Ph.D. Program (Communication Sciences & Disorders)

Speech Pathology and Audiology at Kent State University offers a highly flexible program of study leading to a Ph.D. degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders — covering a range of specialties in speech-language pathology and audiology. This flexibility allows students to create a program that meets their needs with emphases ranging from primarily clinical and applied to basic research.

General Structure of the Program:

  • a specified area of study (24 semester hours)
  • electives (total of 12 semester hours)
  • statistics and research (9 semester hours)
  • dissertation credits (30 semester hours)
    • minimum number of credits (75 semester hours)
  • a project-in-lieu-of-thesis for those students who did not complete a master's thesis
  • candidacy examinations
  • dissertation

Each area is discussed below, briefly; more detail is available in the Ph.D. Study Handbook.

Area of Study

This collection of coursework relates to the student's main areas of interest. It typically consists of lecture classes, seminars, and independent studies. 


The electives provide information about areas that are of common interest to doctoral students regardless of specialties. Included are such topics may include courses in grant and manuscript writing, clinical and departmental administration, supervision, and developing professional presentations. Courses that complement the students' interests in the electives area may also be taken in other departments (such as Psychology, Business Administration, Biology, Counseling, and Special Education); within Speech Pathology and Audiology; or from our affiliated medical school.


Nine credit hours of courses in statistics and research design are required. These can be chosen from an extensive list of course options offered throughout the University.


Those students who did not complete a thesis or its equivalent as a master's student are required to complete a research project prior to undertaking candidacy examinations. This is viewed as an important "hands-on" learning experience in the design and implementation of research.

Candidacy Examinations

After completion of coursework, students take the candidacy examinations, consisting of both written and oral portions. Doctoral students may choose from any of the formats listed in the EHHS Graduate Handbook but must follow all guidelines associated with the format chosen. Once the written portion of the comprehensive exam is completed, the student has 60 days to defend the oral portion of the comprehensive examination. Successful completion of these examinations culminates in "admission to candidacy" and allows the candidate to begin work on the dissertation.


The dissertation is expected to be an original research project that will contribute significantly to the student's professional goals. As before, the focus of the dissertation can be clinical, applied research, or basic research.

Application Procedures for M.A. and Ph.D. Programs