PhD in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

The Doctoral Program in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences (SLHS) prepares its graduates for leadership positions in the field. The resources of BU and the surrounding area are vast; doctoral students have the opportunity to take courses in psychology, linguistics, medicine, engineering, rehabilitation, education, and public health in the University’s various schools and colleges. Students can also benefit from courses at other universities in the area. Each program is individualized and combines academic work with career development and original research.

The doctoral program in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences offers a research track to students who may have previously obtained clinical certification. For post-baccalaureate entrants, clinical training is included in the combined MS in Speech-Language Pathology/PhD in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences program. The MS-SLP graduate program in speech-language pathology is fully accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech, Language, and Hearing Association.

Research Training for Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists

Applicants must show evidence of high academic achievement in their previous coursework, scores on the Graduate Record Examination (institution code 3028), and at least three letters of reference from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic ability. The admissions committee considers an applicant’s experience, professional certification, and personal statement of goals in its selection process. To ensure that the student will have a suitable mentor, candidates are strongly encouraged to meet with a research faculty member about their research interests prior to submitting an application. A personal interview by phone or in person with the doctoral program faculty is usually required.

Application Deadline

February 1 is the recommended date for submission of all application materials for fall admission with optimal consideration for BU doctoral program funding.

Degree Requirements

For students entering with a post-master’s or AuD degree, a minimum of 48 credits in graduate-level coursework (700 level or above), a preliminary project, qualifying project, and a dissertation are required. Up to twelve credits of coursework below the 700 level may be allowed with the approval of the student’s doctoral planning committee.

Students entering post-baccalaureate, who are interested in speech-language studies and in obtaining clinical certification, are eligible for the combined MS-SLP/PhD in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences program.

Alternatively, an additional 32 credits equivalent to the MS-SLHS, which translates to a supplemental year of study, is required.

All candidates for the doctoral degree must demonstrate both content area expertise and basic research skills.


Students must complete at least one year of full-time study prior to the qualifying project and beginning the dissertation.

Core courses (24 credits) are chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor.

Research design courses (8 credits) must include advanced statistics and/or research methods.


Directed research (6 credits) must be completed before the qualifying project begins. The student and research mentor will devise a suitable project to include discussion of crucial experimental design issues, as well as focused training in the specific methodologies of the chosen content area. Further topics will include data analysis and interpretation of statistical results with application to models and follow-up studies.

Qualifying project (2 credits) The student will write a paper or grant proposal that meets the standards for peer-reviewed work in speech, language, and hearing sciences. The topic, scope, and appropriate target journal or funding agency will be agreed upon by the student and research mentor in consultation with at least two other faculty members who agree to be part of the preliminary project committee. A minimum of two members of the preliminary project committee must be from within the Department of Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences.

Dissertation research (8 credits) Completion of this requirement includes formulation of a research question, collection and analysis of data, and preparation of a written document that is acceptable to the committee members, as well as a final oral defense. The initial portion of the dissertation defense is open to the BU Sargent College community.

All doctoral candidates must fulfill the residency requirement and submit an acceptable doctoral dissertation. All degree requirements must be completed within five years of beginning the doctoral program (seven years for post-baccalaureate entrants).

Residency Requirement

A minimum of one academic year of residency is required for the doctoral program in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences. Residence is defined as full-time study via coursework and/or research activities, which can be achieved with registration for a minimum of 8–12 credit hours each semester (including dissertation credits) for two consecutive semesters. Full-time status can be demonstrated by either a combination of coursework and appointments to research and/or teaching assistantships (8 credits) or a full-time course load (12 or more credits).

For the combined MS-SLP/PhD program, the first two years of the program (primarily clinical training) cannot be used to satisfy the residency requirement.

The student must be registered during each fall and spring semester while completing the requirements for the degree. To comply with this requirement, a doctoral candidate should become familiar with the University’s reduced tuition provisions for continuing students. Doctoral programs must be completed within five years of initial matriculation (seven years for post-baccalaureate entrants).

Coursework Grade Requirements

Candidates must achieve an overall grade point average of 3.0 or higher. No more than 8 credits of C or C+ work will be accepted toward the degree, and the acceptability of any C or C+ work in required courses is subject to program faculty approval. Continued matriculation in the doctoral program is contingent upon the maintenance of the minimum 3.0 grade point average.