What You Need to Know About the PhD Degree
As the knowledge and skills required to meet the scope of practice for Audiology expands, so does its need to advance the knowledge and research base which forms the foundation for that practice. The PhD degree has traditionally been seen as providing the educational and scientific background necessary for academic scholarship and independent research in the profession of Audiology. The Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) is the highest degree awarded by research-based universities and is usually granted upon sufficient evidence of high attainment of scholarship and the ability to engage in independent research. Many universities with Hearing and Speech Departments offer this "traditional" PhD to students whose primary goal is to become a teacher and independent researcher. The traditional PhD in Hearing Science or Audiology typically entails advanced coursework in auditory neuroscience, audiology, statistics, research design, instrumentation, computer science, and laboratory work on mentored and student-initiated research projects.
In recent years, some universities have developed a PhD program that combines the coursework and clinical training required for the practice of Audiology with the coursework and research experience of a traditional PhD. This type of program is referred to as a "Clinical PhD" program. The degree awarded in these programs is the PhD. Students acquire the knowledge base and clinical practicum experience required for the practice of Audiology. Graduates of these programs are also eligible for licensure in Audiology in most states.
PhD Facts at a Glance
- The traditional PhD is a research doctorate and may be earned in the discipline of Audiology or Hearing Science.
- Requirements for the doctoral degree vary widely across programs and universities, but always include a doctoral dissertation that is defended in front of an examining committee. Prospective students are encouraged to contact university programs directly to determine specific requirements for the traditional PhD and clinical PhD at particular institutions.
- Completion of the degree depends on the specific course of study, previous academic, clinical, and research preparation, and the nature of the dissertation. Some clinical PhD programs accept students at the post-baccalaureate level while others require a graduate degree for admission. Many clinical PhD programs anticipate that students will complete the degree in a period of 5-6 years. An individual should check with the PhD program of their choice to determine the expected duration of the program.
- Individuals who complete a PhD are qualified to serve as academic faculty members in Audiology and Hearing Science at the university level.
- Individuals who complete a PhD are prepared to conduct independent research to improve the scientific understanding of auditory and vestibular processes and their disorders. This includes research into basic sensory mechanisms, prevention of impairment, diagnostic procedures, rehabilitative devices (i.e., amplification, cochlear implants, assistive listening devices), and rehabilitative techniques.
- Individuals who complete a PhD are qualified to apply for extramural funding from government agencies (such as NIH and NSF) to support their research and training programs.
- Individuals who complete a clinical PhD are prepared for independent clinical practice in the field of Audiology, including auditory and vestibular assessment.
- In addition to academic and research settings, individuals who complete a PhD are qualified to work in government, medical, community-based, and industrial settings.
- Individuals who complete a PhD will be prepared to be leaders in the field of Audiology and Hearing Science, and will set the research agenda for auditory neuroscience and audiology.