Speech and Language Pathologist FAQs for anyone considering a Graduate Degree in Speech and Language Pathology.
While it is not completely necessary for a person interested in enrolling in a speech pathology grad uate program to have an undergraduate degree in the field, it may be beneficial to build your background in communication sciences. Many SLP graduate programs require applicants to provide evidence of pre-requisite coursework prior to their enrollment. Some of these prerequisites might include:
Keep in mind your educational background is only one part of your application package. Make sure you choose an undergraduate major that interests you and you are willing to work hard in to achieve high marks, your overall GPA will be an important factor. You may also want to seek out shadowing or volunteer opportunities with working SLP professionals to learn more about the profession and gain valuable experience.
It is impossible to make a blanket statement about how hard speech pathology graduate programs will be, but graduate students can expect to encounter speech pathology courses that make them use the left and right sides of their brain.
Common courses for students pursuing masters in speech pathology include “Neural Bases of Communication Disorders;” a class that focuses on the science of brain functions and how they relate to a person’s ability to speak, other classes will involve learning research methods and statistical analysis to help students learn to conduct research and understand the research of others in the field. In addition to mathematical and scientific courses students will also learn to communicate with their future clients and create individualized action plans to correct speech disorders.
It is likely, due to the varied nature of speech pathology courses, at some point during their studies students will find one or more areas of the curriculum challenging and other areas easier to comprehend.
SLP programs are notorious for being highly competitive; this is due to a great deal of interest in the field and a limited number of spots available in accredited programs.
A study conducted by ASHA (The American Speech and Hearing Association) found that out of 37,067 applicants for the 2009-2010 academic year, only 11,789 students were admitted into 264 speech language pathology master’s programs. That is an acceptance rate of about 32%.
Most SLP graduate programs require applicants to have a minimum GPA of 3.5 with a GRE score of 400 in the Verbal and Quantitative Sections, and at least a 4.0 in the analytical writing section.
In addition to the stringent academic requirements ASHA also warns that even qualified applicants risk rejection due to the limited availability of slots in programs. It is wise to apply to many programs and some applicants can expect to have to apply to the same program several times before getting accepted.
Online speech pathology programs are available, though they are less common and usually require students to attend some form of on campus training that allows them to complete laboratory training hours. Since there is a practicum requirement for most SLP programs, online SLP programs often require students to make arrangements to complete their clinical rotations on their own. Some schools may offer placement services, but others may not and then those students will have to reach out and make these arrangements themselves.
Those interested in online speech pathology programs, should ensure the online program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation and make sure the program is accepted by the licensing body of the state in which they intend to practice.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, speech pathology jobs are expected to grow by 23% between 2010 and 2020, this is faster than the average of all other occupations. The median annual salary of a speech and language pathologist is $66,920, with the highest 10% of earners making more than $103,630 and lowest 10% of earners making less than $42,970.
The CAA (Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology) is the accrediting body for speech language pathology programs, and is an accreditation service provided through ASHA (The American Speech and Hearing Association). The CAA provides a list of schools that meet their strict licensing requirements. The list can be found by following this link. If you are interested in a school that is not listed here, contact the medical or health licensing board in the state in which you hope to practice to ensure the program meets state licensure requirements. Remember without a license you will not be able to practice speech pathology.
Course requirements will vary slightly by program, however; students pursuing a master’s degree in speech pathology are likely to encounter courses in the following topics:
Students pursuing a Ph.D. in speech pathology can reasonably expect to be required to complete some coursework in the following areas:
Most states require those who wish to practice speech pathology to pass the Speech-Language Pathology Praxis Exam. This exam is created and administered through a partnership of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association and the Educational Testing Service. Minimum scores are set at the state level, but it is common for states to align their minimum score requirements with that of the ASHA accreditation requirement. While ASHA certification is not required by some states it is generally preferred within the professional community and it helps professionals to be more competitive and respected in the field.
We hope you enjoyed these Speech and Language Pathologist FAQs. Take the next step and explore a graduate degree such as a Masters in Speech Pathology!