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Degrees Offered

CSD Graduate Program OverviewCommunication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Graduate Program Overview

The Department

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) was founded in 1933, making it one of the oldest programs in the country. It was the birthplace of what is now the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association. It is recognized as a national leader, educating speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and individuals with speech, language, and hearing disabilities.

As part of the College of Health and Human Development, CSD is an interdisciplinary department enjoying scholarly and research relations with other departments (e.g. Human Development and Family Studies, Nursing, Biobehavioral Health, Kinesiology, Nutritional Sciences, etc.), which offer course work and research in areas such as infant and child development, gerontology, and biomechanics.

The department is the academic home to approximately 25 faculty and staff members, 50 graduate students, and 350 undergraduate students. Faculty members offer academic course work, clinical training/practicum experiences, and research opportunities to students.

The Program

Students in the CSD graduate program study human communication disorders by acquiring a strong foundation in the basic sciences and processes related to communication, swallowing, and cognition. Students acquire critical-thinking skills necessary to apply foundational knowledge and skills to identification, assessment, and treatment of communication disorders. The department offers academic coursework and clinical experiences leading to a master’s degree in speech-language pathology. The department also offers doctoral degrees in communication sciences and disorders.

The Penn State master’s-degree program in Speech-Language Pathology has been ranked in the top 10 percent of the more than 200 programs in the United States by U.S. News and World Report.

The Penn State Difference

Penn State is one of the leading research universities in the United States. According to the National Science Foundation, it consistently ranks among the top 15 major U.S. universities in research expenditures in science and engineering fields. Its graduate programs attract students from diverse cultural and educational backgrounds and from more than 100 countries all over the world.

Penn State has an enrollment at its main campus–University Park–of more than 47,000 students, about 6,000 of which are graduate students. The University invites students to consider its graduate programs, whether they aspire to conduct research that will contribute to global knowledge or to hold a leadership position in their field with government or industry.

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

The M.S. program in CSD emphasizes a research-clinical approach to communication sciences and disorders. Graduates meet the academic and practicum requirements for ASHA certification and Pennsylvania state licensure as speech-language pathologists. Graduates also can meet the requirements for a Pennsylvania Instructional Certificate in Special Education-Speech/Language Impaired, which is required to practice as a speech-language pathologist in a Pennsylvania public school.

Noteworthy Requirements

Master’s students must complete at least 400 clock hours of supervised clinical practicum that concern the evaluation and treatment of children and adults with disorders of speech, language, and hearing, as well as a full-time, twelve- to fifteen-week-long externship.


Graduates of the M.S. program often become general practitioners with many skills in specific areas of speech-language pathology.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Degree

The purpose of the doctoral program in CSD is to prepare high-quality researchers to serve as leaders in the field of communication sciences and disorders. The program is designed to support students in developing knowledge, judgment, skills, and attitudes to facilitate their development and learning throughout their careers as researchers, scholars, and teachers.

Noteworthy Requirements

Doctoral students must already have obtained a master’s degree. Each student must develop substantial expertise in at least one area of specialization and significant expertise in at least three related areas of study (two within and one outside the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders).


The Ph.D. program prepares students to fulfill faculty positions or research positions at universities or research institutes, and to assume leadership roles within the field of communication sciences and disorders.


The graduate program usually awards fellowships, traineeships, and assistantships at the beginning of fall semester. These awards pay for tuition and/or provide students with a monthly stipend, depending on the type of financial assistance. Funding opportunities also are available through grants within the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic

The Penn State Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic gives students clinical experience with a wide variety of communication disorders in subjects of all ages. Supervision is provided by faculty members, all of whom are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed by the State of Pennsylvania Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.

Adult and child therapy rooms are equipped with one-way mirrors and state-of-the-art sound systems and recording equipment. The Audiology Clinic houses a sound-attentuated audiology suite capable of testing infants, children, and adults.

Assessments and interventions are available for those with delays or disorders in hearing, language, fluency, voice, articulation, and phonology, including those with severe speech impairments requiring augmentative and alternative communication.

How To Apply

The process of applying for admission to the CSD graduate program varies for master's and doctoral applicants. Penn State is proud to participate in the CSDCAS application system for master's applicants. Doctoral applicants should apply directly to the Graduate School at Penn State.

Master of Science (M.S.) Application Instructions

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) Application Instructions


Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders
The Pennsylvania State University
308 Ford Building
University Park, PA 16802

Fax: 814-863-3759