The field of communicative disorders, also known as speech-language pathology, requires knowledge of speech, hearing, fluency and auditory processing; master's and doctoral programs provide opportunities for the investigation of specific conditions and diagnostic methods. Generally, a master's degree or higher is necessary for professional certification by the American Speech and Hearing Association and those interested in pursuing doctoral studies can choose between a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Speech-Language Pathology or a more specialized Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree.
10 Schools with Communicative Disorders Programs
Communicative disorder programs are offered at a number of public colleges throughout the country, including the universities and colleges listed here.
|College/University||Location||Institution Type||Degrees Offered*||Tuition (2015-2016)**|
|Appalachian State University||Boone, NC||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||In-state Undergraduate $6,852; Out-of-state Undergraduate $20,677; In-state Graduate $4,518; Out-of-state Graduate $17,060|
|Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania||Bloomsburg, PA||4-year, Public||Master's||In-state Graduate $9,400; Out-of-state Graduate $14,100|
|Boston University||Boston, MS||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||Undergraduate $48,436; Graduate $47,422|
|California State University - Long Beach||Long Beach, CA||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's||In-state Undergraduate $6,452; Out-of-state Undergraduate $17,612; In-state Graduate $6,738; Out-of-state Graduate $15,666|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $44,560; Graduate $41,137|
|Duquesne University||Pittsburg, PA||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $33,778; Graduate $21,402|
|Emerson College||Boston, MS||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $41,052; Graduate $28,728|
|Florida State University||Tallahassee, FL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state Undergraduate $6,507; Out-of-state Undergraduate $21,673; In-state Graduate $9,684; Out-of-state Graduate $24,116|
|Hofstra University||Hempstead, NY||4-year, Private||Bachelor's, Master's||Undergraduate $40,460; Graduate $21,456|
|Illinois State University||Normal, IL||4-year, Public||Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral||In-state Undergraduate $13,666; Out-of-state Undergraduate $21,482; In-state Graduate $7,760; Out-of-state Graduate $15,377|
Sources: *School websites, **National Center for Education Statistics
School Selection Criteria
Students interested in communicative disorders careers should keep the following suggestions in mind when evaluating programs:
- Seek programs that offer practical experience in the form of supervised internships in a university-affiliated setting.
- Research the type of degree needed for the area of speech-language pathology that you would like to pursue to determine which schools would be the best fit.
- Some schools offer a combined bachelor's/master's program which may allow students to complete a graduate degree faster.
- Tuition costs vary widely, depending on whether the school is a public or private institution.
Bachelor's Degree in Communicative Disorders or Speech-Language Pathology
Designed to give students a broad introduction to the field, bachelor's degree courses cover speech and hearing science, neurology, language development, phonetics, and articulation Students also complete an independent study project. Candidates are encouraged to study linguistics, physiology, statistics and other sciences prior to enrollment. In some cases, students may be certified to become speech pathology or audiology assistants after completing a bachelor's degree program.
Pre-Graduate Courses or Certificate Programs in Communicative Disorders
Many universities offer transitional programs for students who have a bachelor's degree in a field outside of speech-language pathology but would like to proceed to graduate study in communicative disorders. These accelerated versions of bachelor's degree programs typically take only one or two years, and may offer online or hybrid classes. A clinical practicum may be required.
Master's Degree in Communicative Disorders or Speech-Language Pathology
In a master's degree program, students learn about specific disorders. Clinical practicums and internships are generally required. Students may need to complete an independent thesis or study project. Master's students are encouraged to pursue research interests such as diagnostics, therapeutic methods and literacy development. A bachelor's degree in communicative disorders or a sequence of relevant pre-graduate courses is often a prerequisite for a master's program.
Doctor of Philosophy in Speech-Language Pathology
A Ph.D. in speech-language pathology can lead to a career as an educational specialist, policymaker or university faculty member. Students are required to write a dissertation and may focus their research in specific areas, such as multicultural issues in diagnosis or aerodynamics of speech.
Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.)
Applicants to an Au.D. program typically only need a bachelor's degree for acceptance. A doctoral program in audiology is research-oriented like a Ph.D. program, but combines research with clinical rotations.
Those interested in pursuing studies in communicative disorders may want to consider if they can pursue undergraduate and graduate degrees at the institution they're interested in. A number of public and private colleges and universities offer communicative disorder bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees.