UCalgary 3MT logo with red to berry gradient and stopwatch graphic

The University of Calgary Three Minute Thesis Competition

Your thesis, three minutes, one slide

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) is an internationally recognized research communication competition. Participants have three minutes to deliver a compelling presentation on their thesis research for a general audience using a single, static slide.

The 3MT helps graduate students develop skills in translating their research and its impact for non-specialists. This skill is becoming essential for many purposes:

  • Funding proposals
  • Transitioning into employment
  • Generating interest in, awareness of and support for academic research
  • Communicating with confidence and clarity to diverse audiences

The University of Calgary 3MT takes place each year during the winter term. Registration opens in February, with heats taking place in March and finals in April.

"3MT empowered me to be confident in my public speaking skills and to continue sharing my work within and beyond the UCalgary community.”

Aliza Jaffer, 2024 UCalgary 3MT second place winner and people's choice

Master's student, Medical Sciences

  1. Can I enter the UCalgary 3MT?

    University of Calgary graduate students who are active/enrolled in thesis-based masters or PhD programs and in good standing with their graduate program and the Faculty of Graduate Studies are eligible.

    • A student whose thesis is under submission on the date of their first competition is still eligible
    • Presenters must register and present in person
    • Graduating students become ineligible upon receiving notification of degree conferral
  2. I'm a visiting student. Can I enter?

    Visiting students are not eligible to participate in the UCalgary 3MT.

  3. How else can I get involved?

    Not sure about entering? Get involved by volunteering! We need student volunteers to help with heats and finals in a variety of roles. We start looking for 3MT volunteers in February of each year.

UCalgary3MT registrants will have the first opportunity to register for 3MT workshops, with any additional spots being opened up to all UCalgary graduate students.

  1. Designing Your 3MT Talk: February 15, 2024

    This presentation will provide a review of the internationally recognized 3MT competition, and how you can approach openings, closings, and your presentation's overall structure for the 3-minute format. You will have time to apply your learning through individual and group exercises such as analysis of winning 3MT talks and crafting an outline using the COMPASS Message Box (compassscicomm.org/). Time will also be made to practice delivering and receiving constructive feedback on your own short talk.    

    Presenter: Felicia Glatz, Learning and Design Specialist, My GradSkills, University of Calgary  

    Thank you to everyone who attended the workshop.

  2. Designing Your 3MT Slide: February 21, 2024

    So, you’ve signed up for the UCalgary Virtual 3 Minute Thesis (3MT) but you’re finding it difficult to fit all you want to talk about in only one slide. Should you use a single image? How can you place multiple images on a slide so they direct your audience’s eye? Should you add that amazing pie chart? Make the most of your one visual aid to frame your presentation!

    Attend this workshop and learn about basic design principles that will help you craft a 3MT slide with impact that enhances your presentation instead of being a distraction.  If your slide is not complete, or you haven’t even started to create your slide, that’s ok, all are welcome!   

    Presenter: Felicia Glatz, Learning and Design Specialist, My GradSkills, University of Calgary  

    Thank you to everyone who attended the workshop.

  1. 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). Please note that using a slide is optional but strongly encouraged. Images used in the slide must be your own, or you must have permission from the owner of the photo(s) and provide proper credit(s).
  2. No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  3. No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment, laser pointers or note cards) are permitted.
  4. No notes allowed. Presentations are to be memorized.
  5. Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum.
  6. Presentations that go over 3 minutes will have marks removed in the heats, and will be disqualified in the final.
  7. Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g. no poems, raps or songs).
  8. Presentations must be based on research directly related to the student’s graduate program thesis. Research performed for employment cannot be presented.
  9. The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

All heat participants will be mailed a Certificate of Participation. Heat winners also receive a special memento.

All finalists will have their 3MT talks posted on the My GradSkills website. Other prizes for the 3MT finals include:

  1. First Place

    • $1,000 CAD
    • UCalgary 3MT First Place trophy

    The winner of the UCalgary 3MT represents the university at the Canadian Western Regional 3MT competition.

  2. Second Place

    • $500 CAD
    • UCalgary 3MT Second Place trophy
  3. Third Place

    • $250 CAD
    • UCalgary 3MT Third Place trophy
  4. People's Choice

    • $100 CAD
    • UCalgary 3MT People's Choice trophy

Heats and finals are judged according to three criteria, each of which is given equal weight. Note that each criterion has an emphasis on the audience.

  1. Communication stye

    • Was the topic and its significance communicated in language appropriate for non-specialists?
    • Did the speaker maintain good eye contact and vocal range, a good pace and a confident stance?
    • Did the talk avoid jargon, explain terminology, and provide background information to illustrate points?
    • Did the speaker spend the right amount of time on each element of their presentation? Did they rush or elaborate for too long?
    • Did the slide enhance the presentation? Was it clear, legible, and concise?
  2. Comprehension

    • Did the presentation help the audience understand the research?
    • Did the presenter clearly outline the nature and aims of the research?
    • Was the significance of the presenter's research clearly outlined?
    • Did the presentation follow a logical sequence?
  3. Engagement

    • Did the presentation make the audience want to know more?
    • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or 'dumb-down' the research?
    • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
    • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
    • Did the presentation make me want to know more about the speaker's research?

The first 3MT was held at the University of Queensland (UQ) in 2008 with 160 students competing. Enthusiasm for the 3MT concept grew and its adoption by numerous universities led to the development of an international competition in 2010.

The inaugural Trans-Tasman 3MT was held at UQ in 2010 with 33 universities participating. In 2011, 43 universities were represented in the Trans-Tasman 3MT that was hosted by The University of Western Australia. Today students from the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Hong Kong take part in their own regional events.

The University of Calgary held the first UCalgary3MT competition in 2013 with 44 participants from 14 departments. Participation and engagement has grown each year.

The University of Calgary hosted the first Western Canada 3MT competition* on May 2, 2014. Many people came out or tuned-in to the live feed to watch the first Western Canada 3MT competition, where the top 3MT winners from the West competed against each other for a chance at participating in the first Canadian National competition at the end of May. The top finalists advanced to the first-ever Canadian National 3MT, hosted by Canadian Association for Graduate Studies (CAGS).

*Participation in the Western Canada 3MT is open to Western Deans Agreement participating Universities hosting a local 3MT competition. Eligible participants are the winner of their local competition.

The University of Calgary hosted their first VIRTUAL competition in the summer of 2020. After the original live event was cancelled to due Covid-19 restrictions, the virtual competition was revamped for summer 2020 to include new rules, virtual one-on-one feedback sessions, virtual workshops, and a D2L site with numerous resources to help students prepare for the competition. Instead of presenting to a live audience, graduate students recorded their talks, using a skill not needed in previous competitions. The National competition was not held in 2020.

Six University of Calgary 3MT winners have gone on to Canadian Nationals, including Elizabeth Watt (2015), Aprami Jaggi (2017), Chidera Nwaroh (2018), Laura Rios Carreno (2019), Julia St. Louis (2022) and Dana Lowry (2023). Both Elizabeth Watt and Chidera Nwaroh won Canadian Nationals, while Laura Rios Carreno won the People's Choice award at nationals.

For more information on the history and mission of 3MT, visit the official 3MT website

UCalgary on the national stage

To date, six UCalgary 3MT winners have qualified for Canadian Nationals resulting in two national champions and one national People's Choice award winner, making the University of Calgary the most accomplished institution in the history of Canada's 3MT competition.

Headshot of Dana Lowry wearing a lab coat

Dana Lowry

2023 Western Regional Second Place Winner and Finalist, Canadian Nationals

Program: Kinesiology. Supervisor: Dr. Raylene Reimer De Bruyn, PhD.

Protection with prebiotics: An early life intervention to mitigate negative effects of antibiotics.

Watch Dana's 3MT video

Headshot of Julia St. Louis

Julia St. Louis

2022 Western Regional Peoples' Choice Winner and Finalist, Canadian Nationals

Program: Nursing. Supervisor: Dr. Shane Sinclair, PhD

Learning experiences of NICU nurses in providing end-of-life care

Watch Julia's 3MT video

Laura Rios Carreno

Laura Rios Carreno

2019 Canadian National People's Choice Winner

Program: Chemical and Petroleum Engineering. Supervisor: Dr. Martin Jasso, PhD.

Modification of Asphalt with Reactive Polymers for Quality Enhancement of the Pavement.

Watch Laura's 3MT video

Chidera Nwaroh

Chidera Nwaroh

2018 Canadian National Champion

Program: Medical Science. Supervisor: Dr. Ashley Harris, PhD.

A Virtual Biopsy: Detecting Metabolite Changes in the Brain.

Watch Chidera's 3MT video

Aprami Jaggi

Aprami Jaggi

2017 Western Regional Champion and Finalist, Canadian Nationals

Program: Geoscience. Supervisors: Dr. Steve R. Larter, PhD and Dr. Thomas B.P. Oldenburn, PhD

The Ultimate Fate of Oil in the Marine Environment Following Spillage.

Watch Aprami's 3MT video

Elizabeth Watt

Elizabeth Watt

2015 Canadian National Champion

Program: Physics and Astronomy. Supervisor: Dr. Tyler Meyer, PhD.

Permanent Breast Seed Implant: Improving Patient Experience in Early-stage Breast Cancer.

Watch Elizabeth's 3MT video