How to Apply: PhD

Applying to the PhD program

Speech and Hearing Sciences 2017


The PhD program in Speech and Hearing Sciences seeks applications from students who have already acquired a master's degree in speech-language pathology or audiology. Consideration will also be given to students with a master’s degree (or equivalent) or a bachelor's degree in a related field. Students seeking admission to the program will be required to meet the admission requirements described below. Applicants with a master's degree or a bachelor's degree in a field other than speech and/or hearing sciences will need to complete the prerequisite undergraduate courses required for a master's degree (see below) and between 12-18 graduate credit hours within speech and/or hearing, in addition to the doctoral curriculum.

For those applicants with a master’s degree (or equivalent) or a bachelor's degree in a related field, during the interview process the applicant can talk with faculty about the number and type of graduate courses that might be recommended. The applicant may then want to begin taking the recommended coursework before entering the doctoral program. Once admitted, the final decision for the number and type of graduate courses will be determined by the faculty mentor and program of studies committee, based on the applicant’s previous coursework and experiences, and future research and career plans. Both the undergraduate prerequisites and the additional graduate coursework, as with the courses required for the doctoral degree, will need to be completed before the student can take comprehensive exams.

For applicants with a master’s degree or a bachelor's degree in a field other than speech and/or hearing sciences, the prerequisite courses are: Introduction to Audiology, Phonetics, Speech Science, Language Development, and Anatomy & Physiology. These courses are offered online through a number of universities and admitted students are encouraged to complete these courses before entering the doctoral program.

Admission to Speech and Hearing Sciences (DSHS) at UNC-Chapel Hill is a multi-step process. To save time for the applicant and the faculty reviewers, the following process should be completed:

  • The applicant requests an Initial Contact Sheet from Dr. Elizabeth Crais, the coordinator of PhD studies (
  • The applicant completes the form and returns it to Dr. Crais.
  • During the initial contact with Dr. Crais, if some aspect of the information provided by the applicant is missing or falls below the below listed criteria, Dr. Crais will notify the applicant.
  • Dr. Crais and other faculty from the PhD Committee examine the information supplied on the form and based on the student’s area/s of interest, recommend 1-2 potential mentors.
  • The applicant is then encouraged to contact DSHS faculty who share her/his interest area/s and discuss individual aspects of the program and their research activities.
  • Once discussion between a potential mentor/s and the applicant has taken place, the potential mentor/s and/or Dr. Crais will contact the applicant to talk about next steps.
  • Based on the initial review, a select group of applicants will be encouraged to complete an application for admission and submit the $85 application fee to the Graduate School.
  • Application for admission must be submitted prior to 5 p.m. on December 13, 2016 for the following fall semester. Applicants will not be admitted in the spring semester.


Once applications have been reviewed, a select group of students will be invited to campus for an interview and all applicants will be notified of the program’s decision. Interviews typically take place in mid-January on a day selected by the faculty (typically a Friday or Monday) and invited applicants will be notified of the date.

Selection criteria include:

  • Availability of faculty
  • Availability of funds to support all or some portion of the student’s doctoral program
  • The student’s academic record (i.e., institution, grades, GRE scores, recommendation letters)
  • A match between the student’s research interests and the ongoing research programs of faculty in the DSHS
  • The applicant’s future career plans
  • The applicant’s leadership potential

In general, applicant’s with GPAs below 3.0 and/or GRE scores on the verbal, quantitative, and writing sections below the 30th percentile, are less likely to be invited for an interview.

It is the expectation of the program that applicants who desire to complete a Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY), should do so either before or after finishing their doctoral program. It has been our experience that students who attempt to complete a CFY during their doctoral studies not only take longer to finish the program, but also have a difficult time balancing their clinical and research/coursework/teaching responsibilities. In addition, the Licensing Board of North Carolina requires that CFY fellowships be completed with no less than 20 hours/week devoted to clinical activities, making it very difficult for the students to perform their other responsibilities in a timely manner. Therefore, the program strongly discourages students from attempting to complete a CFY during their doctoral program.