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Speech-Language Pathology Specialization

The doctoral program in Speech-Language Pathology is a specialization within the Disability Disciplines PhD Program in the Emma Eccles Jones School of Education and Human Services. The Disability Disciplines Doctoral Program offers a multidisciplinary doctoral degree that brings together faculty and students across disciplinary and departmental lines to explore interrelated aspects of disabilities.  Specializations include Audiology, Speech-Language Pathology, Special Education, Applied Behavior Analysis, PathokinesiologyRehabilitation Counseling, and Disabilities Studies . All specializations balance a common core of multidisciplinary coursework and applied activities with a strong disciplinary focus. Thus, both faculty and students work within a multidisciplinary context without compromising their important disciplinary perspective, knowledge, and skills.

The program is made up of a combination of coursework, a preliminary exam, internships, professional products, and a dissertation.   Students must pass a three-day preliminary exam that includes disciplinary knowledge, critique of a research manuscript, and design of an experimental research study.  In addition, students complete internships and professional products in seven areas critical for faculty in communication disorders and/or special education:  research, conference presentation, writing for publication, systematic review of research literature, grant writing, college teaching, and supervision/coaching.


Program Contact
Name:  Dr. Ronald B. Gillam
Phone: 435-797-1704


Research is being conducted in the following laboratories

Child Language Lab

The Child Language Lab is involved in collecting and analyzing data related to the assessment and intervention of language and learning disorders in children from preschool through early adolescence. Our focus is on the underlying cognitive processes that drive learning (eg., attention, memory, perception) and the supports that are necessary to improve outcomes for children with deficits in one or more of these areas. Research in the Child Language Lab has been funded by grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the National Institute on Special Education Research, and the Maternal Child Health Bureau.

Language and Aphasia Neuro-Rehabilitation Lab (LANR)

The Language and Aphasia Neuro-Rehabilitation (LANR) Lab studies and develops innovative assessment tools and interventions to improve the quality of life for individuals affected by aphasia. Our assessment research investigates how modern psychometric theory can be applied to develop adaptive tests that target individual performance levels (Milman Holland, 2012). In collaboration with Yasmeen Faroqi-Shaw at the University of Maryland, we are also examining how widely used aphasia measures can be modified for bilingual populations (Milman, Faroqi-Shah, & Corcoran, 2014). Our patient-centered integrated language production treatment approach applies a part-whole learning model to investigate transfer of treatment effects to everyday real-world contexts (Milman, Vega-Mendoza, & Clendenen, 2014). Most recently we have initiated a partnership with USU Distance Education Program and Utah Education Network to explore the potential of tele-rehabilitation applications (Milman, Thatcher, Anderson et al., 2014).

Human Interaction Lab

Human interaction requires dialogue partners to produce and perceive speech, and to coordinate these communicative actions to succeed. What happens when the ability to produce or perceive speech is impaired? And how does this disrupt the natural process of communication? In the Human Interaction Lab we explore how speech disorders arising from neurological origins (e.g., dysarthria) interferes with speech production, perception, and interpersonal coordination. We consider breakdowns in human interaction as an entity of the dialogue pair and investigate novel approaches to identify and rehabilitate such deficits. This work emphasizes the role of rhythm in communication and draws from a breadth of disciplines including speech science, cognitive science, psychology, sociolinguistics, and tools from the field of engineering.
Director: Stephanie Borrie, Ph.D.


Required coursework is a blend of broad multidisciplinary courses and focused specialization courses.  Core coursework, common to all areas of disability disciplines, includes multidisciplinary courses that bring together diverse perspectives on disabilities, effective services, and research methodology.  Specialization courses provide deep coverage of current developments in speech-language pathology research and practice.

Core Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (17/19)
EDUC 6570 Introduction to Education and Psychological Research
Introduction to research methods including identifying research questions, conducting research literature reviews, and design and implementation of research projects. (Students should enroll in the section of this course that is designated for full-time doctoral students.)
EDUC 6600 Measurement, Design, & Analysis
This course integrates concepts in measurement, research design, and statistical analysis for research in psychology and education. (STAT 5200 is an acceptable substitution.)
REH/SPED 7820 Seminar: Special Topics
In-depth study of special topics in special education and rehabilitation. Seminars examine historical aspects, relevant research, and theoretical positions on selected topics.
1 (3)
SPED 7400 Multicultural Issues in Disability
This seminar will focus on the juxtaposition of disability and ethnic/cultural/linguistic diversity. Three broad areas will be presented. The first area will focus on the ethnic/cultural/linguistic demography of disability. The second area will focus on the prejudice, discrimination, and handicapism and the ways in which these forces impact upon an individual who has a disability and who is a member of an ethnic/cultural/linguistic minority group. The third area will focus on practice applications, translating the concept of the first two areas into practical suggestions for professional practice.
SPED 7920 Doctoral Orientation Seminar
Orients new students to the doctoral program including career planning, program planning, fundamental concepts of scientific research and literature review, and knowledge of the available facilities and faculty members.
SPED 7940 Journal Reading Group
Under faculty direction, students read and discuss published research. Students learn to critique empirical and theoretical papers as well as current research findings in important areas of Disability Disciplines.
SPED 7820 Evidence-Based Practice
This seminar explores evidence-based practice as a framework for providing the most effective possilbe services to persons with disabilities by linking research and practice. Students will learn processes for posing appropriate clinical questions, systematically and critically reviewing research, and developing formal practice quidelines.
USU 6900 Research Integrity
The purpose of this class is to provide an underpinning of ethical conduct for students entering the research enterprise at USU. The course is designed for graduate students based on regulatory requirements from federal funding agencies. Subjects covered are ethical treatment of human participants in research, conflicts of interest, ethical care and use of animals in research, collaborative science, data ownership, management and sharing, mentor/trainee relationships, authorship and publication practices, research misconduct and peer review.

Speech-Language Pathology Coursework

Course Title / Description Credits (15)
COMD 6900 Advanced Topics in Speech and Language Disorders
Discussion of advanced topics and issues in language disorders, including theories of information processing and learning mechanisms underlying language disorders, the nature of various types of language disorders, language assessment, and language intervention.
COMD 7820 Research Seminar in Communication Disorders
COMD 7830 Seminar: Special Topics
Various Content Area Courses in Communicative Disorders
Students will enroll in at least one graduate content area course that relates to their primary interest area. Examples include: COMD 6020, COMD 6030, COMD 6120, COMD 2130, COMD 6140, COMD 6150 and COMD 6810.
Various Additional Research Methods
Students in the Speech-Language Pathology discipline will take a minimum of 6 additional credits in research methods. Students are encouraged to consider the following, although additional options will be considered by students' committees: EDUC 7610, PSY 7020, PSY 7670, PSY 7780, SPED 7700, and SPED 7710.


Preliminary Exams

Preliminary exams are conducted after approximately one year of full time study (or the equivalent) and provide a focus for students to attain foundational skills in research design and critique, and disciplinary knowledge. This three part exams is completed across a three day period. Components of the exam are:

  • Disciplinary knowledge.  Specific questions focus on key foundational knowledge of speech-language pathology.
  • Design of Research. The student outlines the design of a research project on a given topic relevant to speech-language pathology.
  • Critique of Research. The student critiques a manuscript reporting research within speech-language pathology.

Professional Products and Internships

A set of professional products and internships provide opportunities for mentored experience in critical professional skills.


The dissertation is the capstone experience of the doctoral program. The student plans, carries out, analyzes, and interprets substantial original research that contributes to the advancement of their field of study.

Faculty coming soon...