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Why Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences

"It's basic. When you look at communication, it's the essential element of being human."

About Us

The Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences offers internationally-recognized programs in speech-language-hearing sciences, audiology, and speech-language pathology that provide outstanding opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to pursue rewarding and meaningful careers.

Our undergraduate program offers students a broad background in basic human communication processes and introductions to the nature and treatment of disorders of speech, language, and hearing across the lifespan. Our major allows students to explore the discipline through classes, research laboratories, and clinical observations. The major project course offers students a service learning opportunity with hands-on experience and an opportunity to apply what they’ve learned to a real-world setting. Students will work with any of over 300 non-profit organizations in the community.

Our graduate programs have many opportunities for both master’s and doctoral students to work closely with faculty in all aspects of research, teaching, and clinical service delivery. Our accredited professional degree programs in speech-language pathology (MA–SLP) and audiology (AuD) are highly ranked nationally, and the outlook for employment is outstanding. Our PhD programs prepare leaders in the field who are well-positioned for jobs in academia, industry, and clinical settings.

We believe that learning is best supported in a collaborative environment, which has assisted both our students and faculty in a high level of success in publication and grant activities. Our programs have affiliate agreements with a broad range of off-campus sites for clinical training.

Understanding the critical need to serve and partner with diverse populations, we have developed curricula aimed at providing graduate students multiple opportunities to develop a deep understanding of speech, language, and hearing across ages and abilities within the context of cultural, linguistic, and economic diversity.

Our award-winning faculty excel in teaching, cutting-edge research, multidisciplinary and cross-departmental education, and research initiatives, partnering with industry, and providing service and outreach to local communities.

In all programs, we strive to serve scholars within the University and the broader community with interwoven coursework and opportunities for clinical and research experiences. These enable students to better understand the complexities of human communication across the lifespan and to be sensitive to the personal, social, academic, and vocational consequences of difficulties in communication.

Strategic Plan

View an executive summary of our department's strategic plan here. 

Our department's strategic plan guides all aspects of our department, including our undergraduate, MA-SLP, AuD, and PhD programs. The strategic plan serves to protect and foster our core values. We are a community of teachers, scholars, and learners who endeavor to make the world better for individuals with communication disorders.  We achieve this through activities in three broad areas:

  1. Contributing to the research base through cutting-edge scholarship by world-renowned researchers partnering with students and members of the community
    • Members of our department conduct and disseminate cutting-edge studies of speech, language, and hearing abilities across the lifespan. 
    • This includes both basic research and applied scholarship in speech-language pathology and audiology.  Our work encompasses the full range of human behavior, from neural planning to real-world human behavior. 
    • We conduct work in our home discipline and in collaboration across different traditional disciplinary divides.
  2.  Maintaining academic excellence through creative, challenging, and intellectually stimulating teaching and learning
    • The Department of SLHS offers 4 degrees: a BA in speech-language-hearing sciences, an MA in speech-language pathology, an AuD in audiology, and a PhD in speech-language-hearing sciences.
    • We foster intellectual growth in a variety of settings: classrooms, research laboratories, clinics, and in the community. 
    • The education that we provide prepares our students for top careers in educational and clinical service, academia, and industry.  Our focus on the full spectrum of human communication prepares students to work in a variety of fields.
  3. Engaging with communities outside the university and around the world
    • Our faculty, staff, and students are engaged with many different communities, including those on campus, in the Twin Cities, in greater Minnesota, and across the world.
    • Our faculty share their knowledge and skills through community partnerships and collaborative research in academia, in government, and in the private sector. 
    • Our students learn evidence-based, innovative skills in speech-language pathology and audiology in clinical sites around the entire country.
      • Hands on learning occurs through extensive collaboration with schools, clinics, hospitals and private practices locally, regionally, and nationally. 
      • The department's community engagement activities help prepare students to be future leaders in clinical service delivery, research, and advocacy for our discipline.

Striving for Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism

The University of Minnesota’s Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences is committed to eliminating systemic racism, both locally and worldwide. Our department, along with the entire University of Minnesota, condemns racism, bigotry, and hatred. The killing of George Floyd, a member of our Minnesota community, has laid bare the long-standing racism in our society to those who weren’t already experiencing it on a daily basis themselves. It prompts us to affirm and build upon our commitment to ensure meaningful change within our classrooms, department, college, university, communities, professions, and nation.  We pledge to do our part in a collective effort to eradicate racism, bigotry, and hatred of all kinds. 

Lack of acknowledgment of systemic racism has resulted in many individuals in our department unfairly benefiting at the cost of the trauma and suffering of racialized and minoritized people, including Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color. This must stop immediately. 

Communication is the essence of human connection, and everyone has an equal right to that connection. Among our many missions, we are a department that educates audiologists and speech-language pathologists to serve all people in educational and clinical settings. Core to our mission is educating individuals to provide equitable services across all racialized and minoritized communities and providing equitable services in our department’s clinic. This ideal extends to our undergraduate and doctoral programs, where our mission guides us to be inclusive in the study of the science of human communication. Achieving this ideal is made difficult by the extreme homogeneity in our professions, in which greater than 90% of people are white and female.    

Dismantling systems that are centuries old will take hard work, unwavering commitment, and humility. Most of all, we strive for continuous improvement. We pledge to cede the floor to Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color, and to listen to those voices, and to the centuries of accumulated wisdom in those communities. We express our gratitude for the many voices that brought these issues of racism to the fore, including the leaders of Black Lives Matter. 

We will make changes. With those, we will surely make mistakes. When we make mistakes, we pledge to learn from them, and not stop striving for ideals of justice and inclusion. Our commitment to equity for all minoritized communities is broad, and also includes considerations of gender, sexuality, nationality, ability, and neurodiversity, among others.  

While we are committed to long-term actions, there is clearly a need right now for immediate changes. These are some of the immediate actions to which we are committed:

  • We have established a department Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism Committee who will meet monthly to lead our department’s actions.

  • We have created an open forum for students, alumni, and community members to anonymously share their feedback, provide suggestions, and make calls for action to our department. You can fill out the UMN SLHS Justice, Equity, and Anti-Racism: Stakeholder Survey and Feedback Form here.

  • We are creating a page on our department’s website to share our progress and provide resources to our students, alumni, and community members to lead and participate in anti-racism and anti-hatred efforts.

  • We will no longer require or consider GRE scores as part of our graduate application materials due to the racial, ethnic, and cultural biases inherent in standardized testing.

  • We will strive for full participation among faculty members in existing programs to ensure the academic success of students of color, including the MSROP program and the TRIO McNair Program.  We will develop programs within the department to support our own undergraduate students of color.  

  • The Department will pay University application fees for individuals who are Black, Indigenous, or People of Color who apply to our Au.D. in Audiology program, M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology program, or Ph.D. program.

  • We will continue to nominate our incoming professional and Ph.D. students for the Provost’s Professional Educational Diversity Fellowship and the Diversity of Views & Experience Fellowship (DOVE), respectively. 

We know that these changes and commitments represent only the very beginning. Our department is committed to consistent long-term actions. We are in solidarity with all Black people, Indigenous people, and other People of Color, as well as others who have been marginalized for far too long.  We commit to doing the work to dismantle and eradicate racism, bigotry, and hatred of all kinds.