The capstone is a supervised research experience in the field of audiology that culminates in a final research paper and oral defense. Students will register for a minimum of 12 credits of 801 during their program and will work directly with a faculty mentor and committee throughout the design and execution of the research project. Students are responsible for ensuring that they complete all of the requirements for this project, which is a graduation requirement. Students will meet with their mentors and provide project updates at least once per quarter at a minimum. Faculty will work with each student to provide specific direction regarding activities, readings, deadlines, etc.

To register for 801 credits, students need to use the faculty code of their research chair/mentor that can be obtained by Ernie Lefler, the graduate program advisor.


Students will learn to plan and execute research in the field of audiology in order to contribute novel and useful information to the profession. This process will include:

  1. Development of a sound research proposal that needs to be approved by your committee by the end of Autumn quarter of your 3rd year.
  2. Execution of the research project that includes:
    • Description of the research problem
    • A thorough and documented literature review
    • Creation and explanation of the research design and methods
    • Final written and oral presentation of data and results

Schedule & Deadlines

An independent study is required in the area of your research interest in autumn quarter of your 2nd year. During that time you will register for one to two credits of 801. At least one credit of 801 is a prerequisite for SPHSC 504 Research Methods that you will take in winter quarter of your 2nd year. A research problem or subject should be chosen and approved by your primary mentor by winter quarter of the 2nd year in the AuD program. A primary research mentor plus at least one additional committee member should also be selected. In all cases, the primary mentor needs to hold a Ph.D. degree and at least one of the committee members needs to be a faculty member in the SPHSC Department.

Each student will write a brief proposal (3-5 pages) that will be submitted to your committee. The student should complete the document at the end of spring quarter of the 2nd year. Once the proposal is written the committee will meet with the student to discuss the plan of research and ask questions about it. The committee and the student will then sign a Capstone Project Approval Form to be turned in to Ernie Lefler. The student may do preliminary work on the research project while committee approval is pending, but should not begin detailed and intensive work until approval has been given. The proposal should include a brief summary of relevant literature, statement of the problem and purpose, the planned experimental design, and discussion of how the data will be presented or analyzed. Students are strongly encouraged to seek consultation from the Biostatistics department in the early stages of their research project.

Students are expected to present their final research results to an open forum, generally scheduled during the last week of spring quarter of the 3rd year in the program. All members of the committee should be in attendance. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that their committee members attend the oral presentation as this serves an oral defense for this course. Students must be registered for at least one credit of 801 during this final quarter of the project. A summary paper (description provided below) must also be completed and submitted to the committee at least two weeks prior to the oral defense and the committee must approve the document prior to the oral defense.

The summary paper consists of four sections. There is no set length for the paper. Please check with your adviser about the format of this paper.

  1. An abstract that describes the research
  2. An introduction that reviews literature relevant to the project
  3. A description of the methods used
  4. Results of the project
Year 2 Autumn Quarter Independent study, 1-2 credits of 801 (required)
Winter Quarter Research methods course (SPHSC 504, 3 credits)
Select committee members
Spring Quarter Complete research proposal meeting and obtain approval, Register for 801 credits
Summer Quarter Begin research – Register for 801 credits
Year 3 Autumn Quarter Continue research
Register for 801 credits
Winter Quarter Continue research
Register for 801 credits
Spring Quarter Complete research project
Present research project that serves as an oral exam
Turn in written document to your committee (2 weeks prior to oral exam)
*Must be registered for at least 1 credit of 801


Grading Policy

Students will be provided with a final grade at the end of the quarter in which the research project is completed. During the other quarters of research, students will receive a grade of “N” / “In Progress” as long as satisfactory progress is being made. The final grade is at the discretion of the advisory committee and will either be a 4.0 or a failing grade.

Students whose performance if of concern

During the course of each quarter, a supervisor may determine that a student is not performing as expected on required competencies. Guidelines for identifying, evaluating, and supporting students who are performing less than adequately include:

  1. Supervisors should identify, as early as possible, a student whose performance is of concern. Problems identified by the supervisor should be shared with the student immediately.
  2. The student should be notified that the Interest Area Head, the student’s advisor, and the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) will also be alerted.
  3. The supervisor should begin documenting a student’s weaknesses/problems as soon as possible. Specific, detailed notes should be kept by the supervisor and shared with the student.
  4. A Plan of Improvement with specific goals should be developed with the student, with clear expectations for reaching these goals and receiving credit for the research experience. From midterm until the end of the quarter, the supervisor should keep detailed notes and the student should receive frequent, written feedback related to the Plan. The student of concern may be discussed at an Interest Group meeting for the purposes of gathering ideas about how to best improve performance. Grades will be given based on the student’s ability to reach the identified goals and required competencies.

Mentor Evaluations

If at any time the student is not experiencing the level of support and guidance to complete this research project, they should contact their academic advisor. Students and mentors have the opportunity to evaluate each other at the end of the research experience.