Program Highlights: Combined M.A./Ph.D. Program

Joint MA/PhD in SLP Program Student Melissa Stockbridge

What is this program about?

The combined MA/PhD program is for students who are committed to simultaneously pursuing both a PhD in Hearing and Speech Sciences with a focus on speech/language and clinical training.  This option is intended for students who do not already have clinical certification, but are interested in a career involving clinically-oriented research and thus wish to pursue clinical training along the way to their research degree.  The combined MA/PhD program is intended for students with well-defined research interests and prior research experience. Application is through the PhD program, but students should indicate their intent to pursue both degrees in their statement of interest.

(Note:  For those who are uncertain as to whether they wish to continue for the PhD degree or unclear about which area of clinical research they wish to pursue, we would instead advise considering a sequential approach: pursue an MA degree first and then apply to the PhD program upon completion of the MA.)

 

What is the focus?

  • Cutting-edge clinical and research issues pertaining to communication disorders and normal processes of speech, language and hearing. The focus covers the age span from newborn to the very old, and an extensive variety of disorders of language, articulation, fluency, voice, cognition and swallowing; 
  • A mentorship program, in which students work closely with individual faculty members to develop and achieve their research and scholarly goals;
  • Significant exposure to diverse clinical populations (including bilingual speakers), assessment procedures, treatment methodologies and work settings;
  • A rich training environment fostered through dynamic collaborations with faculty in multiple areas, including those in other departments;
  • Training on how to contribute to the evidence-base for clinical practice;
  • Active participation in related research communities across campus, including the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science and the Maryland Language Science Center;
  • Extensive hands-on experiences in classes and clinic, with an emphasis on integrating theory with practice. 

 

Why is the program great?

  • Combining the MA and the PhD program permits students to pursue both research and clinical training simultaneously, rather than sequentially.  This also allows for maximum efficiency overall;
  • Graduate coursework is offered by world-renowned faculty with specific expertise in the courses they teach;
  • A learning environment in which there are extensive collaborations between researchers and clinical faculty on topics such as fluency, communication partner training for persons with aphasia, autism, and traumatic brain injury;
  • The in-house clinic includes an award-winning preschool, The Language-Learning Early-Advantage Program (LEAP). The LEAP preschool focuses on communication enrichment for at-risk preschoolers in group and individual settings;
  • Strong interdisciplinary collaborations, including active co-mentorship arrangements, within the department and across different departments; 
  • Numerous, off-site research collaborations and clinical externships in the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan area are unparalleled (e.g., NIH Clinical Center, Walter Reed Military Medical Center, Children’s Hospital in DC, Johns Hopkins University Hospital, etc.), and permit students to explore specialized research and clinical interests;
  • Department-wide seminar series brings highly respected faculty to campus to interact with students;
  • A specialized PhD professional development series that prepares students for success during their graduate training and post-graduation careers.

 

What can I expect from the program?

  • 62 credits of coursework, 15 credits of clinical training, and 18 credits of research training.
  • Six years of full-time study, which includes graduate-level coursework, clinical outplacements, research seminars, a candidacy project, and a dissertation.  This is in addition to a (paid) clinical fellowship year, which can be pursued full-time subsequent to the program or part-time during the program.
  • Three semesters of training in the in-house clinic, typically during year 2 of the program. 
  • Two semesters of clinical externship (outside placement), typically distributed between adult and pediatric settings and occurring in year 4.
  • Training in research methods including experimental design and analysis, scientific writing, and the development of a coherent research program.

 

A sample course sequence for this combined program is available here. Students interested in a combined course of study should apply to the Ph.D. program initially, but should indicate their interest in pursuing clinical training in their statement of purpose.