CSD Ph.D. Application Process

Applications for the doctoral program are accepted on an ongoing basis, but it is recommended that applicants submit their materials by January 15th for timely review for fall admission.

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

Steps to Apply

Step 1: Reach out to the Faculty

The doctoral program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders is heavily dependent upon the relationship between student and the primary faculty mentor. Issues related to acceptance, areas of focus, and funding are all determined through the student-mentor relationship. Therefore, the first step to achieving admission to the doctoral program is to identify and develop a relationship with a potential faculty member who may ultimately become the primary advisor. A list of department faculty members and their areas of expertise can be found here.

Step 2: Submit an Application

Submit your initial electronic application through the Graduate School website.

If you have difficulty using the electronic form, you can contact the Graduate School to check on the availability of a paper application.

Step 3: Submit Supporting Materials

The following materials are required and 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. They should be submitted to:
    • Dept. of Communicative Sciences and Disorders
      1026 Red Cedar Road, Oyer Speech & Hearing Building
      Michigan State University
      East Lansing, MI 48824
  • Letters of recommendation: Three letters of recommendation must be submitted through the MSU portal on behalf of the student to the CSD department. It is preferred that at least two letters be written by graduate instructors. Provide the names and emails of these people to the MSU portal, and the system will automatically generate an email to your recommenders explaining the process to submit their letters electronically (no hardcopies accepted).

Additional Requirements for International Student Applicants: 

Please visit https://grad.msu.edu/internationalapplicants for most up to date information.

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. English language proficiency scores: International student applicants for whom English is not their native language must demonstrate English proficiency consistent with graduate school requirements.

Faculty Advisor

During the admissions process, a faculty member agrees to serve as the student’s faculty advisor. The role of the faculty advisor is to guide and oversee the student’s doctoral program on behalf of the department. The selection of the faculty advisor is based on the faculty member's expertise in the area of the student's research interests and usually arises from early communications between the prospective student and faculty members during the application and admission processes. The student should have identified a permanent faculty advisor no later than the end of the first semester in the doctoral program. The appointment of the faculty advisor must be approved by the department chairperson; it can be changed if need arises later in the program.

Guidance Committee

Upon starting the doctoral program, the student must form a guidance committee, chaired by the student's faculty advisor. Committee members are selected in consultation with the faculty advisor based on the student's research area(s). Working with the student, the guidance committee plans the doctoral program, modifies the program based on ongoing progress reviews, and supervises the student until completion of the program. 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:

  • Graduate-level courses: Students entering the program without a master’s degree will complete at least 18 credits of graduate-level coursework, including 9 credits of clinically focused courses from with CSD, as well as a research experience equivalent to the preparation for a master’s thesis.
  • CSD Clinical Courses: Students who did not complete a clinical master’s degree in CSD within 3 years of enrolling in the doctoral program will select 2 to 3 courses from the CSD clinical coursework. Additional clinical courses may also be required of students with a clinical master’s degree as determined by the guidance committee. Students who are not required to take CSD clinical courses may still elect to take such courses in consultation with their guidance committee.
  • CSD Core Courses: All students will successfully complete 2 to 3 out of 4 course courses addressing fundamental aspects of the field of communicative sciences and disorders, including speech perception, speech production, language science, and hearing science.
  • Methods and skills courses: All students will select courses in statistics and experimental design, as well as in related areas such as signal processing, programming, instrumentation, or imaging, as appropriate for the student’s course of study. As part of these credits, students will be required to gain experiences related to the scholarship and the fundamentals of research, education, and professional issues.
  • Specialized Study Courses: All students will take advanced graduate coursework in their area of research interest. Courses may be within the CSD department or within other departments at the University or beyond. Students may split these specialized study courses into a primary and secondary area as appropriate for their goals and interests. The specific courses that students take must be approved by the guidance committee.

In addition to approved coursework, all students will engage in the following experiences designed to prepare them for academic work in the field:

  • Responsible conduct of research (RCR) training: Students must complete RCR training to fulfill requirements specified by the MSU Graduate College.
  • Research ethics: All students will gain basic knowledge about research ethics during their scholarship and fundamentals and RCR courses. Students are also encouraged to gain additional experience with research ethics through coursework and regular, ongoing discussions with their doctoral advisor.
  • Grant-writing: All students will gain basic knowledge about grant-writing. Students are also encouraged to gain additional experience with grant-writing either by taking a full 3-credit grant-writing course or by participating in grant-writing with their doctoral advisor.
  • Teaching: All students will gain basic knowledge about teaching. Students are also encouraged to gain additional supervised or independent teaching experiences by assisting a faculty member with a course, providing guest lectures, or taking significant independent responsibility for designing and teaching a course.

Students will also gain experience in research and writing through the following requirements:

  • Laboratory rotations: All students will complete at least 1 one-semester research experience in a laboratory other than the lab in which they primarily work (i.e., their doctoral advisor’s lab). This lab may be in CSD, in another MSU department, or outside of MSU. The expected outcome of the rotation will be participation in a research project and submission of a paper on the project.
  • Pre-dissertation research project: All students will complete at least one research project prior to beginning their dissertation. Students will be responsible for all aspects of the design and conduct of the project, under the supervision of their faculty advisor. The expected outcome of the project will be a presentation at a national meeting and publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Comprehensive Examination: All students must pass a written and oral comprehensive examination prior to beginning their dissertation. The goal of the examination is to evaluate the student’s ability to integrate previously obtained knowledge while critically evaluating and answering questions about their area of specialization.
  • Doctoral dissertation: The culmination of the doctoral program is the dissertation and its successful defense. Dissertation research may involve experimental, quasi-experimental, descriptive, or other designs. The expectation is that the dissertation research meets the scholarly research standards and practices of the discipline. The dissertation involves original and independent research that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in the field. Although the dissertation advisor and dissertation committee will provide input and guidance, the student is responsible for the development, design, conduct, and writing of the research project.

Contact Information

Questions? Additional information about the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Ph.D. Program may be obtained from:

J. Scott Yaruss, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-SCF, F-ASHA
(517) 884-2406
Professor, Doctoral Program Director

Communicative Sciences and Disorders Department
1026 Red Cedar Road
Oyer Speech and Hearing Building
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824