Speech and language therapists help people with damaged vocal systems rehabilitate and recover. Schools offer both bachelor's degree and master's degree programs in speech-language pathology, but they are much more widely available online at the graduate level. Few, if any, schools offer online bachelor's degree programs in speech-language pathology, but some do offer online bachelor's programs in communicative disorders, which provides a good foundation for graduate study in speech-language pathology.
There are a few online master's degree programs in speech-language pathology. Applicants must have a bachelor's degree, preferably in communications science and disorders or a related field.
Online students can access lectures and course materials at their convenience. These programs may have some on-campus requirements, and several clinical experiences and internship are required throughout the program. Coursework covers anatomy and physiology, swallowing disorders and various types of speech disorders. Alternate methods of communication may also be explored. These programs usually require two to three years of study, depending on whether the student is full- or part-time.
Most states require that speech-language pathologists be licensed. This usually calls for a master's degree in the field and clinical experience. Students may wish to ensure that any program they are considering is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This is required for licensing in some states. The association also offers professional certifications that may increase a graduate's employability.
Speech Language Pathology Degree
Online programs in speech-language pathology are generally offered at the master's degree level rather than the bachelor's level. Speech-language pathology master's degree programs explore acoustic principles, the physiology and development of parts of the body involved in speech, disorders that inhibit or prevent speech and swallowing, and the psychological aspects of communication. Enrollment in a master's degree program requires a bachelor's degree, preferably in the biological sciences or communication science, and a 3.0 or better grade point average.
Program Information and Requirements
Except for clinical internships, all courses in an online master's degree program in speech language pathology can be completed entirely online. Some programs may allow remote students to arrange an internship in their own locality. Course work consists of assigned readings, chat sessions and audio and video lectures. Chat sessions may occur at scheduled times, but all other material is accessible at a student's convenience. A master's degree is typically completed in two years.
A personal computer, Internet access and headset are the minimal technical requirements needed to participate in an online speech-language pathology program. Some programs also recommend a webcam for videoconferencing. Blackboard is a commonly used content delivery platform.
Speech-Language Pathology Courses
Online master's degree programs in speech pathology are likely to be divided into a set of required core courses and a set of electives. Core courses tend to address fundamentals of the discipline.
This course offers a general review of the acoustics and articulation of spoken American English. The application of phonetics to speech and sound disorders is also considered.
Students practice interviewing and counseling techniques used in speech therapy in this class. Topics considered in the course also include ethical practices and professional responsibility.
Neurology of Speech
This course examines the structure, organization and function of the central and peripheral nervous system. The portions of the nervous system that support speech, language and hearing receive particular emphasis.
Speech and Swallowing Disorders
Students in this course immerse themselves in current clinical research and theory on the causes of speech and swallowing disorders and possible treatment approaches for them. Cleft palates, dysphagia, laryngectomy and craniofacial anomalies are among the disorders considered.
An online master's degree program in speech-language pathology prepares graduates to become speech-language pathologists, also known as speech therapists or speech pathologists. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that between the years 2014 and 2024 employment of speech language pathologists will increase 21% (www.bls.gov). Growth will be driven by the medical needs of an aging population, as well as advances in the treatment of stroke and trauma victims that require subsequent rehabilitation care. According to ('www.bls.gov), as of May 2015, speech-language pathologists earned a median annual salary of $73,410.
Continuing Education Information
Doctoral degree programs in speech-language pathology are available for working speech therapy professionals want to move into administrative or academic research careers. However, according to the American Speech Language Hearing Association, Ph.D. programs of this type are not available online.
Online master's degree programs in speech-language pathology are more common than bachelor's degree programs in that field. The average graduate program typically takes two years to complete and requires clinical training in addition to online coursework.