Degrees in Communication Disorders

A degree in communication disorders can prepare you to help people overcome a language or speech disorder using therapy or counseling. You can choose from programs available at the bachelor's, master's or doctoral degree level. Keep reading for more information on online options, common courses and job prospects after study. Schools offering Allied Health degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Kinds of Degree Programs in Communication Disorders Are Available?

Degree programs in communication disorders are available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. Because a master's-level education is required for professional licensure in most states, master's degree programs are the most common.

Bachelor's degree programs are pre-professional in nature; these programs usually don't include the clinical experience hours necessary to apply for licensure. Master's degree programs in communication disorders and speech-language pathology are widely available. Master's-level prerequisites may include undergraduate credits in communication disorders, biological science and behavioral science. In some cases, you may need to earn a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology before applying to a master's program.

Doctoral programs are offered in communication science and disorders, audiology and speech-language pathology. If you're interested in a post-master's degree that is designed for teachers, education specialist (Ed.S.) programs in special education and communication disorders are available. Admission requirements for doctoral and Ed.S. programs usually include completion of a master's degree in speech-language pathology or communication disorders.

Degree Programs Pre-professional bachelor's degrees,
Master's and doctoral degrees in communication disorders, speech-language pathology and similar fields,
Ed.S. degree in special ed and communication disorders
Common Courses Bachelor's: communication disorders, hearing loss and introductory sign language;
Master's: specialization in one area, pharmacology and communication disorders;
Ed.S: independent research, organizational leadership, statistical methods
Online Programs Available at every level; some in-person requirements in all programs
Job Prospects With a bachelor's: work as speech-language pathology assistant;
With a master's and completion of state requirements: work as a licensed speech-language pathologist

What Topics Are Covered?

In a speech-language pathology bachelor's degree program, you'll study word pronunciation, language development and vocal sound patterns. You'll also explore language acquisition in children and how communication disorders affect this acquisition. Other courses may include common communication disorders, hearing loss and introductory sign language.

A specialization may be required for master's programs, including phonological disorders, language disorders, audiology or hearing science. You'll study communicative disorders in children and adults, assess the severity of different cases and learn which treatment methods are applicable. Through clinical experiences, you might work with people who have a broad range of disorders, including stuttering, deafness and swallowing problems. Other topics include:

  • Pharmacology and communication disorders
  • Speech therapy
  • Counseling techniques

Doctoral programs often require extensive independent research on a subject of your choice. Additional classes may include organizational leadership and statistical methods. In an Ed.S. program, you might study administration in education, curriculum development and statistical analysis. An internship or teaching experience may be required.

Are Online Programs Available?

Online programs are available at every level, but are most common at the master's level. However, due to the clinical practicums, there are some in-person requirements. For master's and doctoral degree programs, conducting research in communication disorders is required. Online programs use software applications such as Blackboard; you can watch video lectures, complete assignments and interact with your classmates. A computer with high-speed Internet access is required.

What Career Opportunities Are Available?

With a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology, you might find work as a speech-language pathology assistant; most states require completion of a master's program in order to become a licensed speech-language pathologist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, other licensure requirements include at least 300 hours of clinical experience and successful completion of a national exam (www.bls.gov). Speech-language pathologists who work in an educational setting may need to meet different licensure requirements; you can contact your state's regulatory board for more details.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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