s and doctoral students. Competitors will be judged by a panel of not less than three judges. Each judge scores competitors on a scale of 1 to 7 in each of the three categories below. Brief verbal constructive feedback will be given by panelists to each preliminary competitor. Three to five top-scoring competitors from each category (master’s and doctoral) will be selected to participate in the final competition.

Final Competition

Final competition competitors will be judged by a panel of three to five judges made up of senior faculty, distinguished guests, and graduate students from various disciplines. Each judge scores competitors on a scale of 1 to 7 in each of the three categories below. Once presentations conclude, the judges’ scores are combined and the student with the highest average score is declared the Winner for their division. The competitor with the second highest score is declared the Runner-up for their division. Additionally, the audience casts their own ballots to select a winner for the People’s Choice Award for each competition category (master’s and doctoral).

Competitors will be judged on the following criteria:

Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?

Did the oration make the audience want to know more?

Was the topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate to an intelligent but non-specialist audience?

An example Judging Rubric for the preliminary competition is available here!

Competition Progression

Development Sessions for Interested Students (optional for participants)

Three development session are held prior to the preliminary competition as an opportunity for students to:

  • Learn about 3MT and the local competition
  • Work with Writing Services staff and fellow students to draft their concept
  • Participate in think-pair-share activities

Preliminary Competition (required for participants)

The preliminary competition will be held over two days. Students identify preferred time slots for both days while completing their registration. Students will be assigned one day and time slot to participate in the preliminary competition. For the preliminary competition,

  • Students present in front of a diverse panel of faculty judges
  • Participants will receive immediate feedback 
  • Regional campus participants will present via ITV and will have at least one faculty panelist in the room at their campus
  • 3-5 top-scoring participants from each division will move forward to the final competition

Final Competition (required for participants)

The final competition will showcase the top-scoring master's and doctoral students. For the final competition,

  • Finalists will present in front of a diverse and distinguished panel of judges
  • Members of the community are welcome to attend
  • A Winnner (based on scores), Runner-up (based on scores) and People's Choice (based on audience votes) finalist will be selected for each division (master's/doctoral)
  • Finalists from regional campuses will be provided with a travel stipend enabling them to participate in the final competition at the Houston campus

Regional 3MT Competition -Conference of Southern Graduate Schools

The division Winner (either master's or doctoral) with the highest total score will be invited to represent UTHealth School of Public Health at the regional 3MT competition through the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools. More information about the upcoming Conference of Southern Graduate Schools is available on their website (here).

Competition Prizes

Prize earnings will post to the student’s myUTH account in the form of a scholarship. If the student has an outstanding balance, the scholarship will be applied towards that balance. Any remaining funds from the scholarship will then be credited to the student’s billing account.

Doctoral Division

Doctoral Winner


Doctoral Runner-up


Doctoral People’s Choice


Master's Division

Master’s Winner


Master’s Runner-up


Master’s People’s Choice


The inaugural UTHealth School of Public Health 3 Minute Thesis final competition was held on Thursday, January 17, 2019. A total of nine doctoral students participated in the preliminary round in nearly November and the five top-scoring students were invited to participate in the final competition. 

The finalists were from various programs and departments and competed for a chance to win a prize of up to $1,500 and represent UTHealth School of Public Health at the regional competition at the Conference of Southern Graduate Schools (CSGS) in Knoxville, Tennessee. 

Doctoral Competition Finalists

Timothy Erickson, B.S.

Headshot Erikson  
Ph.D. –Epidemiology
Department: Epidemiology
Faculty Chair/Advisor: Dr. Eric Brown
3MT Title: Worms on my Mind: Tracking Neurocysticersosis in Houston

Weilu Han, M.P.H.


Program: Ph.D. –Biostatistics
Department: Biostatistics
Faculty Chair/Advisor: Dr. Dejian Lai

3MT Title: Machine Learning Based Approach for Cardiovascular Disease Treatment

Karima Lalani, M.B.A., R.H.I.A.

KLalani_photo for LinkedIn

Program: Ph.D. –Management & Policy Sciences
Department: Management, Policy and Community Health
Faculty Chair/Advisor: Dr. James Langabeer

3MT Title: Predicting Financial Distress in Acute Care Hospitals

Elizabeth Leass, M.P.H.

ELeass9 (3)

Program: Ph.D. –Behavioral Sciences
Department: Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences
Faculty Chair/Advisor: Dr. Melissa Peskin

3MT Title: Sexual Dating Violence is Linked to Increased Attempted Suicide

Fang-Yu Lin


Program: Ph.D. –Environmental Sciences
Department: Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences
Faculty Chair/Advisor: Drs. Xifeng Wu & Kai Zhang

3MT Title: LDL Cholesterol: The Lower the Better?