Are you considering a master’s in speech pathology or a similar field? If so, we’ve put together a list of some of the best speech pathology master’s programs and where to earn them. A master’s degree in this field can help you start a new career, gain a promotion, or stay current on your training and certifications. It can also allow you to help others through education and knowledge.
The Importance of Choosing One of the Best Speech Pathology Master’s Programs
A master’s in speech pathology will prepare you for a career as a speech-language pathologist.
Speech-language pathologists are respected healthcare providers who help people of all ages deal with speaking, language, and swallowing-related issues. It is estimated that between 5 to 10 percent of Americans deal with one or more of these conditions. Fortunately, treatment is available, and speech pathologists play a vital role in helping affected individuals overcome their speech disorders.
What Does a Speech Pathology Master’s Program Entail?
The purpose of a speech pathology master’s program is to prepare students for healthcare careers as independent speech pathologists. In many cases, this is a full-time, two-year program. Students entering the program might need additional courses, which could increase its length if they did not receive a bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Each program has its own set of curriculum requirements, but they will be similar overall in many cases.
The curriculum will be very similar for many of the best speech pathology master’s programs. There will be core classes that all students must complete in addition to a few electives to fill out the degree program.
Overview of Common Courses
Common course topics in the curriculum may include:
- Foundations of practice – This course emphasizes how to open and start a practice and may also cover rules and laws to consider.
- Screening and prevention – This course may cover areas on determining and dealing with speaking disorders and improving or correcting the issues.
- Audiologic evaluation – In this class, students may be introduced to different equipment and how to use and determine levels of speech problems and courses of action for correcting.
- Audiologic rehabilitation – Students in this class may learn different methods of helping patients understand how to cope and recover from speech issues, as well as different tools to use to aid in correcting them.
Focus Areas or Specializations
Some of the top SLP graduate schools offer various focus areas or specializations within the program. This is where the elective courses play a role in helping create that specialization.
Specializations that students may consider include child language disorders, fluency disorders, swallowing disorders, and other areas. All of these are covered generally in the core courses. However, focusing on one or more of these areas may be helpful, depending on what the student wants to learn.
Many master’s in speech pathology programs require the completion of a specific number of clinical hours to graduate. This may include supervised or unsupervised hours and evaluations from whomever the student works with. These hours typically come from an on-campus practice, or students may need to find a current practice to earn their hours.
The practicum requirements often vary between the best speech pathology programs. The number of hours required varies by state as well. For example, Ohio requires the completion of 375 hours of supervised practicum in direct contact with patients and 25 hours of clinical observation.
Supervised Clinical Hours
Supervised clinical hours in master’s in speech pathology programs, in many cases, will vary based on the state. These are the hours necessary for the completion of the program.
There are research opportunities available for students in these programs. Many of these will be funded by grants and may involve developing new techniques or testing and improving methods and equipment in the field.
Thesis vs. Non-Thesis Options
Research programs come as either the writing of a thesis to prove and present one’s findings or non-thesis options that simply include participation in a research project and, in many cases, presenting group findings and results.
Research Areas in Speech Pathology
There are several research areas in speech pathology. Some of these include audiology advances, equipment testing, and improving or developing new therapy methods in the field, among others.
Assessment and Evaluation
To complete and earn a master’s in speech pathology, students may need to go through an assessment and evaluation. This can occur on many levels, including through the practicum and in research. A group of faculty usually does the assessment and evaluation, which can occur in different ways.
Exams and Assessments
One of the tools used to provide information for the final evaluation is the results of tests as well as how the student performs on various assessments. These can be done through written exams, oral exams, and observations in the classroom and practicum.
The best speech pathology master’s programs have their own set of performance metrics used to determine whether a student earns a degree. Metrics may include overall test scores, peer evaluations, and performance reviews from clinical work.
Duration and Schedule
The length of master’s in speech pathology programs will vary based on the school and whether it is full-time or part-time.
Typical Program Length
Typically, the program runs for two years for full-time students. This includes all practicum work and clinical hours that need to be completed.
Full-Time vs. Part-Time Options
There is the ability to consider a part-time instead of a full-time program. This allows students who are currently working or have other obligations to do so while earning a degree.
Accreditation and Standards
One of the biggest factors to consider when choosing from the top SLP graduate schools is accreditation. Schools with accreditation have met a set of standards determined by an accrediting body.
Importance of Attending an Accredited Program
Choosing an accredited program benefits the student in many ways. It is recognized in the field as an institution that provides the necessary education. Accredited institutions also tend to provide better opportunities for job placement.
Professional Competencies and Standards
Completion of one of the best master’s in speech pathology programs also comes with meeting professional competencies. These standards are outlined by the requirements of the state in which the student will practice.
The admission requirements vary by program. Many times, these include a minimum GPA from the undergraduate program, letters of recommendation, and, in some cases, the student may need to take the GRE. Some programs require faculty interviews as well.
Some programs may require the completion of prerequisites if the undergraduate courses taken did not cover all required materials. This is usually the case if the student did not major in communications sciences and disorders or a similar major.
For many schools, applicants may need the following:
- Letters of recommendation
- GRE scores
- Undergraduate transcripts
- Faculty interview
- Minimum GPA
- Personal essay
Other items may be required per the school.
When choosing one of the best speech pathology master’s programs, one must consider how tuition will be paid. Options such as scholarships, grants, and loans, as well as out of pocket are all factors to consider.
Tuition and Fees
The tuition and fees will vary for each program. Factors that go into this are full or part-time students, remote or in-class learning, and if the student resides on campus, among other things.
Scholarships and Financial Aid
Options to pay for school are scholarships and applying for financial aid. There are many scholarship opportunities available through most schools as well as from organizations and different programs. Applying for financial aid may provide opportunities for grants and loans to aid in paying for school.
Once a student has completed any of the best speech pathology master’s programs, licensing and testing will be required to practice. The degree is just the first step in the process. Then, once licensed, completion of continuing education is required to maintain it.
Licensing and Certification
Upon completing the program, students typically take a licensing exam to receive certification to be a speech pathologist.
Continuing education is required in this field to allow professionals to keep up to date with changes in practices and research that have occurred to aid them in providing the best care for patients.
Best Speech Language Pathology Programs
|James Madison University
|Greensboro, North Carolina
|Illinois State University
|Bowling Green State University
|Bowling Green, Ohio
|University of Iowa
|Iowa City, Iowa
While many speech pathologists work with children to help identify and treat speech problems early in their development, others work with adults and the elderly. It is important to address communication issues no matter the patient’s age. Therefore, speech pathologists are needed in various settings.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that language-speech pathologists earned a median pay of $79,060. Not only is a career addressing communicative disorders well-paying, but the sector is enjoying much faster than average job growth (29 percent).
How To Become a Speech Pathologist
Generally speaking, to become a speech pathologist, you need to earn a master’s in speech pathology or a similar field that will allow you to become a licensed pathologist. You will also have to secure licensing in the specific state in which you plan to work. Licensing requirements can vary from state to state, so make sure you check with the state authorities in your chosen field.
Most speech pathology master’s degrees are completed within 2 to 3 years. Many programs feature roughly 2 years of coursework and then clinical practice ranging from 1 semester to one year.
Many schools offer the best speech pathology master’s programs both on-campus and online. Some even provide a hybrid approach that allows for a combination of both. While different institutions often use different names for their speech pathology master’s degrees, the education offered will prepare you for a career as a speech and language pathologist.
Best 15 Masters in Speech Pathology
James Madison University
James Madison University is a well-regarded public university located in Virginia and is home to one of the best speech pathology masters in speech pathology programs in the US. Students at James Madison University will complete a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. The program tries to balance clinical practice and research, preparing students for a number of roles in either practice or research. While applicants do not need a related bachelor’s degree before enrolling, they do need to complete most of the prerequisites. Students can complete coursework in person; however, JMU also offers online course options for their Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology.
Students who enroll at UNC Greensboro’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders will earn a Master of Arts program in Speech Pathology. This program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation, which is part of the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The program typically takes five semesters to complete, and students will take 66 credits’ worth of classes, with 9 credits’ worth of hands-on internships. Courses cover a wide range of speech pathology issues, as well as other related topics, like ethics.
Illinois State University
The faculty at Illinois State University Communication Sciences Disorders note that their program is both an academic department and a professional preparation program. Students who enroll in a Master of Science in Speech-language Pathology will complete six semesters of study, including 40 hours of coursework, 18 hours of clinical practice, and one of the following: independent study, comprehensive exams, or Master’s Thesis. Students can learn to assist patients of all ages and who are suffering from a variety of speech and swallowing-related issues.
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers students an opportunity to complete a Master’s of Science with a concentration in Speech-Language Pathology. Students will complete four semesters of coursework over a period of two years. During this time, students will also complete practical experiences at sites throughout Ohio. Afterward, students complete a required one-semester externship to learn hands-on speech pathology skills. This program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is home to a top-notch master’s program in Speech-Language Pathology, and the program is relatively affordable as well. The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, previously known as the Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology, is one of the oldest of its kind in the world. The department attracts faculty members who are at the cutting edge of their field and top-notch graduate students as well. Students will combine in-classroom and hands-on learning to obtain a well-rounded education.
At Emerson College, the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers an on-campus graduate degree program that provides students with career-ready skills and the hands-on experience needed to make an immediate impact on people’s lives. The 72-credit curriculum is designed to prepare you to work with the full array of communication disorders across the lifespan. It combines foundational coursework, academic coursework, clinical methods, clinical practicum, and intersession courses. Speech@Emerson also offers an MS in Communication Disorders Online where students don’t attend classes on campus but will complete hands-on training at local sites in their area overseen by Emerson clinicians.
Emerson College’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders joins their voice with all those calling for an end to race-based injustice and systemic racism. To learn more about their commitment to racial equity, visit https://www.emerson.edu/academics/academic-departments/communication-sciences-disorders/departmental-statement-racial.
University of Central Florida
If you happen to enjoy warm weather and are looking for a place to complete a masters in speech pathology, the University of Central Florida should make your shortlist. Located in Orlando, UCF offers a well-regarded Master’s in Speech Pathology through their school of Communication Sciences and Disorders. 72 hours of coursework, minimum, is required to complete this degree, which can typically be completed in two years. Graduates will be certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and will be licensed in the state of Florida.
Vanderbilt University is a highly regarded university and is among the most prestigious in the world. Some experts believe that the university offers the best masters in speech pathology program in the United States as far as academic rigor is concerned. This selective program will prepare students for a career in speech pathology, offering a solid mix of skills and academic knowledge. The program typically takes five semesters and you’ll complete 49 to 59 credits.
Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit is a private Catholic university located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Besides offering a traditional Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, students can opt to complete a five year program through which students can earn both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree. This accelerated program may help students start their career in Speech Pathology more quickly. The Master’s program covers a range of speech pathology and other professional topics and is accredited by accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
Northwestern University is home to one of the best Speech Language Pathology departments in the world. If you complete this program, you’ll earn a Master’s of Science in Speech, Language, and Learning. Besides learning how to help people with speaking and swallowing disorders, graduates of this Speech Language Pathology master’s program will cultivate leadership skills, self-supervision, and how to conduct research. Northwestern’s well-rounded speech pathology program will prepare students for a number of roles after graduation.
Utah State University
If you enroll at Utah State University, you will be able to choose between a Master’s of Art or a Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. Topics covered in this program may include fluency, articulation, voice and resonance, swallowing, and language development. Specialized training to assist children who are deaf or hard of hearing is also available. Besides in-class coursework, students will also have to complete a one year clinical fellowship. Students will then be well on their way to starting a career as a speech-language pathologist.
If you happen to live in or near the so-called Big Apple, the City University of New York (CUNY) – Queens College offers a well-regarded Master’s of Art degree in Speech-Language Pathology. You will complete your studies typically over the course of two years, which includes one summer semester of study. Classes are small and entering cohorts usually follow the same curriculum. Faculty members strive to provide one-on-one clinical training. The degree program is approved by the New York State Department of Education.
Georgia State University
Located in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, Georgia State University is one of the largest universities in the world. Students can earn a Master’s of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Students with a related bachelor’s degree typically have to complete 63 credits’ worth of courses, which will cover speech pathology, teamwork, working in a clinical setting, and more. Students enrolling without a related undergraduate degree can still complete a degree but will have to take additional coursework, with the program totaling 90 credits spread out over three years.
Gallaudet University specializes in educating the deaf and hard of hearing, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the program also has one of the best masters in speech pathology in the U.S. The program takes roughly two years to complete with coursework spread across five semesters. The program offers extra focus on communication issues with the deaf or hard-of-hearing. The program curriculum offers a mix of lab, course, and clinical work in swallowing, speech, hearing and language.
Portland State University
The master’s degree in speech-language pathology offered by Portland State University typically takes two years to complete and will teach you how to treat, assess, and prevent language, speech, and swallowing disorders. Besides in-class learning, you will also complete 400 hours of direct clinical training that will help you build and expand your skills in the work environment. Portland State University reports a job placement rate of nearly 100 percent. PSU generally welcomes a cohort of just 20 students per year, helping to ensure students get individual attention and assistance.
Our Methodology for Top SLP Graduate Schools Ranking
Our ranking for the best speech pathology master’s programs rankings is based on a variety of factors, including total tuition, graduation rates, and types of speech pathology master’s degrees available.
To determine the tuition expenses, the cost per credit hour and the number of credit hours to complete the degree were calculated. (Please note, some programs only listed costs per total program or per semester.) The most affordable master’s program based on tuition costs was given a score of 50, while the most expensive program was given a score of 36. It is important to Keep in mind that in-state and out-of-state tuition prices can vary dramatically at public universities. Our ranking calculation is based on in-state costs.
In addition to tuition and types of masters in speech pathology programs, we also looked at 4-year graduation rates for each school. The school with the highest graduation rate received a score of 50. The school with the lowest graduation rate received a 36.
We then combined the numbers to determine the highest-ranking programs.
Please Note: If you believe we have made an error while putting together our list of the best speech pathology master’s programs or would like to provide more recent data, we’re happy to hear from you.
The Best Speech Pathology Master’s Programs Offer Great Opportunities
Choose from some of the top SLP graduate schools to provide the best opportunities for success in the field. While there are many other options to consider as well, these are what were ranked the best by our research.