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Factors to Consider When Selecting a Speech Pathology School

Higher Education Articles March 23, 2015

Those who suffer from communication disorders, such as voice loss or articulation troubles, rely on speech pathologists for their cure, also referred to as speech therapists or speech-language pathologists.

Selecting a Speech Pathology School

In this article, we take a look at some important factors to consider when you select a speech pathology school:

Career Goals

Speech-language pathology assistants (SLPAs) are adept at performing routine hearing screenings, documenting patient information, and assisting speech-language pathologists with examinations of patients. Aspiring SLPAs are expected to hold an associate’s degree, although a bachelor’s degree would satisfy the requirements in some states. Licensure is mandatory for SLPAs in most states. A master’s degree or higher as well as state licensure are mandatory requirements for those who wish to practice the profession.

Technical schools and community colleges offer associate’s degree programs as Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.) degrees. In many states, SLPAs are required to obtained licensure; accordingly, the best choice would be a school with an A.A.S. program that includes the curriculum required by the state in which these professionals are located. Schools offer bachelor’s degree programs in speech-language pathology in the form of pre-professional degrees, whereby students can gain the educational foundation they would need in order to pursue further studies in audiology or speech pathology graduate degree programs.

Employers for most non-assistant positions in the speech pathology profession prefer candidates that hold a master’s degree. Those who want to pursue the audiology profession may, in some states, be required to complete a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree. Students should choose programs in accordance with their desired graduate studies while ensuring that the appropriate prerequisites are available through the program.

Accreditation and Accelerated Program Choices

A few schools offer speech pathology degree programs as accelerated or combined bachelor’s and master’s degree programs, wherein a student can complete both degrees within five years instead of six. The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) accredit graduate degree programs, and students may consider these. The ASHA offers a certified credential in the form of the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology to eligible candidates graduating from a CAA-accredited program.

Research and Practical Experience Opportunities

Students should aim to gain practical experience while earning credits simultaneously; they can accomplish this by seeking a school that incorporates hands-on experience in professional settings, such as nursing facilities, schools, rehabilitation centers, and hospitals. They should look for schools with opportunities for specialized studies in communication methods, such as alternative, augmentative, voice, language, and speech.

Speech Pathology Programs

Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) Programs in Speech-Language Pathology Assistant

Coursework in an Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Speech-Language Pathology Assistant degree program covers classroom lectures augmented by practicums. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Phonetics
•Language development
•Communication disorders
•Anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing

Bachelor’s Programs in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology

Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) or Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology degree program gain opportunities to practice speech-language pathology methods through clinical practicums devised for the purpose.

Through evaluation and diagnostics training, students become proficient in evaluating, diagnosing, and planning appropriate rehabilitation or treatment for those suffering from communicative disorders. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Articulation disorders
•Audiology
•Communication disorders
•Language development
•Phonetics

Master’s Programs in Speech-Language Pathology

Employers for most occupations in speech pathology prefer candidates who hold a Master of Science (M.S.) or Master of Arts (M.A.) degree. Students enrolled in a master’s degree program in speech-language pathology are trained for employment through coursework that incorporates hands-on experience in professional environments.

Programs include clinical practicums, and a thesis may be completed by students that could alternatively take a comprehensive exam. The ASHA offers additional certification of clinical competency to eligible program graduates. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Dysphagia
•Fluency disorders
•Research methods
•Counseling for communication disorders

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