Thinking about a PhD? Finding a Research PhD Program

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  • Thinking About a PhD?Finding a Research PhD Program

    This presentation has been compiled andadapted from Schuele and Bacon (2001) andseveral presentations at the ASHA Conventionfrom 1999 to 2003. Appreciation is expressed toall who have participated in the ASHA sessions.Permission is granted to individuals to use oradapt this presentation in their recruitingefforts.

    Credit this source as appropriate:Schuele, C. M. (2004). Thinking about a PhD? Finding aresearch PhD program [Presentation prepared for the AmericanSpeech-Language-Hearing Association]. Available


    Which PhD program is for me? Thispresentation was designed for persons who areconsidering obtaining a PhD and need toidentify programs that will meet their academicand professional objectives.

    The purpose of this presentation is to provide aframework that can be used as one searchesfor a suitable PhD program.


    This presentation provides guidelines that willhelp you identify potential programs andmentors. The guidelines also will help youevaluate the potential experiences andresources available in doctoral programs ofinterest to you.

    If you are unsure of whether you want topursue a PhD, then you may find theaccompanying presentation, Thinking About aPhD? Deciding to Pursue a PhD, helpful.

  • Note

    If you have viewed Thinking About a PhD? Decidingto Pursue a PhD, please note that a few of the slidesat the beginning of this presentation are redundantwith the content of that presentation.

  • Shortage of PhDs in CommunicationSciences and Disorders

    There is a documented shortage of personswith PhD degrees to assume academic andresearch positions in communicationsciences and disorders (CSD). Thisshortage is likely a result of growth withinthe professions and anticipated facultyretirements in the years ahead.

    Thus, there are currently (and areanticipated to be in the future as well)many opportunities available for personswith PhD training in CSD.

  • Academic and Research Careers inCSD

    Persons who have academic and researchcareers in CSD typically have their PhD trainingin speech-language pathology, audiology, orspeech, language, or hearing science.

    However, it is not uncommon for CSD facultymembers to have their PhD in related fieldssuch as linguistics or psychology, or to have aninterdisciplinary degree. Thus, you may wish toexplore PhD training programs in relateddisciplines as well as CSD.


    PhD training involves research training thatleads to a research degree. PhD trainedpersons engage in the generation anddissemination of knowledge. This stands incontrast to the role of clinicians, who primarilyengage in the application of clinical knowledgeto meet the communication needs ofindividuals with communication disorders.

    A research PhD is not a degree that preparesyou for clinical practice.


    A PhD prepares you for

    An academic career where you engage inteaching and research.

    A research career where you engage inresearch.

    A clinical research career where youengage in clinical research alongsideclinical practice.

  • Which universities offer the PhD?

    The Carnegie Foundation for theAdvancement of Teaching( classifiesuniversities into categories based on themission of the university.

    This classification is relevant when choosingan institution in which to pursue a PhD andwhen choosing an employment setting.

  • Which universities offer the PhD?

    On their Web site you can find theclassification for each institution of highereducation. For category

    See the ASHA Web site for CSDdepartments that award PhD

    Some universities offer interdisciplinaryPhD programs that are relevant for thoseinterested in CSD. Consult individualuniversities.

  • Universities and Colleges:Differentiating Types

    Doctoral/ResearchUniversities - Extensive:Research PhD education is integralto the mission of the university, with50 or more doctoral degreesawarded per year across at least 15disciplines.

    Masters Colleges andUniversities, BaccalaureateColleges, AssociatesColleges: Primary focus is teaching,minimal expectation of researchproductivity

    Doctoral/ResearchUniversities - Intensive:Research PhD education is integral tothe mission of the university, with atleast 10 doctoral degrees awarded peryear across at least 3 disciplines or atotal of 20 doctoral degrees per year.

    Source: Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching

  • What type of university?

    The majority of doctoral programs in CSD,and other fields, can be found at Research-Extensive Universities. Doctoral programsin CSD may also be found at Research-Intensive universities. You will want toexplore how doctoral training fits into theuniversity mission as this will influence theresources available to you as a PhDstudent.

  • Which universities have PhD programs?

    A good place to start looking for PhDprograms is on the ASHA Web site.

    On this Web site, programs that offer thePhD are listed and you can link to theprogram Web sites.

  • Which universities have PhD programs?

    Next we provide an overview of issues youwill want to consider in selecting aprogram. Some of the information you willwant to gather can be gained fromliterature searches and Web sites, whereasother information may be gained moreeasily by visiting the prospective programand/or talking directly to the prospectiveadvisor/mentor.


    You will want to evaluate prospectiveprograms for the resources offered at threelevels: University Department Mentor/advisor

    In the following slides we discuss general issuesrelative to university and department resources. Wethen consider issues relative to selecting a mentoror advisor for your doctoral study. Lastly, weconsider the application process.


    ISSUE: Is research training a primary educational goal?

    Look at the Carnegie Classification for the University. Isdoctoral education a primary goal of the institution? Arethere doctoral programs in fields related to CSD (e.g.,psychology, linguistics)?

    Universities that have doctoral education as a primarygoal have an array of resources that support doctoraltraining.

  • UNIVERSITY In your masters or AuD program, you probably

    spent most of your time within the CSDdepartment. In your doctoral program, much ofyour coursework, for example, will be takenwithin other departments. Faculty from otherdepartments may be part of your dissertationcommittee.

    University-wide resources may include centers orprograms that support your development as aresearcher and teacher.


    ISSUE: Is there general support forstudent research?

    Are there university-wide scholarships ortraineeships for doctoral students?

    Are there university-wide travel awards?

  • UNIVERSITY ISSUE: Are there any special programs for

    doctoral students?

    Some universities have programs that preparedoctoral students for careers inacademe/research. For example, manyuniversities offer a program called PreparingFuture Faculty (PFF). You can learn more aboutthis program at the national PFF Web site( Many universitieshave very explicit support for graduate teachingassistants, helping them to develop theirteaching skills.


    ISSUE: Are there relevant courseofferings outside CSD? For example,neuroscience, physiology, computerscience, physics, electrical engineering,statistics, linguistics, child development,psychology

  • Between the course offerings in CSD and courseofferings in other departments, will you be ableto develop expertise in the content area(s) ofinterest to you.

    You may look at the CSD course offerings andrealize you have taken most of the classes. Thus,a good bit of your coursework may be obtained inother departments. You particularly want to knowwhat statistics and research coursework isavailable.


  • ISSUE: Are there opportunities for cross-disciplinary interactions?

    Are there opportunities to engage inresearch experiences with faculty anddoctoral students from other departments?As research becomes increasinglycollaborative and interdisciplinary, researchexperiences outside CSD may providecritical learning experiences.


  • Are the CSD faculty actively engaged inresearch with colleagues across campus?If your mentor is involved in researchwith other faculty members, youll havea chance to participate in collaborativeand cross-disciplinary research.

    Are there seminar experiences that bringtogether doctoral students and facultyfrom various departments?


  • Are there visiting lecturers who bringtogether doctoral students and facultyfrom various disciplines? Universitiestypically have visiting scholars that cangreatly enhance your exposure toresearch.


    ISSUE: Course OfferingsWhat general courses are offered

    within the department that appeal toall doctoral students?Th