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Graduate Programs in Communication Sciences & Disorders

There are several different kinds of master's and doctoral degree programs in communicative sciences and disorders that prepare students for professional licensure. Learn about the program types and some of the different requirements for each.

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Graduate programs in communication sciences and disorders are diverse and unique. These programs are available at the master's and doctoral levels and although many of these programs have similar course topics and usually require clinical experiences, there are subtle differences in the different program types. Compare and contrast a few of the degree options below.

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Types of Graduate Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Master of Science (MS) in Communication Sciences and Disorders programs may require around 57 to 60 credits, may be completed in as little as 5 semesters and usually include a master's project or thesis. These programs also typically require at least 400 hours of hands-on experience with clients and may require students to take the Praxis II exam (certification in speech-language pathology) prior to graduation. In addition to clinical practicum experiences, these programs typically include coursework in topics such as language disorders, voice disorders, research and neurogenic disorders.

Master of Education in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Students who are interested in working primarily with children and adolescents and/or in a school setting within the field may wish to pursue a Master of Education (MEd) in Communication Sciences and Disorders. These programs usually take 5 to 6 semesters to finish and may or may not require a thesis, depending on the program. Students are still expected to complete at least 400 hours of clinical experience, but at least one advanced practicum or internship must take place in a public school. The program still includes standard course topics for the field, such as language disorders and aural rehabilitation, but also includes courses looking at these issues specifically in children and train students to work with students in grades P-12 who have Individual Education Program (IEP) needs in speech language pathology.

Master of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Master of Arts (MA) in Communication Sciences and Disorders may come in a variety of formats, and therefore vary in length and credit requirements. These programs usually offer a thesis and non-thesis option and may include traditional, full-time tracks, accelerated tracks and/or tracks that primarily meet in the summer to accommodate working professionals. Students in these programs still complete clinical practice/practicum and externship experiences, but some programs may allow students to replace an externship with a thesis. Other common courses for these programs include topics in motor speech disorders, voice disorders, language disorders and alternative communication.

Doctor of Philosophy in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Communication Sciences and Disorders programs generally require students to further specialize in the field by selecting an area of focus and may even require additional study in 2 to 3 additional sub-concentration areas. These programs typically require a qualifying exam, comprehensive exam and/or a dissertation and may be completed in as little as 3 years. Students usually complete a minimum of 68 to 69 credits and participate in a variety of research and/or teaching opportunities throughout the program. Although coursework for these programs vary greatly based on a student's specialization(s), most programs require students to take courses in research methods, statistics and various areas of speech science.

Common Entrance Requirements

Most graduate degree programs in communication sciences and disorders, at both the master's and doctoral levels, usually require applicants to meet a minimum GPA, typically around a 2.75 to a 3.0 or higher, and to submit their official transcripts, letters of recommendation and a personal statement with their application. Most of these programs also require applicants to hold at least a bachelor's degree and submit GRE scores, but some PhD programs may not require the GRE and some programs may have specific GRE scores that need to be met. Some master's and/or doctoral programs may also request a current resume from students. Master's degree programs may require students who do not have a background in the field to have prerequisite coursework in areas such as phonetics, audiology, speech science and language development. Some doctoral programs may require students to submit a copy of original research, such as a master's thesis, and/or complete other writing responses for the application.

Students can pursue MS, MEd, MA and PhD programs in communication sciences and disorders in preparation for careers as speech pathologists. Most of these programs include extensive hands-on learning opportunities and may require a thesis or dissertation, depending on the degree level.

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