Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders

The undergraduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders aims to achieve two primary goals:

  1. to provide students with basic knowledge about the development and structure of typical and disordered human communication across the lifespan, and
  2. to give students the opportunity to enhance their own abilities to learn and communicate effectively.

Through course work and research opportunities as well as observation of therapy, students gain expertise in the uniquely human endeavor we call “communication". The primary topics presented at the undergraduate level focus on the form and structure of speech and language, and how these skills are learned, produced, perceived, and understood. In recent years, exciting research from such sources as brain imaging and computer technology has enhanced our understanding of speech, language, and communication and our ability to remediate disorders in these areas. Students learn about current developments and how they impact the field of communication sciences and disorders.

As they begin to study communication sciences and disorders, students start with an introduction to the types of communication disorders that occur and how they impact people's lives. A series of courses present core concepts from linguistics, cognitive science and the typical processes of speech, language, and hearing. These courses deal with the physical, neurophysiological, cognitive, and linguistic bases of speaking, hearing, and language use; the acoustics of sound and speech; and how communication develops from infancy to adulthood. Students also learn about the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology, especially professional ethical issues, cultural competence, person/family centered care, and collaborating with other professionals.

Courses in the junior and senior year focus on the principles of assessment as they apply to the study of human communication and its disorders. Students participate in directed measurement projects as they learn to critically evaluate communication and the assessment tools used by practitioners in the field.

Outside of the classroom, those students who show interest are encouraged to pursue research through collaboration in ongoing faculty research. Ongoing areas of faculty research encompass normal and disordered communication throughout the lifespan and include the following topics:

  • The nature and treatment of autism
  • The use of eye-tracking technology to examine the visual attention allocation strategies of individuals with autism spectrum disorders
  • Autobiographical memory and narrative discourse development in autism
  • The use of neuroimaging techniques (EEG and MRI) to examine cognitive processing in individuals with autism, particularly in language and narrative comprehension domains
  • The development of psychometrically sound measures of social cognition and speech production skill
  • Articulatory movement patterns using electromagnetic articulatory equipment in healthy and disordered populations
  • The emotional reactivity and regulatory abilities of people who stutter
  • The use of Virtual Reality environments to create social situations in a controlled setting for the study of social anxiety in stuttering
  • Typical and atypical changes in communication and cognition associated with aging and central nervous system disorders
  • Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) and Cognitive-Motor Interference for tracking cortical and cognitive function in Multiple Sclerosis
  • The assessment and treatment of communication challenges following traumatic brain injury
  • Speech development and disorders in children with neurodevelopmental syndromes
  • Early indicators of suspected Childhood Apraxia of Speech
  • Childhood speech and language development patterns​
  • Computational analysis of language

Students are exposed to clinical resources in the professions of speech-language pathology and audiology - two closely related areas - through guided observations in the Eleanor M. Luse Center for Communication. Special opportunities include clinical internships in either area. High-performing CSD juniors may be invited to apply for early acceptance into the UVM graduate program in speech-language pathology. There are a number of factors that are considered for qualification each year (e.g., GPA, expected space in the graduate class, etc.), but this process potentially accelerates and simplifies the UVM graduate admissions process.

Articulation Agreements

UVM’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has an articulation agreement with the Community College of Vermont (CCV). The agreement provides pathways for students in certain two-year degree programs (A.A. Early Childhood Education, A.S. Behavioral Science, or A.S. Health Science) to transfer to UVM's Communication Sciences and Disorders program if capacity allows. See the Admissions section of this catalogue for further information.