Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Medical Speech-Language Pathology Overview

The Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Medical Speech-Language Pathology is an advanced clinical program recommended to candidates seeking “state-of-the-science” information and clinical skills.

The program is three years and requires clinical practice and simultaneous study beyond the entry level master’s degree.

The program is designed for SLPs working with medically fragile patients (and their families) across the lifespan in a range of settings including but not limited to acute hospitals, specialized pediatric or adult institutes, and community based practices.

Graduates of this program will be prepared for interprofessional practice, leadership, and excellence in clinical practice in the medical setting, as well as clinical faculty positions.

For which doctoral program should I apply: the PhD (research doctorate) or CScD (clinical doctorate)?

The main thing an applicant needs to consider is whether they want to prepare for a research career or an advanced clinical career. Although there are people who complete a PhD and continue with clinical work, the philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh is that the research doctorate is preparing research leaders for the future. Graduates of the PhD program will typically be those hired into academic positions, most often research-oriented tenure track positions. A clinical doctorate program should be equally rigorous as a research doctorate, but focusing on clinical leaders. Graduates of the CScD program develop advanced skills for working with medically complex patients, as well as professional presentation, leadership, and clinical teaching skills. This program provides a foundation for moving into leadership positions in clinical settings (e.g. hospitals, specialty clinics, etc.) or university settings. CScD graduates may also contribute clinical research teams.

The clinical doctoral program at the University of Pittsburgh requires coursework in statistics and research methods with a focus on critical evaluation and application of published evidence. This prepares the CScD graduate to expertly consume and apply published evidence and disseminate these methods to their students, supervisees, trainees, and the profession as a whole.  The research doctorate requires those courses and skills as well but students are immersed in advanced theoretical thinking and scientific endeavors. The PhD program prepares graduates to develop original, theoretically important research questions that may or may not have direct clinical implications, design rigorous research projects, analyze data and disseminate results. The program also prepares PhD graduates to lead research teams.

Clinical Doctorate (CScD)                                                                           Research Doctorate (PhD)
Careers as advanced clinical practitioners Research careers
Clinical leaders Research leaders
Critical evaluation and application of published evidence to solve clinical problems Critical evaluation and application of published evidence to advance theoretical thinking and scientific research
Clinical specialist positions, didactic and clinical teaching Academic positions, especially in programs focused on research
Contribute to clinical research teams Execute independent and collaborative research and lead research teams: Develop original questions of theoretical importance, design rigorous projects, analyze and disseminate results
Contribute to the development of academic program guideline and accreditation standards Contribute to the development of academic program guideline and accreditation standards

FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions

For additional information, click here.

Program Handbook

CScD Medical Speech-Language Pathology Years 3-5 Handbook: 2016-2017 CScD Handbook

For more information, please contact our Department.


Phone: (412) 383-6540

A researcher and subject prepare for an experiment on motor control and speech production. Eyetracking is used to measure moment-by-moment language processing in both typical and language-impaired individuals.  An audiology student provides supervised clinical services to a patient.
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