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Communication Disorders Doctoral Degree Requirements

Program | Faculty | Master's | Doctoral | Courses


Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)Program

The Au.D. degree program, which allows the student to meet the academic and clinical requirements for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Certificate of Clincial Competence in Audiology, is a four-year, full-time program. The first three years are in residence on campus, with students completing coursework, on- and off-campus clinical rotations, and a capstone research project. During the fourth year, students are placed in an intensive off-campus residency.

The Au.D. program is fully accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

All students must complete 17 required core courses (51 credits), 6 credits of non-departmental statistics/research design coursework, and 6 credits of non-departmental electives. Students also must design and complete a 6-credit capstone research project. During this project students work closely with a faculty member to gain experience in planning, conducting, analyzing, and writing up results of a small-scale experiment.

Ph.D. with a Clinical Track Option in Audiology

The Clinical Ph.D. program prepares students to be both clinical audiologists and academicians. Students obtain the clinical skills necessary for the professional practice of audiology as well as the research and scholarship skills required for a career in academia. The Ph.D. with a Clinical Track Option in Audiology is fully accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

It is anticipated that the Ph.D. with a Clinical Track Option in Audiology will take four to five years to complete. The first three years will be in residence in Amherst, with students completing coursework, predissertation research experiences, and both on- and off-campus clinical rotations. During the fourth year students will be placed in an intensive off-campus residency. The dissertation will be completed during the fourth and fifth years.

Students enrolled in the Ph.D. with a Clinical Track Option in Audiology are required to complete the same core courses as are required of students in the Au.D. program. In addition, they must complete a minimum of 15 credits of minor-area coursework, consisting of a clearly defined area of study outside the Department of Communication Disorders. It may consist of courses entirely within another department, or of courses from different departments that conform to a defined area of study. Students must also complete 6 credits of statistics/research design coursework outside of the department. Information about advising, examination, and the dissertation process can be found in the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) section below.

Doctor of Philosophy Program

The Doctor of Philosophy program in Communication Disorders provides an education in the methods of scholarship, teaching, and research. A student should attain skills required for the objective maintenance, dissemination, and creation of basic and applied information in the sciences of communication disorders. Pertinent experiences in the doctoral program include additional study in another field that is related to the understanding of communication disorders, study of the basic methods of scientific investigation, and experience in the activities that are most typical of persons holding a doctoral degree. These experiences include teaching, research, and writing. These skills are considered to elevate previous training and experience in providing clinical services to persons with communication disorders.

The department guidelines for doctoral study consist of procedures for planning a program of study, minimum requirements for a program plan (including course work, research, and teaching), procedures for comprehensive examination, and procedures for a dissertation. This reflects the sequence of the major steps toward obtaining the doctoral degree. Research and teaching experiences may be obtained at any point along this path. The following guidelines were developed by the Department of Communication Disorders so that they would meet the needs of the audiology and speech-language pathology profession and, also, would be consistent with the general policies for doctoral education set forth by the Graduate School of the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

A strong advisory system is maintained for all Ph.D. students in order to aid curriculum, qualifying examination, and dissertation planning.

The Ph.D. student must complete graduate level course work in various areas in keeping with the following minimum requirements:

Ph.D. Program Plan Summary

I. Major Area (33 credits, minimum)
A. The primary focus of the student’s doctoral study and research. Current specialization within either Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology.
B. Distribution
1. Courses — within and outside the Department of Communication Disorders as long as they are consistent with the major area. A minimum of 6 credits (excluding independent studies) must be taken within the department. All courses must carry graduate level credits.
2. Independent Studies — a maximum of 9 graduate credits can be counted toward the major area.
3. Dissertation Only — a maximum of 18 credits can be counted toward the major area requirement. (The Graduate School requires a minimum of 18 dissertation credits.)

II. Minor Area (15 credits minimum)
A. A clearly defined field of study that is outside the Department of Communication Disorders.

III. Research Skills (12 credits minimum)
A. Statistics (6 credits minimum)
B. Optional: Competency in the use of computers (3 credits)

IV. Teaching Experience
A. Prior to completion of the dissertation, the student must either: 1) teach one undergraduate course in the Department of Communication Disorders or; 2) participate in team-teaching at least two courses in the Department of Communication Disorders.

At the completion of the majority of course work, the Ph.D. student is given a comprehensive examination consisting of a written and oral portion. The dissertation is undertaken following successful completion of the comprehensive examination.

A dissertation prospectus must be accepted by the student’s dissertation committee prior to the start of the dissertation work, and the completed dissertation must be defended in the form of an oral examination conducted by the student’s committee.

For further information on graduate programs, contact: Department of Communication Disorders, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, 358 North Pleasant St., University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA 01003-9296; tel. (413) 545-0131.