Speech Language Pathologists (SLPs) are professionals who work with people across the lifespan to assess, diagnose, and treat communication and swallowing disorders.
The Master's of Speech Pathology is a graduate program that focuses on speech and langauge treatment topics, insight into communicative diseases and disorders, and an exploration of ethical considerations for practitioners in the field.
Are There Online MSLP Degree Programs?
In short, yes. The online MSLP, or Master's of Speech Pathology is one of the many degree programs that can be attended in person, online, or as a hybrid. Additionally, there are both full-time and part-time programs, making it an excellent choice for individuals that are already committed to a job or full family life.
|Baylor University||Master||Online MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders
|Calvin University||Master||Online Master of Speech-Language Pathology
|Emerson College||Master||Online MS in Communication Disorders
|New York University's Speech@NYU||Master||Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders
|Lindenwood University||Master||MA Early Intervention in Autism & Sensory Impairments
Several Examples of Online MSLP Programs
- James Madison University - M.S. in SLP, 3 year full-time program
- Emerson College - M.S. in SLP, full-time or part-time options
- East Carolina University - M.S. in CSD, 3 year full-time program
- New York University - M.S. in CSD, full-time or part-time options
- Idaho State University - M.S. in SLP, 3 year full-time program
Goals of the MSLP program for graduates
The goal of the clinical Master's of Speech Pathology program is to provide a foundation of learning and clinical practice for students that plan to move forward into board testing and licensing.
Students seeking a degree program that can contribute to a smooth path to SLP licensure might even consider looking at distance education programs with the proper type of accreditation.
Some programs also offer non-clinical Master's of Speech Pathology programs designed for students who do not plan to pursue ASHA certification and instead may want to focus on research.
What coursework is there?
As you read through this guide, consider how the consistency of your degree program can contribute to your overall success in the field. You will find research about SLP curriculum and accreditation in order to provide you with better information about what is in your future.
An online Master's of Speech Pathology program will contain the same course requirements as a traditional in-person program, with assignments prepared and submitted virtually through an online classroom. If you are taking an online class, you might be responsible for logging in to your class multiple times a week in order to review your assignments, read assigned literature, and take part in discussions with other students in your class.
Online discussion boards and in-course email tools can assist you with staying connected with other students as well as your instructor throughout the duration of your class. Many students enrolled in completely online SLP programs take full-time course loads with the expectation to graduate within 2 years of enrollment. Others may enroll part-time and only take 1 or 2 courses a semester with the goal to graduate 4-5 years after enrollment. It is important to check the program you are applying to, as not all programs offer part-time enrollment.
Master of Science of Master of Arts?
As you explore different program options, you may notice that not every program offers the exact same degree. In some programs you will graduate with your MS-SLP, and in others it will be a MA-SLP. As long as your program is accredited, it does not matter which degree they offer and it will make no difference to your potential future employers. Similarly, some programs offer a Master's in Speech Pathology, while others offer a Master's in Communication Sciences and Disorders or a Master's in Speech and Hearing Sciences. These differences do not affect the quality of the degree you will attain or your ability to obtain licensure.
Note on ASHA Accreditation
At the Master's level, you should pay close attention to accreditation status of the program you wish to attend. The Master's is the minimum degree requirement for licensure, making your decision of schools and programs extremely important as you embark on the next steps towards obtaining your license.
While you review potential online Master's of Speech Pathology programs, you should research the specific accreditation information for each individual program. The most common type of accreditation that you should see for these programs is Council for Academic Accreditation (CAA) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).
A majority of online degree programs may list the program's accreditation on the program's main webpage, but others may list overall accreditation information under tabs that tell you more about the college specifically. Alternative methods for ensuring accreditation include searching directly from the ASHA website.
How Long Does a Master's SLP Program Take to Complete?
Many students that choose to move forward into Master's of Speech Pathology programs do so after completing a 4 year undergraduate program in communication sciences and disorders. Other students may complete a minor in CSD to complete the necessary prerequisite undergraduate courses. Neither a major or minor in CSD is necessary, though, as long as the prerequisite courses for your program have been completed. In some cases, your program may allow you to complete prerequisite courses in your first 1-2 semesters of enrollment.
Typically, students enrolled full-time in a MSLP program can expect to graduate after 2 years of continuous enrollment. Students who are enrolled part-time can expect to graduate within 4-5 years, depending on the number of classes taken each semester and completion of clinical practicum hours.
Clinical experience and internships
Clinical hours are a significant component of every Master's of Speech Pathology program, and many students find that they spend even more time doing clinical work than academic work as they progress through their program. Before graduating with your Master's, you will be expected to complete 400 clinical clock hours, including 25 hours of observation and 375 hours of direct clinical experience. States may set additional clock hour requirements, such as a specific number with pediatrics or adults, prior to licensure.
If you are completing your MSLP degree online, you can most likely expect to complete your clinical hours in-person in your hometown or nearby areas. In some cases, you may also be able to complete your hours via telehealth or telepractice. Due to the demanding nature of obtaining 400 clinical hours, full-time employment may not be possible if you are expecting to graduate in the typical 2-year time frame.
Campus vs online
Many people are skeptical about straying from the norm and engaging in online versions of popular degree programs. Recent innovations from universities and accreditation agencies have verified the reliability of online degree programs so that students enrolled in them do not have to question the quality and utility of this type of degree.
While there will be some differences between programs, there are certain core courses that you can expect to see at most accredited universities. There will also be many electives to choose from to help you specialize your learning on specific interest areas. As you explore different online Master’s of Speech Pathology programs, take the time to review the curriculum of each one so that you can get a better grasp on what to expect as a student.
Our team of educational experts has reviewed current online programs in order to provide you with a short list of example courses that are prominent in each one. The list below outlines some popular courses and their main topics for you to review.
- Pediatric Speech Disorders: Many SLPs go on to work with the pediatric population in schools, private practice, or home health settings. This course provices students with an understanding of common speech and langauge disorders specific to the pediatric population as well as evaluation and treatment options.
- Motor Speech Disorders: Students taking this course can embark on an exploration of neuromotor systems that contribute to speech production, as well as some common disorders that can affect them. Some example disorders that may be reviewed in this course include dysarthria and apraxia of speech. Students may also explore some of the common diagnostic tools used in this area as well as look at treatment options for clients with these diagnoses.
- Neuroanatomy: This course can provide students with a foundation of knowledge into the neurological foundations of speech and communication. As part of this course’s requirements, students may identify some common diagnoses that affect overall communication, as well as research different types of injury and illness that can affect functional communication.
- Aphasia: Aphasia is a disorder that presents with a patient’s inability to understand or express speech. Students in this course may look into different injuries or illnesses that can cause aphasia, as well as the therapies available to reverse the symptoms of this disorders. Students may also explore the neurological processes affected by this disorder and their root causes.
- Dysphagia: Dysphagia includes the evelaution and treatment of swallowing disorders, including disorders in the oral, pharyngeal, and esophageal phases. This course will provide students with an understanding of the anatomy and physiology of the mouth and throat as it relates to swallowing, tools for disgnosing swallowing disorders, and various treatment options.
Elective courses are varied and will largely depend on the program you choose. If you have a specific area of interest, such as augmentative and alternative commuication (AAC), aural habilitation, or medical/acute care SLP, you should take that into consideration when choosing your program. Universities will frequently offer many electives based on the expertise of their staff and ongoing research at the University.
Sample Master’s-level elective courses may include topics such as early intervention, autism spectrum disorder, medical SLP, culturally responsive SLP practices, or cranio-facial abnormalities.
Path to Licensing
Completion of an online Master’s of Speech Pathology is only the first step to obtaining SLP licensure, though it is the greatest, as long as the program you have chosen consists of the right type of accreditation. CAA-accredited degree programs consist of all of the proper elements required for licensure in each state, making these programs the best choice for future SLP practitioners.
In most Master’s level programs, students may be given the opportunity to engage in field experiences that can sharpen their expertise in the field. In total, most programs that prepare students for the licensure track may consist of several different in-person opportunities that can count towards your overall experience requirement.
Each state may have different expectations for SLP licensure. In general, completing your Master’s in Speech Pathology, engaging in 400 clock hours of supervised internships (including 25 hours in clinical observation), passing the Praxis exam, and a 36 week post-graduate fellowship are required for licensure in all states.
Most students opt to take the Praxis exam before graduating from their program during their final semester. This examination will draw information from your degree program as well as your experience for you to recall. Many programs also have their own Comprehensive Examination that must be passed prior to graduation.
Your state may require that you submit all original documents to their licensing office for consideration prior to being awarded your license. Once licensed, you must continually renew your license and complete continuing education courses in order to maintain your licensure over the course of your career.
Speech Language Pathologists are in high demand, with jobs expected to increase faster than average in the next 10 years. Additionally, Speech Language Pathologists are well compensated, and SLPs made a median salary of $79,120 in 2019.
With a Master’s of Speech Pathology, you can pursue licensing in your state and begin working with clients in the field. Most SLPs work in clinics, homes, schools, hospitals, or rehabilitation centers with clients that have been diagnosed with speech, language, or swallowing disorders.
Some alternative career options for people within this domain include careers in research and development within their field, SLP education and training through universities, and even speech curriculum development.