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New Idaho State University Ph.D. program creates career path opportunities for rehabilitation and communication sciences

December 20, 2018

Logo of the Kasiska Division of Health Sciences

POCATELLO - The Kasiska Division of Health Sciences at Idaho State University  is excited to announce a new Ph.D. program offered through the newly established College of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences.

The Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences Ph.D. program has been in the works for quite some time, and now has the stamp of approval from the Idaho State Board of Education and the Northwest Regional Board of Accreditation. College leaders now plan to begin marketing the program to potential students.

The new interprofessional research doctoral degree is expected to address the shortage of research doctoral faculty in the fields of audiology, occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech language pathology, not only throughout Idaho but the rest of the United States as well. By adding this program to the offerings at ISU, it will create a career path for post-secondary educators, researchers and administrators in the rehabilitation and communication sciences fields.

Students of ISU and beyond will benefit from this program for two reasons:

  • First, increasing the number of faculty in these fields will enhance and ensure the education for current and future students.
  • Secondly, rehabilitation and communication sciences students at ISU will have the opportunity to continue on to a Ph.D. specific to their area of interest.

The program directors see this program and its students benefiting undergraduate through graduate students, faculty and clients in a number of ways. An increase in research projects is expected, presenting an option for students at all levels to take part in mentored research opportunities. Additionally, a requirement of the program is that students submit for grant funding, so that should increase the grant-seeking from faculty, along with the Ph.D. students assisting with teaching. The supported teaching should also provide additional one on one instructional opportunities for students at ISU in the degree programs.

The application deadline for the program is Feb. 15 with an expected start date for the Ph.D. program in fall 2019, and the program directors say they already have about 25 people interested.

 “Most people who have shown interest are from Idaho or surrounding regions,” said Gabriel Bargen, associate professor and co-director for the new program. “The Ph.D. program has both full- and part-time options in Meridian and Pocatello, which will be taught face-to-face for now.”

Eventually, there will be more online offerings, since academic institutions usually receive students from within 200 miles of the university.

“This will be a very exciting opportunity for elevating students of all academic levels,” Bargen said.

The curriculum used for this program was modeled after some of the top institutes in the country, such as the Yale Consortium. This program is within a fairly unique niche, only three or four Ph.D. programs are similar. Audiology and speech language pathology are part of the top-10 most needed jobs in the United States currently, and the need for these professionals is only increasing. In Idaho, physical as well as occupational therapist jobs are expected to grow by over 25 percent by 2026, according to the Idaho Department of Labor.

“When we produce graduates, it is likely that some of them will want to stay within the region addressing our regional shortage,” said Daniel Hudock, program co-director and associate professor.”

He said ISU faculty searches within these four fields typically result in a very small number of qualified applicants, from four to eight. This is in comparison to liberal arts disciplines, such as philosophy and history, which may attract over a 100 qualified applicants.”

 “Though the cohorts are small, with expectations of four to eight students per cohort, we have the potential of very positive impact nationally and internationally, especially through the part-time online offering,” Hudock said.

This program will be individualized to fit students’ needs and professional goals. Preference will be given to applicants with graduate degrees in related disciplines, but strong undergraduate applicants with degrees in psychology, linguistics or other similar interests will be considered. The final requirements for the Ph.D. program are underway at ISU, and the official application portal will open soon.

For more information on the new Ph.D., contact Hudock, at  208-282-4403 or hudock@isu.edu; Bargen, at 208-373-1722 or barggabr@isu.edu; or  Kathleen Kangas, dean for the College of Rehabilitation and Communication Sciences, at 208-282-3992 or kangkath@isu.edu.



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