Three Minute Thesis


Any student who is active in an SFU master's or PhD program will be eligible to participate in SFU's 3MT competition. Alumni are not eligible.

  • Students with their thesis under submission are eligible
    Even if you have already defended in the Spring term, you may still compete until the final thesis submission deadline at the end of April.
  • Students in Non-Thesis programs are eligible to compete at SFU
    While the international 3MT rules exclude our non-thesis grad students, we will be including all of our graduate students in our university-level competition. However, non-thesis students are not able to compete at the Western Regional and the National 3MT Competitions. (The top SFU thesis-based student finalist will proceed to those events.)

Timing of Degree Completion

Competitors who are eligible on the date of their first presentation shall remain so, irrespective of subsequent changes to their status.

Your presentation should be directly related to your graduate program research and thesis/dissertation. Your research does not have to be completed.

Representation at Subsequent Heats

Please note that the winners of each heat or final are expected to represent their faculties at the next stage of the competition. If a winner is unable to attend the final, the runner-up will proceed to the next round of the competition in his or her place.

Wildcard Heat

The wildcard competition is open to graduate students who can't attend their faculty heat or whose faculty did not have a heat. 

People's Choice

There will be a People’s Choice winner from each heat. The People's Choice winners receive a prize, but do not proceed to the Final to compete for the top prizes. At the final, the audience will select another People's Choice winner.


  • 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).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g. costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • No notes allowed. Presentations are to memorized. 
  • Presentations are limited to 3 minutes maximum.
  • Presentations exceeding 3 minutes are disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through movement or speech.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
  • If submitting virtually, the video presentation will focus on the presenter in the centre of the screen, from about waist up.*
  • If submitting virtually, the video presentation will be one take (i.e. no splicing of multiple takes); the presenter and the camera will not move during the presentation (i.e. you will remain seated or standing in one place for the full duration of the presentation).*
  • If presentating virtually, presentations will be delivered inside, with a minimalist background (i.e. a blank wall)*
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

*New rules for the virtual competition. Graduate Studies reserves the right to request videos be re-taped (for example due to poor sound quality). 



At every level of the competition each competitor will be judged on the judging criteria listed below. Please note that each criterion is equally weighted and is geared towards audience impact.

Comprehension and Content

  • Did the presentation provide an understanding of the background and significance to the research question being addressed while explaining terminology and avoiding jargon?
  • Did the presentation clearly describe the impact and/or results of the research, including conclusions and outcomes?
  • Did the presentation follow a clear and logical sequence?
  • Was the thesis topic, research significance, results/impact and outcomes communicated in language appropriate to a non-specialist audience?
  • 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?


  • Did the oration make the audience want to know more?
  • Was the presenter careful not to trivialise or generalise their research?
  • Did the presenter convey enthusiasm for their research?
  • Did the presenter capture and maintain their audience's attention?
  • Did the speaker have sufficient stage presence, eye contact and vocal range; maintain a steady pace, and have a confident stance?
  • Did the PowerPoint slide enhance the presentation - was it clear, legible, and concise?

Example Judging Sheet

* 3MT Judging Sheet.pdf
Click to download.



1st Place


2nd Place


People's Choice


Faculty Heats

  • An overall winner and runner up will be chosen to move forward to the university wide final. 
  • Prizes for faculty heats will vary according to each faculty:
    • $300–$400 for the winner
    • $100–$150 for the People's Choice prize 


Q: I haven't started the majority of my research yet. Can I still compete?
A: Yes, you may enter at any state of your graduate program. Your presentation may present your research question and why it's important for engaging the world.

Q: My grad program isn't research-based. Can I still compete?
A: Yes, you may compete at the SFU level. However, non-thesis students will not be eligible to compete at the regional and national competitions.

Q: I have a scheduling conflict with a Faculty heat date. Is there anything I can do?
A: If you can't make your Faculty heat date, you are welcome to compete in the Open/Wildcard heat.

Please contact Charity Slobod at if you have any other questions. 

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SFU Wildcard Heat

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