Doctor of Philosophy Program
Curriculum & Research Training


The Department's philosophy of doctoral education for the PhD is based on an apprenticeship model with strong faculty mentoring. The Department accommodates interests in the normal processes of speech, language, and hearing, as well as in impaired speech, language, and hearing, and in evaluative and management aspects of audiology and speech-language pathology. Applicants are encouraged to identify their specific academic area of interest and possible faculty mentor(s). In addition to content knowledge and technical expertise, students develop skills in critical thinking, problem solving, and communication.

The academic programs for students in the PhD program are planned on an individual basis in consultation with the student's faculty mentor and advisory committee. Courses, seminars, laboratory experiences, and assistantships are selected to provide preparation for careers in research and university or college teaching. Opportunities for additional clinical work in the area of communication disorders are provided to those having such interests.

Curricular requirements for the PhD program fall into the following three general categories with the major milestones summarized. Each student’s work is designed around his or her primary objectives and interests, and the final program of study evolves as a joint plan between the student and his or her advisory committee. More detailed information is available in the Speech and Hearing Sciences Doctoral Curriculum Guide (PDF).

1. Academic coursework

  1. If the student’s degree is in a field other than Speech and Hearing Sciences, he or she will complete one foundational undergraduate course in four categories: speech science, language science, hearing science and communication disorders
  2. All doctoral students will complete:
    • a three-quarter introductory level doctoral course sequence in speech, hearing and language science and disorders (SPHSC 560, 561 and 562);
    • a research methods course (SPHSC 504 or 506);
    • statistics courses (chosen in consultation with advisory committee);
    • a grant-writing course (SPHSC 568).
  3. Students will plan and complete additional coursework in consultation with their advisory committee.

2. Research

  1. All students are expected to conduct supervised research by the end of the first year.
  2. A predissertation research project, with direct research experience, will usually be completed by the end of the second year.
  3. All doctoral students are required to register for and participate in Research Seminar in Speech and Hearing Sciences each quarter (SPHSC 567).
  4. PhD students are required to attend the Seminars in Hearing and Communication Sciences series.
  5. PhD students are expected to demonstrate technical expertise in instrumentation and computing appropriate to the student’s area of interest.
  6. All UW PhD students must pass a written and oral general examination focused on the student’s chosen research area which is required for advancement to PhD candidacy.
  7. Students will complete a written dissertation based on independent research (including a minimum of 27 quarter hours of SPHSC 800, Doctoral Dissertation).
  8. The final requirement is that the student pass an oral defense of the dissertation.

3. Teaching

  1. If a student expects to pursue an academic career, he or she must create a customized teaching experience plan with the advisory committee.
  2. Such students also enroll in two quarters of Instructional Development Forum (SPHSC 563).
  3. Such students should also complete a Teaching Practicum (SPHSC 564)

The length of time necessary to complete the program depends upon the student's scholarship, previous preparation, and academic goals. The University's residency requirement is a minimum of three academic years of resident study, two of them at the University of Washington, with at least one year of continuous full-time residence. Students usually take three to five years to complete their academic work and dissertation research. PhD candidates are discouraged from attempting to complete dissertation research in absentia.

Current and prospective PhD students should review the UW Graduate School policies and doctoral degree requirements posted on their website.