Jul 21, 2024  
2023/2024 University Catalog 
2023/2024 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Language and Communicative Disorders, Ph.D

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(Major Code: 12201) (SIMS Code: 550102)


General Information

The cooperating faculties of San Diego State University and the University of California, San Diego, offer a joint doctoral program in language and communicative disorders. The program’s focus is the interdisciplinary study of language and communicative disorders. A major emphasis of the program is to apply techniques developed in cognitive science and neuroscience to the study of language and language disorders. The program involves study and research in normal and abnormal language (including sign languages), and in the neural bases of language use and language loss.

Participating faculty have research interests in a wide range of issues in the processes of language development, language and aging, multilingualism, language disorders, assessment, and intervention. Graduates of the program will be qualified to serve as faculty in university programs in a variety of disciplines, and to provide leadership in research and health services.

The doctoral program faculty at SDSU are members of the School of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, Department of Linguistics and Asian/Middle Eastern Languages, and the Department of Psychology. The doctoral program faculty at UCSD are also an interdisciplinary group from the Department of Cognitive Science, Department of Communications, Department of Linguistics, Department of Neurosciences, Department of Psychiatry, and the Department of Psychology. The program is coordinated by the doctoral program directors at each campus, in conjunction with an executive committee comprised of three faculty from each campus appointed by the graduate deans from each campus.

The program is innovative in that many of the requirements are designed to function as a model of professional preparation specifically incorporating activities in which a successful teacher and researcher must engage after obtaining the Ph.D. Students will be required to participate in interdisciplinary research throughout the program, learn about the nature and ethics of research, prepare grant proposals, write manuscripts, and will gain experience in oral presentations and teaching. Graduates from the program will be well-prepared for the rigors of an academic/research career.


The following faculty participate in the doctoral program in language and communicative disorders and are available as advisers, for direction of research, and as members of dissertation committees.

San Diego State University: Abel Mills (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Barlow (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Blumenfeld (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Emmorey (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Friend (Psychology), Holcomb (Psychology), Keating (Linguistics), Love-Geffen (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Marinkovic (Psychology), Müller (Psychology), Nip (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Pham (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), Pruitt-Lord (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences), and Ries-Cornou (Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences).

University of California, San Diego: Ackerman (Linguistics), Bellugi (Salk Institute, Psychology), Brown (Neuroscience), Carver (Psychology), Chukoskie (Institute for Neural Computation), Coulson (Cognitive Science), Creel (Cognitive Science), Deák, (Cognitive Science), Ferreira (Psychology), Garellek (Linguistics), Gollan (Psychiatry), Haist (Psychiatry), Halgren (Neuroscience), Kutas (Cognitive Science), Mayberry (Linguistics), Moore (Linguistics), Townsend (Neuroscience), Trauner (Neuroscience).

Admission to Doctoral Study

The doctoral program in language and communicative disorders draws from a variety of disciplines including cognitive science, engineering, linguistics, neuroscience, psychology, speech, language, and hearing sciences, and other related sciences. Students should have adequate preparation in mathematics, statistics, research, and biological sciences. Backgrounds in neurosciences and/or language sciences, or language disorders are helpful, but not required for admission.

Applicants for admission to the doctoral program must meet the general requirements for admission to both universities, as specified in the current SDSU and UCSD catalogs. Applicants must meet the special requirements of this program which include (a) an acceptable baccalaureate or master’s degree or equivalent from a regionally accredited institution; (b) a GPA of at least 3.25 on a 4.0 scale in the last 60 semester (or 90 quarter) credits of upper division and/or graduate courses (c) good standing in the last institution attended; (d) suitable scores on the analytic, quantitative, and verbal sections of the Graduate Record Examination; (e) submission of appropriate application form and supporting materials as outlined below.

Applicant files are reviewed as a group by an admissions committee, composed of doctoral program faculty from each campus. Other doctoral faculty may review applicant files and make recommendations to the admissions committee. Assuming that the above requirements are met, decisions will also be guided by an evaluation of the adequacy of the applicant’s preparation in view of their stated needs and objectives. Given the limited number of spaces available (4 to 6 new admissions each year are anticipated, subject to available facilities), the admissions committee will select the best qualified applicants to fill the available spaces.

No minimum set of qualifications will guarantee an applicant admission to the doctoral program. The admissions committee will make recommendations for admission to the graduate deans from each campus.

Application. Students will be admitted to the doctoral program only in the fall semester/quarter. Applications and all other supporting materials must be received (not postmarked) by January 12 to be considered for the doctoral program beginning in the following fall semester/quarter.

Application Guidelines for the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program in Language and Communicative Disorders

To be admitted to the Joint Doctoral Program, applicants must electronically submit the university application available at http://www.calstate.edu/apply along with the $55 application fee.

All applicants must submit admissions materials separately to SDSU Graduate Admissions and to the SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program (http://apply.interfolio.com/46722).

Graduate Admissions

The following materials should be submitted to:

Graduate Admissions
Enrollment Services
San Diego State University
San Diego, CA 92182-7416

  1. Official transcripts (in sealed envelopes) from all postsecondary institutions attended;
    • Students who attended SDSU need only submit transcripts for work completed since last attendance.
    • Students with international coursework must submit both the official transcript and proof of degree. If documents are in a language other than English, they must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
  2. GRE scores (http://www.ets.org SDSU institution code 4682);
  3. English language score, if medium of instruction was in a language other than English (http://www.ets.org SDSU institution code 4682).

SDSU/UCSD Joint Doctoral Program

The following admissions materials must be submitted electronically via Interfolio (http://apply.interfolio.com/46722) by January 12:

  1. Essay;
  2. Curriculum vitae or resume;
  3. Transcripts;
  4. Letters of recommendation (Applicants must provide names and e-mail addresses for recommenders. Recommenders will be sent e-mail to electronically complete letter of recommendation).

For information regarding the admissions process, visit the school website at http://slhs.sdsu.edu.

Specific Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Faculty Adviser. Upon admission to the program, the executive committee will assign each student a faculty adviser. The faculty adviser will help the student select a program of study during the first year. The faculty adviser, in conjunction with the doctoral program coordinators, will help the student select a first laboratory rotation. Once the student has selected a major area of study (see below) the student will be reassigned an appropriate adviser, if necessary.

Residency Requirements. Students will be required to complete credits equivalent to one year’s full-time enrollment at each campus. The definition of residence must be in accord with the regulations of SDSU (http://arweb.sdsu.edu/es/registrar/residency. html) and UCSD (https://students.ucsd.edu/finances/fees/ residence/status-change.html). Students may be enrolled in courses at both institutions during any given semester/quarter.

Language Requirement. Students are required to have some experience in the acquisition of a second language. This may be satisfied through informal learning, immersion, or two or more years of formal coursework in a second language. Any recognized natural language will be acceptable to fulfill this requirement (including American Sign Language or other sign languages). Artificial languages, e.g., computer languages, will not satisfy this requirement. For students selecting the multilingualism concentration, proficiency must be demonstrated in English and at least one other language.

Major Area of Concentration. By the end of the first year, all students select a major field of emphasis by choosing one of three concentrations: Adult Language, Child Language, or Multilingualism. All students will be required to take some courses in each of the three concentrations.

The Adult Language concentration is intended to provide intensive education in communicative disorders in adults. Students in this concentration will also develop expertise in the study of language processing in normal adults.

The Child Language concentration is intended to provide specialized education in childhood (birth to adolescence) communicative disorders. Students in this concentration will also achieve competence in developmental psycholinguistics emphasizing language acquisition in normally-developing children.

The Multilingualism concentration is intended to provide education in cross-linguistic, ethnographic, and other comparative studies of communicative disorders in children and/or adults, including those associated with bilingualism and second language acquisition (including acquisition of sign language in deaf individuals).

Course Requirements. The program for each student will consist of a common core of courses designed to provide the basic tools for research and a foundation knowledge in the important issues in language and communicative disorders, together with specific electives appropriate to the student’s chosen concentration. The core courses must be taken for a letter grade unless approved by the program directors. Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average in program coursework.

The Tools requirement consists of two courses in statistics/research design, a course in neuroanatomy and physiology, a course in syntax, and a professional survival skills course.

The Foundations requirement consists of two courses on normal language and three courses on disorders of language.

The Electives requirement consists of at least four courses, with a minimum of three courses related to the chosen concentration. These electives must be chosen from a broad list of approved options from anthropology, cognitive science, communicative disorders, computer science, linguistics, neurosciences, and psychology. Consult with adviser for approved elective courses. Other electives may be taken to satisfy this requirement with permission of the adviser. The four required electives must be approved by the student’s adviser and the doctoral program coordinators. Students may select additional electives with approval of the adviser.

Laboratory Rotations. In order to obtain experience in different research methodologies or with different populations, each student will be required to complete two laboratory rotations, each lasting a minimum of one semester or quarter. During each rotation, students will enroll in the associated laboratory course. The laboratory rotations must be approved by the student’s adviser and the doctoral program faculty member who supervises that laboratory.

Projects. All students will be required to complete two research projects during their first two years of the program (first and second year projects). These projects are usually connected with the laboratory rotations and approved by the doctoral program faculty working in the laboratory. These projects will involve experiment design, data collection, analyses, preparation of a potentially publishable manuscript, and an oral presentation of the research findings at the annual doctoral colloquium. Students will be encouraged to submit their projects for presentation at professional meetings and to submit them to an appropriate journal.

Methods Minor. All students will be required to develop basic expertise in experimental design and statistics, and all students will become familiar with standard techniques for behavioral assessment, e.g., intelligence testing, standardized tests of language ability, analyses of free speech, design and implementation of experimental measures of language and other related cognitive behaviors. In addition, by the end of the third year, all students will declare a methods minor from one of three options: behavioral dynamics, neural imaging, or neural modeling. It is expected that the student will gain experience in the chosen minor through at least one laboratory rotation and enrollment in applicable courses selected with adviser recommendation.

The Behavioral Dynamics minor is intended for students who want to specialize in computer-controlled methods for the study of language and cognitive processing in real-time.

The Neural Imaging minor is intended for students who want to complement behavioral studies with neuro-anatomical and neuro- physiological techniques, including event-related brain potentials and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

The Neural Modeling minor is intended for students who are interested in the simulation of normal and abnormal language and cognition in artificial neural networks. Students who elect this minor will be required to take Cognitive Science 201F or Computer Science and Engineering 258A as an elective.

Dissertation Committee. Prior to developing a dissertation proposal or taking the qualifying examination, the student must have a dissertation committee. The committee members are recommended by the doctoral program coordinators with consent of the executive committee, and then appointed by the graduate deans of both campuses. The dissertation committee will consist of at least five members, including four from the doctoral program faculty groups (with at least two members from each campus) and one tenured faculty member who is in a different home department than the committee chair.

Qualifying Examination. After successful completion of the first and second year projects, the student is eligible to take the qualifying examination. The qualifying examination consists of a written component which is to be in the form of a scholarly review of one or more issues related to the student’s chosen area of research and an oral component which will be a formal presentation of the paper to be presented in an open forum to the approved dissertation committee and the public. Students will be encouraged to write their integrative paper in a form and quality which may be submitted to an appropriate journal.

Teaching. The teaching requirement may be satisfied under one of two options.

Model 1 requires that the doctoral student teach a full course and submit the course syllabus to the Executive Committee for review at the end of the semester/quarter.

Model 2 requires that the doctoral student serve as a TA (SDSU) and/or TA (UCSD) for two courses. The student will develop a syllabus in an area related to one of these courses and present a master lecture to the Executive Committee and an invited audience on a topic in the syllabus chosen by the Executive Committee.

Dissertation Proposal. The dissertation proposal will take the form of an NIH or NSF grant proposal. For model 1 dissertation (see below), the proposal will be based on completed research which become pilot studies for the grant proposal. The student may be encouraged to submit the grant proposal to support their future research, e.g. post doctoral studies, or a First Investigator Award. For model 2 dissertation, the proposal will become the basis for the dissertation research to be completed. The dissertation proposal must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee.

Advancement of Candidacy. A student will be recommended for advancement to candidacy after completing all requirements as described above, including the qualifying examination and the dissertation proposal. Students eligible for advancement to candidacy are recommended to the graduate deans of both institutions. When approved by both institutions, students will be notified by the Graduate Studies office at UCSD. Advancement is required to take place by the end of the student’s fourth year. Delay in advancement beyond the fourth year must be approved by the executive committee and then by the dean of graduate affairs at UCSD.

Dissertation. After advancement to candidacy, the remaining requirement will be the satisfactory completion of a dissertation. The dissertation may take one of the following two forms:

Model 1 dissertation. Students who have maintained continuity through their second year project, qualifying examination, and dissertation proposal, and who have successfully generated publishable research which has been submitted to respected journals, may use a minimum of three such interconnected manuscripts as their dissertation. The dissertation will contain an introduction and review of the literature which conceptually links the submitted studies, the studies themselves (exactly as they have been prepared for publication), and a conclusion which pulls the results together in a broader theoretical framework.

Model 2 dissertation. Students may choose to carry out a more traditional dissertation involving the appropriate written presentation of original research carried out by the student under the guidance of the student’s dissertation committee chair.

Dissertation Defense. The dissertation defense will be the same for both dissertation models and will consist of an oral presentation of the dissertation material to the doctoral committee and a publicly invited audience.

Award of the Degree. The Doctor of Philosophy degree in language and communicative disorders will be awarded jointly by the Regents of the University of California and the Trustees of The California State University in the names of both institutions.

Financial Support. Funding for graduate students cannot be guaranteed, although every effort will be made to provide students with some form of support through faculty grants, graduate teaching associateships, research assistantships, or scholarships. The program endeavors to provide financial support that will enable all students to devote full time to study and research training. Financial support will be awarded consistent with the policies of the Divisions of Graduate Affairs at each campus. Tuition and fees will be determined in accord with extant policies at the campus in which the student is matriculated in a given year.

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