The Doctor of Philosophy program in Speech and Hearing Science provides flexible, comprehensive training for scholar-researchers interested in communication processes and their disorders. Students with diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply and develop their skills in an atmosphere of interdisciplinary research. Graduates from the program have gone on to distinguished careers in academia, industry, and health care settings. Many serve as editors of major scientific journals in our field and assume leadership roles in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Acoustical Society of America, National Institutes of Health and others.  

At the heart of the program are close associations with faculty who are, and have long been, nationally-recognized leaders in their fields who direct successful, externally-funded research programs. Their research initiatives are bolstered by the presence and reputation of Iowa's highly-ranked clinical training programs and by strong collaborations forged with faculty from the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, the School of Music, and the Colleges of Medicine (Otolaryngology/Neurosurgery), Engineering, and Public Health.

Thinking about a PhD? Think Iowa!

The Ph.D. program in Speech and Hearing Science requires a minimum of 72 s.h. of graduate credit and takes approximately four years to complete. The program provides flexible, comprehensive training for scholar-researchers interested in communication processes and their disorders. Students with diverse backgrounds in the natural and behavioral sciences are encouraged to apply.

Iowa's unique learning format is tailored to meet the needs and interests of each student. Students entering the program join a cohort of other Ph.D. students with shared intellectual passion. While admission to the Ph.D. program is competitive, funding is guaranteed for admitted students for up to four years and includes tuition, a stipend, and generous benefits. This funding structure allows students to rotate through multiple labs and potentially shift areas of emphasis after enrolling.

Graduates from Iowa’s Ph.D. program leave with strong research skills. Most have authored one or more peer-reviewed publications in a high-impact scientific journal. Many also leave with a record of success securing external funding, and all receive valuable teaching experience. Our graduates are actively recruited for academic positions at colleges and universities across the country or accept prestigious postdoctoral fellowships. Others find employment in industry or are recruited for research positions in medical settings.  

Students interested in a Ph.D. with an emphasis in audiology or hearing science may be interested in obtaining clinical certification. This requires that they also have a clinical doctorate (the 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 academics.

Application Deadline: January 15th (for Fall semester enrollment)

Admission decisions are based on prior academic performance, letters of reference, and the applicant's statement about background and purpose. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College on the Graduate College website. For more information, see the Graduate Admissions Process page.

Predissertation Project
Each doctoral student must complete a predissertation research project:

  1. This project should be of limited scope and should be selected and developed with a faculty advisor.
  2. The project must be data based, but the student can use existing data rather than generating new data. Generally the rules defining what is empirical enough to be a valid procedure for a dissertation would apply.
  3. It is expected that students do the project as part of CSD:7590 Research registrations, not as a part of research assistant assignments.
  4. All students will be required to give a proseminar presentation based on the predissertation project.
  5. The student must write a manuscript reporting the predissertation project. The manuscript will be submitted to the faculty advisor of the research, usually as part of a CSD:7590 Research registration.
  6. The student must have completed the predissertation project and passed the comprehensive examination before a PhD dissertation prospectus will be considered. The order of completion between the predissertation project and comprehensive examination is not fixed.

Dissertation Committee
In developing the research project which is to constitute the doctoral dissertation, the student selects a faculty member or members to serve as the dissertation advisor(s). A dissertation prospectus committee also is selected by the student with the approval of the advisor and the department chair, who has the prerogative of adding members to the committee. This committee consists of at least five faculty members (including the advisor who serves as chair), one of whom is a faculty member of another department and three of whom are members of the faculty of this department.

  • Preprospectus Meeting. After the initial planning of the research project has occurred, an optional preprospectus meeting of the student with the prospectus committee may be held. At this preprospectus meeting, the student provides the committee with information about the background and rationale for the proposed project, an initial statement of the questions or hypotheses to be investigated, and the essential elements of the proposed research procedures. No written document needs to be provided to the committee prior to the meeting; however, it is helpful for a statement of the problem and a general outline of the proposed procedures to be available to the committee members.

    The purpose of this meeting is to acquaint the committee with the nature of the developing project and, more importantly, to get their suggestions and comments about the further development of the project. The meeting is usually two hours in length. The committee then decides whether or not to give approval for the student to develop a formal prospectus for the proposed project. The committee may request that additional preprospectus meetings be held before the project is fully developed. These meetings are designed primarily to ensure that the student is embarking on a project which the committee feels is appropriate for a doctoral dissertation and to provide a means for the committee members to help the student develop the project.
  • Prospectus Meeting. Each student is required to develop a written prospectus to be presented to the prospectus committee prior to beginning the actual research project. This document generally includes material which eventually will constitute the introduction and procedures sections of the dissertation. The committee meets with the student (generally for two hours) and must approve the prospectus before the student can proceed.
  • Pre- and Post-comprehensive Exam Registration. The student is required to register each semester (except summer sessions) after passing the comprehensive examination until the degree is awarded. If a student fails to register, he or she may not be readmitted to candidacy until he or she has submitted an application which has been approved by his or her advisor, the department chair, and the dean of the Graduate College.

    Students on assistantships must register for 9 semester hours pre-comps; in the case of post-comps, a minimum requirement of 3 semester hours is required for students who are on funding.
  • Final Examination. The program for the PhD culminates in a final oral examination in defense of the dissertation. This examination usually occurs during the period specified in the University calendar for graduate examinations during the latter part of the term in which the student plans to receive the degree; however, it can be held at any time after the first check of the dissertation by the Graduate College. A Request for Final Examination must be filed approximately three weeks before the scheduled examination. If the originally filed Plan of Study requires modification, an Application for Change in Plan of Study must accompany the request.

    The final examination committee consists of at least five members of the Graduate Faculty, one of whom must be from outside this department and three of whom must be faculty members of this department. Ordinarily this committee will have the same members as the prospectus committee. This committee and its composition are subject to the approval of the department chair and the dean of the Graduate College, both of whom have the prerogative of adding members to the committee.

    All dissertation defenses will be publicized.

    The format for dissertation defenses will be as follows:
    • 20-minute presentation
    • 10-minute period for questions strictly from the public
    • 75 minutes of in-depth questioning from the committee (the committee chair will at his or her discretion decide whether to allow additional questions from the public and if so, at what time during the 75-minute period)
    • 15 minutes of final deliberations for which the committee will retire to another room
  • Awarding of Degrees. Ph.D. degrees will be awarded upon favorable recommendation of the final examination committee and completion of all requirements specified for the degree by the Graduate College. These include the filing of an application for the degree, completion (or modification) of the filed plan of study, and the final deposit of the dissertation and dissertation abstract in the Graduate College along with the appropriate certificates of committee approval.