Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMM)

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Degree Offered: M.S.

This program is offered in Durham.

The Department of Communications Sciences and Disorders offers a master of science degree. Students are prepared to practice in a variety of job settings within the field of speech-­language pathology and to meet the academic and practicum requirements of the American Speech-­Language-­Hearing Association (ASHA) for the certificate of clinical competence in speech-­language pathology. The program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation of ASHA.

The graduate program integrates an array of academic and clinical experiences to prepare students for a variety of careers in speech­-language pathology. Students can elect to self­-design their program, choosing from an array of required and elective courses that best suit their career objectives. This is referred to as the "no option" concentration. Other concentrations in adult neurogenic communication disorders, and pediatric communication disorders, are available to those students seeking particular expertise in either of these areas. Irrespective of which of the options students select, the program of study will prepare them to treat the full range of communication disabilities across the life span.

The department houses a research facility in which faculty and students are actively engaged in research projects. Their projects include examinations of the efficacy of language intervention for adults with aphasia, management of motor speech deficits, functional outcomes of augmentative and alternative communication, role of communication in fostering inclusive education, relationships between language and literacy, and ways of enhancing the process of clinical supervision.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission must possess a bachelor's degree prior to beginning the master's program.  While the degree need not be in communication sciences and disorders, the following courses, or their equivalents, are prerequisites:

  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism
  • Language Acquisition
  • Clinical Phonetics
  • Basic Audiology
  • Speech-­Hearing Science

Two courses (Aural Rehabilitation and Neurology) may be taken at either the undergraduate level or as part of the master's program. In most cases, taking these courses as part of the master's program will not increase the number of courses in the program.

Applicants must also complete coursework in typical human development, statistics, and both biological and physical sciences (chemistry or physics) in preparation for fulfillment of ASHA requirements.

Applicants with degrees in fields other than CSD may be admitted to the program as provisional students, with the expectation that they will complete the prerequisites prior to, or concurrent with, graduate courses.

Acceptance to the program is based primarily on grade-­point average, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a written statement. Applicants must submit current scores of the GRE Revised General Test. The deadline for receipt of application materials is January 15. Generally, accepted students have a minimum grade-­point average of 3.6 and GRE scores at the 50th percentile or higher.  Application materials are also used for the awarding of scholarships, assistantships, and other sources of support.

After applications have been reviewed, highly qualified applicants are invited to the department for an interview.  During the interview, applicants meet individually with faculty members.  On-campus interviews are strongly recommended, but other arrangements may be made for interviewees who are unable to travel to Boston.

Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMM)

COMM 825 - Cued Speech

Credits: 3

This course covers the fundamentals of the Cued Speech system, its applications ans research as well as its relevance to other communication options for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Various topics are covered, including CS and language development, reading, auditory and speech skill development, auditory processing, bilingualism, Down Syndrome, Autism, cochlear implants and transliteration.

COMM 875 - Advanced Language Acquisition

Credits: 3

Careful examination of theoretical perspectives and landmark studies provides the foundation for the exploration of advanced topics in language acquisition. Current approaches to child language research guide students to approach the course context from a scientific perspective. Prereq: COMM 522.

COMM 876 - Ethical and Professional Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders I

Credits: 1

Introduction to ethical and professional issues that professionals will encounter in various work settings including regulatory, billing practices, service delivery models, and the role of advocacy for client services.

COMM 880 - Diagnosis of Speech and Language Disorders

Credits: 3

Principles and practice for diagnosis of speech and language disorders; examination procedures and measurement techniques.

COMM 890 - Advanced Audiology for Speech-Language Pathologists

Credits: 3

A clinical foundation in diagnostic and rehabilitative information. This course covers foundation materials that apply to both children and adults, and includes recent academic, clinical, and ethical developments in the profession of audiology that impact speech-language pathologists. Prereq: COMM 521, COMM 704, COMM 705, introduction to speech science, and introduction to hearing science. CSD majors only.

COMM 891 - Applied Neurology for Speech-Language Pathology

Credits: 3

A foundation in the basic neuroanatomy and physiology of human communication and swallowing. Includes a review of gross anatomy of the central nervous system, sensory, and motor systems, with emphasis on cranial nerves, functional organization of human communication and behavior, and the relationship between CNS dysfunction and disorders of communication, cognition, and swallowing.

COMM 895 - Special Topics

Credits: 1-3

Advanced study in specific areas; involves an independent project. Prereq: permission. May be repeated.

COMM 899 - Master's Thesis

Credits: 1-6

Prereq: permission. May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Cr/F.

COMM 900 - Articulatory and Phonological Disorders in Children

Credits: 3

Phonological theories as they relate to analysis and remediation of phonological disorders. Prereq: COMM 524 Clinical Phonetics.

COMM 901 - Dysphagia

Credits: 3

This course addresses swallowing problems occurring in the preparatory, oral, and pharyngeal stages of the swallow. Assessment and treatment are discussed. Permission required.

COMM 902 - Stuttering

Credits: 3

Theoretical and therapeutic considerations of the stuttering syndrome; emphasis on clinical management.

COMM 903 - Therapy Process

Credits: 2

An introduction to the clinical process. Part I emphasizes the theory and practice of intervention. Part II addresses oral and written communication involved in the clinical process, the importance of clinical writing, and common reports/documents. CSD majors only.

COMM 904 - Aphasia in Adults

Credits: 3

Principles concerning etiologies, evaluation, classification, and methods of clinical management including the team approach to rehabilitation of aphasia in adults. Prereq: a course in neuro-anatomy or permission.

COMM 905 - Motor Speech Disorders

Credits: 3

Neurological bases, diagnosis, and treatment of motor speech disorders including cerebral palsy, acquired dysarthia, and apraxia of speech. Prereq:a course in neuro-anatomy or permission.

COMM 906 - Voice Disorders

Credits: 2

Types, causes, and characteristics of functional and organic voice disorders. Specific evaluation of deviant vocal characteristics; treatment techniques for children and adults.

COMM 907 - Advanced Seminar in Aural Rehabilitation

Credits: 3

Current issues in therapeutic techniques and management considerations for the hard-of-hearing child. Speech perception by the hearing impaired, use of amplification systems, counseling approaches, and modification of the listening environment and language considerations, and the development of IEPS. Prereq: basic audiology, introduction to auditory perception and aural rehabilitation, speech and hearing science, or equivalent.

COMM 908 - Disorders of Language and Literacy I

Credits: 3

Examination of language-based learning disabilities; relation between language and learning; current assessment and treatment strategies. Prereq: permission.

COMM 909 - Disorders of Language and Literacy II

Credits: 3

The writing problems commonly observed in children with language disorders are reviewed from the perspective of language: writing relationships, meta-cognition, and memory. Current diagnostic and instructional approaches are discussed. Prereq: permission.

COMM 910 - Clinical Practicum

Credits: 1-3

On-campus practicum provides graduate students with the opportunity to apply advanced theoretical knowledge in clinical setting with clients demonstrating speech, language, hearing, and/or swallowing disorders. Students acquire therapy and diagnostic experience under supervision. A minimum of 3 credits is required for the M.S. degree. May be repeated up to 3 times for a maximum of 3 credits. Variable 1-2 credits. Special fee.

COMM 911 - Externship

Credits: 1-4

Application of advanced theoretical knowledge through clinical work in an off-campus clinical setting. Prereq: COMM 910, Clinical Practicum with a grade of "B" or above. A maximum of total of 8 credits required.

COMM 912 - Language Disorders Birth to Five

Credits: 3

Trans-disciplinary examination of interrelationships between early language, social, and cognitive development, with emphasis on collaborative models of assessment and intervention. Reviews implications for special populations (e.g., mentally retarded, autistic, sensory impaired, and limited English proficiency.)

COMM 913 - Cognitive Communication Disorders

Credits: 3

This course addresses the nature of cognitive-communicative impairments in children and adults with acquired brain injury and links theory and practice to community reintegration. Prereq: a course in neuro-anatomy.

COMM 914 - Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Credits: 3-4

An overview of how augmentative and alternative communication systems can be used to foster the participation, interaction, and inclusion of children and adults for whom speech is not a primary mode of communication. Students are exposed to a broad variety of assessment and intervention techniques, some of which involve the use of assistive technology.

COMM 915 - Counseling Clients and Families with Communication Disorders

Credits: 2

Course enables learners to understand essential elements of interaction with other human beings with whom they are working, and to apply therapeutic principles in clinical settings with people who have speech, language, and hearing difficulties. Learners are also able to identify which areas of counseling are outside their scope of practice. More specifically, this course is intended to: provide the learner with a broad overview of contemporary counseling approaches and issues; and apply these issues to the speech and hearing clinician. In addition we touch upon family systems and how they are affected by the presence of a communication disorder. The course involves formal lectures and group discussion. The course also offers unstructured time for the class members to use as they see fit. Only open to CSD, CSD: Lang&LitDisabilities, CSD:EarlyChild Intervention majors.

COMM 916 - Autism Spectrum Disorders

Credits: 3

This seminar provides an overview of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) from multiple points of view. Participants become acquainted with the perspectives of individuals and their families' through first-hand accounts. Current practices related to the early identification, screening, diagnosis, and possible etiology of autism spectrum disorders, including an overview of medical considerations, are discussed. Evidence-based practices across the age-span are critically reviewed in the areas of behavior, communication, play, social interactions, sensory-motor, academics, and transition to adult life. Teaming approaches and person-centered planning to support a high quality of life for the individual are presented. Only open to CSD, CSD: Lang&LitDisabilities, CSD:EarlyChild Intervention majors.

COMM 917 - Research Mthds Comm Sci Dis

Credits: 3

This course introduces students to concepts, procedures, and application of research methods in communication sciences and disorders. The course covers group, single subject, experimental, quasi-experimental, correlational, and qualitative designs with an emphasis on clinical application. Only open to CSD, CSD: Lang&LitDisabilities, CSD:EarlyChild Intervention majors.

COMM 920 - Graduate Seminar

Credits: 1-6

Current topics, recent investigations, and library research. May be repeated up to 9 credits barring duplication of subject matter. A minimum of 2 credits is required for M.S. degree.

See for faculty.