Master's degree programs in speech pathology are sometimes called speech-language pathology or speech pathology and audiology. Individuals gain clinical experience through practica or externships at hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes or schools. Some programs require a thesis, and most require passing comprehensive exams to graduate. Attending programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) can be beneficial down the road when applying for a state license.
Some programs require students to have previous educational background in mathematics and sciences. It's also suggested that applicants have a bachelor's degree in communication sciences and disorders, though it's not required. Many schools offer a hybrid online and low residency structured program for working professionals. To graduate with a master's degree in speech pathology, it typically takes two to three years.
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Master in Speech Pathology
The master's program focuses on the theoretical and practical aspects of speech, language, voice, hearing, rhythm and swallowing disorders. Students evaluate speech disorders in both children and adults to learn diagnosis skills, as well as the processes and management of each disorder, including rehabilitation methods.
Throughout a speech pathology program, students acquire knowledge in human development, communicative behaviors, therapeutic management, current research and ethical guidelines. Students become proficient in topics such as:
- Disorders in fluency
- Adult neurological disorders
- Dysphagia and dysarthria
- Voice and genetic disorders
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for speech-language pathologists was expected to grow by 21% from 2014 to 2024. Elementary and secondary schools employ more speech-language pathologists than any other industry. The BLS reported a median salary of $73,410 for this position, as of May 2015.
Individuals wishing to become speech pathologists must follow the regulations established by the state in which they plan to practice; as of 2009, according to the BLS, 47 states had some kind of established regulations. Meeting the requirements needed to earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology credential awarded by ASHA usually meets or goes beyond state standards. Earning a master's degree from an accredited school fulfills ASHA requirements, along with completion of a fellowship and passage of the Praxis Series exam. Students may also choose to pursue doctoral work. Doctorate programs usually involve candidacy exams and additional research, but they train individuals as academic researchers and scholars.
Speech-language pathologists assist in the diagnosis and treatment of people suffering from speech and language disorders. If you are interested in pursuing this career, a speech-language pathology master's degree program will provide you with a comprehensive foundation of the theoretical and practical concepts needed to enter this field.