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PhD Program

The Ph.D. program in Hearing and Speech Sciences is administered through the Vanderbilt University Graduate School. The program emphasizes preparation for research and teaching careers in audiology, speech-language pathology, and hearing or speech science. Doctoral education and training is integrated with the federally-sponsored research programs of faculty members.

The aim of our Ph.D. program is to prepare doctoral students to become productive teacher-scholars within basic or applied areas related to communication sciences and disorders. Prior to the dissertation, students complete two research projects, a teaching practicum and approximately two years of coursework both inside and outside the department, tailored to individual needs and interests. The Ph.D. degree normally requires 72 graduate credit hours. A maximum of 24 semester hours of graduate-level transfer credit (e.g., from a masters degree) may be applied toward the doctoral degree.

Typically, students enroll in 48 credit hours during the first two calendar years (Fall+Spring+Summer sessions) of the program. Following the first two years of study, successful completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations and approval of a dissertation prospectus allows the student to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. The remainder of the program is devoted to the dissertation.


Ph.D. student research projects typically result in presentations at national or international scientific meetings, as well as submission of papers to be considered for publication in leading journals in hearing and speech-language science. Graduates of the program have assumed faculty positions in colleges and universities in the U.S. and other countries.

In addition to the broad scope of research conducted within the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences, faculty maintain close ties with several other departments on Vanderbilt’s campus, including Otolaryngology, Psychology, Psychology, and Human Development, Neuroscience, Computer Science, Engineering, and Special Education. Faculty members from these departments are frequently members of doctoral students’ dissertation committees.

The Vanderbilt Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences is committed to recruiting, admitting, and training a diverse student body of future audiologists, speech-language pathologists, educators of the deaf, and researchers. Accordingly, we are continually working to establish and maintain equity and inclusivity in all areas of our educational mission. Our commitment to embrace and promote diversity, equity, and inclusivity is broad with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, nationality, disability, and differences, among others. This commitment is founded on our core belief in equality for all humans. Our goal is that our culture and the diversity of our department will reflect the diversity of the nation and the populations that we serve.  Furthermore, we strongly believe that our focus to embrace diversity is a critical element in education that will prepare our future audiologists, speech-language pathologists, educators, and researchers to serve the populations with whom we work in all settings.    


Please contact Dr. Michael de Riesthal ( for additional information about our Ph.D. program in Hearing and Speech Sciences.

PhD Graduates: Drs. Pumpki Su, Cara Singer, Alison Hessling and Emily Kimball