Graduate School

O'Dowd Hall, Room 520
586 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)
(248) 370-2700

Office Hours:
Monday - Friday 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Three Minute Thesis Competition & Graduate Student Showcase

The Second Annual Three Minute Thesis Competition and Graduate Student Showcase (3MT & GSS) as a primarily in person event was held on Friday, February 4, 2022. This competition gives you an opportunity to share your work and earn prizes. A brief description is below.

The Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) competition is held annually at more than 900 universities across more than 85 countries worldwide. The competition challenges participants to present their research to a live audience in just 180 seconds in terms understandable to a general audience, and allows only one static slide.  The winner of the OU 3MT® Championship Round will participate in the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools regional competition, to be held on April 8, 2022 in Milwaukee, WI.

The Graduate Student Showcase (GSS) competition gives students the opportunity to tell the story of their graduate work through displays and demonstrations. The majority of students will present their displays or demonstrations in person. We will have an option for a limited number of students who cannot participate in person to submit a close-captioned MP4 video that does not exceed 2 minutes. All presentations, displays, or demonstrations must showcase your work as an Oakland University graduate student. To be eligible to compete, you must be either a registered graduate student in Winter 2022 semester OR have completed your graduate degree in December 2021. 


Covid 19 Precautions

We are committed to reducing the spread of Covid 19. All attendees and participants must wear a mask at all times and complete the daily health screening. The Championship Round of the Three Minute Thesis competition will be live streamed for individuals who wish to view remotely. Out of an abundance of caution, with the exception of the external judges, we are limiting the audience to the campus community, a group which is predominantly vaccinated. The decision has been made to not serve food or beverages at the event.

Dates & deadlines
  • Registration Deadline: Wednesday Jan 5, 5 pm EST
  • Video Submission Deadline (if approved to submit a video): Friday Jan 7, 5 pm EST
  • Oakland Competition: Friday, Feb 4 1:00 pm – 6:30 pm EST
  • Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools 3MT Competition: Wednesday April 8, 2022 (Milwaukee, MI)
Event eligibility guidelines

The guidelines below are for both the 3MT & GSS events:

  • Must be a graduate student enrolled for Winter 2022 semester OR a December 2021 graduate of an OU graduate program.
  • Submission must be created by the student rather than someone hired for that purpose.
  • Agree to attend in person the entirely of the event on Friday, February 4, 2022 (unless approved for a GSS video only submission).
  • All participants must sign a release to participate and agree that if OU records any portion of the event, the recording may be used by Oakland University for promotional or other purposes.

Additional eligibility guidelines for 3MT participants:

  • Must be enrolled for Winter 2022 in a Master's or Doctoral program OR a December 2021 graduate.
  • Program of study must contain an original research project (does not have to be a thesis or dissertation).
  • The presentation topic must cover the original research project.
  • If 3MT Championship winner, agree to participate in MAGS 3MT event.
Presentation format rules

The presentation format rules for the 3MT competition are:

  • Presentation should be in terms appropriate for a general audience.
  • No note cards may be used.
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted. No slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description are allowed. The slide is to 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.
  • 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.

The presentation format rules for the Graduate Student Showcase (GSS) are:

  • Displays or demonstrations of graduate student work (e.g., creative activities, models, projects, displays, etc.). May include sound, video, etc.
  • The majority will be in person.
  • Students should prepare an “elevator speech” about their showcase entry of no more than 2 minutes and ask people who stop if they would like to hear it.
  • Presentation should be understandable by a general audience & note cards may not be used.
  • A limited number of students will be allowed to create a video that does not require the student to present. Priority will be given to students who are enrolled in online programs and/or do not reside in Michigan. Videos will be screened for quality of video and audio prior to final acceptance. The Graduate School reserves the right to reject a video that does not meet standards for presentation.
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.
Judging criteria - 3MT

The judges will evaluate the competitors on four general categories:

  • Content
  • Comprehension
  • Communication
  • Engagement

Scoring System:

  • Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience. 
  • For each of the categories, judges will assign a score of 0 to 5.
  • These scores will be added together, so the total maximum score is 20.
  • Any competitor who exceeds the three-minute limit is disqualified automatically.
  • The winner in each heat will be the student whose presentation was three minutes or less and who received the highest total combined judges’ score for that heat.

Explanation of the four general categories in detail.

  1. Content (0-5 points)
    • Did the presentation provide some background about the research question being addressed and its significance?
    • Did the presentation clearly describe the key results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
    • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
    • Did the presenter spend adequate time on each element of their presentation – or did they elaborate for too long on one aspect or was the presentation rushed?
  2. Comprehension (0-5 points)
    • Were the topic, key results, research significance, and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
    • Did the speaker avoid scientific jargon, explain terminology, and provide adequate background information to illustrate points?
    • Did the speaker clearly understand their topic and make the audience understand something about it, too?
  3. Communication (0-5 points)
    • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience’s attention?
    • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact, and vocal range?
    • Did s/he maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
    • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation – was it clear, legible, and concise?
    • Was the research or scholarship conveyed in an understandable way?
  4. Engagement (0-5 points)
    • Did the presenter give the audience a sense of who they are, what they study, why they study it, and how --- in relatable terminology?
    • Did the presenter engage and connect with the audience?
    • Did the orator and presentation make the audience want to know more?
    • Was the presenter careful not to trivialize or generalize their research?
    • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
Judging criteria - GSS

The judges will evaluate the competitors on four general categories:

  • Quality of the Display/Demonstration
  • Clarity of the Presentation
  • Creativity
  • Insight into the Graduate Experience

Scoring System:

  • Each criterion is equally weighted and has an emphasis on audience. 
  • For each of the categories, judges will assign a score of 0 to 5.
  • These scores will be added together, so the total maximum score is 20.
  • Any competitor who exceeds the two minute limit is disqualified automatically.
  • The Showcase Championship will be the student whose presentation was two minutes or less and who received the highest total combined judges’ score for that heat.

Explanation of the four general categories in detail.

  1. Quality of the Display/Demonstration (0-5 points)
    • Was there overall coherence to the display/demonstration?
    • Was the display/demonstration engaging?
  2. Clarity of the Presentation (0-5 points)
    • Was the description clear?
    • Can a general audience understand/appreciate the presentation?
  3. Creativity (0-5 points)
    • Does the display/demonstration capture the imagination?
    • Was there an innovative approach to displaying or demonstrating the student’s work?
  4. Insight into the "Graduate Experience" (0-5 points)
    • Does the display/demonstration give a sense of what it might be like to study in the program?
    • Does the display/demonstration inspire others to pursue that program?
Prizes & competition times - 3MT

Depending upon the number of students participating, we will hold Preliminary Round heats. The Preliminary Round will take place between 1 & 3 pm on Feb 4. The winner of each heat (announced at the end of that heat) will receive $250 and advance to the OU 3MT®  Championship Round, which will begin at 4:00 pm on Feb 4. The winner of the OU 3MT®  Championship will receive $1000. We will also select a People’s Choice winner at the conclusion of the Championship Round, which carries a $250 prize. 

Prizes & competition times - GSS

Students participating in person for the Showcase will have access to the room beginning at 1:00 pm on Feb 4. All displays/demonstrations must be set up by 2:50 pm.

In person competitors will need to stand with their entry from 3:00 to 3:50 pm as that is when the judging will occur. In person competitors should be prepared with an elevator talk about their entry that should be no longer than 2 minutes.

The GSS Showcase Champion will be awarded $1000. Individuals who attend the showcase between 3:00-3:50 pm will be able to vote for a People’s Choice winner, who will be awarded $250. The Showcase displays/demonstrations must remain in place that evening as they will be viewable by attendees.

Awards ceremony

The Awards Ceremony will be held immediately after the judging for the 3MT Championship Round (expected to begin at 4:45 pm in the same room as the Championship). We will announce the winners for the 3MT®  Championship, GSS Championship, 3MT®  People’s Choice and GSS People’s Choice.