GSAS Master’s SynThesis Competition

The annual GSAS Master’s SynThesis competition is an opportunity for MA students from across the Arts and Sciences to showcase their research and presentation skills in a relaxed and collegial environment. 

The Competition

Can you present your thesis research to a general audience in under three minutes using a single slide? GSAS invites all Master's students who are writing a thesis to participate in the annual GSAS Master's SynThesis competition. The application for the 2023 competition has closed.

The 2023 competition will be held on Tuesday, May 2, from 3:00 to 5:00 pm in 555 Lerner Hall. First-, second-, and third-place awardees receive prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250, respectively. View videos of previous years' winning presentations here.


Please write to [email protected] with any questions.

Applicants must be:

  1. Currently enrolled in an Arts and Sciences MA program, or must have graduated from an Arts and Sciences MA program no earlier than October 2022
  2. Working on a thesis based on original research
  3. Available to attend the in-person competition on Tuesday, May 2.

Apply here by Sunday, April 2 at 11:59pm ET.

To apply, applicants must submit a 300-word project abstract, appropriate for a nonspecialist audience. Applications go through two rounds of review to identify finalists. In the first round, all submitted abstracts are reviewed by a GSAS staff committee, which will select the semi-finalists. In the second round, semi-finalists will complete brief video interviews.

Between 12 to 15 finalists will be selected to present their research to a general audience and a multidisciplinary panel of judges at the final competition. Finalists must participate in a preparatory workshop with GSAS staff prior to the competition. The workshop will be offered in mid-April.

At each stage of review, applicants will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

Comprehension and content

  1. Abstract/interview/presentation provides clear background and significance to the research question
  2. Abstract/interview/presentation clearly describes the research strategy/design and the results/findings of the research
  3. Abstract/interview/presentation clearly describes the conclusions, outcomes and impact of the research

Communication and engagement

  1. Project is communicated in language appropriate to a nonspecialist audience, avoids jargon, and adequately explains technical concepts
  2. Research is communicated with enthusiasm and in an engaging manner

Presentation (for finalists)

  1. Quality of delivery of oral presentation
  2. Quality of the slide: Does it enhance the presentation? Is it clear, legible, and concise?
  • A single static PowerPoint slide is permitted (no slide transitions, animations. or movement of any type).
  • No additional electronic media (e.g., sound and video files) are permitted.
  • No additional props (e.g., costumes, musical instruments, laboratory equipment) are permitted.
  • Presentations are limited to three minutes maximum. Once three minutes is reached, the presenter will be asked to stop.

Click here to view recordings of prior years' winners.