Frequently Asked Questions

What is an SLPD?

The SLPD is a professional Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology. It is designed as an alternative to the PhD for practicing clinicians who wish to upgrade their credentials and get training in conducting clinical research.

Why get your Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD)?

  • Depth of Knowledge – Speech-language pathology has an increasingly broad scope of practice. A Master’s degree cannot hope to cover every topic sufficiently in two short years. The SLPD provides a great way to increase your knowledge base in some of the most complex areas in the field. 
  • Clinical Research – Students will be given a background in empirical research methods, critical analysis, and statistics. Then they will create their capstone project: a research study designed and executed by the student. In addition to submitting the results for publication in a scholarly journal, graduates will leave the SLPD program with the skillset to carry out their own independent research.
  • Professional Development – increasingly, the Allied Health disciplines are turning to clinical doctorates as the entry-level degree for their profession (e.g., Audiology, Nursing, Physical Therapy). While a doctorate is not required for SLP’s, it will upgrade your credentials and help you stay competitive for management and administration positions.
  • Flexibility – In addition to giving clinicians in the field the opportunity for advancement without committing to the intense rigor of a PhD, the SLPD program at Loma Linda University is designed with professionals in mind. Online coursework allows students to learn at home and after hours.

How does an SLPD degree compare to a PhD? What would a student potentially miss out on by not obtaining a PhD?

The SLPD is not as rigorous as a PhD. Our program provides all the training and skills needed to conduct basic clinical research but does not have the research scope of a PhD. This means it is more manageable with regard to time commitment (most PhDs take 5+ years of full time study to complete) by being less demanding but does not give you the same credentials or depth of research knowledge you would get in a PhD Program.

What is the course load like? How long does it take to complete the program?

The SLPD program is designed to be 2 courses per quarter, for 9 quarters (2.25 years) – 51 units in total. We can, however, accommodate students who wish to extend the program if time is needed to complete the research capstone portion of the program. See Curriculum page.

Is the program traditional (face-to-face), online, or hybrid/blended?

Aside from orientation and two additional on-site visits, it is all online.

What is the program like? Is there a dissertation?

The first year is primarily made up of content courses. In the second year, the capstone sequence begins. The Capstone Project (sometimes called an Applied Dissertation) is a written manuscript in publishable form documenting a research project designed and carried out by the student. The Faculty Research Mentor and the SLPD student submit this manuscript for potential publication, if deemed worthy of submission. It is comparable to a dissertation, but less ambitious in scope (dissertations typically consist of multiple studies). See Curriculum page.

How many students do you accept each year?

This varies depending on the strength of the applications we receive as well as the availability of faculty to mentor in a given area of interest. In order to ensure the quality of the program, we will be restricting the number of students we admit (3-5 per cohort).

When is the application due? What is the timeline for the application process?

Applications are due by June 1. It will depend on when we get final approval.

What is needed to apply? What are the requirements for prospective students?

In addition to filling out the application form and a personal statement, you will be asked for letters of recommendation, a resume, and transcripts.The strongest applicants will be selected for an online interview.You will also be given an article to read and then respond to a prompt in the form of an essay that discusses key points in the article. See SAHP Admissions page and CMSD admissions.

Is admission rolling?

No. Applications will be reviewed after the deadline is reached.

How much does the program cost? Will there be funding available?

The program is projected to cost approximately $40,000 total. We hope to have funding for students in their second year to help with conducting research but there is no definite internal funding. Students are encouraged to seek out other financial resources (e.g., through ASHA).

Is this program accredited by ASHA?

No, ASHA does not currently accredit SLPD programs.

What kinds of career benefits would a SLPD bring me? Would an SLPD allow you to teach at the university level?

The SLPD is beneficial to individuals who wish to take on roles as master clinicians, clinical educators, clinical administrators, or who wish to conduct their own independent research. Approximately 10% of university positions in the 2010-2011 school year were filled by individuals with an SLPD. For more information, see the Feasibility of Standards for the Clinical Doctorate in Speech‐Language Pathology and the Guidelines for the Clinical Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology.