The Departments of Communication Sciences and Disorders at UNCG and Western Carolina University have partnered to create an inter-institutional program that will extend doctoral-level training to qualified individuals in the western region of North Carolina.

The Inter-institutional Doctoral Education Arrangement for Learning and Leadership (IDEALL) program will expand UNCG’s existing doctoral program in communication sciences and disorders to include Western Carolina students via distance technologies and face-to-face instruction.

Dean Celia Hooper

Dean Celia Hooper

Celia Hooper, dean of the UNCG School of Health and Human Sciences, described the departments’ partnership as a natural evolution that expands on existing partnerships. The collaboration gives Western Carolina faculty, who currently work with students in undergraduate and master’s degree programs, access to UNCG doctoral students to aid their research, she said. In return, students in the western region of the state have access to doctoral level studies and UNCG students have access to an extended network of researchers and mentors.

“We all talk about collaboration. These two departments are doing it,” Hooper said. “There is a shortage of faculty in the communication sciences and disorders field nationwide.  North Carolina workforce needs reflect that, particularly in the western part of the state. Our universities have trouble filling positions, and this project will help.”

The program, which has been in development for seven years, was designed with working professionals in mind. Formulated for part-time doctoral students, the program will prepare professionals for careers in higher education or industry, with emphasis on research, professional leadership, public policy and economic development.

“IDEALL CSD meets the needs of speech-language pathologists in western North Carolina by providing a more local opportunity for doctoral studies,” said Bill Ogletree, head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Western Carolina. “This cutting-edge collaboration maximizes strong resources at two UNC system campuses – WCU and UNCG. The resulting possibilities are limitless.”

While the program is inter-institutional in nature, graduates will receive their doctoral degrees from UNCG. The first students are expected to enroll in fall 2016.