25 Best Master’s Degrees in Speech Pathology 2020

| Staff

25 Best Master’s Degrees in Speech Pathology 2020
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Speech pathologists can make a positive difference in the lives of people with speech and swallowing problems. They work in hospital settings and schools, providing one-on-one treatments. Their services can dramatically impact patients and clients by helping them develop speech confidence.

Best Master's Degrees in Speech Pathology Badge

To work in this field, professionals need a master’s degree. A master’s degree in speech pathology typically takes 2-4 years to complete, depending on the program format and whether a student enrolls part time or full time.

Speech pathologists enjoy strong job prospects. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects demand for speech pathologists to grow 25% between 2019 and 2029. This guide covers important information for anyone considering a master’s in speech pathology, including common courses, prospective careers, and earning potential.

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What Are the Goals of Speech Pathology?



Speech pathologists help individuals cope with speech and swallowing challenges. They evaluate clients and come up with treatment plans. Often, these plans include helping clients practice making sounds, improve sentence structures, and strengthen and relax their throat muscles.

Sometimes, speech pathologists work with individuals who were born with a disability that makes talking difficult, like a cleft palate. In other cases, they work with individuals who develop a disorder or injury that impacts speech and swallowing later in life, like adults recovering from a stroke.


What Are the Benefits of a Degree in Speech Pathology?

Rewarding Work
A degree in speech pathology positions individuals to make a positive difference in other’s lives. Speech pathologists get to use the information they learn to help individuals cope with challenges that impact their daily lives.
Higher Earning Potential

While individuals with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology can often work as medical assistants in this field, they miss out on the higher earning potential that graduates with a master’s degree enjoy. According to the BLS, speech pathologists earn a median salary of $79,120 per year, while medical assistants earn $34,800 per year.

Option to Work as a Traveling Speech Pathologist
Graduates with a master’s in speech pathology qualify for jobs as traveling speech pathologists. These professionals get to see different parts of the country by switching employment locations about every three months.
Job Security

Since the BLS projects jobs for speech pathologists to grow 25% between 2019 and 2029, these professionals enjoy above-average job security.

Work-Life Balance
Speech pathologists typically only work business hours, unlike many other professionals in the medical field. Some speech pathologists who work for school districts even benefit from paid summers off.

Accreditation for a Master’s in Speech Pathology



Students considering master’s in speech pathology programs should research the accreditation status of prospective schools. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high academic standards. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation oversee accrediting agencies. Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two.

Accreditation benefits students in several ways. For instance, only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and transfer credits from accredited institutions.

Programs within a school can also earn accreditation. The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology is one of the top accrediting agencies for speech pathology programs. Prospective students can verify a program or school’s accreditation status through the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs.

FAQ

Question Answer
How much do speech pathologists make with a master’s degree? The BLS reports that speech pathologists earn a median pay of $79,120. However, salaries vary by factors like location, experience, and employer.
How long is a master’s in speech pathology? Master’s in speech pathology programs typically take two years of full-time study to complete.
Do SLPs make more than nurses?

According to the BLS, speech-language pathologists earn more than registered nurses. Registered nurses earn a median pay of $73,300 per year.

What is the job outlook for speech pathology?

The BLS projects jobs for speech pathologists to grow 25% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Courses in a Speech Pathology Master’s Program



Speech pathology master’s programs typically require about 36-50 semester credits and take two years of full-time study to complete. Learners gain skills in areas like interpersonal communication, record keeping, and therapeutic best practices. Some master’s in speech pathology programs require a capstone and clinical rotations in addition to coursework.

Below, we outline five common speech pathology courses. Keep in mind that not every program offers these exact courses. However, most programs include a variation of the following classes.


  • Hearing Disorders

    In this course, learners study various hearing disorders that impact speech. Students also learn about peripheral and central disorders that affect balance. This class requires auditory assessments during which students must listen to recordings and diagnose possible hearing disorders present. Many programs offer this course entirely online, but some may require an in-person clinical component.

  • Language Development and Assessment

    In a language development and assessment course, students learn about language development stages in adolescents and how to identify language development disorders. This class covers evidence-based theories about how individuals develop the ability to speak. Learners also discover how to apply these theories to everyday practice. Students typically take this course during their first semester because it offers important foundational material.

  • Anatomy Hearing and Speech Systems

    This course examines the human body and its systems that control hearing and speech. Anatomical structures that this course discusses include the articulatory and resonatory systems, inner and outer ear, and throat. This class also covers the functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Students learn how to identify potential disorders of these systems based on present symptoms. Exams in this course often require students to identify names of anatomical structures based on diagrams.

  • Cultural and Linguistic Diversity

    Speech pathologists typically work with clients from varying backgrounds. This course covers best communication practices for communicating with diverse audiences. Learners also discover how to help individuals currently learning English as a second language with pronunciation. Additionally, this class examines how diversity impacts a speech pathologist’s work in the public school system.

  • Diagnosing Disorders

    In this class, students learn how to identify speaking, hearing, and swallowing disorders based on sets of accepted criteria. Learners discover how to use common diagnostic equipment and perform diagnostic tests. Course discussions center around case studies that present common systems. Upon completion, learners can identify phonetic sounds that correlate with certain disorders. This class also discusses the common treatment plans for each disorder.

How to Become a Speech Pathologist



To become a speech pathologist, professionals need a master’s degree. Most master’s programs in speech pathology accept students with a bachelor’s degree in any field from a regionally accredited school. However, applicants who possess unrelated bachelor’s degrees typically must take prerequisite courses before earning acceptance into the major.

While earning a master’s degree, individuals can enhance their resumes by pursuing internships and job shadowing opportunities. In some cases, an internship can lead to a full-time job after graduation.

Career and Salary Outlook for Speech Pathology Majors



Graduates with a master’s in speech pathology can pursue a variety of careers. In addition to working as speech pathologists, graduates can work as occupational therapists, recreational therapists, special education teachers, and audiologists.

Below, we highlight these four additional careers. Keep in mind that job availability and pay can vary based on factors like geographical location and years of experience. For example, employers in rural towns in the Midwest tend to pay less than employers in areas with higher costs of living.

Occupational Therapist
Occupational therapists assist patients recovering from injuries and illnesses and individuals with disabilities. They help patients perform everyday tasks, such as eating, getting dressed, and brushing teeth. According to the BLS, occupational therapists make a median income of $84,950 per year and enjoy a projected job growth rate of 16% between 2019 and 2029.

Recreational Therapist
These therapists help patients cope with anxiety, stress, disabilities, and injuries through recreational activities. Common therapeutic activities include assisting individuals with community outings and enjoyable exercises. The BLS reports that these professionals earn a median pay of $48,220 per year and projects jobs for recreational therapists to grow 8% between 2019 and 2029.

Special Education Teacher
Special education teachers may oversee entire classrooms or work one-on-one with students, helping learners with disabilities advance their education. According to the BLS, special education teachers earn a median income of $61,030 per year. The BLS projects jobs for these professionals to grow 3% between 2019-2029.

Audiologist
These professionals diagnose and treat hearing problems. Audiologists often work in clinics and hospitals, but some work in school settings. The BLS reports that audiologists make a median income of $77,600 per year and projects jobs for these professionals to grow 13% between 2019 and 2029.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Occupational Therapist $84,950 16%
Recreational Therapist $48,220 8%
Special Education Teacher $61,030 3%
Audiologist $77,600 13%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Speech Pathology Majors



Many speech pathologists pursue certifications and licenses to enhance their expertise and earning potential. Although most speech pathologist positions do not require certification, earning certification makes candidates more competitive in the job market. Below, we outline three licenses and certifications for speech pathologists.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Certification


This organization offers a certification exclusively for speech pathologists. To apply, individuals must submit their Praxis exam scores, official graduate transcripts, and a speech-language pathology clinical fellowship report and rating form. They must also pay a $256-$511 fee.

Lee Silverman Voice Treatment Certification


Individuals can pursue this certification entirely online or in person. The online program follows a self-paced format, and the in-person option includes hands-on practice with an instructor. Through this certification, individuals learn how to apply evidence-based practices to support individuals with Parkinson’s Disease and other neurological disorders.

Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets


This certification teaches speech pathologists how to take a tactile-kinesthetic approach in their work. Candidates learn how to use touch to help clients create the correct mouth shapes and movements to properly articulate. This type of therapy aims to teach patients how to shape words without support in the future.

How Can a Master's Student Pay for College?

Scholarships can help students reduce the cost of a master’s in speech pathology. Students can increase their chances of earning a scholarship by applying for scholarships reserved exclusively for speech pathology students, like the ones listed below.

Advanced Travel Therapy Scholarship
Who Can Apply: Graduate students pursuing a degree in physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech-language pathology may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must submit a resume. The awarding organization selects two scholarship winners each year.
Amount: $5,000

American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation Graduate Student Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation awards this scholarship to up to 15 graduate students per year. This organization also offers scholarships exclusively for international and minority graduate students. To qualify, individuals must submit transcripts and recommendation letters. Recipients must maintain full-time enrollment.
Amount: $5,000

Educational Based Services Healthcare Scholarship Program
Who Can Apply: This organization awards a scholarship of up to $7,500 to an individual who intends to practice within the pediatrics field. To qualify, applicants must be entering their clinical fellowship and remain in good standing in the program.
Amount: $7,500

Frederick J. Krause Scholarship on Health and Disabilities
Who Can Apply: The American Association on Health and Disability awards scholarships to individuals pursuing a degree related to helping those with disabilities, like speech-language pathology. Recipients must maintain full-time enrollment during their studies. Applicants must possess a disability defined by the American with Disabilities Act.
Amount: Up to $1,000

National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing Student Research Award
Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students enrolled in a graduate speech-language pathology, audiology, or speech-language-hearing sciences program may apply for this scholarship. Applicants must also maintain membership to the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing. To apply, students must submit a research paper.
Amount: $1,000

25 Best Master’s Degrees in Speech Pathology 2020



  1. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Evanston, Illinois, and running three campuses, Northwestern reaches 21,000 learners, including many graduate students. The school's speech language pathology program combines concept-based courses with immersive opportunities, giving students a well-rounded understanding of modern speech and language theories and practices.

    The required coursework teaches learners to become educated decision-makers who can self-assess their own work. Northwestern requires 16 core courses and seven clinical registrations. The university uses a quarter system, and full-time students graduate in just seven quarters of study.

    To provide learners with the most clinical immersion possible, Northwestern requires clinical courses during every quarter, including students' first quarter in the master's in speech pathology program. The clinicals address multiple areas of speech and language, and graduates end up in various roles.

  2. Vanderbilt University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded after receiving a gift from Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1873, Vanderbilt ranks among the world's top public research institutions. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt provides students with high-quality educational programs and connections with the region's top industries.

    Offered through the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, the master's in speech pathology requires 49-59 semester credits, including study during the summer session. Full-time students complete this program in 20-24 months, depending on previous experience.

    Vanderbilt offers two speech-language pathology options: one for students with a background in communication service for the deaf, and one for learners new to the field. Both options allow for elective study and culminate with a clinical externship onsite in the Nashville area.

    Learners can also select a specialty track in early identification and management of children with hearing loss, schooling, or in thesis, a track designed for students who plan on pursuing a research-based speech-language pathology career.

  3. Boston University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    BU, which serves nearly 35,000 students, offers hundreds of programs for students of various backgrounds. Nearly half of BU's student body pursue a graduate degree. The university maintains a 10-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio with an average class size of just 27 learners.

    BU's master of science in speech-language pathology, a two-year program created for students with a background in any field, ranks among the best speech pathology programs due to the university's prime location in Boston. The master's program also features some of the smallest class sizes of any program at BU, giving students plenty of one-on-one clinical supervision experience.

    Outcomes for the master's in speech pathology rank among the best in the nation, as 100% of students in the past three years graduated, passed the Praxis, and secured employment. BU's program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

  4. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    While based in New York City, NYU reaches across the globe with additional campuses in Abu Dhabi and Shanghai. With over 50,000 students and nearly $1 billion in annual research funding, NYU ranks among the nation's largest private institutions.

    Accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, NYU's master's in communication sciences and disorders prepares learners to become licensed speech-language pathologists. The 48-credit program requires full-time study. Aside from required practicum, clinical, and core courses, learners can choose from multiple courses, including courses that satisfy different certification requirements. Degree-seekers can also take most courses online.

    NYU's global presence allows speech pathology students to study abroad in Lund, Sweden, or Accra, Ghana. Learners can opt to complete a thesis with the degree, best for those interested in a research-based career.

  5. Case Western Reserve University
    Location

    Cleveland, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Cleveland, Ohio, CWRU primarily serves graduate and professional studies students. The school excels in connecting graduate learners with internship opportunities, with 100% of speech pathology students securing an internship each of the past 10 years.

    The university's master of arts in speech-language pathology accepts students who did not earn an undergraduate degree in communication disorders. However, those without a related undergraduate degree interested in pursuing American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification must complete additional undergraduate coursework. Aside from these potentially required courses, students complete 45 credits and must maintain a 3.0 GPA. CWRU also requires at least 375 supervised clinical practice hours completed in the Cleveland area.

    Those interested in research-based careers can opt into a six-credit thesis. Those who do not complete a thesis must pass a written and oral exam to graduate.

  6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Location

    Chapel Hill, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A public research institution based in Chapel Hill, UNC-Chapel Hill's sustained academic excellence earned it recognition as a "public Ivy" institution. Best known for its science programs, UNC-Chapel Hill offers its master's in speech pathology through the School of Medicine.

    The master of science in speech and hearing sciences comes in a clinical and non-clinical format, each leading to specific career outcomes. The clinical track requires 60 semester credits and prepares graduates for American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification and North Carolina licensure. The non-clinical track benefits those interested in research or industry. International students who do not require specific certification also enroll in the non-clinical track.

    Applicants must meet prerequisites before the program start date. An undergraduate degree in communication disorders or a related field satisfies these requirements. Students with a degree in an unrelated field must complete additional coursework before the program start date.

  7. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Washington, D.C., GW serves 26,000 learners with unique internship opportunities, an extensive alumni network, and plenty of research opportunities. These benefits, among others, help speech-language pathology graduates gain excellent experience and secure jobs.

    The master's in speech-language pathology takes five full-time semesters of study to complete and includes one summer semester. During the program, learners rotate through GW's eight practicum sub-clinics and take two externships, exposing them to different speech-pathology practices and environments. Program graduates enjoy a 100% Praxis pass rate, and 98% of graduates secure a relevant position within six months of graduating.

    GW uses a cohort system with roughly 30 students in core classes and 12-20 students in practicum sub-clinic courses. For students with an unrelated bachelor's degree, GW offers a 26-credit post-bachelor's program that, upon completion, guarantees students entry into the master's in speech-language pathology program.

  8. University of Virginia-Main Campus
    Location

    Charlottesville, VA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson, UVA ranks among the nation's best public universities. UVA offers a master's in communication sciences and disorders.

    Unlike other institutions, UVA offers its master's in speech pathology as a master of education, ideal for those who want to begin a career in education. The university designed two separate tracks for students with and without a background in communication disorders. The two tracks take five and eight semesters, respectively, with the second track joining the first track after one year of study. Learners may complete an optional thesis.

    The program's final semester consists entirely of a full-time internship. UVA connects learners with opportunities in Virginia and nearby states. At the end of the internship, students complete a comprehensive exam and deliver an oral presentation of their internship experience.

  9. Northeastern University
    Location

    Boston, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    A private school in Boston, Massachusetts, Northeastern reaches across the globe through its educational programs, corporate partnerships, and extensive alumni network. To help students find positions after graduating, Northeastern emphasizes experiential learning.

    The school's speech pathology master's program features experiential learning and real-life practice, with learners completing multiple clinical experiences. The program also integrates technology with research. Coursework could include using software to aid in communication and alternative communication methods. Learners complete the 60-credit program in two years and can also complete an optional early-intervention certificate program.

    Students choose between a thesis or non-thesis route. The non-thesis route requires a comprehensive exam at the end of the program. Learners must maintain a 3.0 GPA. Program graduates enjoy excellent outcomes, with 100% of graduates passing the Praxis and finding a speech-language pathology position.

  10. Purdue University-Main Campus
    Location

    West Lafayette, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Known for its affordability and innovative approach to education, Purdue teaches roughly 40,000 students each year. Most students attend courses at the main campus in West Lafayette, Indiana, though many study at distance learning sites and online.

    Purdue offers several speech-language pathology programs for different students, including a master's in speech-language pathology. The master's program meets the credentialing requirements set by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and prepares graduates to secure Indiana licensure. Nearly every program graduate secured a relevant position within one year of completing the master's degree.

    Purdue also offers several doctoral degrees in speech-language pathology and allows learners to pursue a master's and doctoral degree concurrently. This innovative approach sees students complete all coursework at once, then begin doctoral-level research while earning clinical experience.

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