Three Minute Thesis

Check your eligibility

Any student who is active in an SFU master's or PhD program will be eligible to participate in SFU's 3MT competition.

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  include 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.)


  • 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.

Meet the 2024 SFU Finalists

Curious to know more about our SFU finalists?

Learn More


  • 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 should be near the 3 minute mark. Points will be deducted if over in the Finals.
  • Presentations are to be spoken word (eg. no poems, raps or songs).
  • The decision of the adjudicating panel is final.

Judging Criteria

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.


  • 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 trivialize or generalize 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?

Next Steps

Communication and Skill Building Workshops

There are a variety of workshops and resources available to help graduate students describe their research in interesting and novel ways and be able to communicate it in a variety of settings and contexts. 

Spring 2024 Offering by Graduate Studies:

  • What is a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Anyway?
  • A Presentation's First 30 Seconds are Crucial!
  • The Construction, Flow, and Delivery of an Engaging Flash Talk
  • Building a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) Presentation

More Offerings:

Resources and Videos

Looking at how past competitors performed is a good way to pick up presentation tips.