In a speech-language pathology degree program, a student's training focuses on the development of speech and language, as well as certain disorders and their treatments. Practical experience is emphasized, especially in bachelor's and master's programs, where students work directly with individuals who have speech and language issues. A Ph.D. program revolves around research and may also include teaching.
Bachelor's Degrees in Speech-Language Pathology
Bachelor's programs in speech pathology normally focus on teaching students the nature and development of speech and language. Students are also introduced to types of speech, hearing and language disorders. Specific disorders are studied, along with the makeup and treatments for each.
Most undergraduate degree programs in speech-language pathology culminate in a supervised practicum with students working with individuals who have communication disorders. Topics covered in these programs can include:
- Observation of human communication
- Speech and language development
- Basic audiology
- Phonetics and stuttering
- Speech sound disorders
- Methods of appraisal and diagnosis
Master's Degrees in Speech-Language Pathology
In master's programs, students learn to identify and explain acoustic, linguistic and neurological facets of human communication. A clinical component typically lets students put their classroom studies into practice by evaluating individuals with speech and other communication disorders in a supervised environment. Most master's programs require completion of a thesis or comprehensive exam, in addition to courses in the following:
- Neural bases of communication disorders
- Assessment of articulation and phonology
- Right hemisphere syndrome, dementia and traumatic brain injury
- Differential diagnosis of communication disorders
- Voice and swallowing disorders
Doctorates in Speech-Language Pathology
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in speech-language pathology focus heavily on research in speech-language pathology, hearing and audiology. To qualify for a doctoral program, you'll likely need a bachelor's and master's degree, along with a certificate of clinical proficiency. Many doctoral programs in speech-language pathology include a teaching component, as well as coursework in the following disciplines:
- Child development
- Special education
- Early childhood issues
- Cognitive sciences
Employment Outlook and Salary Info
Speech-language pathologists were projected to see a 27% rise in jobs between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Opportunities might be best for those who earn a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
According to the BLS, speech-language pathologists made a median salary of $77,510, and find careers in education, public health, industrial audiology and corporate speech-language pathology. The BLS reported that in 2018, the majority of speech-language pathologists worked in elementary and secondary schools.
There are several different levels of degrees available to those interested in becoming speech-language pathologists. Advanced degrees usually include a field work and teaching component.