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Northwestern School of Communication


Courses in the department start with the introductory basics of hearing, speech, language, and learning and become more in depth, to include such topics as neuroanatomy and physiology, statistics, scientific writing, and principles of clinical practice—depending on a student’s course of study and personal academic and career goals.

For students majoring in Human Communication Sciences (the major associated with the department), it is required to take one course in the Department of Communication Studies (Public Speaking) and 11 course units in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Among the 18 distribution requirements (courses one takes outside of SoC), HCS students must take one course each in: statistics, neurobiology, mathematics, animal-related biology, and physics or chemistry. As is the intent with all distribution requirements, these non-major courses are meant to enhance, support, and contextualize learning done in one’s primary area of interest.

For CSD students at the graduate level, supervised clinical practica, applied research, and capstones are a part of the educational experience, often done in partnership with the Northwestern University Center for Audiology, Speech, Language, and Learning—a highly productive, highly functional, and well-regarded clinic where research is translated and applied to practice.

Featured Courses

Sound and Communication Health (CSD 108-0)

Students new to the curriculum may take this course, which explores the role of sound in basic human communication; hearing, speech, language, and learning mechanisms required to process and produce sound; and assessment and treatment of disorders caused by a breakdown in sound processing 

Biological Foundations of Speech and Music (CSD 310-0)

This course will review the biological foundations of speech and music perception, including anatomy and physiology of the central auditory pathway, experience-related neural plasticity, right/left brain specialization, audiovisual integration, auditory learning and perception, and neural encoding of speech and music. 

Autism Spectrum Disorders (CSD 382-0)

An overview of autism, this class focuses on its clinical presentation and potential causes, diagnosis, assessments for characterizing autistic features in research, evaluation (based on behavior, cognition, neuroimaging, and genetics) of theories of autism's causes, and controversies (changing prevalence, myths about causation).