Graduate degrees in speech pathology qualify individuals for careers in clinical or research fields and include master's and doctoral degrees. Almost all programs prepare students for state exams and include clinical training in some format. A dissertation is required by most doctoral degree programs.
Students pursuing a master's degree in speech pathology must hold a bachelor's degree prior to program entry, and schools may prefer that some coursework in the field has been completed. Ph.D. programs requires students to have a master's degree, preferably in speech pathology
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology
A master's degree in speech pathology is required to practice as a speech-language pathologist. Students are typically required to complete clinical hours working with patients at early childcare centers, hospitals, nursing homes or schools. Additionally, some courses have an emphasis on language education, which prepares graduates to teach in culturally diverse speech-language classrooms. Students can expect a combination of lecture and clinical hours. Classes may include:
- Speech and hearing disorders
- Communication disorders
Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology
Doctoral degree programs in speech pathology often provide students with academic and research-based experiences related to basic and applied science. Students are generally encouraged to individualize their programs by focusing their curricula around a specific area of research in speech pathology. Students may also have the opportunity to participate in clinical or practicum experiences, and most programs require students complete a dissertation. The advanced program explores concepts in supervision and administration, grant writing, experiment design, and parametric statistics. Students may study topics such as:
- Special education
- Sensory processes
Popular Career Options
Individuals who obtain a Ph.D. in Speech Pathology are prepared for careers in research, education, and clinical practice. Individuals can find positions as:
- Speech-Language professors
- Speech pathologists
Graduates are prepared to work in professional settings, whether they choose to pursue careers in education or in health care. Individuals can find positions in educational services, hospitals, nursing care facilities, outpatient centers, and doctors' offices. In May 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the median annual salary for speech-language pathologists was $73,410 while audiologists had a median average of $74,890 (www.bls.gov).
Licensure and Certification Information
According to the BLS, 47 states require certification or licensure for speech-language pathologists. Though state regulations vary, licensure or certification requirements typically include completion of a master's degree, clinical experience, and an examination. Those who practice within an educational environment may be required to meet additional regulations.
A master's degree program in speech pathology provides the fundamentals of working in the field, whereas a doctorate program gives the in-depth knowledge required for research and other specialized tasks. Both program levels include some clinical work.