Online Speech Pathology Degrees by Program Level

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

Fully-online speech pathology programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Undergraduate programs are designed for students seeking to become Speech Language Pathology Assistants (SLPAs) or those preparing for graduate admission. Most states require candidates to hold a master's degree in order to become a licensed speech-language pathologist. Areas of study include speech and hearing science, language disorders and clinical phonetics. Given the hands-on nature of the field, many online programs - particularly at the master's level - expect students to complete clinical experiences.

Associate's Degree in Speech Pathology

Most associate's degree programs teach students how to best assist speech-language pathologists when treating disorders related to articulation and phonology, child and adult language, motor speech, voice, fluency and hearing. Graduates can seek employment as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) or pursue further education through bachelor's and master's degree programs.

Program Information and Requirements

Students must have access to a computer with high-speed Internet access in order to enroll in online courses. Many schools provide a virtual classroom environment wherein students can get their assignments, submit their homework and participate in both instructor- and student-led discussions. Class materials can include physical or Web-based textbooks, as well as downloadable audio and video components. Hybrid programs blend online and on-campus classes and include observed clinical practice.

Common Online Courses

Students explore the methods employed to assist speech-language pathologists in the assessment and treatment of articulation, language, voice, fluency and other communicative disorders in children and adults.

Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Course

In this online course, students are introduced to the field of communication disorders. They learn the guidelines used to determine the development of normal and pathological speech. They are also required to spend a set amount of hours of observation at one or several clinical sites, which may be arranged locally on an individual basis.

Cognitive Neuroscience Course

This course explores the basic structure and organization of the human central nervous system. Enrollees learn how it plays a role in higher cognitive and linguistic behaviors.

Phonetics Course

This online course covers the linguistic, acoustic and articulatory phonetic properties that are applied to the description of speech. Particular attention is paid to the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet with English, foreign languages and disordered speech.

Bachelor's Degree in Speech Pathology

Bachelor's degree programs prepare enrollees for certification as speech-language pathologist assistant; they provide a comprehensive overview of speech pathology, typically over the course of four years. Online programs combine textbook reading assignments with virtual classroom discussions, but also often include a required amount of practical work in a clinical setting. The delivery methods and requirements vary by program.

Common Courses

Students learn how to assess and treat speech disorders through a series of somewhat flexible courses in a bachelor-level curriculum. They explore the science of speech and prepare for certification as a speech pathologist.

Language, Speech, and Hearing Development

This online course serves as an introduction to the development of language, speech and hearing, along with the nature of human communication and language learning. Topics include theoretical models of language acquisition and the nature, causes and prevention of language, speech and hearing disorders.

Voice Disorders: Diagnosis and Treatment

In this course, students learn how to identify, evaluate and develop treatment plans. They must accommodate the voice disorders of both children and adults.

Observation and Graduate School Preparatory

This class consists primarily of independent work that allows students to document their activities through a series of written reports and projects. In addition, enrollees must complete a minimum of 25 hours of supervised observation of communication disorders in a clinical setting as required by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Master's Degree in Speech Pathology

A master's degree is required by many states in order to achieve certification as a speech pathologist. Therefore, these programs are designed to prepare students for certification by engaging in research projects (including a master's thesis), understanding professional issues and completing a supervised internship.

Common Online Courses

Through a master-level curriculum in the field of speech pathology, students examine all aspects of speech and communication disorders while enhancing their research and clinical skills. Opportunities for specialization in an area of particular interest are often available.

Stuttering and Fluency Disorders

This course teaches students to understand the normal and disordered aspects of fluency. It also addresses current knowledge about etiology, onset and development of stuttering. Enrollees learn to assess and treat stuttering in persons of various ages and severity.

Professional Issues in Speech Pathology

This class covers professional issues of speech-language pathology as they relate to settings such as public schools, hospitals and other clinical areas. Topics include the law, ethics and third-party reimbursement.

Clinical Practicum: Off-Campus Internship

Students are supervised in an off-campus setting in order to develop advanced understanding of theories through their practical application. They apply methods to diagnose and treat children and adults with communication problems.

Career Information

Those with an associate's degree in this field can find employment as a Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SPLA) in locations such as public elementary and secondary schools, daycare centers, nursing homes, hospitals and private practices. According to, median annual salaries for SLPAs ranged from $30,430 to $65,461, including bonuses and commissions, as of November 2019.

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in speech pathology are equipped to seek employment as a certified speech pathology assistant. The median salary for a speech pathologist holding a bachelor's degree was $45,000, as reported by in November 2016.

Those who have completed a master's degree can pursue a license to become a speech-language pathologist, which is required to practice in many states. Master's degree holders may also attain positions such as speech and language pathology supervisor or director of speech and language therapy. reported the median annual salary for a speech pathologist was $81,786 as of October 2019.

There are many different options for fully online degree programs in speech-language pathology, including associate's, bachelor's, and master's programs. While there are jobs available at every degree level, it is important to remember that many states require licensed speech-language pathologists to hold a master's degree.

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