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Program Overviews: Degree in Speech Pathology

Majors Overview January 15, 2013

The understanding and treatment of language and speech disorders resulting from diseases and disabilities is the focus of a speech pathologist. Students in speech pathology programs are taught to understand different types of impairment in communication including fluency problems and speech disorders. There are several degree programs offered in the field including bachelor, master, and doctoral programs. This article is meant to be an overview of degree programs in speech pathology.

Speech-Language Pathology – Bachelor of Science Program

In this program, students are introduced to communication disorders and language processes. Prospective speech pathologists get in-depth knowledge about how abnormal and normal speech and hearing begin. Coursework covers an examination of areas of speech, communication and language. Students are not only taught about the many ways in which individuals can be affected by disabilities, but ways to provide effective treatment. Students can improve their skills via both externships and internships. A Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology programs takes about four years to complete. Admission to a degree program in speech pathology at the baccalaureate level requires applicants to maintain a high school diploma or perform at a satisfactory level on the GED exam.

Program Coursework

Apart from basic academic coursework, speech pathology students are required to take core courses in speech disorders and language development. Some programs offer hands on experience opportunities in clinical settings. Courses typically include subject areas such as vocal mechanisms, literacy and literacy development, brain and language, audiology, and phonetics.

Career Options

Undergraduate degree holders in speech pathology can expect to get jobs as speech pathology aides working under the supervision of a licensed pathologist. Common career options include those of a treatment plan coordinator, an evaluator and a language pathology assistant.

Speech-Language Pathology – Master of Science Program

Students enrolling in graduate degree courses have to study advanced coursework in acoustics, language development and psychology. They also have to perform hours of practical work in a clinical setting, which they get to work with patients belonging to various age-groups. Individuals are given the option of expanding the study program via internship programs and electives in any specific area of their choice such as medical disorders, voice disorders or language disorders.

Education Requirements

Admission to a master degree program in speech pathology requires applicants to have earned a bachelor degree. Majoring in communication, speech pathology, or any related field may be required, but it may not be mandatory to the admission process for some schools. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores accompanied by letters of recommendation may need to be submitted by prospective students.

Program Coursework

By earning a graduate degree in speech pathology; students can gain an understanding of both practical and theoretical aspects of speech disorders via experimentation in clinical settings. Classroom lectures include current research in the field apart from therapeutic management, ethics, and human development. Schools usually offer both thesis and non-thesis tracks. Speech pathology curricula may include articulation disorders, dysphasia, stuttering, language disorders, and neuropathology.

Salary Information and Employment Outlook

A faster-than-average job growth of nineteen percent has been projected for speech-language pathologists during the decade from 2008 to 2018 (source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov)). In May 2010, the United States had 112,530 speech-language pathologists earning average annual salary of $66,920.

Certification Information and Continuing Education

Graduates are allowed to practice the profession after they pass the standardized examination for speech pathology offered by the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service. Licensure norms require candidates to complete a number of clinical hours; however, every state has its own requirements. In some states, continuing education is mandatory in order to keep the license valid. In addition, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offers a nationally recognized certificate.

Speech-Language Pathology – Ph.D. Program

Ph.D. in Speech-Language Pathology programs involve research and applied sciences and offer students the option of individualizing their programs by focusing on area of emphasis. Development of a thesis is expected of students in most programs; students are given hands-on instruction in clinical settings. Like a majority of doctorate programs, several speech pathology courses expect the completion of an essay on relevant research from students who are also required to take candidacy exams. Admission criteria to doctorate programs usually require candidates to have completed an undergraduate degree program; prospective students are expected to submit GRE scores.

Course Topics

Coursework relating to doctoral programs in speech pathology includes various disorders, experimental design and research. Through seminars and classroom lectures, students are given information on grant writing, clinical administration, sensory processes, communication disorders, and linguistics.

Career Options

Doctoral graduates are trained in practical aspects, and theory relating to rehabilitation and education thereby enabling them to qualify for clinical, academia and research careers. More specifically, candidates may find positions as college or university educators, researchers, or clinical practice administrators.

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