Overview of Academic Program
Fabio Thiers peers into the ultrastructure of an outer hair cell synapse using a transmission electron microscope which allows him to resolve structures only a few angstroms in size. Photo by Ryuji Suzuki.
Understanding how humans communicate through speech and hearing requires depth in many disciplines. The strength of the Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology (SHBT) doctoral program lies in its unusual coupling of knowledge and skills from acoustics, engineering, computer science, cellular and molecular neuroscience, psychophysics, cognitive science, linguistics, and clinical practice.
By introducing key concepts in an integrated set of core subjects early on, we give our students a solid foundation for pursuing individual research interests. During their first year, students gain broad exposure to clinical issues and practice. From the outset, they also encounter a range of research labs that take different approaches to solving problems in speech and hearing; because students participate directly in research, their classroom learning comes to life.
SHBT faculty members also focus students on the vital importance of personal integrity, scientific values, and standards of scholarly practice.
Because of our small scale, SHBT students enjoy great flexibility in shaping their course of study. We encourage students to cultivate their own special interests, consistent with the objectives of the Program. For example, students may make unusual course selections that match their particular research interests – so long as their academic advisor approves, and are encouraged to devise innovative research projects that transcend traditional scientific disciplines and institutional boundaries.
Our core curriculum (and nearly one-to-one student/faculty ratio) guarantees that students develop relationships with a wide range of faculty members. And because our courses often require work in groups, students form strong, durable ties with their classmates, building a network of contacts they can call upon throughout their careers. They establish further ties across classes through work in individual labs and through the many social gatherings the students organize themselves.
The SHBT program is presently administered by the Division of Medical Sciences at the Harvard Medical School and leads to a PhD degree awarded by the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
SHBT employs two complementary approaches to multidisciplinary education:
- To gain breadth, students learn core material in multidisciplinary courses that integrate the current state of the art in speech and hearing sciences.
- To gain depth, each student plans an “area of concentration,” including a program of elective courses and research in a focus area.
The academic program in SHBT consists of the following:
- A Core Curriculum which all students take.
- A Concentration Curriculum which students tailor to meet their needs and interests. This forms the basis of the Oral Qualifying Exam.
- The Doctoral Dissertation.
On average, it takes five years to complete a Ph.D. degree in SHBT. A detailed roadmap of the major steps towards the degree is shown here.