Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated October 2010
A future graduate student would be hard pressed to find a field more rewarding than one that gives people the ability to interact with others. Graduate communication sciences and disorders curriculums are devoted to helping their graduates realize the social pressures that heighten the frustration of individuals who suffer from communication disorders, and teaches them how to develop and maintain these individuals’ ability to communicate. Once students have grasped the concepts necessary to understand the human processes of hearing, speech and language, they will study the myriad of different disorders suffered by people throughout the life span, and will learn how to go about correcting it.
Communication science and disorders courses
Graduate communication sciences and disorders courses prepare students to diagnose, assess, evaluate and treat communication disorders that stem from birth defects, age, brain damage, trauma, injury and chemical imbalances in the brain. Students enrolled in communication sciences and disorders curriculums will be provided with the anatomical, physiological, psychological and social foundations that make it possible for humans to understand and produce language.
There are two major communication sciences and disorders concentrations. Speech pathology graduate programs makes up one of these major focuses. Speech pathologists work with individuals who have communication and swallowing problems. Communication sciences and disorders courses may cover specific disorders, such as hearing impairment and deafness; stuttering; speech; articulation or phonology problems; and neurological impairment of speech or language. Another communication sciences and disorders concentration is one that is chiefly concerned with language disorders. A person with a language disorder has difficulty with the comprehension of a spoken, written, and/or other symbol system. Other communication sciences and disorders concentrations may include:
Students may also choose to focus their studies on a specific age group or group of disorders. Additionally, students can focus their studies on working with individuals who wish to communicate more effectively in the business world, and those with an accent.
Communication sciences and disorders curriculums are offered with thesis and non-thesis options. Course offerings may cover such topics as neuroscience for communication disorders, early intervention and pre-school language issues, adult language disorders, psychological statistics and diagnosis in speech-language pathology. Other courses can include clinical audiology, advanced clinical management, swallowing disorders, evaluation and service delivery and alternative communication.
To prepare students for work in the field, communications sciences and disorders curriculums are supplemented with practicum experience and research activities, thereby satisfying student requirements for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification.
Careers in communication sciences and disorders
A wide variety of challenging and rewarding careers are available to the graduate with a Master's or PhD degree in communications sciences and disorders. As a professional in the field, students will be caring for those individuals whose age ranges may be anywhere from a few days old to the elderly. Careers in communication sciences and disorders can be found in education, scientific laboratories, state and federal agencies, rehabilitation centers and private practice.
Those with a masters degree in communication sciences and disorders can become special education teachers and earn an average of $42,000 each year. Some opt for a career in communication sciences and disorders as a speech teacher, which commands an average annual salary of $46,000, while others earn about $47,000 a year as rehabilitation counselors. Communication sciences and disorders careers as speech therapists bring in about $50,000 a year.
Most communication sciences and disorders careers require a PhD degree. Speech-language pathologists can earn an average annual salary of $55,000, while researchers can earn around $60,000. Those who enter careers as clinical audiologists can make an average of $62,000, and clinical laboratory supervisors can earn $65,000 each year. Meanwhile, professors can earn about $70,000 a year and those who choose to go into private practice can expect an average salary of $72,000.
Communication sciences and disorders courses prepare students to deal with speech, language, cognitive and hearing disorders. They will engage in extensive research, hands-on learning and use state-of-the-art technology, but most importantly they will make a difference in the lives of their patients. So enter this rewarding field by finding the perfect program to fit your needs.