2024 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.

Register Here

(Registration will close on March 12)


All current UVA doctoral candidates (or equivalent) 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)!
  • 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-part Preparation Series, Preliminary Competition, and Final Competition. In the Preliminary Rounds, panels of judges will review presentations, provide supportive and constructive feedback to students, and select finalists. The top scored presentations from the preliminary round advance to the 2024 Grad Thesis SLAM Final Competition.  

Preparation Series: February 15, 29, March 14, and 21/22 |  3:00-4:30 pm

You do not need to commit to competing to join us for the Preparation Series, nor do you need to take part in the preparation series to compete. However, all competitors must do one practice session (~20 minutes) with Sam Lake or Kelly Oman, either as part of a Preparation Series group practice session (March 21 or 22) or in one-on-one consultation. All eligible and interest PhD candidates (or equivalent)  are invited to participate.

Preliminary Rounds: April 1 - 5 (dates and times TBA)

Final Grad Thesis SLAM competition: April 16, starting at ~3:00 pm Eastern

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 (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 2024 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. 15, 3:00-4:00 pm (WATCH RECORDING HERE) (Download Session Slides)
  2. Engaging Your Audience & Telling a Compelling Story | Feb. 29, 3:00-4:30 pm (WATCH RECORDING HERE) (Download Session Slides)
  3. Slide Design & Presentation Skills | Mar. 14, 3:00-4:30 pm (virtual)
  4. Practice Your Presentation & Receive Peer Feedback | Mar. 21 or 22, 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.

REGISTER NOW to attend the Preparation Series and/or compete in the 2024 Grad Thesis SLAM!

Please contact Kelly Oman or Sam Lake with questions. 


Resources for Competitors

See recordings for prep series sessions that have already happened, linked above. 

Judges Rubric

Timeline for Competitors

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