Communication Sciences and Disorders

Research Ph.D. in Speech Language Pathology

Consult the Course Catalog for specific Ph.D. in Speech Language Pathology requirements.

A PhD in Speech-Language Pathology prepares you to be a successful scholar and a leader in the field. This includes experience conducting research in your area of interest under the guidance of a faculty mentor or mentors. You will gain valuable academic experience preparing you to study important topics in the field. The job market for graduates with a PhD is excellent, and the PhD degree can lead postdoctoral fellowships, or to jobs at universities, research laboratories, clinics, hospitals, and other prestigious organizations.

Each student in the PhD program at Syracuse University has an individualized experience. You will work with a mentor with expertise in your chosen area. You develop a program of study with your mentor and take graduate-level courses that are relevant to your areas of interest. Our program is small, allowing for individualized training and close collaborations with faculty. You will be provided with personalized support on important academic skills: designing research, preparing manuscripts for publication, presenting at local, state, and national conferences, networking with top professionals in the field, and teaching in your areas of expertise.

Syracuse University is in close proximity to three local medical centers (Crouse Hospital, Upstate University Hospital, and the Syracuse Veterans Administration) and houses an on-campus speech-language-hearing clinic (the Gebbie Clinic). A number of collaborative research projects are conducted among these and other institutions. 

Each faculty member has dedicated research laboratory space, and students enrolled in the PhD program will have the opportunity to assist with ongoing research and conduct their own research under the guidance of their assigned mentor. There is dedicated office space for PhD students.

Laboratories and Research Space

We have access to state-of-the-art technologies. For example, laboratories in speech-language pathology have:

  • Ultrasound to visualize and measure tongue movements
  • Electropalatography to visualize and measure tongue/palate contact
  • Eye-tracking equipment
  • Psychophysiology equipment
  • 128-channel Electroencephalography (EEG) to measure neural activity and event-related potentials
  • Infrared motion capture system to measure articulatory movements
  • Rigid endoscopy/stroboscopy
  • Phonatory aerodynamic system
  • InductoTrace for respiratory measurement
  • Electroglottography for laryngeal dynamics
  • Kay Digital Swallowing Station with Electromyography equipment for swallowing measurement
  • Systematic Analysis of Language Transcripts (SALT)
  • Computerized Speech Lab and other systems for acoustic analysis
  • LENA language recording and analysis system
  • Customized iPad apps
  • CORS video recording system
  • Audio and video editing software (e.g., Praat, Audacity, Videopad)

Please see the faculty webpages for further information.

Optional Concentration in Neuroscience

The department in Communication Sciences and Disorders is part of a university-wide interdisciplinary Neuroscience initiative. A concentration in Neuroscience is available for students in the PhD program. The interdisciplinary neuroscience offering includes coursework that spans several departments such as Communication Sciences and Disorders, Psychology, and Biology.

Residency Requirement

All candidates for the Ph.D. program must enroll as a full-time student in the program for a minimum of two semesters. As stated in the Academic Rules for Doctoral Degrees, “At least 50% of a doctoral student’s planned coursework (exclusive of dissertation) must be in courses offering “residence credit” at Syracuse University.” Up to 50% of graduate coursework from other accredited universities can be accepted towards the PhD.  However, experience credit, clinical practicum, and professional experience courses from other universities cannot be included. Current rules should be reviewed in the online Academic Rules for Graduate Degree Programs/Doctoral Degrees, found in the online Syracuse University Course Catalog for the current year.

Continuous Registration Requirement

Candidates must register for a minimum of 3 semester hours for each academic semester until coursework is completed. Degree in progress (GRD 998) enrollment may be used, after successful completion of the coursework for the doctoral degree, as specified below. GRD 998 enrollment may include semesters in which the student is preparing for the Qualifying Exam and semesters preparing for or conducting the dissertation.

Course Work

Courses will be determined by the student and faculty advisor. Candidates are expected to complete a minimum of 83 academic credits beyond the bachelor’s degree including coursework, independent studies and dissertation credits (note that up to 50% of those credits may be transferred in from another graduate-level degree program such as a Masters degree). Coursework is subject to university requirements for transfer and department’s residency require as stated above. Coursework is often interdisciplinary and may include courses from other departments and programs such as Audiology, Psychology, Linguistics, Education, Special Education, Biology, and Bioengineering.

Most of the research in Speech-Language Pathology requires considerable expertise in statistics. Therefore, the candidate must pass at least 3 courses in statistics and 1 in experimental design.

Pre-qualifying Exam

At the completion of at least 18 credits in the CSD doctoral program, the student must pass a Pre-Qualifying exam. The purpose of the exam is to examine the candidate’s abilities to perform critical thinking, to express ideas in writing, and to conduct analysis of research.

Guided Research Experience

Under the guidance of the faculty advisor, the student will be expected to design, implement and analyze the results of a research project that will be submitted for publication before taking the Qualifying examination.

Qualifying Exam

At the completion of planned coursework, the candidate must pass a qualifying examination designed to assess his or her knowledge about his/her area of specialization and the basic methods for research. This exam requires the development of a theoretical rationale, study objectives and hypotheses, and specific methods to achieve each objective. Although this exam focuses on the preparation of research proposals, it is not necessarily a precursor to a candidate’s dissertation prospectus. The candidate is expected to prepare the exam without consultation with his or her advisor.


The culminating project of the PhD is the dissertation. The general topic and research design must be approved by a committee during a Dissertation Proposal Meeting. Students must then plan the study, collect and analyze data, and write their dissertation. Although the faculty mentor will continue to provide guidance, the dissertation is viewed as the student’s work, rather than the faculty member’s work.  Once the written document is complete, an Oral Exam (Dissertation Defense) must be completed.

Sample Program in Speech-Language Pathology

Below is a sample program of study for a PhD in Speech-Language Pathology.




APM510 Statistical Analysis

CSD 798 Current Research in Audiology & Speech Pathology

Take Pre-qualifying exam

CSD 537 Instrumentation in Speech & Hearing

SOC 714 Intermediate Social Statistics

CSD 790 Independent Study

LIN 631 Phonological Analysis

SPE 627 Early Intervention for Children’s Reading Problems

CSD 690 Independent Study

CSD 690 Independent Study




APM 635 Multivariate Statistics

APM 620 Analysis of Variance

Take Qualifying exam

PSY 655 Statistical Methods II

CSD 783 Cochlear Implants

EDU 800 Quantitative Research Design

CSD 690 Independent Study

CSD 690 Independent Study




CSD 999 Dissertation

CSD 999 Dissertation

Work on dissertation

APM 645 Nonparametric Statistics & Categorical Data Analysis

NEU 601 Advanced Neuroscience

PSY 860 Cognitive Psychology of Reading

PSY 860 Practicum on Proposal Writing




Work on dissertation

Work on dissertation


Currently Employed Speech-Language Pathologists

SLPs throughout the country or the world are encouraged to apply to the PhD-SLP program! Central New York is a wonderful place to live, work, and earn a degree!
SLPs who work in the Central New York region are also encouraged to apply to the PhD-SLP program. Full-time enrollment in the PhD program is required for at least one year. Financial support is prioritized for full-time students.

Candidates from Related Academic Fields

Do you have a degree in Linguistics, Neuroscience, Psychology, Education, Engineering, or another related field? A PhD may be a way to apply your background to communication disorders, and you are encouraged to speak with our faculty to learn more.

Masters Students in Speech-Language Pathology

Students who are finishing their Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology (both at Syracuse University and at other institutions) may apply for the PhD in SLP program. Students with a Masters in SLP who wish to complete their Clinical Fellowship during their time as a PhD student can be granted the opportunity to do so either through the Gebbie Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic or through connections with local agencies. However, this will extend the duration of the PhD program.

Full-time students who are accepted into the PhD in program typically receive full financial support! Full-time students accepted into the program will be offered financial support that generally includes full tuition benefits as well as stipends. Financial support may include:

Competitive Fellowship

Students awarded a Fellowship that covers tuition costs and provide a 9-month stipend (currently $24,795) for two years of the program (typically Year 1 and Year 3). During the Fellowship years, there is no work requirement and students receive the stipend as they take courses and work on research. Students offered a Fellowship for Years 1 and 3 are also typically awarded a Graduate Assistantship during Year 2.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships cover 12 credits of tuition costs per semester and provide a 9-month stipend (currently $14,780). These GA positions require 20 hours of work per week towards teaching-related duties.

Additional Financial Support

Summer financial support may also be available through a variety of sources, such as conducting research on faculty grants, performing clinical supervision, or teaching summer courses.

Additionally, several of our previous doctoral students have successfully competed for financial support through mechanisms such as:

  • Grants and Scholarships: A variety of mechanisms are available from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and other federal or foundation supported mechanisms.
  • Loan repayment: Did you know that some individuals with a PhD in Speech-Language Pathology can apply for loan forgiveness through the National Institutes of Health? Some of our current faculty members have received such support!

The duration of the graduate program varies from person-to-person, and may depend on factors such as whether or not the student already has a Masters degree, whether or not the student is also planning to complete a Clinical Fellowship during the course of the program, the number of years of full-time enrollment, and how long completion of the dissertation takes.


It is generally recommended that students plan to complete the PhD full-time. Students with a Masters degree who are enrolled full-time and who do not also need to complete their Clinical Fellowship may complete the PhD in approximately 4 to 5 years. This typically includes 2-3 years of coursework and 2-3 years of dissertation work.


Part-time enrollment is possible for a portion of the program, although less financial assistance is available to part-time students and the program will also take longer to complete. Additionally, it is required that all PhD students spend at least two semesters enrolled as a full-time student. PhD students who complete their Clinical Fellowship or who retain employment elsewhere will take longer than the 4-5 years anticipated for students who are enrolled full-time.

See the Advancement to Candidacy/Time to Degree section of the Academic Rules for current timelines and requirements. Candidates must reach candidacy (complete all required course work and pass the qualifying examination) within 7 years from the date of matriculation into the doctoral program. In addition, the doctoral degree must be completed within 5 years from the end of the semester in which candidacy was granted.

Applications are due January 1 for the fall semester.

We recommend you begin by contacting the faculty member who has expertise in your area of interest. All PhD students work with a mentor and this must be determined before you apply. Please see our Faculty page to learn more about the current faculty in the department. Plan to have multiple conversations with the mentor to find out about their expertise and their current areas of research. It is also strongly recommended that you visit Syracuse University to meet with your mentor and to explore the department, the university, and the surrounding area. It is important that your mentor and that Syracuse University are the right fit for you!

Applicants to the Ph.D. programs must complete and submit an official Syracuse University Graduate School Application.

How to Submit Supplemental Material

You may upload your application materials when applying online through the Graduate School. If you upload your materials, there is no need to also mail them in duplicate.

If you choose to mail your supplemental application materials (only if you have not submitted them online), send them to:

Enrollment Management Processing Center
Syracuse University
Graduate Admissions Processing
716 E. Washington St., Suite 200
Syracuse, New York 13210-1572

Note: If you are sending materials using a package delivery company (i.e. FedEx, UPS, DHL), use this address: Syracuse University Graduate Admissions Processing P.O. Box 35060 Syracuse, New York 13235-5060

In accordance with Syracuse University policy, any materials submitted by an applicant (or on behalf of the applicant) will not be returned.

Application Fee

All applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of $75. There are several options for paying the application fee:

  • Include a check or money order payable to Syracuse University with your application materials or
  • Pay by Mastercard or Visa credit card by printing the payment form and completing all information and submitting with your application materials

Do I need to know my dissertation topic when I apply?

No. It is not necessary that you have worked out all aspects of a research project before you apply. Mentorship will be provided to help you formulate appropriate research questions and designs. However, a general clinical research area (e.g., voice or swallowing disorders, stuttering, aphasia, child language disorders, speech sound disorders) is necessary as it will determine the appropriate faculty mentor.

I did not complete a thesis during my Bachelors or Masters program. Can I still apply?

Yes! Even if you do not have previous research experience, you should still consider applying