Thinking about a Ph.D.

This is a great time to be thinking about pursuing a Ph.D. in the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders. A 1999-2000 survey conducted by the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders indicated that there were 77 Ph.D. graduates for 354 available university positions. This situation will favor those with Ph.D. degrees even more over the next ten years as 50% of the current professors of Communication Disorders retire. Federal and state agencies in Health and Education also are desperately seeking well trained scholars to help guide policy development, service implementation, and program evaluation. Professionals with a PhD in Communication Disorders are highly competitive for these positions. Consider also that Ph.D.s in our field earn salaries that are $10,000 to $15,000 higher than those of our MA professionals (ASHA 2002 Omnibus Survey Salary Report).

doctoral graduate at commencementLike many other PhD programs around the country, our program is built on an apprenticeship model. Each doctoral student has a mentor who acts as the student’s primary advisor and teacher. During the first two years of doctoral study, the student and mentor put together a doctoral committee that includes at least two additional faculty members in the department. Ph.D. students also may elect to have faculty from other departments, programs, or centers (e.g., Psychology, Family Studies, Life Course and Aging, Linguistics, Education Leadership, Psychology, and Social Policy) join their committees. This committee will review and approve the student’ doctoral work on an annual basis through an annual report mechanism. The doctoral committee is usually comprised of faculty members who share research interests with the student.

In order to be accepted into the doctoral program, a faculty member must indicate that he or she wants to work closely with you. Individuals who are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree at LSU should contact one or two specific faculty members from our department whom he or she thinks would be an appropriate mentor. All applicants are expected to interview (either in person or telephone) with their potential mentors. It is also highly recommended that applicants meet their future mentor(s) prior to acceptance into our program; such meetings may occur during a visit to LSU or at a research conference.

The Department has a limited number of $36,000 graduate assistantships ($15,750 for 4 years) for students interested in pursuing full-time doctoral work. Many of our full-time students make more than this (range = $15,000 – $22,000) because they receive additional funds through grants and/or graduate school supplements/ enhancements. The Department consists of 21 faculty members, with 11 members actively participating in the Ph.D. program. Our areas of expertise span a range of topics. Please see faculty bios on the department’s website.