The Ph.D. program in speech and hearing science provides flexible, comprehensive training for scholar-researchers interested in communication processes and disorders, allowing students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for them to be become productive researchers, whether in academia or industry. At the University of Iowa, the program reflects the broadly multidisciplinary interests of its faculty, who have expertise in physiology, bioengineering and physical sciences, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, and multiculturalism across the domains of speech, language, and hearing. Prospective students are encouraged to identify a mentor whose research area aligns with their own interests. Students with diverse backgrounds in the natural and behavioral sciences are encouraged to apply.

Learning Outcomes

Graduating Ph.D. students in speech pathology and audiology will demonstrate:

  • critical thinking through reading, discussing, and writing about relevant scientific literature;
  • competence in designing and conducting quality research, from concept to methodology, and through to data analysis and publication;
  • competence in scientific writing;
  • competence in developing and delivering quality oral research presentations; and
  • competence in developing and delivering course material to undergraduate and graduate classes.

The Doctor of Philosophy program in speech and hearing science requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit. Although there is no standard curriculum for the Ph.D., a program of study is developed by each student in consultation with their mentor and a faculty planning committee. The course of study typically includes registration in an introductory course in doctoral research that covers broad issues relevant to research approaches and life in academia, as well as one or more courses in statistical or other research methods. In addition, a range of topical seminars and courses are offered by faculty members in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, as well as by faculty in other departments, including linguistics, psychological and brain sciences, otolaryngology—head and neck surgery, statistics and actuarial science, molecular physiology and biophysics, engineering, neuroscience, and computer science. Also important to a student's education is registration in CSD:7590 Research, which covers individual readings and research experiences with their mentor and other faculty members.

The stepping stones of the Ph.D. program include a pre-dissertation project, a comprehensive examination, and the dissertation. The pre-dissertation project is a research project conducted jointly between a student and mentor, under the direction of the mentor. Upon completion, students are expected to present their results at the department's weekly professional seminar series. The comprehensive exam typically involves a written exam consisting of several questions broadly related to a student's interests and goals, followed by an oral defense of the responses. Questions are developed and evaluated by the student's mentor and faculty comprehensive committee. Following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, the student can advance to the candidacy stage. This final step requires each student to successfully conduct, write up, and defend an original research project that meets the college requirements for the dissertation.

Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Science/Au.D.

Students interested in research with an emphasis in audiology or hearing science may be interested in obtaining clinical certification, which requires completing the clinical doctorate (Au.D.). The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers a combined program that allows students to earn both degrees simultaneously. The Doctor of Philosophy/Doctor of Audiology program is especially appropriate for students who have more applied research interests but would like to work in academia.

The program requires 137 s.h. of coursework, including all of the clinical practicum experiences required for the Au.D. degree. Students also must meet all of the milestones required for the traditional Ph.D. degree. Completion time for the two degrees varies but is typically seven years. For more information, consult the department chair.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations on the Graduate College website.

Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on a student's aptitude, their specific area of research interest, as well as availability of a faculty member to serve as a mentor.

Applicants whose first language is not English must submit official test scores to verify English proficiency. Either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is acceptable to verify proficiency in English.

Students interested in admission to the combined Ph.D./Au.D. program are required to initially apply and be admitted to the Au.D. program. At the end of their second year in the Au.D. program, they may formally request permission to change their degree objective. If the faculty approve and a mentor is available, transition into the Au.D./Ph.D. program is approved.

The deadline for application to the Ph.D. program is January 15. Applications must be submitted through the Office of Graduate Admissions.

For more information, see Doctor of Philosophy in Speech and Hearing Science on the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders website or contact the director of graduate studies.

While admission to the Ph.D. program is competitive, funding is guaranteed for admitted students for up to four years that includes tuition, a stipend, and generous benefits. Additional financial support is based on merit and dependent on availability of funds. No separate application for financial aid is required. Financial support is provided through teaching assistantships and research assistantships. For more information, contact the departmental administrator in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The Ph.D. program provides excellent preparation for careers in academia, industry, and research. There continues to be a strong demand for graduates with doctoral-level training in speech and hearing sciences. Graduates routinely advance to postdoctoral research positions or are hired as university faculty members, and many graduates have achieved high-level administrative and research positions in the field.