Three-Minute Thesis Competition

The Three-Minute Thesis (3MT) is a competition in which graduate students explain their research or scholarly/creative projects in jargon-free language to a general "lay" audience in three minutes with the help of only one static PowerPoint slide. It was started at the University of Queensland (Australia) and has since been adopted at universities worldwide. The first-place winner in App State's local competition will represent the University at the regional competition held at the annual Conference of Southern Graduate Schools.

Competition Details

2023-2024 Competition: November 3, 2023.  Heats 1 and 2 begin at 1pm in the Watauga River Room (Plemmons Student Union Room 102).  The Final Competition begins at roughly 2:30pm in the Linville Gorge Room (PSU 242).

Event Agenda

In order to help participants best prepare for this event we will schedule two Presentation Strategies workshops and send out notifications.  We strongly encourage each participant to sign up for one of the workshops. Workshop dates are October 12 and October 26.


  1. Must be a currently enrolled graduate student in good standing at App State.
  2. The topic must come from a research or scholarly/creative project of significant scope (thesis, dissertation, capstone research, product of learning).  
  3. The topic must be interesting enough to hold the attention of a nonspecialist; think Smithsonian magazine, Discovery Channel, National Geographic.


  • One single static PowerPoint slide is permitted - no slide transitions, animations or 'movement' of any description.  
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound or video) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, instruments, equipment) are permitted.
  • Competitors exceeding the 3 minute limit will be disqualified.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (e.g., no songs), in English.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced as soon as a presenter starts the presentation through movement or speech.
  • Presentations must be aimed at the educated non-specialist; no disciplinary jargon or specialized vocabulary can be used unless the explanation is part of the 3 minutes.  See these award winning presentations for examples.
  • All presentations must reflect research in progress or completed research; literature reviews alone are not acceptable.


The competition will be judged by a panel of faculty, community, industry, and alumni representatives. Judging will focus on the presentation, ability to communicate research to a non-specialist audience, and 3MT PowerPoint slide. Follow this link for tips on 3MT best practices.


  • First Place: $600 award*
  • Second Place: $400 award*
  • People’s Choice: $250 award*

* Award funds will be deposited directly into student accounts.


If you have any questions, please contact Ross Gosky at

Past Winners

YearFirst PlaceSecond PlacePeople's Choice
2022-2023Kelly Davis, PsyD, Clinical Psychology Robert Onjiko, Biology Skyler Prowten, Psychology
2021-2022Robert Onjiko, BiologyMary Cait Massie, BiologyBreana Cook, Biology
2020-2021Blair Anderes, Athletic TrainingSarah Hill, BiologyCelia Whisman, Experimental Psychology
2019-2020Jimmy Wyngaarden, Experimental PsychologyJen Tinsley, Excercise ScienceImani Dillon, Marriage and Family Therapy
2018-2019Gita Gajjar, BiologyArina Cotuna, PsychologyAmanda Wilkinson, Biology
2017-2018Montana Eck, GeographyCassandra Smith, Experimental PsychologyCourtney Baines Smith, Educational Leadership
2016-2017Madelyn Sharp, Speech Language PathologyCiera Ferrone, Experimental PsychologyAmanda Hemric, Music Performance
2015-2016Reed Gurchiek, Exercise ScienceStephanie Lichiello, PsychologyLaura Ellis, Biology
2014-2015Audrey Brown, BiologyCourtney Rogers, PsychologyOlumide Awelewa, Health and Exercise Science
2013-2014Alex Kirk, PsychologyAmber Mellon, MathematicsScott Hopkins, Technology