Degree in Speech Pathology: Program Overviews

Find out whether a bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree program in speech pathology is the right education choice for your desired career path. Read about the various curricula, job options and employment statistics.

Essential Information

Speech pathology students learn to understand speech disorders, fluency problems and other impairments in communication. Degrees in this field are available from the bachelor's to doctorate levels, and many offer fieldwork to gain practical experience. Entrance requirements depend on the degree level; for example, admission to a master's program typically entails a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and acceptable GRE scores. In order to become a licensed speech pathologist, individuals need to obtain a master's degree and get licensed by passing a national examination, among other requirements determined by state.

Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

A bachelor's degree program in speech pathology, or speech-language pathology, introduces students to language processes and communication disorders. Students explore the development of normal and abnormal speech and hearing. They investigate areas of language, communication and speech. Courses aim to address not only the ways disabilities affect individuals, but also effective treatment.

Programs offer students internships and externships to develop skills. A Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology can be achieved in approximately four years. Those interested in pursuing a degree in speech pathology at the baccalaureate level need to hold a high school diploma or achieve satisfactory results on the GED test.

Program Coursework

In addition to general education coursework, speech pathology students complete core courses in language development and speech disorders. Some programs also include hands-on clinical components. Typically courses students encounter include:

  • Phonetics
  • Audiology
  • Brain and language
  • Literacy and literacy development
  • Vocal mechanisms

Popular Career Options

Speech pathology involves identifying and treating speech and language disorders that result from disabilities and diseases. Graduates with a bachelor's degree in speech pathology may choose to become speech pathology aides and work under a licensed pathologist. Common career paths may include the following.

  • Language pathology assistant
  • Evaluator
  • Treatment plan coordinator

Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology

At the master's level, students take advanced coursework in psychology, language development and acoustics. Students complete clinical hours for practical experience working with patients of all ages. Individuals may have the opportunity to expand their program in a certain area, such as language disorders, voice disorders or medical disorders, through electives and internships.

Education Prerequisites

In order to pursue a master's degree in speech pathology, applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree program. A major in speech pathology, communication or a related field may be preferred, but it is not required. Prospective students may need to submit Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores, along with letters of recommendation.

Program Coursework

A master's degree in speech pathology program provides students with an understanding of both theories and practices related to speech disorders through clinical investigation. Classes explore human development, ethics, research, therapeutic management and current research in the field. Thesis and non-thesis tracks may be available. Speech pathology coursework may include:

  • Neuropathology
  • Language disorders
  • Stuttering
  • Dysphasia
  • Articulation disorders

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), speech-language pathologists will see an employment change of 19%, which was faster than average, from 2008-2018 ( The BLS stated that there were 112,530 speech-language pathologists employed earning median annual wages of $66,920 in May 2010.

Continuing Education and Certification Information

In order to practice, graduates must pass the standardized examination for speech pathology offered by the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service. Individuals must hold a certain amount of clinical hours prior to becoming licensed; however, this may vary by state. Some states require continuing education to keep licensure current. Additional nationally recognized certification is offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology

Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology programs focus on applied sciences and research, while offering students the option to individualize their programs with an emphasis area. Most programs expect students to develop a thesis, and students may participate in hands-on learning experiences during clinical studies.

As with most doctorate programs, many speech pathology programs require students to complete a dissertation on relevant research, as well as candidacy exams. Doctorate programs commonly require applicants to hold at least a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores.

Course Topics

Doctorate students in speech pathology programs take coursework related to research, experimental design and a variety of disorders. Through lectures and seminars, students may study:

  • Communication disorders
  • Linguistics
  • Sensory processes
  • Clinical administration
  • Grant writing

Popular Career Options

Graduates who obtain a doctorate degree have the practical expertise and theoretical knowledge in rehabilitation and education to qualify for research, academia and clinical careers. More specifically, individuals may find positions as:

  • Clinical practice administrators
  • University or college educators
  • Researchers

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