Program Structure for PhD in Speech and Hearing Science

The first two years of the SHS PhD program are typically devoted to coursework, including the completion of an Early Research Project (ERP), in the area of concentration selected by the student. The ERP occurs early in Stage II and must be completed before the Qualifying Exam. For students entering the PhD program directly from a BA/BS degree, the ERP may be undertaken and completed in Stage I or Stage II. In the middle of Stage II, students will take a Qualifying Exam. Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam provides evidence of the student's satisfactory progress toward scholarly independence and indicates the student is qualified to begin the planning stages of a dissertation proposal. A preliminary exam on the dissertation proposal occurs at the end of Stage II and marks the transition to Stage III. The doctoral program culminates with a Final Exam/Dissertation Defense, an oral examination over the written document.

Description of Required Courses and Program Milestones

SHS 590 History of Communication Sciences and Disorders
This doctoral seminar explores the evolution of the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) by examining: 1) the historical research base of the field; 2) critical research and practice issues that have emerged across the history of the field; and 3) the contributions of key figures in the field. The course is designed to help students understand how the discipline is organized and where their own research interests fit with respect to the discipline.

SHS 592 Proseminar in Speech and Hearing Science
Required seminar for all graduate students; involves reporting of ongoing research of faculty, visiting researchers, and students as well as discussion of topics related to professional and academic research careers.

SHS 594 Early Research Project
This mentored research experience provides individualized opportunities for PhD students to conduct research projects under the direction of their faculty mentors/advisors. The ERP is the first of three research milestones in the SHS PhD Program.

Qualifying Exam
The purpose of the qualifying exam is to assess the student's (a) depth of knowledge in a specialty topic area and (b) ability to identify, integrate, synthesize, and critically evaluate research in this area. The Qualifying Exam is the second of three research milestones in the SHS PhD program. In-depth knowledge of scholarly topic(s) is necessary for the student: (a) to identify gaps in the knowledge base or significant barriers to scientific progress that future research must address; and (b) to generate innovative solutions to existing problems that may contribute to major advances in the field. The Qualifying Exam will take the form of a critical analysis and original synthesis of the scholarly literature. The student's paper must address a novel topic and should not be a direct replication or summary of their mentor's work. Successful completion of the Qualifying Exam provides evidence of the student's scholarly independence and indicates the student is qualified to begin the planning stages of a dissertation proposal.

Preliminary Examination (Dissertation Prospectus):
In SHS, the dissertation prospectus serves as the preliminary examination and includes both a written and an oral component. The written portion of the exam consists of the pre-results portion of the student's dissertation. The oral portion of the exam consists of an oral defense of the dissertation prospectus. The preliminary examination marks the end of Stage II.

Final Examination (Dissertation Defense):
During Stage III, the student's major responsibility will be conducting the dissertation project and writing up and defending the dissertation at an oral defense in front of their final examination committee, which in SHS is the doctoral dissertation committee. Each Ph.D. student is required to present a final defense of the completed dissertation to the dissertation committee. The student must deliver the completed dissertation to each committee member at least ten days prior to the scheduled date of the final examination. As required by the University, the final examination is oral and open to the public, and notice of the upcoming exam must be posted. Normally, the defense will last approximately two hours.

Dissertation Deposit
The student must electronically deposit the dissertation with the Graduate College. Before a dissertation can be deposited, it must undergo a format check in the Department of Speech and Hearing Science. Instructions for electronic submission can be found at One hard bound copy is deposited in the departmental library, one copy submitted to the dissertation committee chair, and the student should keep a final copy.