Speech Pathology Online Graduate Programs and Degrees
Online speech pathology programs focus on language, communication and cognitive issues related to speech and language problems that can occur in children and adults. They also cover what disorders might impair that communication and the treatment or therapy needed.
Graduate programs tend to focus on diagnosis, therapy, and prevention. This could include everything from the physical component of speaking, to the mental aspects of forming ideas into words and understanding others. Many graduate students find that it's best to pursue their speech therapy degree online due to flexibility in course scheduling and course formats.
The goal of many graduate online speech language pathology programs is to build student's expertise and skills so they might help children and adults speak and understand more effectively. That could involve taking classes in a wide array of topics. Courses might focus on specific types of disorders, or on certain kinds of workplaces or areas of responsibility.
And earning a graduate speech pathology degree online could be one way to develop that specific top expertise, while accommodating the rest of your life.
What to Expect in Graduate Speech Language Pathology Programs Online
Online speech pathology graduate programs could be a unique experience in a few key ways. For one, there’s the nature of online education in itself. Online graduate programs deliver courses via the internet. That enables students to use their own laptops or tablets to access their courses on the go. Some programs even incorporate flexibility of scheduling. This way students could log on and complete course work on their own schedules.
Opting to earn your speech pathology degree online could enable you to consider schools farther away than might have been feasible otherwise. Since you could consider a wider array of schools, you might be able to find one that focuses on what you need to learn, without having to worry about driving there.
When searching for your online speech language pathology programs you may want to consider a few additional elements. For one, if you’re looking to become licensed in your state, you might want to make sure your selected graduate program fits those requirements.
Also, while many programs may be fully online, make sure you’re aware of any potential in-person requirements. This could include oral exams, defending a thesis, or field experience. Online programs vary.
Difference between Speech Pathologist and Speech Therapist
The term most used today to describe a speech pathologist or speech therapist is speech language pathologist. Many times speech language pathologist is abbreviated to "SLP" but there is no difference and both terms may be used.
Types of Online Speech Pathology Programs
Speech pathology graduate programs online may include masters, certificate and doctorate programs.
- Speech Pathology Masters Programs Online: At the masters level, speech language pathology programs online tend to be influenced by credential requirements. That’s because a masters degree tends to be a prerequisite for earning a professional credential, which could be necessary to work as an SLP. As such, some online speech pathology masters programs focus on helping students with little or no SLP background prepare. While a variety of masters degree types might be available in different programs, one of the more common options may be a Master of Science (MS).
- Online Graduate Certificates in Speech Language Pathology: Graduate certificate programs tend to be somewhat more brief than degree programs. So pursuing a graduate certificate in speech pathology could be one way to learn more about a new aspect of speech pathology. Some students may also choose to earn a certificate to help maintain a credential, or to take steps in a new direction professionally.
- Online Doctorate Speech Language Pathology Programs: At the doctoral level, online speech pathology programs typically fall into two categories. Some may award an Au.D degree which is a clinical doctorate for those interested in entering the audiology profession. Other speech pathology doctorate programs award a PhD and focus more on scholastic research and teaching.
Within these categories, programs might be further specialized. For example, some programs might talk about what it means to work in a school setting, while others might hone in on certain types of disorders.
Then there’s experience. Some online speech pathology programs may be designed for students with little or no experience, or who need to earn a credential. Others might aim to expand the expertise of professionals who already have some experience.
Not all speech pathology graduate programs online are equal, even with equivalent degrees. As such, you might find some programs that are a little different from what is described here. They might focus on different aspects of the field, or be designed for a different type of student, for example. Reach out to the schools you’re considering for more specific information.
Common Requirements for Speech Pathology Graduate Programs Online
Courses and clinical practice
2-3 years full-time
Courses, Clinical Practice, Final Portfolio, and Comprehensive Exam/ Capstone
Yes (Usually have residency requirements)
3-5 years full-time
Courses, Research and Dissertation, and Residency (1 year)
(See ii sources for requirements citations.)
What You Could Study While Earning a Speech Pathology Degree Online
If you’re studying in online speech pathology graduate programs, the specific courses you take may depend heavily on the individual program. Specifically, it would depend on what that program is focused on. While some programs may allow students to select a concentration to affect this, others may be designed around a specific goal or topic.
Generally, the courses you take might fall into a few categories: foundational knowledge, research, identification and treatment of disorders, and clinical experience. Here are some examples to give you a clearer picture.
- Anatomy and Physiology: Specifically, in a speech pathology program, this would focus on the parts of the body that facilitate speech. In other words, the mouth, vocal and swallowing mechanisms. However, some programs may expand beyond this and provide a more comprehensive study of anatomy.
- Neurology: Related to the above, this kind of course would look at the parts of the brain that have to do with speaking and understanding language, memory, and executive function.
- Multicultural and Social Issues in Communication: This could be covered in one or several courses. Basically, it means discussing how different communities communicate, and how those differences may impact communication and the prevalence of communication disorders or even misdiagnosis.
- Speech Disorders: A category rather than a topic in itself, coursework covering speech disorders would look at the physical functions of vocal language, and disorders that would impact a person’s ability to form words and sentences. This might even span multiple courses, especially if your program goes in-depth about particular ones.
- Language Disorders: A little different from speech disorders, this has more to do with the cognitive parts of communication. In other words, it has to do with understanding and using certain aspects of language, and one’s ability to organize thoughts into understandable sentences to communicate verbally. Like with speech disorders, this is a broad category that might span multiple courses.
- Voice disorders: Related to speech, voice disorders would look at issues that compromise a person’s ability to produce and modulate sounds.
These are only sample course topics and descriptions. Depending what online speech pathology programs you look at, the courses you find might vary. For more information about curriculum, and how it might support the credentialing process, reach out to the schools in question.
What Could I Do With an Online Speech Pathologist Degree?i
One option for those who earn a speech pathology degree is to pursue a role as a Speech Language pathologist. Speech language pathologists in the field are responsible for helping identify, treat, and prevent speech and communication disorders, as well as swallowing disorders and related issues. They might work with children and adults of all ages, in a variety of professional setting.
In 2016, the median pay for speech language pathologists was $74,680. This number could differ based on where you are and the level of advancement, among other factors. Job outlook is also projected to grow by about 21%, which is faster than average.
A masters degree is usually a requirement for entry-level employment as a speech language pathologist. Other typical requirements include a relevant professional credential. The specific one might vary between states, and might depend on the type of facility you’d be working in.
Search for Speech Pathology Graduate Programs Online Now
If you’re ready to start your search for speech pathology programs online, GradSchools.com can help. If you already know what type of degree you want to earn, use the menu to choose that option. Then read more about those degrees, and review the sponsored program listings that match. Once you find some you’re interested in, click on the programs to learn more or get in touch. Your future starts here!
Sources: [i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm | [ii] learn.uvm.edu/program/speech-language-pathology-pre-masters-certificate/ | wku.edu/communicationdisorders/slpgraduateprogram.php | bu.edu/academics/sar/programs/speech-language-hearing-sciences/phd/
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