In this guide, you can learn more about the diverse learning opportunities available for upcoming speech pathologists in the field.
Are There Online Speech Pathology Degree Programs?
Consider an online program currently accepting applicants.
|Baylor University||Master||Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology
No GRE required
|Calvin University||Master||Online Master of Speech-Language Pathology
|Emerson College||Master||MS in Speech-Language Pathology
|East Central University||Bachelor||BA Human services Counseling - Services to Deaf concentration
|Lindenwood University||Master||MA Early Intervention in Autism & Sensory Impairments
What is a Speech Pathology Degree?
A degree in the area of Speech Pathology prepares students to meet the qualifications to become a certified Speech-Language Pathologist. A Bachelors and Masters degree are required to practice as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Speech-Language Pathologists (also referred to as "SLPs" or "Speech Therapists") help with the prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of speech and language disorders or swallowing disorders (dysphagia). SLPs can work in a variety of settings, including schools, nursing homes, hospitals, and private practices. Speech Language Pathologists work with children and adults who have a variety of medical diagnoses and disorders.
Why speech pathology is an important program area for the future
Communication is an important aspect of human life. When difficulties with communication are identified, it may be necessary to explore different treatment options in order to teach clients new ways of communication or even rehabilitate those that have lost the ability to communicate back to a historical level of speech and comprehension.
1 in 10 people have a communication disorder. In children, this may include difficulty with articulating speech sounds, or a delay in communication or comprehension, sometimes related to a medical diagnosis such as Autism Spectrum Disorder. In adults, SLPs may work with those who have communication difficulties due to a stroke or traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Those considering pursuing a degree in the field of Speech Pathology should know that the job outlook for Speech Language Pathologists is expected to continue growing rapidly (25% from 2019 to 2029). Speech-Language Pathologist has been rated #4 in Best Health Care Jobs and #7 in 100 Best Jobs by U.S. News and World Report.
Faculty teaches on campus and online
Online SLP degree programs are often an alternative option at institutions that offer traditional versions of speech pathology programs. In some schools, the same professors teach both online and on-campus programs, making both programs nearly identical for students in both realms.
A day in the life of an online student may include logging in to courses via their university's web page, reading and reviewing weekly assignments, completing weekly discussions on the course discussion board, and even communicating with other students and instructors through the course email tool.
Online degree programs often consist of asynchronous courses, which allow students to complete homework at their own pace without having to be online at certain times of the day and night.
Busy professionals that are looking for a way out of their current career and into the field of speech pathology could benefit the most from these convenient and reliable degree programs. There are numerous universities offering multiple start dates per year to for you consider now.
Speech Pathology Program Course Work
Depending on your current degree level and the degree program you are enrolled in, you can learn about a variety of topics when enrolled in speech pathology programs. At the entry level, students can learn about the biology of speech and language, as well as receive some insight into the physiology of hearing and speech comprehension.
Undergraduate students who are enrolled in a Bachelors degree program in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) or a related major will gain a basic knowledge base of human communication. At this level, students take courses that are required in all undergraduate programs, such as those related to social sciences, Mathematics, and English and Literature. These foundation courses can provide students with skills that can be useful when working in the public domain with a broad spectrum of clients in their day to day role.
Courses that are considered required prerequisites to enroll in a Masters degree program in Speech Pathology are typically included in undergraduate degree programs with related majors, such as Communication Sciences and Disorders. Those courses may include: Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing Mechanisms, Speech and Language Development, Speech Science, and an Introduction to Audiology.
At the Masters Degree level in Speech Pathology, students will study more specific speech and language disorders, including stuttering, early childhood language disorders, and Motor Speech Disorders (such as Apraxia), and may focus more on their practice and its implementation in the field. Courses will provide students with the knowledge of how to assess and treat communication and swallowing disorders.
Masters Degree programs in Speech Pathology will also include clinical practicums that the student will complete in order to gain hands-on training and experience to prepare him or her for a career as a Speech Pathologist. Typically 3 practicums are completed as part of a graduate program, which each include a different community setting, such as a hospital, private practice, and school.
Accredited Speech Pathology degree programs are required to include certain information as part of their academic coursework. That information is intended to prepare students to take the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology. Passing the Praxis Exam is required in order to be eligible for the certification by the national board in Speech Pathology (Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA)) and to obtain a license by the state in which the student intends to practice as an SLP upon graduation.
Most common speech pathology degree levels
- Associate's: This degree program can be an introductory undergraduate program for new college students or recent high school graduates. The anticipated completion time of this program is 1-2 years and it can include basic topics regarding speech services, disorders, and assistance in the field of speech pathology. Credits earned in this program could count towards a bachelor's program in the future.
- Bachelor's: The bachelor's is a common first step for upcoming speech pathology professions. This 4 year program is often divided between general education courses and those strictly focusing on speech disorders and treatment. While graduation from this degree program can be a great first step towards licensure, future professionals must complete a master's prior to applying for licensure.
- Master's: The master's is the minimum degree requirement for licensing as a speech pathologist. This degree program can take 2-3 years to complete depending on your individual program and consists of diagnostic and treatment-specific topics related to speech pathology. This is the degree level in which you learn how to apply your services in the public domain and usually consists of several clinical requirements that can assist you with transforming your knowledge into practice.
- Doctorate: Doctoral programs in this field are often geared towards future research professionals or leaders in the field. The total time required for this program ranges from 3-5 years depending on your enrollment status. Courses included may focus on the development of research projects or leadership techniques relevant to the field of speech pathology.
Before you choose a degree program for your career, you should read more into the accreditation expectations of future speech pathology professionals. The leading professional organization for this field is the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which also provides accreditation to university programs marketed towards students on this path.
Degree programs that can lead to licensure should contain accreditation from ASHA’a Council for Academic Accreditation (CAA). If you locate this information via your degree’s web page, then you can rest assured that your program can be utilized during the licensing process.
Speech pathologists can be important components in the development of effective communication or the rehabilitation of speech in people that have lost their previous level of functioning. Depending on which group you would most like to work with, your career setting can vary.
Most speech pathologists can find careers in local language clinics focused on providing services specific to communication and hearing. Alternative settings for you to consider are those in hospitals, specialty clinics, schools, and even in private practice.
In some cases, speech pathologists may find it beneficial to seek out careers in research or treatment development as a means for contributing to their field. As you enter into the field, more experience can lead you into better paying careers in areas that mean the most to you.