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Communication Disorders and Sciences Major (Undergraduate)

Graduation mortar board decorated with the words, "Go Ducks" in the International Phonetic Alphabet
Karen McLaughlin, PhD, CCC-SLP
Director, CDS Undergraduate Studies


Mailing Address: 
5284 University of Oregon

Program Philosophy

Effective communication plays a key role in the achievement of academic, social, and vocational success and, in turn, in the development of productive and contributing citizens. The philosophy of the Communication Disorders and Sciences (CDS) program is that the ability to communicate effectively is a fundamental right of all human beings. When this right is compromised through circumstances affecting any child, adolescent, or adult, society suffers along with the individual. The CDS program is committed to the goal of preparing students to become speech-language pathologists who can work successfully with individuals of all ages who are challenged by communication disorders and who represent diverse cultural, linguistic, social, and economic backgrounds. The ability to apply empirical evidence, logic, and a scientific perspective to the process of enhancing communication skills in meaningful and ecologically valid contexts is emphasized throughout the program. Graduates assume positions in direct service, leadership, and research in educational, clinical, and consultation settings.

Bachelor's Degree

The bachelor's degree in CDS is considered a pre-professional degree. The CDS undergraduate program is designed to provide 1) the scientific and theoretical frameworks for understanding human communication and communication disorders, 2) perspectives on communication disorders across the lifespan, and 3) the necessary prerequisite coursework for graduate work in speech language pathology. Students wishing to pursue graduate work in audiology will need to take additional courses in the sciences. Some students choose the option of pursuing graduate work in related fields such as early intervention, special education, teaching, and human services.

Students can earn either a bachelor of science (B.S.) or a bachelor of arts (B.A.). Students take pre-requisite courses during their freshman and sophomore years, and courses in the major are taken junior and senior year.

The large majority of courses in the major are upper division, and focus in the following areas:

  • the anatomic-physiological bases of speech, language, and hearing;
  • the physical properties of speech (acoustics and phonetics);
  • the role of biology, cognition, environment, and culture in language acquisition;
  • the development of speech and language;
  • speech, language, and hearing disorders across the life span;
  • assessment and treatment procedures for individuals with speech, language, and hearing disorders;
  • professional issues in speech-language pathology and audiology.

Program Admission

Students may declare the CDS major upon entering the university, or by changing their major at the CDS department office. There is no application required for the program; however, students are required to make satisfactory progress once entering the program.