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Speech Communication Disorders: Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

The Ph.D. in education with a concentration in speech communication disorders is a small, personalized program that prepares graduates for careers as scholars and researchers through close student-faculty mentorship and clinical research.

At a Glance

Program Results

Ph.D. - Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Speech Communication Disorders

Career Objective

The fundamental goal of the program is to graduate independent researchers capable of producing original and important scholarly works through disciplinary and interdisciplinary research in a career as a scientist.

Best Suited To

Applicants to the program typically have earned a master's degree in speech communication disorders before pursuing the Ph.D. and are encouraged to have the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

Program Type

  • Full Time


  • In-Person

Estimated Length

3-4 years

Application Deadline

December 1



About This Program

The Ph.D. for a career as a scientist and academician in speech-language pathology is a research degree. The focus of the doctoral program is acquiring research skills to support independent investigation in clinical research.  The ultimate goal of the program is to prepare graduates for successful careers as researchers, scientists, and scholars.

The Ph.D. in education with a concentration in speech communication disorders program provides academic and apprenticeship instruction to establish the knowledge and skill base necessary for the doctoral student to:

  1. Learn to conduct independent research and scholarship;
  2. Establish a line of inquiry that leads to new knowledge within the discipline of speech-language pathology; and
  3. Acquire scholarship and instructional skills to support an academic career at an entry-level position. 

The program provides clinical services through the Sheila C. Johnson Center, which is a full-service clinic for individuals experiencing difficulty in speaking, hearing, reading, writing, organizing thoughts, or even swallowing.

Program Overview

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements that apply specifically to this program are listed below:

  • When considering an application to the UVA Ph.D. in education with a concentratio in speech communication disorders program, prospective applicants should contact Dr. Randall Robey at the earliest possible time to discuss the program and application matters (see contact information at the bottom of this page).
  • Decisions regarding admission are rendered by the Ph.D. program committee, which is composed of academic faculty members in the program. Applications that are approved for admission by the committee are submitted to the School of Education and Human Development Central Admissions Committee for final selection and approval.
  • Applicants to the program typically have earned a master's degree in speech communication disorders before pursuing the Ph.D. and are encouraged to have the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.
  • Letter of Research Interest - A prospective student must declare one or more research interests in a letter addressed to the chairperson of the Ph.D. program committee. This letter should be submitted as part of the online application, but under a separate cover. The letter should be as specific as possible, as this will help the Committee to determine whether an academic and research program can be tailored to meet the student's needs. In order to provide sufficient detail, the applicant may wish to spend time visiting a library, reading relevant professional literature, and defining their own career goals and aspirations. Typically, an applicant will not be accepted unless his/her research interests are compatible with those of a faculty member and the faculty member agrees to serve as his or her major research advisor.
  • Writing Sample - All applicants are required to submit an independently written manuscript with their application. This document may be a substantial paper from a previous course, a published professional manuscript, or a literature review completed specifically for the application to the doctoral program, however, it must be authored solely by the applicant. The purpose of the writing sample is to provide evidence that the applicant brings to their program of study the prerequisite writing abilities that will support their successful completion of the program and subsequent career objectives. Any applicant who cannot sustain and improve the writing abilities demonstrated in their written sample may be dismissed from the program, therefore it is crucial that the applicant complete the writing sample independently. Co-authored papers are not acceptable.
  • Interview - An interview with the applicant will be completed after the submission of all written application materials. Because the interview is a substantial consideration in the admissions process, prospective students are encouraged to visit the program in order to complete this interview in person. At least two members of the Ph.D. program committee will participate in the interview. During the interview, the applicant will complete a spontaneous writing activity. A journal article that is relevant to the applicant’s stated area of interest will be provided to the applicant to read in an office alone. A computer will be provided to the applicant to complete a written commentary about the article for the purposes of demonstrating the applicant’s level of preparedness for doctoral study. Applicants are expected to demonstrate a command of the professional content, English language, writing mechanics, and critical thinking skills that are commensurate with performance that would be consistent with Master’s level training. The spontaneous writing sample will become part of the application packet for the purposes of admission decisions as well as foundational information to support the development of the student’s Program of Study in the event that the student is accepted into the Program and undertakes doctoral training at UVA. Applicants will have a maximum of 90 minutes to read the article and write their commentary. There is no page limit minimum or maximum for this process.
  • Clinical Fellowship - It is anticipated that applicants to the doctoral program will have already completed their Clinical Fellowship (CF) and hold the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). The CF experience is not part of the doctoral program.

Visit our Graduate Admission page for the full admission process.

Graduate Admission

Application for admission is made to the School of Education and Human Development Office of Admission & Enrollment. For more information about the graduate admission process, please visit our Graduate Admission page.


To learn more about specific courses taken as part of the completion of this degree, visit the graduate record website. These webpages represent the official repository for academic program requirements. 

In addition to the other research and apprenticeship experiences already described, a core of seven courses is required of all Ph.D. students (note prerequisites).  All of these courses constitute research methodology coursework.

  • EDLF 7300: Foundations of Educational Research
  • EDLF 5310: Educational Statistics: Stat I
  • EDLF 7530: Qualitative Research I Or  EDLF 7404   Qualitative Analysis
  • EDLF 8300: Experimental Design: Stat II (EDLF 7310)
  • EDLF 8310: Correlation and Regression Analysis: Stat III (EDLF 7310, 8300)
  • EDLF 8350:Multivariate Statistics (EDLF 8300, 8310)

Plus at least one of the following courses:

  • EDLF 7180: Tests and Measurements
  • EDLF 7330: Single-Subject Research

Doctoral students may request the substitution of comparable advanced-level research methodological courses from other departments in the University (e.g., sociology, economics, history, psychology, public health, etc.). The request must be submitted in writing as part of the proposed Program of Study and must include a substantive rationale for the substitution that is based on the focus and scope of the student’s course of study and career intent.  In addition, substitutions must be determined to exceed the content and expectations set forth in the School of Education and Human Development courses and must be approved by the program committee as part of the student’s program of study.

The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 78 credits beyond the master’s degree. A typical UVA doctoral program will be 85 to 103 doctoral credits completed in 3 to 4 years of full-time study and apprenticeship beyond an applicable master’s degree.

Students in the Ph.D. program must complete the required research methodology coursework and a preliminary research project as described in separate sections below.  In addition, they must successfully complete a graduate teaching internship as part of their approved program of study. Each student’s program of study will include focused development of a related area of expertise that reflects interdisciplinary work beyond the parameters of the degree program. Students must maintain an up-to-date Ph.D. Record of Progress with the School of Education and Human Development in compliance with its regulatory procedures.  Funding for doctoral students is contingent upon satisfactory performance and progress in all facets of training and apprenticeship.

Graduate Teaching Internship: A graduate teaching internship is required of all students in the Ph.D. program.  Each doctoral student is required to teach at least one course under the supervision of their mentor. The purpose of this requirement is to develop the skills necessary for successful university-level teaching.

Research Apprenticeship: Ph.D. students will participate in a research apprenticeship with their faculty advisor(s). Beginning apprenticeship will occupy approximately 10 hours of each student's week during the first and second years of study. Advanced apprenticeship activities will increase to 20 hours per week during the third and fourth. During apprenticeship experiences, the student will assist with the advisor’s research and scholarship, which may include data collection, data analysis, library research, presentations, writing for publication, and other related activities. 

Pre-Dissertation Research Manuscript: Under the guidance of their program area, students will complete a pre-dissertation research project that results in a manuscript submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or an alternative scholarly publication consistent with the program area's discipline. This research project and manuscript must be completed before the student is eligible to write qualifying examinations.

Assessment: The progress of each doctoral student is reviewed by the program committee annually. This review assesses each student’s performance in coursework, progress in apprenticeship experiences, scholarly products and performance to date, demonstration of critical thinking across disciplines, and progress toward completion of their approved program.

Qualifying Examinations: Qualifying examinations (a.k.a. comprehensive exams) are required of all students in the Ph.D. program.  The preliminary research project and all required content courses included in the student’s Program of Study must be satisfactorily completed before comprehensive examinations may be taken. Qualifying exams in the program consist of both written and oral examinations.

Dissertation: All Ph.D. candidates will complete a dissertation proposal and a dissertation following the traditional model described in the School of Education and Human Development Dissertation Manual.

Dissertation Committee: Qualifying examinations must be completed before the candidate appoints a dissertation committee. The dissertation committee is responsible for approval of a dissertation proposal after it has been presented and defended, supervision of the dissertation study, final approval of the dissertation based on its written form, and approval of the candidate’s oral defense of the dissertation.

Dissertation Proposal: The candidate must prepare and orally defend a written dissertation proposal.  The oral presentation must be heard by at least four members of the dissertation committee, at which time a decision is made regarding continuation of the dissertation plan.

Dissertation Defense: The candidate must defend the dissertation in accordance with the School of Education and Human Development protocol. Doctoral students and candidates are encouraged to attend defenses that occur prior to their own.

Course Descriptions

Information on courses that are part of the Ph.D. in education-speech communication disorders curriculum can be found on the UVA graduate record website.


Departmental fellowships and assistantships are provided to a select number of applicants each year. A typical funding package includes funding for nine months in a combination of wages and stipends, tuition and all mandatory fees, and funds to cover student health insurance costs. The University also offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for which students enrolled in Ph.D. programs may apply.

Visit the Fellowships, Scholarships, and Awards page for additional funding opportunities.

Program Faculty

Michaela DuBay

Michaela DuBay

  • Assistant Professor
  • Co-Director, STAR Global Programs
Jane Hilton

Jane C. Hilton

  • Associate Professor, Clinical Faculty
LaVae M Hoffman

LaVae M. Hoffman

  • Associate Professor
  • Communication Sciences and Disorders Program Director
Filip Loncke headshot

Filip T. Loncke

  • Professor
Headshot of Kazlin Mason

Kazlin Mason

  • Assistant Professor
  • Director of the Imaging and Communication Outcomes Lab
Randall R Robey

Randall R. Robey

  • Associate Professor

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