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Speech Therapy Schools and Colleges in the U.S.

Speech therapists, also known as speech-language pathologists, treat patients who have speech, language, voice and cognitive communication disorders. These therapists may work in schools, hospitals, speech and hearing facilities, rehabilitation centers and home healthcare settings. Entry-level speech therapists are typically required to hold a master's degree, and some choose to further their education by earning a doctoral degree.

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How to Select a Speech Therapy School

Speech therapy programs are offered by 4-year colleges and universities. Though typically found at the graduate level, students may find bachelor's degree programs in the field that will prepare them for graduate study.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Accreditation
  • Program focus and concentration options
  • Hands-on experience opportunities

Accreditation

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), some of the 47 states that regulate licensing and certification for speech therapists require individuals to earn a master's degree in speech therapy from a college accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Those who graduate from a college accredited by this agency are eligible for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), which is awarded through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Holding the CCC-SLP allows speech therapists to gain licensure in some states, therefore, the selection of a CAA-accredited school is an important factor for prospective students to consider.

Program Focus and Concentration Options

Most speech therapy programs at the master's level focus on clinical speech pathology, while many doctoral programs involve advanced clinical practice and field research. Students wishing to work as clinicians with specific groups of people, such as those with developmental delays or hearing impairments, can seek speech therapy programs offering concentrations in education or health settings.

Hands-On Experience Opportunities

Students can choose schools that are well-known for providing research activities in the speech pathology field. Some schools offer volunteer opportunities through which community-minded students can work with people who require speech therapy services. For logistical reasons, students may decide to attend schools that have on-campus research labs and speech pathology clinics. Access to these facilities is essential for students who desire licensure, because labs and clinics provide students with opportunities to conduct research projects and gain hands-on experience in the speech therapy field.

Speech Therapy Program Overviews

Bachelor's Degree in Speech Therapy

Bachelor's degree programs in areas such as speech and hearing science or human communication sciences can prepare students for acceptance into a graduate-level speech therapy program. Supervised clinical work is often included in the curriculum. Coursework at the undergraduate level may involve the study of:

  • Language development
  • Auditory system processes
  • Auditory system disorders

Master's Degree in Speech Therapy

Students who pursue a master's degree in speech-language pathology will engage in clinical practica, which may be offered on site or in settings such as hospitals and public schools. Graduate coursework may focus on subjects such as:

  • Language disorders in children
  • Phonological development
  • Voice production

Doctorate in Speech Therapy

At the doctoral level, speech therapists can earn a degree in communication sciences and disorders, which can be applied toward careers in teaching and academic research. Doctoral students develop individual plans of study that involve research projects, laboratory rotations and coursework in the student's field of interest. Students are typically required to complete and defend a dissertation. Courses may include:

  • Voice disorders
  • Pediatric language disorders
  • Augmentative and alternative communication
  • Counseling
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