Introduction. The Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) was founded in the 1930's by Professor M. D. Steer, one of the first doctoral students trained in the then new discipline of human communication sciences and disorders. From its earliest years the department has enjoyed a national and international reputation as one of the finest academic, clinical, and research programs in the field. We are currently ranked as one of the top five programs in Speech-Language Pathology and one of the top ten in Audiology (U.S. News and World Report). Our faculty is extremely diverse in its interests, reflecting the fact that the field of human communication sciences is, at its heart, interdisciplinary. We explore the biological, psychological, physical, neurophysiological, and linguistic aspects of speech production, language, and hearing. We also focus on a variety of human communication disorders. Many of the SLHS faculty are members of either the interdisciplinary Linguistics program or the Neuroscience program.
Learning. There are approximately 160 undergraduate majors. Our undergraduate program has two major goals: (1) to provide students with basic knowledge of the multi-leveled processes involved in speech, language, and hearing, and (2) to introduce them to disorders of human communication. We recently introduced specific "streams" for undergraduate focus, some designed to prepare the student to apply to clinical programs and others to prepare the student to pursue a research career in this interdisciplinary field.
The entry level degree for a certified speech-language pathologist is the M.S. (2 years) The entry level degree for a certified audiologist is the Au.D (4 years) clinical doctorate degree. We have one of the very best clinical M.S. programs in the world, for which we typically receive about 250 applications yearly. Our M.S. enrollment is approximately 65 students.
In February 2002, our Doctor of Audiology degree (Au.D.) was approved by the Indiana Commission on Higher Education. In Fall 2003, the first class of Au.D. students was admitted to our department. Under the leadership of Dr. Robert Novak, this was the first Au.D. program to be offered by a Big Ten University.
Purdue is also internationally renowned for its doctoral program in human communication sciences and disorders. Our graduates hold professorships in the best academic programs, and they repeatedly appear in our national association’s award ceremonies. The Ph.D. program in SLHS emphasizes individually tailored programs with a heavy concentration of interdisciplinary training in either linguistics or neuroscience.
Discovery. The SLHS faculty are highly productive and highly visible researchers. During the past five years, the faculty has obtained over $23 million in extramural funding. Presently, SLHS faculty direct 27 research projects funded by NIH, NSF, university and other sponsoring agencies. These research projects reflect the interdisciplinary nature of our field. Faculty have highly regarded research programs in child language development, linguistics of American Sign Language, brain mechanisms underlying language processing, neurophysiological bases of speech motor control, infant speech/language development, speech perception, and basic mechanisms of hearing.
Engagement. Service is central to the mission of SLHS. Due to the nature of our areas of inquiry, we have unique opportunities to help and engage people in many ways, from providing speech and language therapy to a young child with a cochlear implant to fitting an elderly person with a state-of-the-art digital hearing aid that will greatly improve hearing.