Speech Therapy Masters Degree Program Information
The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) designates a master's degree as a qualification for entry-level certification as a speech-language pathologist. This program teaches students to diagnose, plan and execute a program of therapeutic management for a variety of medical conditions.
A Master of Science in Communicative Sciences and Disorders meets the requirements for a speech therapist position. Courses cover various types of communications disorders, as well as alternate methods of communications. Students in such a program learn to work with stroke victims, people who stutter, people who cannot make appropriate speech sounds, people who have difficulty with languages, and persons with physical barriers to normal speech. All states require licenses for speech therapists; requirements vary by state, but they generally include passing a competency exam and may call for ASHA certification.
To earn a master's degree in speech therapy, students must first have a bachelor's degree in speech pathology or audiology; many schools require 30+ hours of prerequisite courses in communicative sciences (anatomy and physiology, audiology, acoustic phonetics, phonetics) as well.
Master of Science in Communicative Sciences & Disorders
Students enrolled in a speech therapy graduate program take speech disorder courses, audiology courses, and clinical courses, in addition to broader studies in organic chemistry, genetics, neuroanatomy, and neurophysiology. Additional course topics include the following:
- Language disorders in children
- Voice disorders
- Fluency disorders
- Adult language disorders
- Motor speech disorders
- Craniofacial anomalies
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
Employment of speech pathologists should grow about 21% during the reporting decade of 2014-2024 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov). This job growth is faster than average, compared to other occupations. Speech therapists should see an improvement in job opportunities as the aging population increases and the awareness of speech problems in young children improves. The median annual salary for a speech therapist in May 2015 was $73,410, as reported by the BLS.
Speech therapists need a state license to practice; graduates should consult individual state licensing boards for information on requirements. Typically, candidates for licensure must pass the national Praxis speech-language pathology exam. Some states also require ASHA certification, which is known as the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). Many states have continuing education requirements for license renewal.
Some speech therapists opt for a doctoral degree in speech therapy to increase their knowledge and skills. Speech therapists interested in research might consider a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Speech-Language Pathology. A Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLP.D.) can also be earned at 4-year universities.
Earning a master's degree is the benchmark students must reach to work as a speech therapist. The program prepares students for state licensure and delves into multiple facets of how therapists can help individuals with speech problems.