Is there any new information about what is being done about the PhD shortage?

Building capacity for the Research Doctorate was the topic of this year's Researcher Academic Town meeting at the ASHA Convention in Philadelphia. The presenters, Dr. Brenda Ryals and Dr. Larry Leonard shared Building Capacity for the Research Doctorate [PDF] information on how their respective academic programs are addressing the challenge of recruiting and retaining PhD students. A slideshow presentation [PDF] featuring select data on the status of PhD education this flyer included data from the Higher Education Data System (HES) and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) Student surveys as well information on "Promising Practices" from the Council of Graduate Schools' PhD Completion Project.

The 300 faculty and researchers in attendance were not mere listeners. They were asked to brainstorm about PhD recruitment and retention approaches that might be implemented at the national, institutional and individual levels. Some common themes on remedying PhD shortages did emerge from the discussion groups:

  • Flexibility in PhD education models such as allowing more part time enrollment and distance education options or weekend and evening scheduling
  • Funding for PhD students to pursue an education and increased faculty salaries to make academic careers more attractive.
  • Exposing undergraduate students to research activities and opportunities early.
  • Supporting collaboration between PhD granting and non PhD granting institutions.
  • Allowing more clinical research opportunities

Some academic programs and faculty are already implementing some of these strategies while others are still at the planning phase.

Participants were charged with continuing their commitment to fostering PhD students and showcasing academic research careers in communication sciences and disorders. ASHA and other stakeholders continue to develop programs and resources that support these efforts. The information and feedback collected during this event will be included in the steadily growing corpus of information and resources that support efforts to address the PhD Shortage.

This article first appeared in the December 2010 issue of Access Academics and Research.

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