Colleges with Speech Pathology Majors: How to Choose
Speech pathology is an area of communications expertise that covers the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of individuals with speech, hearing or other communication disorders. Associate's and bachelor's degree programs are available at colleges and universities across the country, many leading to graduate programs and certificates.
How to Select a Speech Pathology School
Speech pathologists, often referred to as speech-language pathologists or speech therapists, work with individuals who have communication disorders, such as articulation troubles or voice loss. Speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) perform routine hearing screenings, document patient information and assist speech-language pathologists with patient examinations. An associate's degree is generally required for SLPAs, although some states require a bachelor's degree, and most states require SLPAs to be licensed. Professional practice as a speech-language pathologist typically requires earning a master's degree or higher and obtaining state licensure.
Associate's degree programs are offered at community colleges and technical schools as Associate of Applied Science degrees. Because many states require SLPAs to be licensed, students should select a school with an AAS program that includes the coursework required by the state in which they plan to work.
Bachelor's degree programs in speech-language pathology are designed to be pre-professional degrees, creating the educational foundation required for further studies in a speech pathology or audiology graduate degree program. In the speech pathology profession, a master's degree is required for employment in most non-assistant positions. In the audiology profession, some states require the completion of a Doctor of Audiology degree. Students should select programs that offer the appropriate prerequisites for their desired graduate studies.
At some schools, speech pathology degree programs are offered as combined or accelerated bachelor's and master's degree programs. A combined program may allow students to complete both degrees in five years, instead of six. Students may want to consider graduate degree programs accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA). Graduating from a CAA-accredited program is necessary to be eligible for ASHA's certification, the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology.
Schools that incorporate hands-on experience in professional environments, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools and nursing facilities, give students the opportunity to gain practical experience while earning credits. Research facilities that specialize in speech, language, voice, augmentative and alternative communication methods may be desirable. Students may want to consider universities that have such facilities available above those without opportunities for specialized studies.
Speech Pathology Program Overviews
Associate in Applied Science in Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
An Associate in Applied Science in Speech-Language Pathology Assistant degree program includes courses in audiology, phonetics and the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing. Additional classes in the social fundamentals of a career in speech pathology are included, such as developmental psychology, public speaking, basic sign language, ethics and standards of speech pathology assistants.
Bachelor's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology
A Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology degree program includes classes in child language development, stuttering, laryngectomy rehabilitation, phonetics and audiology. Courses emphasizing clinical experiences provide students with practice in speech-language pathology methods. Diagnostics and evaluation training help students learn to evaluate, diagnose and plan appropriate treatment or rehabilitation for individuals with communicative disorders.
Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology
A Master of Arts or Master of Science degree is required for most careers in speech pathology. A master's degree in speech-language pathology program prepares students for employment by incorporating hands-on experience in professional settings. The program includes clinical studies, laboratory work and an internship. Students take classes in speech and language evaluation, treatment development for communication disorders, phonetics and audiology training, and the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing mechanisms. Program graduates are eligible for additional certification of clinical competency made available by the ASHA.
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