Applying to the CSD Ph.D. Program

To apply for the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Ph.D. program the following steps must be completed:

Step 1: Submit an initial electronic application through the Graduate School website

If you have difficulty using the electronic form, you can contact the Graduate School via email to check on the availability of a paper application. Note that MSU encourages applicants to submit the online application along with the application fee at least nine months prior to the anticipated first semester of enrolment.

Step 2: Submit supporting materials directly to the CSD department. Materials must be submitted to the following address:

Doctoral Program Director
Dept. of Communicative Sciences and Disorders
1026 Red Cedar Road, Oyer Speech & Hearing Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

The following materials are required:

All applicants: The following materials must be submitted by both domestic and international student applicants.
  • Transcripts from previous studies: The student must request each college or university attended so far to submit one copy of the official transcript directly to the CSD department. The transcripts should show the courses taken and the grades earned.
  • Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation must be submitted electronically on behalf of the student to the CSD department. It is preferred that at least two letters be written by graduate instructors.
  • Scores on the Graduate Records Examination (GRE): The student must request the official testing agency to forward GRE scores directly to the CSD department.

Additional requirements for international student applicants:

In addition to the above materials, international students must also submit the following materials for regular admission:
  • Translations of transcripts: If the official copies of the transcripts are in a language other than English, an English translation must be included along with the original transcript. This translation must be certified as accurate by an appropriate public or school official, or sponsoring agency or government.
  • Evidence of financial ability: As part of U.S. government regulations, the student must submit written verification of the source and amount of financial support available for at least the first year of study to the Office of Admissions. This information is needed for MSU to generate a form I-20 or DS-2019 so that the student can apply for a non-immigrant student visa. Note that a teaching or research assistantship can serve as the required evidence of financial support.
  • English language proficiency: All international students whose first language is not English must demonstrate proficiency in English as a condition for regular admission to MSU. This can be accomplished by any one of the following options:
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL): A minimum score of 550 (with no subscores below 52) on the paper version of the TOEFL, or a minimum score of 80 with no sub score below 19 (22 for writing section) on the Internet-based version of the TOEFL.
  • Michigan English Language Assessment Battery (MELAB) (Testing and Certification Division, The English Language Institute, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA). An average score of 83 or higher with no sub score below 80, along with a minimum MELAB speaking score of 3.
  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum score of 6.5
  • Michigan State University English Language Test (MSUELT). English Language Center [ELC], Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824–1035, USA). A minimum average score of 85 with no sub scores below 78.
  • Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE A). Minimum overall score of 53 with no sub score below 51 for reading, listening, and speaking and below 59 for writing.
All these tests must have been taken within two years of the student's application to the doctoral program. Scores from the TOEFL, MELAB, and IELTS must be forwarded directly to the Office of Admissions from the testing agency.

Admission to the Ph.D. Program

Admission to the Ph.D. program is based on the recommendation of the departmental admissions committee comprised of CSD faculty. This committee evaluates each applicant's packet and assigns a rating which is a judgment of the student's potential for success in the doctoral program.

The following are the minimum requirements for consideration for admission into the doctoral program:
  1. Master's degree: It is expected that most applicants to the Ph.D. program will have either completed or are enrolled in a Master's degree in Speech Pathology, audiology, or a related field. However, in some circumstances, an extremely promising student with an undergraduate degree may be admitted to the Ph.D. program.
  2. Grade point average (GPA): A minimum GPA of 3.0 from prior graduate work is required for consideration for admission into the doctoral program.
  3. Letters of recommendation: Strong letters of recommendation highlighting the student's strengths, weakness, and suitability for the doctoral program.
  4. GRE scores: Although not a binding criterion, GRE scores of at least 150, 150, and 3.7, respectively, on the verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing sections of the GRE are considered minimum requirements for admission.
  5. English language proficiency scores (for international student applicants, see section IV, part 2c)

Faculty Advisor

During the admissions process, the student must identify a departmental faculty member as his/her faculty advisor. The role of the faculty advisor is to guide and oversee the student through his/her doctoral program on behalf of the CSD department. The selection of the faculty advisor is based on the faculty member's expertise in the general area of the student's research interests, and usually arises from early communications between the student and the departmental faculty members during the application and admission processes. It is expected that the student has identified a permanent faculty advisor no later than the end of his/her first semester at MSU in the doctoral program. The appointment of the faculty advisor must be approved by the chair of the department and can be changed if need arises later in the program.

Guidance Committee

Upon admission to the doctoral program, the student has the responsibility to form a guidance committee which will be chaired by the student's faculty advisor. The selection of the committee is guided by the faculty advisor based on the student's research area(s) and must be approved by the chair of the department. The guidance committee must be formed within the first two semesters of doctoral study.

Program Components

The Ph.D. program in CSD requires the completion of the following components:
  • Coursework in the major area.This will consist of advanced graduate coursework in the student's identified area of research interest. Most of these courses will be within the CSD department, but some may be taken in outside departments.
  • Coursework in the minor/related area.Students will identify a minor/related area that will supplement their research studies in CSD. No more than 15 credits in the minor/related area will count toward the 90-credit requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Courses in research tools.This component includes courses in statistics and experimental design, and in related areas such as signal processing, programming, instrumentation, and imaging. Students are required to complete at least 6 credits of statistics and experimental design. No more than 12 credits of research tools will count toward the 90-credit requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Research methods and research ethics.All students will be required to complete CSD 803 (Research methods in Communicative Sciences and Disorders) or its equivalent. They will also be required to complete KIN 895 (Research Ethics) or its equivalent.
  • Grant writing.Students will complete a grant writing course such as WRA 453 or its equivalent. They are strongly encouraged to go through the process of grant submission independently or as part of this course.
  • Research project.All students will be required to complete at least one research project. It is expected that students will be responsible for all aspects of designing and conducting the project, under the supervision of their faculty advisor. Note that before engaging in human or animal research, the student will be expected to complete the necessary training in protection of human or animal subjects. The expected outcome of the project will be a presentation at a national meeting and publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The research project will count for 3-6 credit hours of the 90-credit requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Laboratory rotations.Students will be required to complete at least one lab rotation in a research lab in CSD or an outside department at/outside MSU. The expected outcome of such a lab rotation will be participation in a research project and submission of a research paper on the project. The laboratory rotation will count for no more than 3 credit hours of the 90-credit requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
  • Teaching.All doctoral students will be involved in supervised, and if possible, independent teaching, as part of their program. This may initially take the form of teaching assistantships, guest lectures, or independent responsibility for a course.
  • Qualifying written and oral examinations.Upon completion of all the above requirements (with the exceptions of lab rotations and teaching, which may continue during this time), students will be required to complete and pass qualifying examinations in their major and minor areas. The student's guidance committee is responsible for conducting and evaluating the student on these examinations. The format of the nature, topic materials, and schedule for the exams will be decided by the student's guidance committee in conjunction with the student.
  • Dissertation.The culmination of the doctoral program is the dissertation and its successful oral defense. Students who successfully complete the qualifying examination are eligible to commence work on their dissertation. The dissertation is a piece of independent research conducted by the student with input and guidance from his/her dissertation advisor and dissertation committee. The student is responsible for the development, design, conduct, and writing of the research project. Dissertation research may take the shape of any number of experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive, etc. designs employed in communication sciences and disorders. The expectation is that the dissertation research meets the scholarly research standards and practices of the discipline. The dissertation and its oral defense must be completed within eight years of from the time when the student begins the first class of his/her doctoral program of study at MSU.

Contact Information

For additional information on the Ph.D. program in CSD, please contact the Doctoral Program Director at the following address.

Eric J. Hunter, Ph.D.
Doctoral Program Director
Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department
1026 Red Cedar Road
Oyer Speech and Hearing Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824

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