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Communicative Disorders Degree Programs and Universities

Communication disorders education programs cover topics in speech-language pathology, audiology and deaf education. Learn about the degree programs, job options and education requirements for careers in communication disorders.

What You Need to Know

In order to work in the field of communicative disorders, you will need to be either licensed by the state or pass a certification exam with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You can prepare for these exams through several graduate degree programs, choosing the education that focuses on the area of communicative disorders care of interest to you.

DegreesYou may complete a master's degree in speech-language pathology, a doctoral degree in audiology or a degree program in deaf education studies
CoursesThe mechanism of hearing, amplification technology, American Sign Language and the special needs of persons who are deaf
SchoolsYou should ensure that the school you choose meets the licensing requirements for your state

Which Kind of Speech-Language Pathology Degree Will I Need?

A master's degree in speech-language pathology requires you to have a strong background in both math and science, with an emphasis on the physical production of speech, the psychology of communication, and the physics of sound. While many master's degree programs don't require you to have an undergraduate degree in speech science, most have specific prerequisite courses. Programs that lead to certification as a speech-language pathologist also include clinical work. A Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology might be offered.

What About an Audiology Degree?

A doctoral program in audiology also requires a lot of science. In addition to the study of the mechanism of hearing, you will also study amplification technology. Programs that prepare you for certification will also require substantial clinical work with patients. You might want to enroll in a Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) degree program.

What About a Degree in Deaf Education?

Deaf education studies prepare you to teach people who are deaf or hard of hearing. Coursework includes learning American Sign Language (ASL) and the special needs of persons who are deaf. In some colleges, you can choose between a major in ASL and a major in deaf studies. The Council on Education of the Deaf also recognizes several specializations based on the age of the individuals to be taught or whether they have multiple disabilities. A Master of Science in Education - Teacher of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing PK-12 certification program might be offered, in addition to a Master of Education in Deaf Education.

Where Do I Go To Get a Degree?

It is important you earn a degree that meets the requirements of the state where you want to be licensed. This is an appropriate topic to discuss with your admissions counselor. Some schools have distance learning or online course options, especially for people working in the field who are seeking a higher degree. These could be useful for individuals who live too far from a prospective school or who have busy schedules. These schools offer communication disorders degrees:

  • University of Texas at Austin
  • Saint Joseph's University (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Boston University (MA)
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst
  • Bloomsburg University (PA)

How Can I Work in the Communication Disorders Field?

Work with communication disorders will probably require you to be licensed by the state you want to work in, so the education requirements vary. However, for speech-language pathology and audiology, most states recognize certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

For speech-language pathologists, ASHA standards require at least a master's degree for certification. A few states will license people with only a bachelor's degree either permanently or temporarily. In other cases, you can work as an assistant under the direction of a licensed pathologist with a bachelor's degree or an associate degree in the field.

Audiologists need to have a doctorate to meet ASHA requirements. However, some of these doctoral degrees can be started once you have your bachelor's degree, without first getting a master's degree.

Since many jobs in deaf education are at educational institutions, the requirements usually come under state education departments for teacher licensing. The Council on Education of the Deaf accredits programs in most states as well.