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Three Minute Thesis Competition



The Graduate Division is pleased to announce its first-ever Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition, with a top prize of $3,000.


What is it?

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition first developed by the University of Queensland in Australia. The competition is now held at about 170 universities in 17 countries and counting. You can read more about the origins of the competition and see videos of winners from around the world on UQ's 3MT website.

Like the original competition, the 3MT at UCSF challenges graduate students to present a compelling presentation of their dissertation research in just three minutes, using language appropriate for a non-specialist audience. 3MT is not an exercise in trivializing or dumbing-down research; rather, it is meant to incentivize students to clarify their ideas and to help others understand and appreciate the significance of their research.

3MT Live Event

The 3MT contest will culminate in an exciting live event, which will take place on October 29, 4-6 p.m., in Genentech Hall Auditorium at the UCSF Mission Bay campus. This event promises to be not only a celebration of the contest winner, but also of graduate research at UCSF and of scientific enquiry. The live event will be part of the Bay Area Science Festival as an affiliated event.


The student who wins this year's 3MT contest will be awarded a $3,000 cash prize. The runner-up will receive $1,500, and the "people's choice" winner $750.


There are two sets of judges for the contest. A panel of seven screening judges will review the initial entries, which will be submitted on video. These judges will choose the finalists, who will compete in the live event. A separate panel of five judges, including UCSF's own Chancellor Sam Hawgood and Professor Emeritus Bruce Alberts, as well as celebrated voices for science Ben Lillie, Gabriela Quirós, and Indre Viskontas, will choose the winner and runner-up at the live October 29 event. See all the judges' bios. The people's choice winner will be decided by the audience at the live event.

Why enter?

First of all, being able to present your research in a concise way to a non-specialist is a crucial skill for all graduate students to have.   Having such a presentation "in your back pocket" will help you with eventual job interviews and will help you to network at conferences and other events. It may even help you get funding for your ideas, and it will make you a better advocate for graduate education and research.

Being a finalist or winner of the 3MT contest will look great on your CV. The 3MT competition will be well publicized, so finalists and awardees may get media attention as well.

Finally, that prize money could help you get to a conference you want to attend. It'll be yours to spend as you wish.

How to Enter

UCSF graduate students wishing to participate in the 3MT contest should carefully review the rules and pay close attention to the contest schedule. The deadline to declare your intent to enter the competition is September 1. Initial video entries will be accepted through September 16. Again, the finalists will compete in front of a live audience on October 29.

When will I know if I'm chosen as a finalist?

The 7-10 finalists will be announced on October 6.


Questions may be directed to Jeannine Cuevas, communications director of the Graduate Division.

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a trademark of The University of Queensland and is used by permission.