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Schools for Aspiring Speech Therapists

'Speech therapist' is an informal term for a speech-language pathologist. Read about undergraduate and graduate degree programs in speech pathology and audiology. Check the availability of online programs in this field, and find out how online courses work. Explore the typical curriculum in a speech pathology program, and review the licensure and certification requirements for speech-language pathologists.

Speech therapists often require a master's degree to begin working in the field, which can require a combination of undergraduate and graduate level education. This article will help you understand the process by looking at what degrees are offered, what coursework is covered, and how they are delivered to students.

What Programs Can I Take to Become a Speech Therapist?

Many colleges and universities have divisions in audiology and speech pathology that allow you to earn an undergraduate degree to prepare for a career as a speech therapist or speech-language pathologist. There are also specialized programs in audiology and hearing, as well as language or speech services depending on your program's concentration.

Undergraduate and graduate degree programs generally require you to conduct research and learn how to diagnose and treat disorders that involve speech, hearing or language. Master's degree programs in speech-language pathology allow you to focus on your own research projects and work with patients at treatment centers located on-campus or near your school.

For much of the first year in a master's degree program, you'll be in the classroom building on the foundations of speech pathology you learned as an undergraduate student. During the second year, it's common to take part in an externship where you'll work directly with patients in need of speech pathology services. You can earn a Master of Science or Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology depending on your school.

How Can I Study Online?

Online master's degree programs in speech-language pathology also offer graduate studies where you will take classes that consist of online lectures, downloadable lessons, assignments and chat room based discussions with your fellow students. Even though the program is online, you'll likely be required to do field work and take tests in person, similar to an on-campus program. Besides spending time in the classroom, as a speech-language pathology graduate student, you'll be required to take part in internships to earn clinical hours.

Which Schools Offer Bachelor's Degree Programs in Speech-Language Pathology?

Undergraduate education in speech-language pathology is available at the bachelor's degree level at many schools. Here are a couple of program examples:

  • The University of North Texas has a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology degree program.
  • The University of Maryland hosts a Bachelor of Arts in Hearing and Speech Sciences degree program.
  • The University of Kansas has Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of General Studies in Speech-Language-Hearing degree programs.

Which Schools Offer Master Degree Programs in Speech-Language Pathology?

At the graduate level, master's degree programs in speech-language pathology are a common option and can sometimes be found online. The programs below are a selection of them:

  • Idaho State University delivers an online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degree program.
  • The University of Utah houses Master of Arts and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degree programs.
  • The University of Tennessee has a Master of Science in Speech Pathology degree program.

What Classes Do I Need for Graduate School?

Graduate programs often require you to take prerequisite classes in areas such as human biology and language development. You'll also take classes that explore language science, physics of speech and the principles of hearing science, as well as speech science. From there, you'll take specific classes, which can include:

  • American Sign Language
  • Phonetics
  • Hearing problems and treatments
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Statistics

How Can I Gain Certification or Licensure?

Along with a master's degree, you will most likely need a license to work as a speech therapist or speech-language pathologist; however, certification and license requirements vary by state and specialty. Schools that are accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology can prepare you for the national examination required in most states to become a licensed speech therapist. If you are interested in the voluntary certification offered by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, you may need to meet clinical practicum and fellowships requirements outside of completing your graduate degree.

Bachelor's degree programs in speech-language pathology are an important step to becoming a speech therapist. However, it is often necessary to expand on this education by completing a master's degree program in the field, which can prepare you for certification and licensure.