3MT Guidelines


This Spring Semester, the College of Graduate Studies and Research is hosting a virtual Three-Minute Thesis" (3MT) Competition for students enrolled in graduate programs through Radford University (main campus, RUC, RHEC, SVHEC).

In a 3MT Competition, participants have three minutes to describe their original research, creative work, or programmatic capstone experience. Aided by a single slide, participants compete to see who can best communicate their work and its significance to a non-specialist (layperson) audience.

Radford's 3MT competitors will submit their three-minute presentations for judging consideration as a pre-recorded video; videos must be recorded in one take. Submissions will be evaluated based on the delivery and communication of the content and not the quality of the video.


Radford graduate students (main campus, RUC, RHEC, SVHEC) are eligible to participate in the 3MT competition if they are doing at least one of the following:

  • pursuing original research/scholarship for a thesis, dissertation, or academic/professional conference, or as part of a graduate course
  • producing creative work for a thesis, performance, or installation 
  • participating in a programmatic capstone experience, such an an internship or clinical/professional practicum

Students can present on research, projects, and capstone experiences that are at any stage of development (e.g., planning and development, mid-project, or final stages). Additionally, participants must be in good academic standing with the university at the time of the competition.

Competition Rules

All universities that host a virtual 3MT Competition agree to abide by a common set of rules. Presentations submitted for judging consideration must abide by the following guidelines:

  • Presentations can be no longer than 3 minutes.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through speech. (Timing does not include the 3MT title slide and commences from when the competitor starts speaking, not the start of the video).
  • Videos must meet the following criteria:
  • Filmed on the horizontal;
  • Filmed from a static position;
  • Filmed from one camera angle;
  • Contain a 3MT title slide;
  • Contain a 3MT slide (e.g., PowerPoint or similar)
  • A single static slide is permitted in the presentation: no slide transitions, animations or "movement" any kind. 
  • The speaker must appear in the video recording for the majority of the presentation: the slide can only appear by itself (and without the speaker present) for a maximum of 1 minute. 
  • The 3-minute audio must be continuous – no sound edits or breaks.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment and animated backgrounds) are permitted within the recording.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no poems, rhymes, or songs).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) is permitted within the video recording.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Competition Format

The 2022 3MT Competition at Radford will be conducted as a virtual event. In lieu of giving live talks, all participants will submit pre-recorded videos of their presentation for up to two rounds of judging consideration.


A panel of alumni, university supporters, and university community members will award prizes for First Place ($500) and Runner Up ($300). Prior to the awards ceremony, finalists' videos will be posted online. Members of the university community will be invited view the finalists' videos and submit their vote for the People's Choice ($300) winner. 

Judging Criteria

3MT speakers and their presentations will be evaluated based on the criteria below. Please note that the decision of the judges and audience is final. 

Comprehension and content

  • Does the presenter provide an appropriate level of background information, while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Does the presenter clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, creative work, or capstone experience, including conclusions, insights, and/or outcomes?
  • Does the presentation have a clear and logical sequence?
  • Is the topic, significance, results/impact, and outcomes/insights communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • Does the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation? 

Engagement and communication

  • Does the presenter make the audience want to know more about the subject?
  • Is the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research, creative work, or capstone experience?
  • Does the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research, creative work, or capstone experience?
  • Does the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Does the speaker engage and connect with the viewer? Does the speaker make direct eye contact with the viewer? Does the speaker maintain a steady speaking pace and project confident body language?
  • Does the slide (e.g. PowerPoint) enhance the presentation?  Can the slide be easily seen and understood, or is it visually distracting? 


The College of Graduate Studies and Research is committed to facilitating an inclusive event. If you are a person with a disability who anticipates needing accommodations to participate meaningfully in the competition, please contact the College of Graduate Studies and Research at cgsr@radford.edu.


If you have questions about the application process, please contact the College of Graduate Studies and Research at cgsr@radford.edu.