Table of Contents:


Program Overview

The Ph.D. program in Hearing and Speech Sciences is designed to foster the ability to engage in independent research and scholarship in the disciplines of normal and/or disordered processes of speech, language, or hearing*. Graduate students in the HESP Ph.D. program engage in an integrated set of research experiences and scholarly activities to prepare them for successful careers in academic and research settings. Directed experience in teaching is also provided in the overall educational plan.

The Ph.D. program is viewed as a mentorship program, in which a student works with an individual faculty member in order to develop and achieve his or her own research and scholarly goals. Students in the Ph.D. program are involved in research throughout their time in the doctoral program, and are encouraged to work with multiple faculty members, including faculty members in other departments, so as to gain an interdisciplinary training experience.

Individuals who are interested in the practice of clinical/professional Speech-Language Pathology or Audiology should investigate the requirements of the corresponding MA and AuD clinical degree programs offered by the Department, which include clinical practica. Please note that clinical practicum experience is neither a requirement of, nor a prerequisite requirement for, the HESP Ph.D. program.

back to top of page


General Requirements

University-wide requirements for the Ph.D. degree are defined by the Graduate School and are enumerated in the Graduate School Catalog. These include, but are not limited to, achieving admission to Candidacy within five years of admission to the doctoral program, registration for a minimum of 12 research credits for the dissertation, and successfully defending a dissertation or its equivalent. Additional requirements are set by Departments, Colleges or Programs.

The HESP Ph.D. degree includes both curriculum and research requirements, as well as training in teaching and professional development. The remainder of this document is subdivided into three primary sections, focusing on curriculum, research, and other requirements and expectations.

back to top of page

Curriculum Requirements

Broadly, the doctoral program may be viewed as comprising two phases: pre-candidacy and dissertation. Most coursework is completed in the pre-candidacy phase prior to advancement to candidacy.

All students enrolled in the Ph.D. program must accumulate 50 semester hours of graduate level academic coursework directed toward the doctoral degree, which could include relevant coursework taken elsewhere if approved by the department. These credits comprise five broad areas of study: statistics & research methodology, core knowledge of hearing and speech sciences and disorders, advances in contemporary research, correlative or elective areas of study, and research. The distribution of these 50 credits is shown in Table 1 and a sample semesterly course sequence is outlined in Table 2.

Entering students without prior academic preparation in hearing and speech sciences and disorders may be required to take some HESP preparatory courses and additional graduate coursework as determined by the student's Program Planning Committee (PPC) in order to ensure a coherent plan of study. (A PPC is a committee of faculty members formed to help the student design and plan their program of study; see section V-A for additional details on this committee).

The specific requirements for coursework for all HESP Ph.D. students, regardless of background degrees, are specified below. There is no foreign language requirement for the Ph.D. degree. Although a period of full-time residency is no longer a requirement, timely completion of the degree requires a significant time commitment to the program.

A student may specialize in speech, language, or hearing. Students will also choose a focus area within the specialization. Special interest areas may focus on the normal aspects of their specialization or disorders related to it. Although a minor area of study is not a requirement, students are encouraged to take courses in a correlative area of study outside the department that may be applied to the overall requirements for the doctoral degree. This interdisciplinary coursework may be completed in other departments or programs on campus, such as Psychology, Biology, Linguistics, Neurosciences and Cognitive Sciences (NACS), Education, Sociology, Human Development, Engineering, Computer Sciences, and Public Health. Students may also register for correlative courses in other institutions within the University System of Maryland (e.g., University of Maryland, Baltimore) or at universities within the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Students must also acquire knowledge in relevant instrumentation to conduct their research. An elective course in Instrumentation (HESP 600) will be offered and can serve as one means of acquiring this knowledge; likewise, occasional seminars on methodologies may also provide this knowledge. However, this coursework will be supplemented with guest lectures by faculty or advanced doctoral students about use of instrumentation in particular laboratories and research programs within the department. Students should meet with their PPC in order to address how best to acquire the relevant methodological knowledge for their discipline.

The expectation is that students who already hold a graduate clinical degree in Audiology or Speech-Language Pathology will complete all requirements for the HESP Ph.D. degree within 4-5 years of full-time study. Students without background coursework in the discipline, or those engaged in part-time study, will generally take longer to complete the degree but must still demonstrate timely progress. Length of stay in the program must not exceed the time-frame specified by the Graduate School at the University of Maryland , College Park .

Table 1. Distribution of Credits across Courses

Topic Course
# credits
Statistics +EDMS 645 and 646 or
PSYC 601 and 602
Research Design HESP 724

Core Knowledge Areas (HESP):

Psychoacoustics  (HESP 722)

Acoustic and Perceptual Phonetics (HESP 604)

Neurological Bases of Communication (NACS 728K)

Seminar in Language Processing (HESP 818)

Seminar in Hearing Science (HESP 828)

Seminar in Language Acquisition (HESP 838)

Seminar in Audiology (HESP 848)

Seminar in Speech Science (HESP 868)

Seminar in Language Disorders (HESP 878)

various (see courses on left)


*Seminars in Contemporary Research:
( Current Research in Hearing, Speech and Language Sciences and Disorders ); For example:
Evoked Potentials and Imaging
Technological Innovations
Language and Literacy
*HESP 808
Ethics NACS 600**
Electives (to be approved by PPC):
One Advanced Statistics Course (rec.)
Independent Study
Correlative Study
Research Externship
HESP 708
UMCP (and elsewhere)
HESP 788


Research Registrations:

Topic Course
# credits
Doctoral Candidacy Research HESP 889 or 898
Dissertation Research ++HESP 899


Explanatory Notes:

  • + Students who have already completed these statistics courses as part of a prior degree will register for more advanced graduate statistics courses (e.g., EDMS 653, 657, etc.).
  • *Seminars in Contemporary Research Issues (HESP 808): This course has a rotating topic, depending upon student and faculty interest. Each course will cover a cross-cutting issue pertaining to speech, language, and hearing. The seminar style format enables students to engage in in-depth study of recent research in the broad discipline (e.g., Genetics) with critique of specific readings pertinent to their own major (Speech, Language, or Hearing) for dissemination to the class.
  • ** The scientific ethics course is offered by NACS, but is a requirement for our program. It should generally be taken during a student's first two years.

back to top of page



Semester Course Number Course Title # credits
Year 1, Fall HESP 604 Acoustic & Perceptual Phonetics 3
  EDMS 645 Quantitative Methods I 3
  HESP 898 Doctoral Candidacy Research 1
Year 1, Spring HESP 722 Psychoacoustics 3
  EDMS 646 Quantitative Methods II 3
  HESP 898 Doctoral Candidacy Research 1
Year 1, Summer HESP 708 Independent Study 3
  HESP 898 Doctoral Candidacy Research 1
Year 2, Fall HESP 808 Seminars in Contemporary Research 3
  HESP 898 Doctoral Candidacy Research 1
Year 2, Spring HESP 724 Research Design 3
  HESP 808 Seminars in Contemporary Research 3
  NACS___ Principles of Neuroscience (elective) 3
  HESP 898 Doctoral Candidacy Research 1
  NACS 600 Ethics in Scientific Research 2
Year 2, Summer HESP 788 Research Externship 3
Year 3, Fall HESP 899 or NACS___ Elective Course 3
  HESP 898 Dissertation Research 1
Year 3, Spring HESP 899 Dissertation Research 6
Year 3, Summer HESP 899 Dissertation Research 6
Year 4 HESP 899 Dissertation Research 6

III-A. Determination of Full-time Status

Full-time registration is formally defined by the university based on a system of "units" - students are full-time if they are registered for 48 units of registration per semester, or if they are registered for 24 units and have a 20-hr/week GA position (or 36 units with a 10-hr/week GA position). Each credit hour counts for multiple units, with more advanced courses counting as more units per credit hour. Information is available at In general, graduate courses in the 600-897 series carry 6 units per credit hour; thus, a 3-credit course counts as 18 units. Undergraduate courses carry fewer units (2 units per credit hour for courses in the 000-399 series; 4 units per credit hour for courses in the 400-499 series).

Students who are not full-time (as determined by the university) are not eligible for graduate funding, and full-time status may be relevant for some forms of external financial aid or health insurance.

Each credit hour of 889 counts as 6 units, whereas 898 counts as 18 units. Thus, students may choose to select 898 rather than 889 as the registration for their candidacy research in order to ensure that they meet the requirements of full-time status.

Post-candidacy, students are automatically registered for HESP 899 by the Graduate School for 6 credits per semester, which is full time. Students are not required to register for courses in the summer or winter in order to maintain full-time status. However, graduate school regulations specify that students must be enrolled for at least one credit, regardless of credits already accumulated , in the semester of graduation . Thus, if you plan to graduate in a summer semester, you will need to register during that semester.


III-B. Admission to Doctoral Candidacy

A student may advance to candidacy upon meeting the following requirements: completion of the majority of their course work, completion of the candidacy project with approval of the candidacy paper by the PPC, and passing of comprehension examinations. These topics are discussed in more detail in the relevant sections below; the candidacy project is discussed under Research Requirements, and Comprehensive Exams are covered under Other Requirements.

A student must be admitted to candidacy for the doctorate within five years after admission to the Ph.D. program and at least six months before the date on which the degree is to be conferred. It is the responsibility of the student to submit the application for admission to candidacy to the graduate school when all requirements for candidacy have been fulfilled. Applications for admission to candidacy are made in duplicate by the student and submitted to the graduate program for further action and transmission to the Graduate School.


III-C. Post-Candidacy Requirements

Students must complete the entire program for the degree, including the dissertation and final examination, during a four-year period after admission to candidacy. If a student fails to complete all degree requirements, the program may recommend, and the Graduate School may grant, a one-year extension to complete the remainder of the doctoral requirements. After this one-year period, admission to the program terminates. The Graduate School Catalog specifies additional procedures for readmission to the program.

back to top of page

Research Requirements

Each student is expected to participate in on-going research projects. This activity occurs concurrently while undertaking graduate-level studies. Entering students will serve as research assistants in the overall research program of their faculty advisor. Activities include collecting data, developing stimuli, and conducting data analyses. At the end of the first year, the student will prepare and present their research activities at a departmental colloquium. Students may also be involved in presenting the work at a professional or scientific meeting. Students participating in this manner will have some level of authorship for publications resulting from this research activity. Opportunities exist for students to engage in research activities with off-campus research mentors. The registration for off-campus research is HESP 788 (Doctoral Research Externship), which may count toward elective coursework.

There are two primary research requirements within the department: a candidacy research project, and a dissertation. However, the fact that students are only required to conduct a dissertation and a candidacy research project should not be taken as an indication that these research experiences are the only ones in which students will be (or should be) involved. HESP Ph.D. students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to work in established labs within the Department and on campus to conduct as much research as possible during their enrollment as a graduate student. This enriching experience adds to the research skills acquired in the conduct of candidacy and dissertation research. Thus, we encourage doctoral students to participate in a variety of research projects, often in multiple laboratories and research programs, and to be immersed in the culture of their research laboratories and activities.

More specifically, we have the following research-related expectations of our Ph.D. students, in order to allow them to get the best possible gruate experience:

  • HESP Ph.D. students should participate in a variety of research projects, beginning in their first year in the PhD. program.
  • HESP Ph.D. students should make periodic presentations at the departmental colloquium series, ideally on an annual basis. Scheduling for such sessions should be guided by the student's PPC. Because presenting your research is an important requirement in the field (and an important part of most job interviews), practice doing so is particularly important.
  • Students are expected to regularly attend conferences in their field of study, and to submit an article for publication prior to advancement for candidacy.
  • Students are encouraged to have a "rotation" with at least one other research lab or program in order to gain a broader perspective on research in the field. Final decisions regarding this experience should be in consultation with the student's PPC and the director of the proposed lab or project

IV-A. Candidacy Paper

During the summer session at the end of Year 1, students will initiate their own research project under the close supervision of the faculty advisor, which will culminate as the Candidacy Paper. The research plan for the Candidacy Paper will be implemented during the second year of doctoral study. 

The Candidacy Paper must be based on significant original, independent research. This research must be empirical in nature and must be directed by a HESP faculty member, subject to prior approval by the PPC. Generally the director of the Candidacy Paper will be the student's primary advisor, but this is not a requirement; if the director of the paper is not a member of the HESP faculty, there must be a coordinating faculty advisor from HESP. The final draft of the Candidacy Paper, written in a format suitable for publication, must be approved by the PPC. The student will present the research project at a Department seminar and will be strongly encouraged to submit the Candidacy Paper for publication. The Candidacy Paper requirement must be completed before advancing to Candidacy.

All research must be approved by the relevant research assurance committee (e.g., the Institutional Review Board for human subjects, or the Animal Care and Use Committee for research involving vertebrate animals). Research approval for thesis work must be in the students' name, and will need to be provided to the Graduate School.

Students who completed a Master's thesis or an AuD capstone project at the University of Maryland, College Park, or at another university may petition the faculty to accept the Master's thesis for the Candidacy Paper requirement. Two requirements must be met in order for the student to petition the faculty: 1) the thesis or project must have been completed within the last five years; and 2) the research project must be based on original data collected by the student, or must adhere to stringent criteria for acceptable use of existing databases. The student must petition the faculty to accept the Master's thesis in lieu of the Candidacy Paper requirement during the first year of enrollment in the doctoral program. The student must make a presentation of the research at a Department colloquium. In addition, the faculty will conduct an oral examination of the student, during which the student must orally defend the MA thesis. Decisions by the faculty for acceptance of the MA thesis to substitute for the Candidacy Paper are based on, but not limited to, the following criteria: 1) originality; 2) independence of work; 3) statistical treatment of the data; 4) acceptability for publication in a peer-reviewed journal and/or juried professional meeting; and 5) quality of student's oral defense of the work. Under normal circumstances, case studies, surveys, and literature reviews will not satisfy the criteria for acceptable research for the Candidacy Paper requirement. The Master's thesis must be formally approved by all members of the PPC, following consultation with departmental members of the Graduate Faculty. A decision by the PPC will be made within the first year of the student's enrollment in the program. If the PPC approves the MA thesis, then the student will initiate pilot research projects that will develop into the dissertation, during the second year of doctoral study.

As part of the learning outcomes assessment for the program, committees must complete an assessment rubric when the candidacy paper is defended.  Although an official proposal defense of the candidacy research project is not technically required, it is recommended.   For both a proposal meeting (if held) and the final defense meeting, paper documents should be provided to the PPC no less than 2 weeks before the scheduled meeting in order to allow the committee enough time to read the document.

IV-B. The Dissertation

After admission to candidacy, the student is required to register for at least 12 hours of dissertation research in HESP 899, as stipulated by the Graduate School. The doctoral dissertation is the primary evidence of mastery of a field of study; it should represent significant original research of comparable quality to current research in the field.

The student will select a dissertation topic, formulate experimental questions, and plan a research proposal with a primary advisor of the student's choice. The primary advisor, who will become the chairperson of the dissertation committee, should be a full-time member of the HESP Department who holds regular membership on the graduate faculty.

During the preparation of the dissertation proposal, the student and the primary advisor should select the members of the dissertation committee. The dissertation committee will be headed by the primary advisor and will have at least two other full-time members of HESP who are tenure-track faculty. All of these persons may or may not be the same as the members of the PPC. In all other respects, the committee will meet the requirements of the Graduate School. Committee members may be from outside the department, or outside of the university, but any faculty member that is not a regular member of the graduate faculty must go through a formal appointment process before they may serve on a dissertation committee.

The dissertation proposal should be a formal written document and at a minimum should contain (a) a statement of specific aims and experimental questions, (b) background and rationale for the experiments, including a critical review of relevant literature, (c) a detailed description of methodology and proposed data analyses, and (d) pilot data. Students are strongly encouraged to write the dissertation proposal in the form of a grant proposal following requirements of the PHS 398 grant application, or an equivalent federal grant application form, but should discuss this with their research mentor. (In contrast, the final proposal must meet graduate school requirements for doctoral dissertations.) The written proposal should be submitted to the members of the dissertation committee at least two weeks prior to a scheduled proposal evaluation meeting. At the proposal evaluation meeting, the student normally presents an oral summary of the research project and answers any questions from the committee. Approval of the dissertation proposal requires a unanimous vote from the committee. The number of times that the dissertation committee meets with the student will vary. As part of the learning outcomes assessment for the program, committees must complete an assessment rubric (click here to download) at the thesis proposal meeting.

The final draft of the dissertation should contain (a) a statement of the problem and experimental questions, (b) a detailed review of the literature, (c) a detailed description of the methodology, (d) results, and (e) a discussion section. The written document must be submitted to the members of the dissertation committee at least two weeks prior to the dissertation defense. Approval of the dissertation and its defense requires a unanimous vote from the committee. The final committee must include a Dean's Representative (a tenured faculty member from another department on campus); this individual does not necessarily need to have been part of the proposal process. As part of the learning outcomes assessment for the program, committees must complete an assessment rubric on both the written paper and on the defense.

The student should follow the Graduate School requirements regarding the writing of the dissertation and the necessary preparations for the oral defense. Students should be familiar with the Graduate Student Academic Handbook and Thesis Manual and should be aware of the deadlines pertaining to filing for a graduate degree (see current Schedule of Classes).

back to top of page

Additional areas of training, and other expectations

In order for students to be fully engaged in the program, the faculty strongly recommend that students participate in Department activities as follows. Although many of these opportunities are not actual program requirements, they are intended to help doctoral students get the most out of their time in the program. A few of these expectations are explained in more depth below, but we nonetheless list them here to allow them to be viewed in a single location.

  • HESP Ph.D. students should attend the departmental colloquium series regularly. We ask students to sign in as an indication of their attendance. These talks are designed to provide students with a greater sense of the breadth and depth of the field, and are an important component of the learning process.
  • HESP Ph.D. students are required to meet with their Program Planning Committee (PPC) annually; more information about this requirement is given below.
  • Teaching is the effective dissemination of information to less experienced audiences and it is an important aspect of conducting research. Across all career paths -- in academia and industry -- the ability to teach content to diverse audiences is an important skill to master. To develop this ability, we expect students to do three things: 1.) Write a teaching philosophy that describes your values and beliefs about pedagogy and how you have accomplished these goals in the classroom and lab; 2.) Deliver one guest lecture in the classroom, and receive formative feedback from a faculty; 3.) Participate in the University Teaching and Learning Program at the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center or some equivalent training in pedagogy.

V-A. Program Planning Committees (PPCs)

Each doctoral student will form a Program and Planning Committee (PPC) to help design and plan their specific program of study. The PPC includes their faculty advisor and at least three other faculty members. The PPC committee membership can change over time as the student progresses through the program, but a minimum of two of the members of the PPC must be regular, full-time tenure-track faculty from the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences (including the advisor).

The primary goal of the PPC is to oversee the student's plan of doctoral study and monitor satisfactory progress. Ph.D. students should schedule formal meetings with their PPC at a minimum of once a year. In these meetings, students should expect to discuss their accomplishments during the prior year, including completion of coursework, participation in ongoing or completed research projects, written papers, teaching experiences, and other relevant evidence of progress through the program. This is also an opportunity to report on non-departmental research and scholarly activities. The PPC must approve all course programs and modifications on an annual basis. During this meeting, a yearly learning outcomes assessment (click here to download) must be completed by the committee and turned in to the main office. It is the student's responsibility to make sure this form is completed and turned in. The PPC will generally meet during the spring semester each year, but may meet more often. The department has developed a "plan of study" template which students and advisors may opt to use to help with these planning sessions (see appendix); regardless of the use of this template, the minutes from the PPC meeting should be added to the student's permanent records.

V-B. Comprehensive Examinations (COMPS)

The primary goal of the PhD program in HESP is the development of skills related to the creation and dissemination of knowledge.  This, in turn, requires being able to take in the existing knowledge in the field, distill it into its main points, identify pieces that are missing, and use that to identify logical next steps and subsequent questions. These skills are developed through hands-on practice; the PhD qualifying exam is one means of learning these various skills. That is, the intent of the qualifying exam is to itself be a learning process, not a pure assessment. As such, the Ph.D. qualifying exam is designed to lead to the following learning outcomes:

  1. Improving students’ critical thinking in approaching a research question.
  2. Improving students’ understanding of the broader context of their own research.
  3. Improving students’ ability to defend their ideas to a critical audience
  4. Improving students’ ability to express their ideas in writing and to provide a coherent, critical message
  5. Establishing a springboard toward completing the dissertation.

The qualifying exam will consist of one of the following two options:

  1.  A broad literature review:  A critical review of (primarily) peer-reviewed journal articles in which the student presents an original synthesis of ideas.  It is intended to be broad in scope.  Students could use this literature review toward their dissertation.  The length is expected to be approximately 20-30 double-spaced pages, 12-point font, 1” margins, not including references or figures.  The paper should follow APA style, as should all written documents for the HESP Department. 
  2. A grant proposal with an extended literature review.  This will include a 1-page Specific Aims, a Background and Significance section expanded to 3 pages, and a Research Strategy section limited to 5 pages. 

It is important to note that regardless of the option chosen, the document is expected to broadly connect different literatures, and thus will NOT mirror typical manuscripts or grant proposals in the field (which often have length restrictions that preclude such breath).  An otherwise strong document that is not sufficiently broad will not receive a passing evaluation.

Moreover, the scientific content of the grant proposal, or the topic of the literature review can be discussed with the advisor, but the advisor does not edit the document (more details about the roles of the student, mentor, and committee are described below).

Both options entail a written document to be followed by an oral examination.  Every student will have an oral examination to demonstrate that they can defend their ideas to a knowledgeable audience.

Details of the Qualifying Exam Administration

Roles and Responsibilities:

  • Student's responsibilities:


  1. Together with the faculty mentor, the student decides the membership of the comprehensive examination committee.  The members of this committee can be the same as the PPC, but may be different faculty members.  The committee must consist of at least three members of the UMD Graduate Faculty, with at least two from HESP (including the advisor).
  2. The student contacts these faculty members to ask if they are willing to serve on the comps committee.
  3. The student is essentially responsible for the content of the qualifying exam through their identification of the topic matter for the review or grant proposal.  In addition, the student develops an initial reading list and outline to provide a sense of the proposed scope of their topic. 
  4. The student schedules a meeting with the committee to discuss the topic, providing them with the reading list and outline at least one week (and preferably two weeks) before the scheduled meeting.
  5. The student records the committee’s comments and recommendations, and any decisions made at the committee meeting, and shares this written document with the committee by e-mail for approval.  The approved document is placed in the student’s file.
  6. The student informs the committee members at least two weeks in advance of when the student will submit the written document.
  7. The student then writes, and subsequently submits the written document.  The student may speak to the advisor and committee members about any questions that arise as the writing progresses, but the document will not be edited by others in any way. The document is expected to be wholly the work of the individual student
  8. The student schedules the oral examination after approval to schedule is received from faculty mentor.  This should be scheduled to occur 6 weeks after submission of the written document
  9. The student schedules individual meetings with committee members to receive feedback in preparation for the oral exam.
  10. The student schedules the oral exam itself (finding the meeting time, booking a room), and brings the departmental LOA rubric to the oral exa
  11. The student prepares paperwork to advance to doctoral candidacy when comps process is complete
  • Faculty mentor’s responsibilities:
  1. Discusses with the student the time-line for scheduling comps and completing comps;
  2. Meets with the student to discuss the nature and content of the written and oral qualifying examination;
  3. Reviews expectations for written comps with student before initial meeting.
  4. Reviews the reading list and outline with the student prior to the committee meeting and suggests revisions (without editing) as appropriate;
  5. Serves as the chair of the qualifying examination committee by running the planning meeting with the comps committee and student to review reading list and outline;
  6. Completes the grading rubric for the written examination and gathers grades and rubrics from all committee members;
  7. Informs the student of the grade for the written exam (pass/fail);
  8. If student has difficulty with scheduling, facilitates student appointments with committee for feedback on written document.
  9. Chairs the oral exam meeting and leads the discussion of the final grade with committee members.
  10. Informs the student of the grade for the written and oral exam.
  • Comprehensive Examination Committee Members:
  1. Respond promptly to student request to schedule initial meeting;
  2. Provide feedback at initial meeting on reading list and outline
  3. Complete the grading rubric for the written comprehensive exam within two weeks of receiving the written exam.  Supplement the rubric with comments.  Send written feedback to advisor;
  4. Meets with the student individually to discuss areas that might be queried more in-depth during the oral examination.  Each committee member has the responsibility to meet with the student.
  5. Attend oral comp and provide input to group rubric.


  1. The qualifying examination is generally administered in the third year of study, beginning in the fall with completion in the spring.  Thus, these exams are typically administered after completion of the candidacy research and required courses.  However, there is no requirement that the exam wait until coursework or candidacy research are completed.  The date by which the exam process must be initiated is January 30 of year 3, with completion by May 15 of year 3.
    1. Note: If the student opts to write a grant proposal as their exam requirement, and the student seeks to submit this written comp as an F31 or F32 application to the NIH, then the student may complete this type of comp sooner than in the third year in the Ph.D. program.
  2. Step 1 - Early in year 3: Initial planning meeting between faculty mentor and student begins the qualifying exam process, followed by a planning meeting (with reading list and outline) with the faculty committee.
  3. Step 2 - Student submits the written comp, no later than March 31 of Year 3
  4. Step 3 – Members of comps committee grade the written comps within 2 weeks of receipt.
  5. Step 4 – Oral exam is scheduled 4 weeks after passing grade of written comp is determined, and no later than May 15 of Year 3


Nature of the Oral Qualifying Examination:

The oral qualifying examination is an opportunity for committee members to ask the student for clarification of points from the written examination.  The committee may ask questions about how the student synthesized the literature and how he or she reached conclusions explained in the written document.  The committee may also ask questions about aspects of the reading list that were not addressed in the final document, or about fundamental ideas underpinning the written document that were not addressed.  At the beginning of the oral exam, the student will be given the chance to retract or add anything in the written document.  This part of the oral comps should last about 5-10 min.  There is no other formal presentation by the student during the oral comp. The entire oral comprehensive examination will be limited to one hour.


Grading, Criteria for Pass/Fail, and Subsequent Actions:

A standard rubric will be used for grading the written comprehensive examination. The rubric should be supplemented by individual faculty member’s comments for the written examination.  Each faculty member will complete their own rubric to come to a determination on whether or not the student has passed the written exam.  The faculty committee will complete a single group rubric following the oral comprehensive exam.  The final outcome of the student’s performance on the written + oral comps is either Pass or Fail. A pass constitutes adequate performance in both written and oral areas.

A fail constitutes unsatisfactory performance on either the written or oral portions of the exam, or both. If the student fails the qualifying exam, he or she will re-take the comps in the same or a different research area with the same or different products (comprehensive literature review, grant proposal).  The committee can ask the student to re-write any aspect of the exam that they deem inadequate.  The student will re-take the exam in the next fall semester.  The initial planning meeting should be held by Sept. 30 in Year 4, and the written and oral comps must be completed by the end of the fall semester in year 4 (Dec 31).

 Regardless of comprehensive exam outcome, the committee should complete a learning outcomes rubric based on the exams.          


Dual-degree students:

MA/PhD students will follow the qualifying examination format outlined above for HESP Ph.D. students.

AuD/PhD students may take this qualifying exam format, or may take a 1-day take-home written comprehensive examination in the student’s research area (plus the completion of the AuD comps).  Regardless of the written comp option selected, these students will also complete an oral comp.

Regardless of comprehensive exam outcome, the committee should complete a learning outcomes rubric based on the exams.


V-C. Writing Experiences

A key to conducting good research is the ability to explain ideas clearly and succinctly in writing. This involves accurately synthesizing existing literatures, explaining gaps in current knowledge, isolating barriers to scientific progress, and formulating effective solutions. In this sense, good writing -- in long and short formats -- is foundational to conducting excellent research. To hone this skill, we strongly encourages students to allocate regular writing time, participate in writing groups within the department and/or across campus, receive frequent feedback on one's writing, take part in a 1-time course at the Writing Center and/or enroll in semester courses that provides feedback on writing (e.g., Research Methods, Intro to Cognitive Science).

V-E. Evaluation

Evaluation is a continuing and formal process in the Ph.D. program, in which all components of student performance in the program is assessed, including coursework, research, the candidacy paper, the comprehensive exams, the dissertation proposal, and the final dissertation defense. In order to provide each doctoral student with regular appraisals of his/her progress, there will be an annual evaluation of all Ph.D. students in the areas of coursework, research assistantship or teaching assistantship, research projects, and writing. Relevant information provided to the PPC for evaluation includes grade reports, a report from the student's mentors, a sample of the student's written work, and any other relevant information provided by the student. This information should be supplied to the PPC in advance of the annual spring meeting. Following this meeting, the PPC will evaluate the student's progress; in order to be judged as having made satisfactory progress, the student should have made substantial gains in research and coursework since the prior meeting of the PPC. A written report of this meeting will be included in the student's file, and discussed with the student. The report should be filed with the Department no later than June each year, although the meetings themselves are expected to occur during the academic year.

If a student is not making satisfactory progress toward the Ph.D., the PPC may recommend to the faculty and the Director of Graduate Studies that the student be placed in the category "not in good standing." The faculty may further stipulate certain changes to be made within a specified time frame in order for the student to be returned to "good standing" in the Department. Students who fail to meet stipulated conditions and who remain in the category "not in good standing" are subject to a recommendation for dismissal from the program by the faculty.

Students in the Ph.D. program are strongly encouraged to apply for national scholarships, fellowships, and other educational opportunities. These applications should also be made available to the PPC committee; copies of successful applications should be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies as examples for future students.

back to top of page

V-F. Mentoring

A major component of a PhD program is the relationship between the student and their faculty mentor(s).   This is a two-way relationship, and is most successful when both parties approach the process with similar expectations.  To that end, we have provided three things:

  1. A description of different approaches to mentoring (see below)
  2. General advice on mentoring (based on a brochure developed by Gaelle Kolb of NACS)
  3. A template for setting up mutual expectations, based on one developed by the Graduate School for paid research assistants; we encourage all PhD students and their faculty advisors to complete this document together at the start of the mentoring relationship, and to revisit it on a yearly basis.

We also strongly advise mentors and mentees to read “Nature’s guide for mentors” at

Different Approaches to Mentoring

Mentoring relationships can work in a number of ways, depending on the needs of both parties.  Some important things to consider are:

Frequency of meetings

Some mentors and mentees set up regular weekly or bimonthly meetings; others meet when needed. Some mentors and mentees may regularly see each other in the lab; others may primarily see each other at scheduled meetings.  Different approaches may work best for different students, and for different stages of the student’s career.  This is something best discussed as part of expectation-setting discussions; however, having regularly scheduled (weekly or bimonthly) meetings is often a good approach, particularly early in a student’s program.

Expectations for other research experiences

In general, the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences encourages our students to gain a variety of research experiences; this is often best approached by working with multiple mentors or in multiple labs.  Some students may work in multiple labs throughout their graduate training; others may work in one lab, but pursue short-term rotations or other projects with additional faculty.  In general, this variety of experiences is encouraged; however, it is important to note that student funding may place important limits on this.  While some funding sources are not tied to particular labs (e.g., fellowships), others are - if a student is being paid as a research assistant on a particular grant, for example, the student must contribute the expected time amounts to that grant effort, and this may limit the time that can be spent in other labs.  It is important to discuss these requirements before accepting any particular funding source.


Some students have a single primary mentor.  Others have a primary mentor, but may also spend time in another lab, where they have a secondary, separate mentor.  Others have two mentors – and may have separate projects with each, or may have projects that overlap across the areas of interest.  When there are two mentors, there may be separate meetings/discussions with each mentor, or there may be 3-way joint meetings (either in person or in skype) on a regular basis; in some cases, all meetings are 3-way meetings, and are regularly scheduled for every 1-2 weeks.  The latter approach helps keep everyone well-informed, and we encourage discussion of this approach as part of the broader expectation-setting discussions.

In some co-mentoring relationships, both mentors are actively involved in the mentee’s research training and activities; in others, the co-mentor has minimal lab interaction with the mentee but instead serves more as an outside advisee.  This can potentially lead to differing assumptions about the responsibilities each mentor has for the mentee’s training.  For this reason, we feel it is important in co-mentoring relationships for there to be a frank discussion regarding the division of responsibilities between mentors at the start of the co-mentoring relationship, and to identify potential roles for each faculty member.  It is also particularly important that all parties meet as a group on a semi-regular basis (ideally, at least once a month).

Multiple-student mentoring

In some labs, multiple students may work jointly on the same research project; in this situation, there may be meetings with multiple students at once, in addition to individual mentor-mentee meetings.  In other labs, more senior students may themselves mentor less advanced students; it is worth discussing different approaches to mentorship in these hierarchical relationships.

Healthy mentoring relationships

Finally, it worth noting that mentorship relationships necessarily involve two people with very different degrees of prior knowledge, and different degrees of “power”, particularly when the faculty mentor is providing funding to the student.  It is important that both parties feel comfortable discussing their expectations with one another in an open fashion.  The attached mutual expectations template is a useful starting point for having such conversations, but these discussions need to continue throughout the mentee’s program.  In the case of a difference of opinion, it might be useful to consult with the graduate student ombudsperson for the department, or with other faculty advisors.

Authorship issues

One issue that frequently comes up between mentors and mentees is that of authorship on projects.  We recommend establishing an agreement about the order of authorship at the start of a project.  That said, we also recognize that things change over time.  For example, a student may start off being highly involved in a project, but then leave that lab, such that the project shifts to a different student; alternatively, a student may not have a very large role on a project to begin with, but takes on a more substantive role as the project moves forward.   As such, issues of authorship are an ever-evolving process, even when all parties agreed at a project’s onset.  For that reason, we recommend that mentors and mentees complete a written authorship agreement at the onset of a project, but also revisit this on a regular basis as responsibilities and roles change.  One example of such an authorship agreement can be found at

We also recommend that both students and faculty read the APA’s statement on authorship, downloadable at, and complete the CITI training module on Responsible Conduct of Research at is separate from the module on human subjects research, which most labs also require).

back to top of page

APPENDIX I: Summary of program requirements and recommendations

Timeline requirements

  • Admission to candidacy within 5 years
  • Completion of degree within 4 years after advancement to candidacy

Curriculum Requirements

Minimum of 50 credits overall, including:

  • 6 credits in Statistics
  • 3 credits in Research Design
  • 2 credits in Ethics of Scientific Research
  • 6 credits in core knowledge areas
  • 3 credits in contemporary research
  • Minimum of 2 courses with an in-depth written paper
  • Minimum of 6 credits of candidacy research
  • Minimum of 12 credits of dissertation research

Research Requirements

  • Candidacy Research Projectincludes defense of project, written final paper, oral presentation of results
  • Dissertation Research Projectincludes defense of proposal and of project, written proposal and written final project

Other requirements

  • Satisfactory completion of comprehensive exams
  • Development of a teaching portfolio
  • Presentation at a departmental colloquium each year post-candidacy
  • Formation of a program planning committee, and yearly PPC meetings

Other Expectations or Recommendations

  • Pursuing the degree full-time
  • Involvement in other research projects
  • Lab rotation
  • Teaching a minimum of one course
  • Attendance at departmental colloquia
  • Attendance at the doctoral student professional issues series
  • Periodic colloquium presentations during the precandidacy period
  • Conference attendance
  • Participation in an in-depth writing seminar

back to top of page

APPENDIX II: Faculty in related areas on the UMCP campus


Faculty in related areas off campus:


back to top of page

Appendix III: Additional Resources


  • Lockers: See Kay (clinic office) to get assigned locker
  • Desks (0133) with cubbies: See Valerie (main office) to get a desk assignment. Note: desk assignments are ONLY for students who actually need a desk to work at; if you simply need a place to store materials, and will spend most of your work time in your lab, please request a locker instead.
  • Library Carrels:

Departmental talks:

Other colloquia/talks on campus:

Other training programs/affiliate programs/certificate programs:

Teaching & Learning Transformations Center -

  • Offers a number of valuable resources for graduate students, including CTE-Lilly Graduate Teaching Fellows Program, Grant Writing Seminar for Grad Students, etc.  
  • Magnetoencephalography (MEG). UMD has an MEG facility as part of Linguistics; it is intended for use by multiple researchers across campus. As such, there is a lab manager in charge, and both computer resources and support for people from other departments.
  • PhD Completion workshop series: These workshops take place on Fridays from 4:30-6:30pm. They are free, but require preregistration. Workshops are on topics such as preparing a proposal, preparing a dissertation, writing a CV, IRBs, teaching portfolios, applying for national scholarships & fellowships, conducing a job search, organizing for a job interview, as well as networking and mentorship opportunities.
  • ASHA:
  • MARC program - Mentoring for Academic-Research Careers. This is an 8 month program in which you communicate via email with a Mentor. Find out more at:
  • Grad Research Interaction Day (GRID): This is a campus-wide, conference style event where research done by graduate students at the University is presented and discussed by faculty and students from many departments and schools.

A selection of other Funding Opportunities:

Although part of Undergraduate Studies, graduate students can also make appointments to meet with staff about opportunities.

back to top of page

Last modified
06/25/2019 - 9:50 pm