PhD Program Survey Results - Executive Summary

The Joint Ad Hoc Committee on the Shortage of PhD Students and Faculty in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Survey Subcommittee: D. Kimbrough Oller, Cheryl Scott, Howard Goldstein

Joint Committee
The Joint Ad Hoc Committee on the Shortage of PhD Students and Faculty in Communication Sciences and Disorders was established to address the shortage of PhD faculty in Communication Sciences and Disorders. The committee was formed by the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

A subcommittee of the Joint Ad Hoc Committee (D. Kimbrough Oller, Cheryl Scott, and Howard Goldstein) was formed to survey PhD programs. The subcommittee received assistance from the staff of both ASHA and CAPCSD. This report summarizes survey results collected in winter and spring of 2002.

The survey was preliminarily analyzed for presentation at a special meeting organized by the Joint Ad Hoc Committee regarding PhD programs and training at the CAPCSD meeting in Palm Springs in April 2002. To our knowledge, this was the first general meeting ever of PhD program directors in CSD.

Survey Results

Reporting rate
A total of 56 programs responded (52 US universities). The Joint Ad Hoc Committee hereby expresses its gratitude to the program directors and their representatives for responding to the survey. The rate of response was impressive--86%. Not all items, however, were answered by the entire sample of respondents.

Age of faculty members
To project retirement rates over the next 20 years, we needed to know ages of faculty, full and part time, with and without research doctorates. Estimated from a sample of 575 full-time faculty, the mean age of PhD faculty in PhD training programs was 49 years. These data provide the first characterization of the distribution of PhD faculty by age within PhD programs in Communications Sciences and Disorders.

Size of programs
The majority of programs had 6-16 students each, while the 10 smallest programs had fewer than 6 students each, and the 4 largest had more than 25 each. The 4 largest programs accounted for about a quarter of the total current enrollment of PhD students. The most typical programs in terms of size (6 to 15 students each) accounted for 46% of the total enrollment.

Capacity for additional doctoral training
Programs reported a total of 333 unfilled slots (value adjusted to 100% reporting rate) available for PhD students in 2001-2002. The mean number of slots per program was 2.9 students in speech-language pathology, 2.0 students in audiology, 1.9 students in communication science, and 2.6 students in other or unspecified categories.

What happened to PhD students enrolled since 1995?
Approximately 41% graduated; approximately 8% dropped out; approximately 52% of graduates were hired as faculty members.

Relative importance of factors restricting enrollment
Availability of funding was the one factor rated as highly important. Other factors were rated as moderately important (i.e., number of faculty, faculty time, faculty expertise).

Recommended funding initiatives
The survey sought to provide information that might be helpful to CAPCSD, ASHA, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation, and other potential sponsors that were exploring funding mechanisms and other strategies that might be effective in increasing the supply of PhD graduates. Among several possible strategies, recruiting first-year students was most highly rated by PhD program representatives. Other high ratings were obtained for supplemental training awards, supplemental research awards for doctoral candidates, and supplemental research awards.

Perceived success of recruitment strategies
Funded research assistantships and master's theses were rated as most successful in recruiting future doctoral students. Master's research projects, summer research internships, undergraduate honors theses and research projects were rated slightly lower. Volunteering in labs was considered less than moderately successful.

Comparing faculty composition in PhD programs versus all training programs
Comparative data for "all programs" were drawn from four cycles of the CAPCSD regular survey conducted every two years. The great majority (63%) of the faculty in programs offering the PhD, held the PhD and worked full time as faculty. In all programs combined, fewer than half the faculty held the PhD and worked full time.

Reported and recommended levels of financial support for PhD students
The reported range in funding levels was large. The average levels for extramurally funded PhD trainees or fellows, extramurally funded research assistants, university-funded research assistants, and university-funded teaching assistants was $14,730, $13,550, $13,320, and $11,360, respectively. Recommended funding levels averaged from $17,500 to $15,170 for the various categories.

Student involvement in research
PhD programs reported the involvement of 431 undergraduate students and 697 master's students (estimates adjusted to 100% reporting rate), averaging 8.7 and 11.6 students per program, respectively.

Demographics of current students
The adjusted estimate of the total number of doctoral students in communications sciences and disorders in 2001 based on the survey was 813. Among the doctoral programs reporting, 65% detailed information for a sample of 405 individual students. At least 67% of students were full time. The proportions were distributed among speech-language pathology (68%), audiology (22%), communication science (5%), and other (5%).

Gender 82% female Cultural/Linguistic Diversity 13% of culturally/linguistically diverse backgrounds Disability 2% with disability Citizenship 20% international Prior degree 77% CSD master's
11% master's from other fields
12% bachelor's only Source of degree 31% from same university
55% from other US universities
14% from non-US universities

Student funding types and sources
Approximately 24% of doctoral students were reported to be self-supporting. The majority were supported by university funds (50%); other major sources were research grants (22%) and training grants (14%). Some students were funded from multiple sources.

Most often, PhD students were funded as research assistants (46%), approximately 35% as teaching assistants, ~15% as trainees, ~6% as clinical supervisors, and ~12% in other categories. An estimated 64% and 19% of PhD students received full tuition waivers and partial tuition waivers, respectively.

Download PowerPoint slides [PDF] of the survey results.

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