PhD General Overview

The goal of a Ph.D. degree program is to train you to be a researcher in your area of interest.  As such, one of your first steps should be to identify one or more potential mentors. A good mentor would be someone who is doing research that is similar to what you would like to investigate. We invite you to visit our faculty page, which has links to each faculty member’s website, and to contact them directly about their availability to mentor you.

Ph.D. students come in all ages, from students who have just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree to clinicians who have been working for many years.  Most of our applicants have already earned a graduate degree (e.g., an Au.D. or a Master’s degree in Speech Pathology), but a few students have entered our Ph.D. program with only a Bachelor’s degree. In general, if you plan to do intervention research, we recommend that you get your clinical degree first and apply to the Ph.D. program in the fall before you graduate.

Your doctoral program will be tailored to your interests and background, and you will work closely with your mentor to plan your program of study.  In your second year, your mentor and your academic advisement committee members will help you develop an individualized study plan, so that you are well-prepared to pursue research in your area of interest. Each year, there will be an annual evaluation of your study plan and assessment of your progress. The coursework for all students includes courses in rehabilitation science, statistics, research methodology, teaching methods, and grant writing, as well as topic area courses.  You will also be encouraged to take courses offered by faculty in other departments around the university that may provide unique perspectives on your area of interest.

After 2-3 years of coursework, you will complete a doctoral comprehensive examination which includes both a written and an oral component.  The purpose of this examination is to assist the faculty in determining whether a student has sufficient knowledge of pertinent facts, theories, and methods to undertake effective research in that area of communicative and swallowing sciences and disorders and to engage in other forms of scholarship expected of persons who hold the doctoral degree. Following successful completion of this milestone, you will begin work on your dissertation. In general, a Ph.D. program can be completed in 4-5 years.

The Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences has a strong record of training Ph.D. students that stretches back nearly 70 years. Our students go on to highly successful careers as academicians, researchers, and university administrators.  We are extremely proud of our program and our graduates.