Helping people communicate is just one of the many rewarding aspects of being a speech-language pathologist. Earning a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (sometimes referred to as SLP) allows you to work in the vast field of speech, communication and swallowing disorders, and to specialize in different components of speech and language development. Since these skills are developed during infancy and childhood, speech therapists are commonly hired in school settings.
Speech therapists work in other settings as well, such as nursing homes, private facilities, universities and rehabilitation centers. They work closely with a diverse client group, tailoring treatment for each client’s individual needs.
Jumpstart Your Career in Speech Pathology, Explore Online SLP Programs:
A master's degree from an accredited institution may be required to become a certified speech-language pathologist. Enrolling in an online speech pathology master’s program might be the easiest option to earn a degree without sacrificing your current career. Luckily, online speech pathology masters exist today that mirror their on-campus counterparts, featuring the same coursework and professors.
Each online speech pathology master’s program has its own prerequisites, so you should contact your accredited institution for detailed information regarding its policies. Depending on your school, you will be required to submit some or all of the following:
Application: Fill out an initial application, which you can find on the website of the accredited institution of your choice. Paper and online forms are both generally accepted.
Bachelor’s degree: You should have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent from an accredited institution prior to applying to an online speech pathology master's program
Transcripts: Request transcripts in advance of the application deadline, and upload one official copy of each transcript from any postsecondary schools you have attended.
Personal statement: Write a personal statement, which is typically in the form of an essay. You may be required to submit multiple essays to fully express the intent and purpose of your application and explain what attracted you to this particular online slp program. Below are some common topics that should be mentioned in a statement.
Your main academic and personal interests
Experiences in school or work that have helped to prepare you for this course of study
Why you wish to study for the degree you’ve chosen
Why you wish to study at the university
Your plans for the future after you earn your degree
Resume/CV: Upload a copy of your most recent resume or curriculum vitae as part of your application.
Letters of recommendation: Submit your letters of recommendation. The number of letters required varies with each school. Be sure to request them well in advance of the deadline.
Test scores: Mail in copies of your test scores. Many online SLP programs require GRE General Test scores or TOEFL/IELTS scores for international students; however, some programs do not require test scores at all.
Online Speech Pathology Master’s Curriculum
The curriculum and number of credits required to complete an online SLP programs vary widely depending on your school and specialization. A typical program includes foundation coursework, practice dealing with language disorders, clinical practicums, and elective courses. Standard online SLP programs might include courses in:
Anatomy and Physiology of the speech and swallow mechanism: An in-depth look at the mechanisms and physiological reasoning behind speech production and swallowing.
Language Development: An examination of the language learning processes and how it relates to other components of a child’s development
Dysphagia: Addresses the science behind feeding and swallowing mechanisms and dives into procedural and management options for problems in the field.
Principles of intervention with speech-language disorders: Discusses principles of problem solving and decision making that aid in future SPL’s ability formulate goals and treatment plans.
Online Speech Pathology Programs Accreditation
In searching for the online speech pathology program that meets your needs and requirements, two factors that must be considered are the program’s accreditation status and their ability to prepare you for SLP licensure.
Often, online slp programs that have been accredited and properly examined by the authoritative accrediting body, the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), will be the best suited to prepare you for certification and licensure.
The CAA operates under the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) as the accrediting branch that oversees many degree programs - online speech pathology programs included. ASHA is the overarching organization that oversees both program accreditation and clinical certification in the field of speech language pathology. ASHA issues Certificates of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), a standard licensing requirement and professional credential, to worthy SLP professionals.
Speech Therapist vs. Speech Pathologist: Is There a Difference?
The job titles speech therapist, speech pathologist, and even speech-language pathologist are all technically interchangeable, although those within the field sometimes have a preference for one over the other. It is common for patients to refer to professionals in speech pathology as their “speech therapists”, however many maintain that the title that best encapsulates the career field is speech-language pathologist, often abbreviated as SLPs.
Speech Pathologist vs. Audiologist
Perhaps a more interesting comparison is between the career fields of speech pathology and audiology. What’s the difference between a speech-language pathologist and an audiologist? Check out the career profiles below to learn more!
Job Description: Speech-Language Pathologists work with patients in assessing, diagnosing, and coming up with treatment plans for disorders of communication and swallowing in patients of all ages.
Typical Education Requirements: Master's degree
Salary: The median annual salary for speech-language pathologists was $76,610 in 2017.
Work Environment: Around 40% of speech pathologists work in school settings, with other common environements including hospitals and private health facilities.
Job Description: Audiologists work with patients to manage and asses issues with hearing, balance, and problems occuring within the ear.
Typical Education Requirements: A doctoral degree or a professional degree
Salary: The median annual salary for audiologists was $75,920 in 2017.
Work Environment: Audiologist's typically work in doctor's offices, audiology clinics, and other healthcare facilities but some may work within school districts.
Careers in Speech Pathology
After completing an online master’s degree in speech pathology, the next step is to get certified. The speech pathology certification will enable you to work with individuals who experience difficulty with verbal communication, disorders with fluency or swallowing and addressing speech impediments. Speech pathologists can work in elementary and secondary schools, occupational therapist practices, hospitals, nursing facilities or in their own private practice. Every state has its own certification requirements to become a speech therapist. The median annual salary for a speech therapist was $76,610 in 2017.
In addition to these common speech therapist roles, there are also specializations and different roles that a graduate from an online slp program can pursue, including:
Finding the Best Online Master's in Speech Pathology For You
In searching for the best online speech pathology programs across the United States, it’s important to take into account the instruction method, the type of degree, and the credit requirements necessary to complete the program.
M.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)
All Online Speech Pathology Programs
We’ve compiled a list of the online speech pathology programs across the United States along with instructional and curriculum information. The difference between asynchronous and synchronous is that synchronous coursework takes place in a live classroom as opposed to a video lecture recording.
Online speech pathology programs in the United States
California State University Northridge (CSUN)’s Doctor of Education in Speech Pathology is a three-year long program done with a cohort. This cohort program is 100% online and can be completed via distance learning. A supervised clinical education will also be required but can be done where the student resides.
East Carolina University offers an online program in speech pathology with an onsite clinic to practice skills learned. Students will analyze and apply skills to the audio anatomy and work through clinical rotations. The research conducted in this program is guide through a mentorship with faculty as students progress to teach in a college or a university. The research learned is also utilized in their apprenticeship program.
James Madison University offers an online cohort program for Speech Language and Pathology. This program focuses on academics as well as practical experience to help with communication and swallowing. This cohort allows students to take 2-3 courses per semester with the entire program completed in a three-year period. Full time employment is possible during coursework but may not be possible when involved in clinical rotations.
Nova Southeastern University’s SLP program has different options for delivery based on your location and availability. This program may be completed in eight terms but preferably within 12 semesters. Also, the program should be completed within six years. Students will learn to provide a full range of services to those who are communicatively disordered. Clinical labs and externships allow the students to put their research and skills into practice. Nova will make sure placements are within the residence of the student.
Idaho State’s MS in Speech-Language Pathology program is evidence-based with a focus on clinical experience. Their online coursework takes 36 months to complete and includes a thesis option. The program also combines academic studies and research with their clinical rotations. Two on-campus rotations are required for completion of the degree.
Texas Woman’s University (TWU) offers an online opportunity to obtain a Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. The program allows students to work in Texas schools after graduation. This online program is cohort-based with meetings every other summer. Students are required to complete 43 hours plus six semesters of clinical practicum. Also, students must complete a comprehensive exam before obtaining a degree.
The University of Akron assists students in working with people in a variety of settings. Their distance learning option consists of eight consecutive semesters beginning each January. The next program begins January 2019. In addition to the coursework, a clinical rotation is required, and students must complete 400 hours of work. The hours will be monitored by a licensed pathologist.
The University of Northern Colorado’s SLP program takes three years to complete. This program uses a clinical/researcher model to assist students in their studies. This part-time program allows students to continue working in their current setting as they assume responsibilities as a speech pathologist. Students are also required to meet on campus during the summer for 2-3 weeks during the first year. A full-time, 12-week clinical rotation is required during the final summer.
The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire offers two different formats for completing the MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Students can complete the program full-time through residency or part-time through the online courses. The goal is for students to work independently as speech pathologists within the communication disorders field. There are three required residency summers sessions that are one week in length. Students also receive 2-6 credits per term. The required 54 credit hours are composed of 36 hours from courses taken and 18 hours from clinical rotations.
Western Kentucky University’s Graduate Program in Speech-Language Pathology can be completed on-campus or through distance learning (also cohort-based). The online option consists of all academic courses being presented via distance learning with clinical requirements that must be done onsite. This program is full-time including a 6 week summer internship during the second year and into the third. Following the internship, students are required to complete 2-3 externships that each last 16 hours or a semester long. The entire program can be done in 8-9 semesters.