Skip to main content

Additional Requirements

Additional Requirements for Students without Speech and Hearing Backgrounds (or with other special circumstances)

This page contains information about course credit requirements, qualifying examinations, dissertation, and residency requirements for students coming from a different field of study, or those persuing an advanced or combined degree.

Students with a degree in a different field who do not intend to seek clinical certification:

Students will be expected to take course work in speech-language pathology and audiology that was not part of their previous studies.

Students and their advisors determine which courses are most appropriate, but general guidelines for background courses to be taken are as follows.

  • A minimum of 18 credits dealing with normal aspects of human communication and its disorders are required.
  • At least 9 of these credits should cover normal aspects of speech, language, and hearing and their development,
  • with at least three credits in each of the following areas:
    • the anatomical and physiological bases of communication
    • linguistic
    • and psycholinguistic factors affecting communication.
  • A minimum of 9 credits should cover disorders of speech, language, and hearing. These hours are considered a prerequisite to PhD coursework, not part of the PhD program.

Some of these background courses may be waived, if a student has had certain equivalent courses as part of his/her previous training (e.g., Psychology of Language, Introduction to Linguistics, etc.)

For students with a clinical degree in Speech-Language Pathology who are subsequently interested in working toward a PhD:

A limited number of academic course hours previously taken in completing the SLP Master’s degree may be able to count for credit toward the PhD degree. Such courses must be approved by a student's doctoral committee and the Director of Graduate Studies or Department Chair. Approval may be granted if the master’s level credits were, for example:

  1. Equivalent to a PhD required course (e.g., Advanced Research Design),
  2. Completed with additional assignments that exceeded expectations for a typical master’s level course,
  3. Or, was a unique, advanced- level learning experience (e.g., Independent Study or Seminar).

Students wishing to concurrently pursue a PhD and MS or AuD degree

must work with their advisor and committee to plan an appropriate and acceptable plan of study, including coursework and research experiences. Ideally, a certain amount of overlap in courses and research requirements can be achieved so that a student’s program for obtaining both degrees would be shortened by one to two semesters, if possible. (See “Addendum” on pages 10-11 concerning Joint MS/PhD Program in Speech-Language Pathology.)

Qualifying Examination

Because the PhD degree is defined in terms of competency in areas of emphasis rather than completion of a specified number of courses, members of the supervisory committee examine each student on the basis of those competencies and not specifically on the Program of Study. The Program of Study is a plan of action for preparing the student to acquire a thorough knowledge in his/her field of study. The scope of the examination by the supervisory committee is, therefore, in no way restricted to only those courses listed in the Program of Study.

The PhD student preparing for the qualifying examination typically reads widely beyond regular course work. Although each member of the supervisory committee is typically charged with the task of examining the student in a specific area of emphasis, s/he is not restricted to that specific area in the examination, which may range over any and all areas in the student’s field(s) of interest.

Permission to take the qualifying examination should be approved by the chair of the supervisory committee and a call for questions/projects should be sent to each committee member at least 30 days prior to the date of the examination (to be coordinated by committee chair). Students may contact members of the supervisory committee to request direction in preparing for the examination. However, supervisory committee members may or may not choose to provide such direction. The qualifying examination may consist of different formats, which will be decided on by the student, his/her advisor, and the other committee members.

Option A - 12 clock hours of written examinations and a 1-hour oral examination, for a total of 13 hours.

The supervisory committee determines the number of hours to be spent in the written examination on specific questions prepared by different committee members, but it typically involves 6 hours for the primary advisor and 3 hours for each of 2 other members of the committee.

The written examinations are scheduled by the supervisory committee and normally take place over a period of 3 consecutive days. The written examination is conducted on campus, at a specified location within the CSD department. Normally, the committee chair is responsible for administering the written examination, unless other arrangements are made. The supervisory committee and student will agree upon the method by which the student will respond to questions (e.g., hand written answers, written answers prepared on a computer supplied by department, etc.).

Option B -Various research-oriented projects that are addressed by the student.

The supervisory committee also determines the amount of time to be spent on these research-oriented projects overseen by different committee members, but they typically involve 2 weeks for the primary project and 1 week for each of 2 other projects. The timing of these projects is scheduled by the supervisory committee and normally occurs within a period of 1 month.

(e.g., developing a research grant proposal, preparing a series of journal article reviews, “take home” exam topics, etc.)

Option C - Some combination of Options A and B, as approved by the student’s committee.

The oral examination associated with any of these options is scheduled after all of the written examinations/projects are graded (which should be within two weeks of completion) and successfully completed; the oral exam cannot be scheduled unless all members of the committee can be present for the full examination period.

Written Examination Grading

Each committee member grades the written answer(s) to his/her specific question(s) and assigns one of the following grades: high pass, pass, low pass, fail. In order for the written examination to be successfully completed, all questions must receive a passing grade and no more than 1 question may receive a “low pass” grade.

Oral Examination Grading

Each committee member carries one pass/fail vote for performance on the oral examination. Grades will be assigned as described above. In order for the oral examination to be successfully completed, all committee members must assign a passing grade, and there may be no more than 1 “low pass” grade.

In keeping with University policy, “an examination or parts of an examination may be repeated only once and only at the discretion of the student’s supervisory committee” (p. 39, University of Utah Bulletin, 99/00). A committee member may require a student to be re-tested on a specific written or oral portion of the examination or to complete additional work in a specific area.

A student who successfully completes the qualifying examination will be advanced to the status of “PhD Candidate.” A candidate will no longer be required to pay differential tuition beginning the semester following successful completion of the Qualifying Examination (see “Differential Tuition” below).


The Prospectus

Upon successful completion of the qualifying examination, the candidate may begin formal preparation of the Doctoral Dissertation Prospectus. Following approval from his/her committee chair, the candidate requests a meeting of the entire supervisory committee for evaluation of the prospectus. The prospectus must be submitted to each committee member at least 2 weeks prior to the meeting. All committee members must vote to approve the prospectus and a copy of the signed approval will be placed in the student’s file.

At the discretion of the committee chair and the candidate, the prospectus meeting may be open to all faculty and graduate students. In this case, the candidate is responsible for posting notice of the meeting at least 1 week prior to the meeting.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

All research projects involving human subjects must be approved by the University’s IRB prior to beginning data collection. A prospectus meeting can be scheduled pending IRB approval, but IRB approval must be secured before the supervisory committee can give final approval to the prospectus. The student should consult with his/her dissertation advisor when preparing the IRB proposal. The original signed IRB approval must be on file in the CSD office (in the candidate’s file) prior to the start of any data collection.

Guidelines and forms for preparing the IRB proposal can be found on the University webpage. The IRB Office is located in Room 101D of the Medical Research and Education Building (581-3655).

Composition of Doctoral Committees

Doctoral committees will be constituted according to the general University of Utah catalogue that states that:

"Doctoral supervisory committees consist of five faculty members, the majority of whom must be regular faculty in the student's major department. One or more members of the supervisory committee must be from another department" (p. 45, 2004-2006 General Catalogue).

In addition, departmental rules state that all 5 members must have a doctoral degree and the Chair must be a member of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Dissertation Registration

The candidate must complete at least 12 hours of thesis research (CSD 7970). However, s/he may not enroll for more than 3 credits of CSD 7970 until the supervisory committee has formally approved the prospectus.

Manuscript Preparation/Publication Requirements

Candidates should follow the guidelines for preparation of dissertations provided in “A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations.” This handbook is published by The Graduate School and may be purchased in the Thesis Office, Room 208 Building 44. The candidate should also note the Thesis Office deadlines for each semester (included in the handbook).

Final Examination

The candidate must pass a final oral examination, i. e., a defense of the dissertation. The candidate should submit a complete draft of the dissertation to the chair of the committee at least 4 weeks prior to the scheduled final examination. The committee members should receive copies of the dissertation at least 2 weeks prior to the examination.

The final oral defense is scheduled by the supervisory committee and is a public examination. All committee members have one pass/fail vote, and a successful defense is determined in the same manner as the written and oral qualifying examinations.

The dissertation defense should demonstrate to the supervisory committee the candidate’s understanding of the research project, the concepts related to the project, the contribution the project makes to the field of knowledge, and the adequacy of executing the project. Candidates should be ready to accept revision suggestions during the oral examination. If revision suggestions are stipulated as conditions for acceptance, the chair of the supervisory committee is responsible for working with the student and overseeing the revisions.

The candidate must be registered for at least 3 credits during the semester in which the final examination is taken. The candidate should be aware that the Graduate Records Office must receive the Report of the Final Examination by the last day of the semester in which the student intends to graduate.

After successful defense of the dissertation (see “Final Examination,” below), the student should schedule an appointment with the Thesis Editor to review the procedures for preparing a completed manuscript and complying with University publication requirements (581-8893).

Residency, Continuous Registration, and Differential Tuition

See the University of Utah General Catalog for complete information on these topics.


All doctoral students must spend at least one year (i.e., 2 consecutive semesters) of their program in full-time academic work at the University. Full-time work is considered to be 9 credit hours.

Continuous Registration

All doctoral students must be continuously registered from the time of admission through the completion of all requirements. Continuous registration requires that the student register and pay applicable tuition for at least 3 credit hours. Registration for summer semester is not required to maintain continuous registration. Continuous registration is not required after the candidate has successfully defended his/her dissertation.

Differential Tuition

All doctoral candidates must pay differential tuition through the semester in which they pass their qualifying examination. Beginning the semester following successful completion of the qualifying examination, students are no longer required to pay differential tuition.

Sample PhD Program* (with previous graduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders)
Year 1 Fall Semester courses; research practicum
Spring Semester courses; research practicum; complete Year 1 research project
Summer Semester (optional, but encouraged)
Year 2 Fall Semester courses; research practicum
Spring Semester courses; teaching practicum (or research practicum, if no previous thesis)
Summer Semester prepare for qualifying exam and/or work on research project
Year 3 Fall Semester take qualifying exam; teaching practicum (or begin prospectus)
Spring Semester complete prospectus and/or teaching practicum
Summer Semester begin dissertation
Year 4   Complete dissertation
*(The time for completing the PhD program varies according to a number of factors that can shorten or lengthen the actual timeline for an individual student.)

Additional Requirements