Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology programs are available online, but such programs typically require in-person clinical lab work, an internship or practicum. Students in these programs study the causes, diagnoses and treatments of speech, language, voice, fluency and swallowing disorders. In order to participate in online courses, students may need to have access to a headset, webcam and high-quality speakers. Prospective speech-language pathologists may also need to seek additional licensure from their state after completing the program.
Master's Degree in Speech Therapy
Online master's level instruction in speech therapy is available through master's degree programs in speech-language pathology. Master of Science (M.S.) in Speech-Language Pathology programs can be found in fully online formats. Students enrolled in this degree program explore the neurological, physical and developmental causes of a wide variety of communication and language disorders, as well as how to effectively diagnose and treat them.
Program Information and Requirements
The M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology degree program consists of 52-61 credit-hours lasting 2-3 years. Although all coursework is conducted online, most schools require students to participate in a clinical lab, internship or externship held in the field or on-campus. Online materials are presented mostly in an asynchronous format so that students may view archived lectures and turn in assignments at any time as long as certain deadlines are met. A few schools require some synchronous online meetings to occur at certain times. Students interact with their instructors and peers through online discussion boards, chat rooms and e-mail.
Accessing online course management systems requires the use of a computer and an Internet connection. A headset, webcam and speakers may be needed for synchronous meetings and real-time communication.
The curriculum of a master's degree in speech-language pathology consists of core courses, electives and internship credits. A thesis may be required; however, some schools offer a non-thesis option, which requires additional coursework.
This course examines the causes, diagnostic processes and treatments for individuals with operative and structural voice disorders, such as dysphonia and cleft palate related problems. Students also study vocal mechanics and the process of articulating sounds from physical and psychological perspectives.
Stuttering and Fluency Disorders
Past and present theories on the developmental and neurological reasons for non-fluent speech conditions such as stuttering are discussed. The program highlights the differences between treating fluency disorders in children and adults. Methods for conducting research experiments on speech fluency are also studied.
Dysphagia and Swallowing Disorders
Students analyze the procedural steps of swallowing and the common problems that can occur at each step. The areas of the brain, neural connections and musculature necessary to facilitate swallowing are identified. The biological causes of dysphagia and other swallowing disorders are examined using videoflouroscopic swallowing study evidence.
A master's degree is the typical education required for employment as a speech-language pathologist (also known as a speech therapist). The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that as of May 2015, there were 131,450 speech-language pathologists earning a yearly median salary of $73,410 (www.bls.gov). The BLS predicted employment of these professionals to increase at a rate of 21% from 2014-2024, which is better than the mean occupational growth rate of all jobs.
Professional Certification and Continuing Education
Certain licensing requirements must be met, depending on the candidate's state of residence, to become a speech-language pathologist. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) specifies several requirements ranging from passing state and national certification tests to completing a certain number of clinical experience hours (www.asha.org). Prospective speech-language pathologists can consult ASHA for the exact details of their state's licensure requirements. Additionally, many states require that speech-language pathologists complete a certain number of continuing education hours within a specified period.
Graduates wishing to further their academic pursuits can find doctoral programs in speech-language pathology. Many of these doctoral programs are available in online or hybrid formats.
Students interested in a career in speech therapy can pursue an MS in Speech-Language Pathology after earning their bachelor's degree. Coursework for these programs may be completed entirely online, but students must also complete in-person clinical training.