Ph.D. in Education - Speech Communication Disorders


The Ph.D. in Speech Communication Disorders is a small, personalized program that prepares graduates for careers as scholars and researchers through close student-faculty mentorship and clinical research. This is a research-based, full-time program that is offered in Charlottesville only.

The Ph.D. program in Speech Communication Disorders at the University of Virginia is committed to training the next generation of clinical practice researchers. The mission of the Speech Communication Disorders doctoral program is graduating independent researchers capable of producing original and important scholarly works through disciplinary and interdisciplinary practice-oriented clinical research.

The program provides research, teaching, and professional-serve experiences to establish the skill sets necessary for a successful career as a scientist, scholar, and teacher. The fundamental goal of the program is to graduate independent researchers capable of producing original and important scholarly works through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in a career as a scientist.

  • Sheila C. Johnson Center


    The program provides clinical services through the Sheila C. Johnson Center, which is a full-service clinic for individuals experiencing difficulty in speaking, hearing, reading, writing, organizing thoughts, or even swallowing.

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Program Details


  • Prerequisites and Admission Requirements

    When considering an application to the UVA Speech Communication Disorders Program doctoral program, prospective applications should contact Dr. LaVae Hoffman at the earliest possible time to discuss the Program and application matters.

    Decisions regarding admission are rendered by the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program Committee, which is composed of academic faculty members in the Speech Communication Disorders Program. Applications that are approved for admission by the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program Committee are submitted to the Curry School of Education and Human Development Central Admissions Committee for final selection and approval. Applicants to the Program typically have earned a master's degree in Speech Communication Disorders before pursuing the Ph.D. and are encouraged to have the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

    Letter of Research Interest

    A prospective student must declare one or more research interests in a letter addressed to the Chairperson of the Ph.D. Program Committee. This letter should be submitted at the time of application, but under separate cover (address below). The letter should be as specific as possible, as this will help the Committee to determine whether an academic and research program can be tailored to meet the student's needs. In order to provide sufficient detail, the applicant may wish to spend time visiting a library, reading relevant professional literature, and defining their own career goals and aspirations. Typically, an applicant will not be accepted unless his/her research interests are compatible with those of a faculty member and the faculty member agrees to serve as his or her major research advisor.

    Writing Sample

    All applicants are required to submit an independently written manuscript with their application. This document may be a substantial paper from a previous course, a published professional manuscript, or a literature review completed specifically for the application to the doctoral program, however it must be authored solely by the applicant. The purpose of the writing sample is to provide evidence that the applicant brings to their program of study the prerequisite writing abilities that will support their successful completion of the program and subsequent career objectives. Any applicant who cannot sustain and improve the writing abilities demonstrated in their written sample may be dismissed from the program, therefore it is crucial that the applicant complete the writing sample independently. Co-authored papers are not acceptable.

    Interview

    An interview with the applicant will be completed after submission of all written application materials and test scores.  Because the interview is a substantial consideration in the admissions process, prospective students are encouraged to visit the program in order to complete this interview in person. At least two members of the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program Committee will participate in the interview.  During the interview the applicant will complete a spontaneous writing activity.  A journal article that is relevant to the applicant’s stated area of interest will be provided to the applicant to read in an office alone. A computer will be provided to the applicant to complete a written commentary about the article for the purposes of demonstrating the applicant’s level of preparedness for doctoral study.  Applicants are expected to demonstrate a command of the professional content, English language, writing mechanics, and critical thinking skills that are commensurate with performance that would be consistent with Master’s level training. The spontaneous writing sample will become part of the application packet for the purposes of admission decisions as well as foundational information to support the development of the student’s Program of Study in the event that the student is accepted into the Program and undertakes doctoral training at UVA. Applicants will have a maximum of 90 minutes to read the article and write their commentary. There is no page limit minimum or maximum for this process.

    GRE and GPA Requirements

    The Curry School of Education and Human Development has target scores of 156 verbal, 155 quantitative, and 4.5 analytical writing; however, acceptance into the program is very competitive and meeting minimum testing standards is rarely enough to secure admission. The Speech Communication Disorders Program admissions process is rigorous and individualized. Rather than focusing on GRE and GPA minima, we rely heavily on the applicant's letters of recommendation, personal statement, written manuscripts, interview(s), and statement of research interest/intent to ensure that the applicant’s skills, background, and career objectives provide evidence to support the applicant’s potential for successful scholarly pursuits.

    Clinical Fellowship

    It is anticipated that applicants to the doctoral program will have already completed their Clinical Fellowship (CF) and hold the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). The CF experience is not part of the doctoral program.

    Applicants may submit unofficial test scores and transcripts with their application. However, official test scores (taken with 5 years) and official transcripts showing degree conferral are required prior to matriculation.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

  • Application Due Date

    All application forms, transcripts, materials, and test scores, must be received by the Speech Communication Disorders Program, and the interview(s) completed, by December 1 of each calendar year for admission in fall semester of the following academic year.  Applicants who are admitted to the Program are expected to begin their doctoral programs in fall semester.  Admission for initiation of doctoral study in summer or January is not possible. Decisions will be released by February 15th.

    Applicants are responsible for ensuring that all required materials are submitted by the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be read and may be cancelled if left incomplete. Materials should be tracked using the checklist in the application.

    All Ph.D. applicants are automatically considered for the Dean's Fellowship Program, which provides top Ph.D. students with four full years of tuition and fees, health insurance, and $32,000 per year of study.

  • Degree Requirements

    The Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 78 credits beyond the master’s degree. A typical UVA Speech Communication Disorders doctoral program will be 85 to 103 doctoral credits completed in 3 to 4 years of full time study and apprenticeship beyond an applicable master’s degree.

    Students in the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. program must complete the required research methodology coursework and a preliminary research project as described in separate sections below.  In addition, they must successfully complete a graduate teaching internship as part of their approved program of study. Each student’s program of study will include focused development of a related area of expertise that reflects inter-disciplinary work beyond the parameters of the Speech Communication Disorders Program. Students must maintain an up-to-date Ph.D. Record of Progress with the Curry School of Education and Human Development in compliance with its regulatory procedures.  Funding for doctoral students is contingent upon satisfactory performance and progress in all facets of training and apprenticeship.

    Graduate Teaching Internship

    A graduate teaching internship is required of all students in the Ph.D. Program.  Each doctoral student is required to teach at least one course under the supervision of their mentor.  The purpose of this requirement is to develop the skills necessary for successful university-level teaching.

    Research Apprenticeship

    Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. students will participate in a research apprenticeship with their faculty advisor(s). Beginning apprenticeship will occupy approximately 10 hours of each student's week during the first and second years of study. Advanced apprenticeship activities will increase to 20 hours per week during the third and fourth. During apprenticeship experiences, the student will assist with the advisor’s research and scholarship, which may include data collection, data analysis, library research, presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities. 

    Pre-Dissertation Research Manuscript

    Under the guidance of their program area, students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or an alternative scholarly publication consistent with the program area's discipline. This research project and manuscript must be completed before the student is eligible to write qualifying examinations.

    Assessment

    The progress of each doctoral student is reviewed by the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program Committee annually. This review assesses each student’s performance in coursework, progress in apprenticeship experiences, scholarly products and performance to date, demonstration of critical thinking across disciplines, and progress toward completion of their approved program.

    Qualifying Examinations

    Qualifying examinations (a.k.a. comprehensive exams) are required of all students in the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program.  The Preliminary Research Project and all required content courses included in the student’s Program of Study must be satisfactorily completed before comprehensive examinations may be taken. Qualifying exams in the Speech Communication Disorders Program consist of both written and oral examinations.

    Dissertation

    All Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. candidates will complete a dissertation proposal and a dissertation following the traditional model described in the Curry Dissertation Manual.

    Dissertation Committee

    Qualifying Examinations must be completed before the candidate appoints a Dissertation Committee. The Dissertation Committee is responsible for approval of a dissertation proposal after it has been presented and defended, supervision of the dissertation study, final approval of the dissertation based on its written form, and approval of the candidate’s oral defense of the dissertation.

    Dissertation Proposal

    The candidate must prepare and orally defend a written dissertation proposal.  The oral presentation must be heard by at least four members of the Dissertation Committee, at which time a decision is made regarding continuation of the dissertation plan.

    Dissertation Defense

    The candidate must defend the dissertation in accordance with Curry School protocol. Doctoral students and candidates are encouraged to attend defenses that occur prior to their own.

  • Typical Length of Study

    Three to four years.

    Full or Part Time:

    Full-time

  • Course Overview

    In addition to the other research and apprenticeship experiences already described, a core of seven courses is required of all Ph.D. students in Speech Communication Disorders (note prerequisites).  All of these courses constitute research methodology coursework.

                EDLF 7300     Foundations of Educational Research
                EDLF 5310     Educational Statistics:  Stat I
                EDLF 7530     Qualitative Research I Or  EDLF 7404   Qualitative Analysis
                EDLF 8300     Experimental Design:  Stat II (EDLF 7310)
                EDLF 8310     Correlation and Regression Analysis:  Stat III (EDLF 7310, 8300)
                EDLF 8350     Multivariate Statistics (EDLF 8300, 8310)

    Plus at least one of the following courses:
                EDLF  7180    Tests and Measurements
                EDLF  7330    Single-Subject Research

    Doctoral students may request the substitution of comparable advanced level research methodological courses from other departments in the University (e.g., Sociology, Economics, History, Psychology, Public Health, etc.). The request must be submitted in writing as part of the proposed Program of Study and must include a substantive rationale for the substitution that is based on the focus and scope of the student’s course of study and career intent.  In addition, substitutions must be determined to exceed the content and expectations set forth in the Curry courses and must be approved by the Speech Communication Disorders Ph.D. Program Committee as part of the student’s program of study.

  • Sample Jobs After Graduation

    Post doctoral fellowships
    Assistant professorships
    Research scientist

  • Frequently Asked Questions

    Q. I have been a practicing speech-language pathologist for several years and the field has grown and changed since I earned my master’s degree. I would like to take some new courses and update myself professionally. Is this Ph.D. Program a means for accomplishing that?
    A. Most of the courses taken at the doctoral level will not be the type of courses taken in a master’s degree program in speech-language pathology (SLP). A master’s degree in SLP prepares an individual for clinical practice and provides the academic and clinical experiences necessary for obtaining the professional credentials required for clinical practice. The Ph.D. is a research degree. Most of the courses taken in a Ph.D. program are focused independent studies, directed research studies, doctoral seminars, and methods courses in research and statistics (e.g., in our program seven such methods courses are required). In addition, it is likely that coursework related to the student’s area of research interest will be taken outside the Speech Pathology and Audiology Program.

    Q. I already have a master’s degree in a discipline other than Speech Communication Disorders. I would like to change careers and become a speech-language pathologist. Since I have a master’s degree could I accomplish this in the doctoral program?
    A. If you wish to become a speech-language pathologist who provides clinical services, you will need to become certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and, in most states, licensed by the appropriate state agency (e.g., Commonwealth of Virginia Board of Audiology and Speech Pathology). If you wish to practice SLP in the public schools, you may need an additional credential. Master’s degree programs in SLP provide students with the academic and clinical experiences that make them eligible for these professional credentials. The Ph.D. program does not.

    Q. Is completion of a master’s degree thesis required for acceptance into the doctoral program?
    A. No, to be accepted into the UVa doctoral program it is not necessary to have completed a thesis during the master’s degree. However, all applicants, especially those whose master’s degree programs may not have included practical research experiences, must understand that the apprenticeship component of doctoral study requires substantial and sustained engagement in research activities. Moreover, all students in our Speech Communication Disorders doctoral program are required to continually conduct and present research projects. In addition each doctoral student must design, complete, and submit for publication at least one research project (see “Preliminary Research Project”) prior to being eligible to take their comprehensive examinations.

    Q. What are the GRE and GPA requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?
    A. The Curry School of Education and Human Development target scores are 156 verbal, 155 quantitative, and 4.5 analytical writing; however, in rare instances exceptions to this are possible. Our admissions process is highly individualized. Rather than focusing on GRE and GPA minima, we rely heavily on the applicant’s letters of recommendation, personal statement, and statement of research interest/intent. The latter is especially important. It should detail your research interests as specifically as possible, as this will help the Committee to determine whether we can provide an academic and research program that will meet your needs. In order to provide sufficient detail, you may wish to spend time visiting a library, reading relevant professional literature, etc.

    Q. What are the TOEFL score requirements for acceptance into the doctoral program?
    A. The University requires a minimum TOEFL score of 650 (paper based test) or 250 (computer based assessment).

    Q. How large is your doctoral program?
    A. Our doctoral program is small and allows for a great deal of personal attention and interaction with faculty members.

    Q. What are the University’s requirements for Virginia residency?
    A. For authoritative information and access to related forms, please visit the following University web page

    Q. How can I obtain application materials and additional information?
    A. Application materials can be obtained by contacting the Curry School of Education and Human Development Office of Admissions at 434-924-3334.

The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only. The Undergraduate Record and Graduate Record represent the official repository for academic program requirements. These publications may be found at http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/index.php.