Skip to main content



Students are responsible for complying with the University policies regarding academic honesty as stated in the Utah State University Honor System document.


Students who feel they have been unfairly treated in academic matters should first discuss the matter with the instructor. If the issue cannot be resolved, or for matters of discrimination or harassment, students may file a grievance though procedures and timelines specified in For matters of grievances pertaining to student conduct, see Article V. For academic integrity, see Article VI.


See USU’s Admission Policy


All students enrolled at USU must specify a preferred e-mail address in the central system of record. A University-provided account or a commercial service provider e-mail account may be specified. Preferred e-mail addresses may be specified or changed at USU Identity.


Students, faculty, staff, and persons served in the program’s clinic are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner – that is, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, participation restriction, age, sexual orientation, or status as a parent. The institution and program comply with all applicable laws, regulations, and executive orders pertaining thereto.


All international applicants whose native language is not English must prove university-level English proficiency. Please see the University’s International Student Admission policy. The School of Graduate Studies English language requirement may be satisfied in a variety of ways:

  • TOEFL score of at least 79 (Internet-based), 213 (computer-based), or 550 (paper-based)
  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of at least 6.0 overall
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) overall score of at least 53
  • Completion of a degree from a university in an English-speaking country
  • USU’s Intensive English Language Institute (IELI) placement exam score of at least 146 (IELI’s placement exam may be taken upon arrival at USU)
  • English proficiency test scores are valid for two years

A bachelor of science (BS) or bachelor of arts (BA) or second BS/BA degree in communicative disorders prepares students who desire to work in either speech-language pathology or audiology. While the degree is often a pre-requisite for graduate programs in speech-language pathology or audiology, there is no professional employment licensure with the BS/BA degree. Within COMDDE there are three programs to obtain an undergraduate degree: Logan Main Campus BS/BA, Online 1st BS/BA, and Online 2nd BS/BA. Students are accountable to all General Departmental Policies.

The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) accredits USU’s COMDDE programs. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) accredits the COMDDE graduate audiology and speech-language pathology programs.


Students are required to take many of their formal exams through approved proctors. Proctored exams are password-protected and require the proctor to be present during the examination period. USU’s proctor standards and proctor approval process exceed the industry standards. Proctors must be pre-approved and must agree to meet the stringent standards set by our university. According to Regional Campuses and Distance Education (RCDE) at Utah State University, we are one of the few universities that formalizes work done by proctors, their professional positions, the names of the students they serve, their proctoring locations, etc.

  • The Center for Innovative Design and Instruction (CIDI) provides the technical support needed to make our courses secure.
  • Many of the exams and quizzes used in our classes pull from pools of questions that are randomly selected so that students taking an exam do not all get the same questions.
  • Faculty members adjust assignments to reduce the likelihood of students using materials from previous students year after year.
  • If a student is found to be in violation of USU’s Academic Honesty policy and/or USU’s Student Code of Conduct, he/she is subject to the consequences described in ARTICLE VI. University Regulations Regarding Academic Integrity


University policy states that students can take up to 18 credits per semester, but we have learned from experience that online students typically can handle a maximum of 4 courses (or 12 credits) per semester without having their course performance (and grades) impacted. We strongly recommend taking no more than 4 courses (or 12 credits) per semester.


  • 120 overall credits
    • Complete University Studies (general and depth education)
    • 40 upper division credits (3000 level or above)
    • 30 USU credits
    • COMD major courses
    • COMD courses not older than 10 years
  • Courses taken for a letter grade
  • Grade of C or higher in all COMD courses
  • Cumulative 3.0 GPA or higher
  • Submit a Graduation Application one semester prior to program completion


Please see USU’s Transfer Credit Policy

Also see Transfer Credit under Online Education Policies for COMDDE.


Courses added after the first week require instructor’s signature. Refer to the Academic Calendar for important dates and deadlines.


For the first bachelor's degree, students are allowed a total of ten repeats, of which three can be COMD courses. For the second bachelor's degree, students are allowed a total of three COMD repeats only to count toward GPA calculation. The most recent grade of a repeated course is the one included in the GPA calculation. For complete policy refer to Repeating Courses in USU General Catalog.


A student must maintain a 3.0 (B) cumulative GPA every semester. Students who fail to meet and maintain the retention criteria will not be allowed to continue in the major.

For the first Bachelor’s degree, the GPA requirement is met across COMD and non-COMD courses. First bachelor’s students who fail to meet and maintain the retention criteria cannot continue in the COMD program until they meet the GPA requirement. Students who fail to meet the retention requirement following three COMD repeats or allowable non-COMD courses must change to another major or General Studies.

For the second Bachelor’s degree, the required GPA is met only through COMD courses. Second bachelor’s students who fail to meet and maintain the retention criteria will be placed on probation. Probationary students may take up to a total of three repeated or new COMD courses over a maximum of three sequential semesters. Students who fail to meet the retention requirement following probation must change to another major or Non-Degree Seeking status. Only one probationary period is permitted.


The minimum grade of C in COMD courses allows students to take courses outside their strength area. However, this should be rare because any course grade below B must be compensated by grades above B to meet the 3.0 GPA requirement.

Acceptance into graduate programs is on a competitive basis. Students are selected on GPA in combination with other indicators of achievement. In addition, some graduate programs do not accept undergraduate coursework grades below B-. Students planning on graduate school in speech-language pathology, audiology, or deaf education should honestly evaluate their program potential and progress toward a strong GPA and individual course grades.



Any student may be admitted to the Pre-COMDDE program during the freshman and/or sophomore years. Students entering junior status (60 credits) must meet with their advisor to be moved in the COMD Major.  The following criteria must be met:

  • Undergraduate transcripts with a 3.0 Overall GPA
  • complete at least 45 semester credits including the following courses BIOL 1010, CHEM 1010 or PHYS 1200, HDFS 1500, PSY 1010, COMD 2600, and STAT 1040 or 1045

(Transfer students who have completed equivalent courses to those above that have been articulated by USU will be evaluated on those courses.) 

Students identified as having possible speech, language or hearing disorders will need to be evaluated at the USU Speech-Language-Hearing Center. If treatment is recommended based on ASHA guidelines, service options will be presented to the student. English competency issues, due to English as a second language, will be addressed on an individual basis.

Senior Clinic

Senior clinic, COMD 4100, is offered on campus on a Pass/Fail basis in the spring semester to selected seniors. The total number of senior students participating in clinic each semester is based upon availability of appropriate clients and faculty supervision. Graduate student clinic assignments are given priority with undergraduates being assigned any remaining clinic openings. Seniors are selected based on GPA and other indicators of academic performance. 

Undergraduate Education Policies Are In Effect For All Online Students Taking Undergraduate Level Courses.


Students are accepted with a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA. All students meeting admission standards are admitted to the Pre-COMDDE program. Students who complete the prerequisite courses are moved into the COMDDE program by your advisor.

Human Anatomy or Physiology with a lab is required for degree completion. It is not offered online thru Utah State. Students need to take it elsewhere and transfer it to USU.

Transfer Credit
Students may transfer all accredited school credits to Utah State, and they will show as electives. Transfer credits will not be evaluated until a student is admitted and has an Anumber. An official college transcript with posted grades are required to be submitted for review to admissions. The decision if credits meet degree requirements for breadth and depth education is done thru articulation and if necessary at the Vice Provost level. The advisor will petition those courses for approval when appropriate. COMD course equivalents must be formally approved by the COMDDE department. COMD Major course syllabi can be scanned and emailed to the advisor. The advisor will contact the student when a decision has been made.

For courses that transfer to USU as lower division (1000- and 2000-level) COMD electives, up to six credits may be evaluated for equivalence to upper division COMD courses. Students must still meet minimum upper division credit hour requirements. This limit excludes ASL courses and does not include courses approved as specific USU COMD course transfers.

Requirements to Stay in the Major
For requirements on GPA required to remain in the major each semester, along with course repeats and other valuable information, see Undergraduate Education Policies.

Proctored Exams

The COMDDE Department Follows USU’s Proctored Testing Guidelines.


To be accepted into the 2nd bachelor’s degree program, the student must have completed a bachelor’s degree in another discipline from a regionally accredited college or university in the United States or Canada.

Graduation Requirements
To receive a Second Bachelor’s Degree the following graduation requirements must be met:

  • Earn a 3.0 or higher cumulative GPA
  • Complete a minimum of 30 USU credits beyond those applied toward the first bachelor’s degree
  • Complete COMD major courses
  • C grade or higher in all COMD courses
  • Fulfill the Breadth American Institutions requirement prior to graduation
  • All transfer credits must be approved for acceptance by USU and the COMDDE department
  • Submit a Graduation Application one semester prior to program completion

Transfer Credit
Students may waive up to six credits of approved undergraduate COMD courses, equivalent to USU COMD courses. Courses must be formally approved by the COMDDE department. A detailed syllabus and a college transcript with posted grades are required to be submitted for review. Documents can be scanned and emailed to the advisor. The advisor will contact the student when a decision has been made.

Requirements to Stay in the Major
For requirements on GPA required to remain in the major each semester, along with course repeats, probation, and other valuable information, see Undergraduate Education Policies.


Students who desire to have major or prerequisite restrictions waived are expected to have background knowledge necessary to be successful prior to enrolling.


Students applying for admission to graduate programs in Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, or Deaf Education must complete their bachelor’s degrees no later than the end of the semester prior to the beginning semester of their graduate program. Applicants may petition to the department if extenuating circumstances exist.


In the interest of timely degree completion, graduate students with university funding associated with a time commitment (e.g., mini-GA, LSL, TA, RA, URLEND) are generally limited to one such commitment per semester. Students should take on additional assignments cautiously, and must work the full time commitment for any assignments they accept.

USU limits graduate students to 20 hours of university employment. Student wishing to petition for an exception to the 20-hour limit should contact the graduate academic advisor.


Students must complete all the courses required for their graduate program. Doing so will assure that the student will meet all departmental and university requirements, in addition to requirements from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) or Council on Education of the Deaf (CED) requirements.

If a student has previously taken a course very similar to one of the required courses, they may submit a request for a waiver or a substitution. Any exceptions must be approved in writing from the regular instructor for that course, the graduate advisor and division chair. A substitution can only occur if the course was not used toward prior degree credit. If a class is waived, the student, in consultation with the graduate adviser and division chair, will choose an alternate class to meet graduation credit hour requirements.


  • The USU School of Graduate Studies requires that graduate students maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Grades of C- or lower will not be accepted for a graduate degree. Only certain types and number of courses can be taken on a Pass basis. See the School of Graduate Studies Catalog for more information.
  • In COMDDE, a satisfactory grade in graduate programs is a B- or better. Any student who earns two grades of C+ or lower will be dropped from the graduate program.
  • The grade earned on a class that is taken to remediate knowledge and skill competencies will not result in the replacement of the original class grade. A C+ or lower in this subsequent class will count toward the two unsatisfactory grade maximum.
  • Students must successfully complete program capstone experiences required by their Plan, including Comprehensive Examination, Clinical Research Project, Educational Project, or Thesis Project. See individual division policies for re-takes or changing Plans.


In addition to course grades, students must meet a set of standards required for their profession to graduate. For the knowledge and skill acquisition (KASA) standards, students must meet program-specified criteria to demonstrate their competence. For speech-language pathology and audiology, the standards are set by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC), a semi-autonomous credentialing body of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). See for more information.

Each division regularly monitors its graduate students’ academic and clinical progress toward the  standards. Speech-language pathology and audiology graduate students can view their progress on CALIPSO. Students must meet all specified items on the final CALIPSO KASA Summary Report. Graduation documents will not be filed with the Graduate School if any graduate level competencies have not been signed off. ASHA program verification for certification will not be signed by the Program Director until the student meets all required KASA standards.

Academic Competencies
Academic knowledge competency standards are met primarily in graduate coursework. The competence criterion is generally a minimum grade of 80% or B- on each assessed item.

Each academic course syllabus will indicate the KASA standard(s) that must be met in that course and how competencies will be demonstrated for each standard. Students who do not meet the competency criterion on the specified evaluation task (e.g., total exam, exam section, assignment, activity) will have further opportunities such as other tasks in that course, a task re-do, or other specially-designed tasks. In some cases, students may have another opportunity in another course. Performance on any re-takes or additional tasks will not change the original task grade or the final course grade.

A course is more than a collection of competency objectives tied to a particular standard. Other valuable learning experiences contribute to the knowledge gained and the course grade. As a result, it is possible for a student to earn a course grade of B- or higher but have made additional efforts to meet particular competencies; conversely, it is possible for the student to meet all the competencies at the first opportunity, but earn a course grade of C+ or lower.

Undergraduate Competencies
For KASA competency standards addressed primarily by undergraduate coursework, transcripts must show successful completion of relevant coursework. Further documentary evidence such as course syllabi or assignment descriptions may be requested. Students may also have to demonstrate competence at the graduate level.  

Clinical Competencies
If a graduate student receives a final grade lower than B- for a clinical education assignment (COMD 6100, 6200, and 6300), the student must remediate performance on the relevant knowledge and skills. See the USU-SLC Student Clinic Manual for further information on management of clinical course remediation.

Remediation Plans
If a student does not meet designated competencies within a course or practicum placement, a formal remediation plan may be put in place. When a student goes on remediation, a plan of action with specific performance criteria will be designed by a division committee comprised of at least the instructor and the Clinic Director or Division Chair in the student’s discipline area.  

If the remediation plan requires a student to repeat a course or part of a course, the student will audit the course or enroll in an independent study for the number of credit hours determined in the remediation plan. The repetition grade will not replace or change the grade earned in the original course. The grade on that remediation course will count toward the maximum of two unsatisfactory grades.

If a student on a Remediation Plan fails to successfully remediate but has not met the maximum of two unsatisfactory grades, the student will be placed on departmental probation the following semester. The Division will determine the actions and timeline required for the student to end probation up to a maximum of one additional semester. If a student fails to successfully complete the required probationary steps within the assigned timeline then that student may be dismissed from the graduate program.  


All SLP and Audiology graduate students must take the ASHA national certification exam by ETS and report their scores to the department (department code 0309) in order to graduate. Students are encouraged to take the test by March 15 of their final semester for scores to be received and recorded in time for spring graduation.

Deaf Education students in the Bilingual-Bicultural program must take and pass the Praxis II content exam approved by the Utah State Office of Education in the major content areas prior to student teaching.  


A graduate student will officially graduate at the end of the semester in which all academic coursework, Praxis exam, and all clinical/student teaching coursework (for which the student has registered) is complete. If a student does not successfully complete all requirements by the end of the last semester listed on the student’s program of study, the student will continue to enroll as a graduate student until all graduation requirements have been met. The "degree conferred" semester will be the semester that the student actually completes all degree requirements and final grades are posted.


The COMDDE Department expects graduate students to maintain continuous registration of at least 9 credits per semester. A graduate student who experiences unexpected health problems or other compelling personal circumstances which affect the ability to successfully maintain full-time status may request a one-semester Leave-of-Absence (LOA) by petitioning the appropriate Division Chair. Under extreme circumstances the Division may extend a departmental LOA beyond that time limit. It may be necessary for a student to submit a Graduate Student LOA form (see to the School of Graduate Studies. The following are requirements for student to obtain a LOA:

  • May only petition for one LOA during their graduate program
  • Cannot be enrolled in any academic courses or clinical practicum at the university during the LOA
  • Must maintain continuing graduate enrollment through the School of Graduate Studies
  • Is responsible for any missed courses and/or clinical practicum which may extend the graduate program
  • May not petition for an LOA as a means of avoiding low grades in academic courses or clinical practicum
  • Is expected to resume full-time continuous registration at the end of the approved LOA.

If a student is unable to return from an LOA, it may be recommended that the student be removed from the program. Should the student wish to reapply to the graduate program, he or she may do so on a competitive basis according to the University’s regular graduate admission deadlines and procedures.


In order to graduate, all students must successfully complete a clinical research project (COMD 7870).  The clinical research requirement is designed to provide students with an opportunity to conduct high-quality clinical research with a faculty mentor to gain experience and knowledge about the process involved in contributing to the knowledge base of the profession.

The clinical research project is a substantive evidence-based experience that requires students to demonstrate critical thinking and synthesis of information resulting in a written research paper. Students are expected to disseminate their research to a broader professional audience (e.g., conference presentation, journal article). The doctoral project:

  • provides an opportunity for students to focus in an area of audiology
  • fosters appreciation for evidence-based practice
  • enhances capacity to be a critical consumer of audiological research
  • provides a forum for students to demonstrate critical thinking


The preliminary and comprehensive examinations are graduation requirements. The preliminary examination takes place at the Spring semester of the second year of study, and the comprehensive examination takes place Spring semester of the third year. These examinations evaluate students’ ability to synthesize information, based on knowledge from multiple classes, and clinical experiences. Areas of deficiency must be addressed and passed to continue in the program.


Students who do not elect the Plan A or Plan B option will take a comprehensive written examination at the beginning of the semester prior to their residential student teaching placement. The examination will last six hours. The time and place of the comprehensive examination will be determined by the chair of the comprehensive exam committee.

The examination is designed to reveal the candidate’s knowledge of the history of Deaf Education, current best practices in the field, appropriate pedagogical tools used for assessment and teaching of language (both American Sign Language and English), education-related law that impacts the education and culture of the Deaf, IEP development and lesson plan preparation and delivery. Students will be evaluated on the level of their knowledge as well as their ability to express their knowledge in acceptable written form.

Appropriate accommodations will be made for students with documented disabilities.


The graduate faculty will create comprehensive examination questions that are focused on the education and programming of the child who is Deaf or hard of hearing. The questions will cut across course lines.

Example: Discuss the pedagogical and assessment implications of IDEA as it applies to the education of the child who is Deaf or hard-of-hearing.


Each answer will be rated by the members of the graduate committee as 4 (excellent), 3 (pass), 2 (poor), or 1 (fail). All ratings for each student’s answers will be averaged for a total score in order to determine the outcome of the student’s examination. Students must pass each question with a score of 3 or higher in order to pass the comprehensive examination.


Students who do not elect the Plan A or Plan B option will take an oral examination given to each candidate by their selected Graduate Committee. The chair of the committee will be the head of the student’s Plan C committee. The oral examination will not exceed two hours in length.

The oral examination will be based on questions that might arise due to the student’s responses on the written examination. If two or more members of the committee believe the student failed one or more questions from the written examination, the student will have an opportunity to demonstrate appropriate knowledge in the area(s) of the question(s).

At the end of the oral exam, the committee will take a pass or fail vote. If two or more members of the committee vote for failure, the student will be dismissed from the program, unless the committee agrees to allow the student to re-take either or both segments of the comprehensive examination (writtens and orals).


Each candidate will be given a comprehensive American Sign Language Exit Evaluation in the semester preceding the residential student teaching placement. If the student does not receive a score of PASS or CONDITIONAL, he/she will not be allowed to student teach in the residential placement. This evaluation may be repeated.


  • Any student that receives two grades of C+ or lower will be dropped from the graduate program.
  • Any student that receives one grade of C+ or lower in a graduate class is required to re-take the class or take an independent study to address competencies not adequately attained in the course as determined by the instructor and division. This class will not result in the replacement of the C+ or lower grade. If a C+ or lower is obtained in this subsequent class, the student will be dismissed from the graduate program.


A student must meet specific requirements of the Department of Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education for the clinical practicum portion of the training program.

  • Be a graduate student in good standing or a senior who has been officially accepted and admitted to participate in SLP clinical practicum for the specified semester
  • Meet the GPA requirements within the department during each semester of clinical practicum
  • Be enrolled in the appropriate clinical course(s) for the specified credit hours (COMD 6100, 4100, 6200, 6300)

Prior to beginning clinical practicum, students must supply documentation of the following:

  • Current passed background check (contact the Teacher Education Office in the College of Education and Human Services)
  • Current personal health insurance coverage
  • Current CPR certification
  • Verification of completion of 25 hours of guided observation by an ASHA-CCC SLP

The student should have successfully completed or be concurrently enrolled in the coursework that provides the knowledge and skills required for the client or practicum site in which the student is engaged. On the rare occasion when a student has a client or site in advance of the relevant coursework, appropriate support will be provided, which may require additional preparation on the part of the student. 

Off-campus practicum must be completed at sites and with supervisors who have been pre-approved by the externship coordinator in speech-language pathology. Students enrolled in the department may not complete independently-arranged clinical contact hours and then submit them to the department for later approval. Students must complete clinical practicum for the length of time and work hours established by the clinical coordinator and practicum supervisor.

Graduate SLP students may obtain clinical contact hours in research activities in and out of the clinic setting, including in paid positions. The proposal must be submitted by the research faculty to the clinic director for approval. The clinic director will make the decision, in consultation with the SLP division chair, based on:

  1. Research faculty is CCC-SLP with required CEUs in clinical supervision and 9 months post-CF clinical experience documented with ASHA
  2. Proposal meets ASHA requirements for a guided and supervised beneficial clinical experience
  3. Number and nature of clinical hours and experiences are suitable for the individual student’s clinical education needs.
  4. Evaluation and documentation of student performance will fit clinic practices (e.g., CALIPSO use)
  5. If the project will occur in the clinic, then other features will be considered, such as the presence of appropriate clients, and fit with clinic resources and practices.


The comprehensive examination (COMD 6930) is the capstone experience for SLP graduate students following the Plan C program option. The comprehensive examination occurs during the final semester of the graduate program. To take the exam, students must have completed their academic coursework and met all KASA academic competencies.  

Registration. The examination is taken as a 1-credit course on a Pass/Fail basis. The time and place of the comprehensive examination will be determined by the chair of the comprehensive exam committee. Appropriate accommodations will be made for students with documented disabilities.

Purpose. The examination is designed to reveal the candidate’s knowledge of communication and swallowing development and disorders as well as assessment, identification, diagnosis, intervention and follow-up services for individuals with speech, language, and swallowing disorders. Students will be evaluated on their comprehension, integration, and application of knowledge from across coursework and clinic, as well as on the quality and clarity of their written expression.

Procedure. The examination will last approximately five hours, split into two sessions. The examination assesses student competence in two major topic areas of the scope of SLP practice in clinical case format. The topic areas are selected each year by a comprehensive exam committee. Examination questions within each area are designed and graded by at least two members of the committee with relevant expertise and experience in the graduate program.

Requirements. Students who fail to meet minimum performance on a topic area must take a supplementary examination on that area. The supplementary examination gives the student a second opportunity to demonstrate competence in the topic area of the original examination, in a manner and time determined by the area committee members. Students will be given the opportunity to speak with a committee member to obtain feedback on performance prior to the supplementary examination. The supplementary examination will be graded by the same members of the committee, with other committee members or other faculty brought in as deemed necessary by the committee. Failing to pass the supplementary exam will result in a Fail for the course. Students may re-take the Comprehensive Examination course once. The student will register in that course number again, either in that semester or a subsequent semester, as determined by the comprehensive examination committee.

Students enrolled in a Plan B thesis project route should determine from their primary mentor before the end of the semester prior to the exam that that they have made sufficient progress to continue or should switch to Plan C and enroll in COMD 6930. If the switch to Plan C is made too late to prepare and register for the exam, the student may have to wait until the following year when the exam is offered again.


The thesis or project is the capstone experience for students following the Plan A or B program options. It follows an individualized schedule over the course of the student’s graduate program.

A graduate thesis project is a major endeavor for a master’s student in speech-language pathology. It allows students to gain deep knowledge of a particular topic, learn about the research process, develop professional writing skills, and work closely with a research professor. This is a valuable opportunity for learning and growth that provides a foundation for later doctoral study and stronger skills in evidence-based clinical practice. However, students should be aware that the thesis or project is additional to an already demanding master’s program. The thesis route should be chosen only after serious reflection about personal capacity and interest, and after consultation with potential major professors and the graduate program advisor.

Speech-language pathology graduate students follow the Plan B requirements with projects that are more flexible and smaller in scope, but similar in quality to a Plan A thesis. In this division, Plan B projects are typically referred to as theses. The Plan B changes the student’s degree from a Master of Arts to a Master of Science.

Students in the MS in Communication Sciences non-clinical degree must complete a Plan A thesis.

To begin a Plan A/B thesis project, the student should first identify a major professor, and with that professor, determine a topic and a plan. The student should notify the SLP graduate advisor and review the appropriate forms for the Plan A or B option at the School of Graduate Studies forms website ( The first form to obtain is the “Student and Advisor Expectations” form, which the student and major professor should review together. The graduate advisor will guide students through the particular forms and steps needed.

The student’s supervisory committee is chosen by the student in consultation with the student’s major professor. The supervisory committee consists of three USU faculty members. The student’s major professor is Chair of the committee. This person must be Graduate Faculty (usually PhD) in the Division of Speech-Language Pathology. There is one internal member and one external member. The internal member may be regular Graduate Faculty or may be clinical faculty with particular expertise. The external member is Graduate Faculty (usually PhD) from another division of COMDDE or from another USU department. The external member has two roles: (a) to hold an outsider view of the fairness and rigor of the process; and (b) to contribute particular expertise to the project. The committee can be larger than three with additional members contributing particular expertise. However, this is generally not done because a large committee can make the process more complicated.

The quality of the product, which should represent the student’s own best work, is the responsibility of the student. Monitoring the quality of the thesis or Plan B paper and mentoring the student in writing the report are responsibilities of the major professor, with the assistance of the supervisory committee. Editing by anyone other than the major professor and the supervisory committee should be limited to mechanics, such as spelling and grammar. Drafts of sections should be submitted periodically to the major professor for critique. Committee members should be consulted, especially on sections that involve their special expertise. Students are encouraged to attend thesis workshops offered by the School of Graduate Studies (

The Plan A option for a master’s degree requires preparation of a thesis. The student is required to register for at least 6 semester credits of thesis research. The semesters during which a student registers for thesis credit should correspond as closely as possible to the semesters in which the thesis work is done and faculty supervision is provided. The student and major professor should decide upon a problem or subject for the thesis study by the end of the student’s first semester of graduate study. For the steps for the Plan A thesis for committee formulation, proposal meeting, and final defense, see the following Plan B information.  

A Plan A thesis should contribute knowledge in the field of communication sciences and disorders. Thesis projects are developed and executed by the student with guidance from the major professor. These projects can be related a faculty member’s on-going research program, but should represent a significant theoretical or methodological contribution from the student. The student is primarily responsible for defining the scope of the project, developing the research plan, obtaining and analyzing the data, and interpreting the analyses.

A Plan A thesis must follow the manuscript preparation requirements of the School of Graduate Studies. See the Thesis/Dissertation Format and Style form listed under Master’s Plan A. The first submission of the thesis/dissertation to the School of Graduate Studies should be done electronically, in pdf format, by the department Graduate Program Coordinator or Reviewer. The title page must be signed by the advisor and by all members of the thesis committee. Once the paper has reached the point where no further corrections are necessary (which often takes more than one series of corrections), a single-sided paper copy of the thesis/dissertation (including original, inked signatures on the title page) must be submitted for the dean’s signature.

When the student is finished editing the thesis and the committee has approved it by signing the Title Page, it is submitted for further review to the School of Graduate Studies. The student and all committee members are required to sign three School of Graduate Studies forms: Data and Copyright, Authorship, and Electronic Thesis/Dissertation.

For a Plan B option, students are required to register for at least 2 credits of thesis research (COMD 6970). The student should consult with the Graduate Program Coordinator and major professor to determine the enrollment semesters.

Project. Students completing the Plan B option do not write a full-scale thesis. Instead, they produce a data-based research report, a scholarly clinical project report, or a systematic review of the literature article on a topic in communication sciences and disorders. Whatever the project, the manuscript should be written in journal article form, and be sufficient in new knowledge, written expression, detail and depth to be of presentable or publishable quality.  

Plan B projects are expected to reflect equivalent scholarship standards to Plan A theses. Although smaller in scope and not demanding the same degree of originality, Plan B projects can be extensions of a faculty member’s on-going research program in which students play a larger role than would normally be expected of a research assistant. The Plan B major professor will play a significant role in defining the scope of the project, developing the research plan, and assisting the student in analyzing and interpreting the data.

Committee. The Plan B committee consists of at least three members: the major professor and another member of the graduate faculty from the SLP Division, and one member of the USU graduate faculty from outside the SLP Division. The external member may be chosen based on expertise relevant to the project, but must be from outside the division of the student and the major professor to serve the primary role of monitoring the fairness and rigor of the project. At times, a fourth member with particular expertise may be added to the committee.

Proposal. The student must present a Plan B proposal to his or her committee. This should occur before the end of the first year of the program. The purpose of a proposal for a Plan B is to provide the student's supervisory committee with brief but sufficient information to decide on the significance and feasibility of the proposed project, and give guidance to strengthen the project or the student’s role in it. The MS To accomplish those goals, the written proposal should include: (a) the purpose and rationale for the project; (b) an outline of the basic methods for carrying out the project; and (c) the student’s expected role and contributions to the project.

The approved proposal is a statement of agreement between the student and the committee as to the minimum expected for the Plan B project. Students must submit a Master's Thesis/Project Proposal Approval form to the School of Graduate Studies after the project plan is approved. 

Defense. A final defense should be scheduled by the student when the project and written report are completed. An Appointment of Examination form from the School of Graduate Studies must be submitted at least two weeks before the final defense. Changes in the membership of a supervisory committee require approval by the School of Graduate Studies. Plan B defenses are open to the COMDDE faculty and students, and must be advertised to the COMDDE faculty at least two weeks prior to the defense.

After the chair has determined that the paper is ready to go to committee, the student will give a copy of the Plan B paper to each member of the supervisory committee for review at least 2 weeks prior to the defense. If the committee members judge that the paper is ready to be defended with only minor revisions or edits needed, then an Appointment for Examination form is completed. This form indicates approval of the proposed time and place for the defense examination, and must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies at least ten working days prior the defense.

The deadline for completing degree requirements is the last day of the semester. If the defense occurs during a semester break, the student must be enrolled for at least 3 credits the following semester. If a committee member judges that the document is not ready to be defended, he or she should notify the student and major professor, and should not sign the Appointment for Examination form. The issues should then be addressed and the defense rescheduled.

At the defense, the student may be required to make some revisions or corrections. The committee members can decide if they need to see the paper again, or will allow the major professor to approve the revisions or corrections. All members of the supervisory committee must approve and sign the Plan B paper. In the event of lack of unanimity that cannot be resolved, the matter is taken to the dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

Completion. Plan B papers are not reviewed or approved by the School of Graduate Studies. Plan B papers must be submitted electronically to the Merrill-Cazier Library with a Plan B Report Submission (see If the submitted paper is in essentially publishable form, the student can apply for an embargo so the paper is publishable in another venue without risking self-plagiarism. The process ends with the student providing a copy of the final, approved paper to all committee members.