2023 Grad Thesis SLAM

The UVA Grad Thesis SLAM providesdoctoral students from all disciplines an opportunity to effectively explain their research in three minutes, in language appropriate for a non-specialist audience. This is a modified version of Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition, to make it inclusive for all disciplines.



All current UVA doctoral students who have passed their qualifying exams are eligible to enter the Grad Thesis SLAM competition.


Benefits of Competing

  • Chance to win cash prizes (1st place wins $1,000, with prizes for all finalists) and a chance to advance to the National 3MT competitions!  
  • Get practice talking about research to non-specialists (a useful skill in many situations)
  • Learn how to distill your thesis down to what’s most important
  • Receive guidance and a chance to practice public speaking, including supportive feedback sessions
  • Meet grad students from other disciplines and learn about different academic norms and research practices


Overview & Timeline

The Grad Thesis SLAM competition includes a 4-week Preparation Series, Preliminary Competition, and Final Competition. In the Preliminary Rounds, panels of judges will review presentations, provide constructive feedback to students, and select finalists. The top scored presentations from the preliminary round advance to the Grad Thesis SLAM Final Competition.  

Preparation Series: February 23 - March 23 | Thursdays from 3:00-4:30 pm

You do not need to commit to competing to join us for the Preparation Series. All eligible and interest PhD students are invited to participate.

Preliminary Rounds: March 27- April 4

Final Grad Thesis SLAM competition: April 18 


Competition Guidelines 

  • A single PowerPoint slide is permitted, but not absolutely required.
  • Electronic media (e.g. sound and video files) are permitted. If used, electronic media must not be longer than 15 seconds of the overall 3-minute limit.
  • Presenter can use props. However, props should be necessary to explain research and must be approved in advance by event organizers.
  • Presentations are limited to a maximum of 3 minutes - competitors exceeding 3 minutes are automatically disqualified.
  • Presentations are considered to have commenced when a presenter starts their presentation through either movement, speech, or use of media or a prop.
  • The decision of the judges panel is final.

Preparation Series

Students participating in Grad Thesis SLAM are strongly encouraged to participate in the Preparation Series, held on Thursdays from February 23 - March 23, beginning at 3:00 pm (dates and times below). All virtual sessions will take place on Zoom.

Every speaker has their own unique style and research story. Learn how to be your best as you prepare to present your research at the 2023 Grad Thesis SLAM. You will learn, apply, and practice essential presentation skills working solo and with other students. Homework assignments and additional learning materials will help you build your three-minute talk. Even if you don’t plan to compete, we welcome you to join us to discover how to become a more confident, engaging, and compelling speaker. 


  1. What is the Grad Thesis SLAM & How Do I Get Started? | Feb. 23, 3:00-4:00 pm (RECORDING AVAILABLE)
  2. Engaging Your Audience & Telling a Compelling Story | Mar. 2, 3:00-4:30 pm (RECORDING AVAILABLE
  3. Slide Design & Presentation Skills | Mar. 16, 3:00-4:30 pm (RECORDING AVAILABLE)
  4. Practice Your Presentation & Receive Peer Feedback | Mar. 23, 3:00-4:30 pm (in person)

We're happy to provide recordings of the above training sessions to students who intend to compete in this or future competitions.

Registration is now closed for the 2023 competition. Please contact Kelly Oman for training resources or information about future competitions. 


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