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Note: The Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) in Medical Speech-Language Pathology is currently undergoing revision.

This program is an advanced professional doctorate degree recommended for the student or speech-language pathologist (SLP) aiming for clinical excellence and leadership as an SLP in a wide variety of practice settings.

We are revising this program to best meet the professional needs of our students. We anticipate opening admission to the program in late spring 2021 with options for students to begin the program in fall 2021 or spring 2022.

Complete this inquiry form to receive updates about the revised program.

All students enrolled in the Post Masters CScD program are required to complete 87 credits (including CCC-SLP waiver). Courses are chosen with the advisor and a Plan of Study will be developed to design an in-depth program of study taking into account student's previous academic preparation and experience.

Please note that you will have required classes each Summer term in the program.  Most of our courses are only offered once per academic year. If a student fails to successfully complete a course, the student must retake the course the next academic year. Furthermore, this may also prevent the student from registering for the advanced-level courses and delay the date of graduation. 

CScD-SLP Courses

Core Study Areas – Degree Requirements

Applied Aerodigestive Physiology 1 and 2 These courses are designed to provide advanced study of the physiological processes involved in speech production and swallowing. Clinical methods used to measure speech production and swallowing physiology will be addressed. Instrumentation will be used to give students hands-on experience in the acquisition, measurement and interpretation of acoustic and physiologic data.
Medical Speech-Language Pathology The course is designed to enhance the skill and knowledge base of medical speech-language pathologists. Topics include pathophysiology of neurogenic communication and swallowing disorders, tracheostomy assessment and management, neurological assessment and advanced applied neuroscience, pediatric feeding assessment and management, structure and function of respiratory and digestive systems and medical ethics. Advanced clinical practice methods and review of evolving technologies in clinical practice are explored. Design of single-subject studies and use of qualitative (visual inspection) and quantitative methods of analysis (celeration line, 2 sd band, c-statistic, etc.) to document changes in client performance will be addressed.
Case Based Learning A problem based learning format will be used to explore situations encountered in medical speech-language pathology. Problems relevant to an array of theoretical, diagnostic and management issues will be presented in a format where residents (and clinical fellows) will assume responsibility for collecting, analyzing, interpreting and summarizing findings with class members.
Research & Clinical Forum This component encourages residents (and clinical fellows) to attend clinical and research meetings offered by CSD/Pitt/UPMC/VA etc. to gain experience of the various aspects of clinical and research fields relevant to the discipline of communication science and disorders. Residents (and clinical fellows) will attend 4 documented events per semester from the full range of activities available throughout the University of Pittsburgh and its associated medical center’s extensive network of institutional and regional clinical, research, and scientific educational offerings. This is required for each semester in the program.

Clinical Writing Project


This course will be composed of a 1-credit didactic class on the art of succinct professional writing. The nature of “the readership” will be examined and how writing style must be modified to suit a specific audience. Assessment will be based on the production of several items including a scientific abstract for conference peer review, an administrative work such as an evidence based business plan for specific service development, and an information leaflet for caregivers (lay language use). Some of these may require submission to an outside body if appropriate.

The second credit in this series will be a scholarly work in which the resident (or clinical fellow) will be mentored by a departmental faculty member on the development of a specific project. It is a requirement that this scholarly component be submitted to an outside institution for peer review.

Supervision This course will use a seminar-based approach for students to obtain a foundation in clinical teaching. Residents (and clinical fellows) will learn the basic principles of clinical instruction across speech-language pathology, audiology and other clinical fields. Students will review content focusing on historical perspectives as well as current theories and will review research findings.
Practicum in Clinic Supervision A supervised practicum in clinical teaching is also required and may be taken during or after the didactic potion of this course has been completed.
Oral Dissemination Skills This course will address the techniques and the technology required to present data clearly by oral communication and basic visual aids. Participants will have acquired the professional skills necessary to communicate scientific/research/clinical concepts clearly using appropriate oral presentation techniques.
Comprehensive Exams The focus of these assessments is to critically evaluate the resident’s knowledge, skills and abilities in the assessment and management of communication and swallowing disorders. Residents will be able to pose a clinical question relevant to their area of practice, locate and critique the evidence, and successfully present a case derived from their clinical setting. Comprehensive Exam I takes place in semester 4 and Comprehensive Exam II takes place in the final or penultimate semester.
Clinical Mentored Experience The focus of this assignment is to develop, refine and enhance the resident’s (or clinical fellow’s) knowledge, skills and abilities in clinical case management in the context of their weekly caseload. All aspects of communication and swallowing will be assessed relative to the role of a medical SLP. Mentoring will be facilitated through regular interactions with designated faculty members.
Complex Decisions & Ethics The focus of this course is to introduce students to the principles of medical ethics relative to clinical practice and research with humans. Ethical principles of autonomy, beneficence, nonmaleficence, and justice, and the ethical imperatives driven by these principles in clinical practice and human research may be explored. Topics will include: end of life decisions, advance directives, counseling, separation of personal bias from clinical decision making, role of spirituality and religion in health care among various cultures, and the ethics of evidence based practice.
Head & Neck Anatomy This course is will explore the anatomy of the head and neck, specific to the mechanisms responsible for speech production and swallowing. Content may include: gross anatomy of the brain and brainstem, craniofacial osteology and arthrology, myology of the face/mandible/sphenoid/maxillae/palatine/hyoid bones, anatomy of the pharynx/larynx/upper esophagus/respiratory musculature, anatomy and pathways of the peripheral cranial and upper segment spinal nerves and associated sensory &/or motor fields, dentition and soft tissue of the oral cavity, and salivary glands.
Human Physiology This course studies the organization of human physiological systems and their interactions with one another, in order to enhance understanding of the impact of disease processes on cognitive, communication, and swallowing functions. The course includes discussion of the general principles of membrane and cellular physiology as it relates to applied physiologic functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems, cardiovascular, pulmonary, digestive, musculoskeletal, circulatory, autonomic, renal and endocrine systems.
Neuroscience Basic and applied neuroscientific principles of sensorimotor, cognitive, affective, and other functions in humans with a wide variety of medical, congenital, psychiatric conditions will be examined. Content may include: ontogeny of central and peripheral nervous systems, developmental neuroscience, physiologic systems subserving communication, genetics, gross neuroanatomy, comparative neuroanatomy, principles of neuroplasticity, regenerative neuroscience, foundations of biomedical science, neurophysiology of aging, and neuropharmacology.
Cognitive Science Basic foundations of cognitive science, including the processes of sensation, perception, transformation, storage, retrieval and production of information, as well as attention. Attention will be paid to mental operations as seen from a variety of theoretical perspectives, as relevant to a variety of human functions including communication, sensorimotor activity, emotions, and intellect. The course may also cover information about neurophysiological correlates of cognitive function.
Statistical Methods 1 An introduction to descriptive and inferential statistics. Topics include frequency distributions, graphs, stem-and-leaf displays, boxplots, scatter diagrams, measures of central tendency, measures of variability, correlation, sampling distributions, point estimation, introduction to hypothesis testing, and introduction to interval estimation.
Statistical Methods 2 An in-depth discussion of standard statistical analyses. Topics include one- and two-sample tests of hypothesis for means, variances, proportions, correlation coefficients, regression, one-way analysis of variance, and multiple comparisons.
Fundamentals of Evidence-Based Practice This focuses on the skills for asking clinical questions, searching for the best evidence to answer questions, and critically appraising the evidence. The scientific methods and research methods associated with hierarchies of evidence will be examined.
4 Graduate Seminars/Courses Resident’s (or clinical fellow’s) area of interest. Courses within the CSD Department, SHRS, the University of Pittsburgh, or other accredited university that enhance the knowledge base. These courses will be broadly related to the area of Medical Speech-Language Pathology.
Medical Clinical Rotations The resident will develop theoretical and clinical knowledge and skills through observation, discussion, and participation in other medical based disciplines. A 15 week (50%FTE) program which will typically be three 5-week half-time clinical rotations. These clinical experiences may include such disciplines as Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Otolaryngology, Neurology, and other related (e.g. Clinical or Neuropsychology) clinical services.

Post Masters Individual Track Areas

Most core study areas have several specific courses that may be chosen by students to fit with prior experience and clinical focus. Students may also request consideration of a course not currently listed on the program if it can be shown to have outcomes equivalent to the designated core study areas.

Other requirements include the successful completion of written and oral comprehensive examinations, submission of work to outside bodies, clinical mentoring of Master level Speech-language Pathologists, participation in research and clinical forums.