Speech Pathology Masters Degree Programs
Speech pathology is the study of conditions and disorders related to communication and speech. A master's degree in speech pathology is generally required for students looking to become speech-language pathologists. Speech pathologists can work in schools, learning centers, hospitals and private health offices.
Master of Science in Speech Pathology
A master's degree in speech pathology can prepare students to become fully licensed and practicing speech pathologists. Speech pathologists work with patients to diagnose, treat and prevent speech, vocal, communication and aural disorders. Many speech pathologists work with students in preschools, elementary and secondary schools.
Throughout an M.S. in Speech Pathology program, students can gain foundational knowledge in communication, cognition, evaluation and treatment in areas related to speech disorders. They also can prepare for professional work through clinical experiences, working directly with mentors and patients in areas of auditory and speech disorders.
To enroll in a speech pathology master's degree program, a student must already have earned a bachelor's degree, though not necessarily in speech pathology. Some programs require that students have previously taken specific courses, such as studies in phonetics or audiology. Students typically are required to submit official transcripts, personal statements and GRE test scores for evaluation.
A master's degree program in speech pathology may include courses on biology, anatomy and speech processes. Building on basic speech and communication theories, programs can provide advanced coursework on speech disorder origins, as well as biological and emotional effects. Courses can teach students to effectively communicate with patients and provide quality speech rehabilitation services. Common courses include:
- Diagnosing disorders
- Speech anatomy
- Phonology and cognition
- Research methods
- Speech rehabilitation
- Phonological disorders
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that there were more than 100,000 speech and language pathologists practicing nationally in 2008 (www.bls.gov). According to the BLS, jobs in speech pathology are expected to grow by 19% in the period 2008-2018.
Speech and language pathologists earned a median annual salary of $66,920 in 2010. The highest median salaries belonged to speech pathologists working in nursing care centers, followed by pathologists in health care offices and hospitals. Speech pathologists in secondary and elementary schools earned an average salary of $64,310 in 2010. Despite offering lower salaries, schools and educational centers employed more speech pathologists than any other sector.
Certification and Continuing Education Information
After obtaining a master's degree in speech pathology, students can become licensed. As of 2009, 47 U.S. states required licensure, according to the BLS. Individuals typically must pass a speech pathology exam, in addition to meeting education and clinical experience requirements, before they're eligible for licensure. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association offers certification for professionals who meet academic and experiential requirements. A student could continue to study at the doctoral level by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in speech pathology, audiology, hearing science or a combination of similar disciplines.
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