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Doctoral Written and Oral Exams

The purpose of the written and oral examinations is to ensure that students have achieved a satisfactory level of knowledge in speech and hearing sciences. Successful completion of these examinations is required for the student to continue in the program and to begin dissertation work. The exams are typically taken at the end of the semester following the completion of course work.

Pre-Dissertation Project

Each student is expected to participate in ongoing research projects throughout each year of the PhD program. This activity occurs concurrently with undertaking graduate-level studies. Entering students will typically serve as research assistants in the overall research program of their faculty mentor. A pre-dissertation project will be designed by the student with guidance from their mentor in the first year, with the expectation that the project will be completed by the end of the second year. The pre-dissertation project must be completed prior to taking comprehensive exams.


Each student is expected to complete a dissertation representing research in his/her area of specialization. Through the dissertation process, students demonstrate skills in developing appropriate research questions or hypotheses, synthesizing and interpreting a broad body of literature relevant to the dissertation topic, developing a sound methodological approach and research design, interpreting the results of the investigation appropriately in light of existing evidence, and using effective written and oral communication. Following completion of the research and submission of the written document to the dissertation committee, the student defends the dissertation orally before the committee.

Overall Program Competencies

Doctoral-level competencies have been identified by the faculty as representing a minimum set of skills needed by academicians and researchers in today’s higher education employment settings. The PhD competencies are categorized into four broad areas:

  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Writing
  • Professional

This set of professional skills is intended to complement the specific content knowledge area that will represent the student’s unique area of teaching and research expertise.