Tennessee Speech Pathology Graduate Degree Programs

Speech pathology graduate programs are also known as speech language pathology or SLP programs. They examine the physical and cognitive functions of communication, and conditions that might impair those functions. Speech language pathology is generally concerned with therapy. Programs look at identifying disorders and providing treatment.

Speech Pathology Graduate Programs

Professional insight into Speech Pathology

"I would tell prospective students entering the field of speech pathology: if you truly want to help people it is one of the best careers you can have. My career as a speech-language pathologist has given me passion and purpose every day when I go to work. The relationships I have built with my patients over the years are the greatest of treasures to me. To watch the children and the families I work with grow while knowing I played a small part is what makes my work so purposeful."

- Ginger Geldreich Jones, M.A., CCC-SLP, LSLS Cert AVT Speech-Language Pathologist, Certified Auditory Verbal Therapist, Founder, CEO, Jones Therapy Services, LLC

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The goal is to help a patient or client function independently in a healthy way. Speech pathology graduate programs focus on developing expertise regarding those systems and conditions. Programs might also cover treatment models, research, and related topics. Programs could be diverse, ranging in focus, format, and degree type.

Types of Speech Pathology Graduate Programs

Speech language pathologist graduate programs might issue a few different degrees. The type of degree you’re working toward could in some cases significantly impact the nature of the program and the prerequisites. Some programs might tend to be designed for students with little to no speech and language pathology experience. Meanwhile, more advanced speech therapist degrees might require an educational and professional SLP background.

Three types of speech pathology programs you might consider are listed below.

  1. Speech Pathology Masters Programs: Many masters programs build their curricula to help students become credentialed to practice as a speech language pathologist. That’s because a masters degree is often a prerequisite for obtaining those credentials. However, different types of speech language pathology roles may have different professional requirements. This could impact the courses offered. For example, a masters program focused on speech language pathology in an educational setting might be somewhat different from one that is more clinically focused. If you’re looking for a masters program to work toward licensure, make sure you review the specific requirements in your state.
  2. Speech Language Pathology Doctorate Programs: Your professional goal could have an impact on the type of SLP doctoral program you choose to attend. Generally, SLP PhD programs are research-oriented or academic. A variety of clinical doctorates may also be offered. This could include AuD (Doctor of Audiology) and Doctor of Clinical Science (CScD) degrees, among others.
  3. Graduate Certificates in Speech and Language Pathology: Certificate programs often have fewer required courses than degrees. As a result, they might focus in-depth on a specific topic, rather than surveying the whole field. Earning a graduate certificate in speech pathology could be one way for somebody in the field to expand expertise in a new area. It could also be one avenue for people in related fields to learn more about relevant aspects of speech pathology.

Keep in mind that individual programs within each of these categories may vary from what is described here. Some program options might also not be listed here. For more information, get in touch with your selected school or program.

Speech Pathology Graduate Programs Potential Formats

Speech pathology graduate degree programs could be available in a variety of formats. So no matter what your preferred schedule or mode of learning, you might find a program that fits. Each one might have unique advantages when it comes to your education and lifestyle.

  • Online Speech Pathology Graduate Programs: This option could appealing if you need something flexible. If you’re already working a full schedule, studying online could enable you to continue being there for your patients. And you could do it while expanding your knowledge and skills in the digital classroom. Online programs may allow you to access your courses and materials on the go, on your schedule. And since you wouldn't need to commute, you could choose a program that focuses on what you want.
  • Graduate SLP Schools: Prefer to learn face-to-face? In graduate school programs, you could learn in the classroom, while having access to the valuable resources of a physical campus. You could take advantage of lab space and get hands-on experience. And a graduate school program might be anchored in the community. That could potentially impact your opportunity for internships or clinical experience. It might even be a perk in your job search once you earn a speech therapy degree.

Speech Pathology Terms To Know

Speech language pathology is a broad discipline in itself. So it’s no wonder that speech pathology graduate programs could be equally diverse. Many programs may survey speech language pathology as a whole, building a generalized expertise. Others may instead focus primarily on one area of responsibility. It is also important to note that speech pathologists are oftern referred to as speech therapists.

Here are some important terms you might come across when you’re reading about these programs. This may help you better understand what each program and course might entail, and choose one that works for you.

  • Cognition: In a basic sense, this term refers to processes related to thinking. In speech language pathology, cognition has to do with the mental aspects of communicating and understanding others. This could include organization of thoughts, memory, reasoning, and executive functions.
  • Phonation: This refers to the physical function of producing sound, and the systems that enable that to happen. In a speech pathology graduate program, it might also be used to refer to voice disorders.
  • Articulation: This means the physical action of pronouncing words and sounds. A relatively common example of this is when young children have difficulty pronouncing an American “R” sound. Sometimes articulation problems are the result of disorders. However, these issues could also arrive from differences in a person’s first language.
  • Phonology: This concept is similar to and sometimes confused with articulation. The difference is subtle. While articulation refers to the physical act of making the sounds that comprise a language, phonology refers to the brain’s process of organizing those sounds into contrasting patterns so that words can be understandable.
  • Morphology: In SLP, as in linguistics, this has to do with understanding the meanings of different parts of words and phrases. In other words, understanding how an individual prefix, root word, and suffix could come together to communicate something new. Morphology has to do with the cognitive aspects of communication.
  • Language Processing: This somewhat broad term refers to how the brain perceives, understands, and uses language. It could include how the brain processes auditory speech and perceives meaning. It could also refer to the opposite—how the brain constructs language to communicate, orally or otherwise, to others.

Speech Language Pathology Career Infoi

As a speech language pathologists, or speech therapist, you may may work in a variety of settings. This could range from hospitals to schools to local clinics. They are generally responsible for diagnosing and treating communication and swallowing disorders.

Typical entry-level education for speech-language pathologists is a masters degree. That makes graduate education an important aspect of achieving career goals in this area. Speech language pathologists also might need certification or licensure, though the specific credential needed might vary by work area, discipline, and even location.

In 2016, the median annual salary for speech-language pathologists was $74,680. This could vary by state and level of advancement. The job outlook is also much faster than average, predicted to grow by 21% between 2014 and 2024.

Browse Speech Pathology Graduate Programs

Ready to start your search for speech pathology graduate programs? Start looking here! If you know what you’re looking for, you can use the menu to narrow down your choices. You could select program formats or degree types.

Then read more about those programs, and browse the associated sponsored program listings. Once you find the ones you’re interested in, click on them to read more and get in touch.

[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm

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