The Speech and Hearing Program at UNC was established by Dr. Robert Peters in 1969 in response to a need for well-educated professionals capable of successfully diagnosing and treating a broad array of communication disorders in children and adults. From its inception the program has been committed to the highest standards of educational preparation for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, while providing vision and leadership in our professional disciplines. Established initially as the Institute for Speech and Hearing Sciences, the program became the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences in 1980 and is now one of seven divisions in the School of Medicine’s Department of Allied Health Sciences. Dr. Peters served as Division Director until 1981 when he was succeeded by Dr. Bruce Mahaffey, from 1982 – 1985, and by Dr. Thomas Layton from 1986 to 1993. The Division’s current director is Dr. Jackson Roush.
The Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences has three graduate degree programs:
- Master of Science (MS) in Speech-Language Pathology. The Master’s is the entry level degree for clinical practice in speech-language pathology. The two year master’s typically follows a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or linguistics.
- Doctor of Audiology (AuD). The AuD is a professional doctorate which replaced the master’s in 2002 as the entry level degree for clinical audiology. The four year AuD typically follows a bachelor’s degree in communication sciences and disorders or psychology.
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The PhD program is designed for students seeking a career in academic teaching and research. Most PhD students have a Master’s degree in speech-language pathology or audiology.
The clinical degree programs in speech-language pathology and audiology are consistently ranked among the nation’s best by U.S. News and World Report, and in 2008 UNC’s Speech and Hearing Programs were ranked among the top ten by the Chronicle of Higher Education. Research is ongoing in a broad range of topic areas with funding from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, and several private foundations.
The Division has also successfully competed for extramurally funded leadership and training grants to support students. Currently funded leadership and training grants include: 3 at the doctoral level and 2 at the Master’s level. Over 20 full and part-time faculty hold appointments in the Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences and many others serve as clinical preceptors and research mentors. The Division’s community-based Hearing and Communication Center on Farrington Road is a model clinical teaching site that serves patients with hearing loss and other communication disorders. The Division also works in partnership with the outstanding clinical programs on the UNC campus where speech-language pathology and audiology services are provided, including:
- UNC Hospitals
- The Center for Literacy and Disability Studies
- The Center for Development and Learning
- The Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
- The Craniofacial Center, UNC School of Dentistry
Clinical practicum for the Division’s graduate students also occurs in over 40 regional programs and centers in the Triangle including:
- The Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham
- Wake Medical Center, Raleigh
- Duke University Medical Center, Durham
- The Chapel Hill-Carrboro, Durham County, and Wake Public Schools
The Division’s success over the past 40 years has been due to many factors: unwavering support from the University and School of Medicine; strong partnerships with campus and regional clinical programs; faculty research productivity; outstanding graduate students; and the active engagement of nearly 1,000 alumni and friends of the Division. Looking toward the future, there is renewed commitment and passion for the pursuit of excellence in each of the Division’s core missions: research, teaching, and clinical practice. Please join us on this journey as we reflect proudly on our past while preparing for the next 40 years.