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Liberty University

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Dual Master's-PhD Programs in Speech Language Pathology

A dual degree program allows students to complete their master's and Ph.D. at the same school concurrently, removing redundancy and the need to apply for the Ph.D. separately. Continue reading to find out more about common courses and admissions.

What to Expect from a Dual Master's/Ph.D. Program in Speech-Language Pathology.

A dual degree program is a high-intensity, more condensed program that requires students to already hold a bachelor's degree and to maintain a full-time course load, in some cases completing both degrees in about 2.5 years. Since speech-language pathologist (SLP) programs must adhere to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA) strict standards, the subject matter and courses can be very similar across programs.


Some dual programs may expect you to write both a master's thesis and a Ph.D. dissertation and they want to give you the skills you will need to provide an excellent paper. These courses may instruct you in appropriate research methods, how to apply to ethics panels, and how to apply for grants and other methods of funding. These courses can also prepare students for a more research-based role later in their careers.

Language and Cognitive Communication Disorders

These courses aim to educate you to be able to recognize and evaluate these disorders and teach you how to discern the correct path of treatment for your client. This may be the bulk of in your class education, as you learn about the various conditions in adults, children, those that people are born with and those that are the result of a trauma. There are also a variety of methods you may learn to best work through these disorders and which methods are generally best for which disorders.

Sign Language

Considering that a speech impairment may mean your client is unable to speak to you, being able to use sign language is an important skill for a number of careers in this field. Students will learn regional sign language using the American Sign Language (ASL) format and will learn how to hold basic conversations. They may then take more advanced courses that could cover some international sign language formats.

Professional Practices

Courses regarding professional practices generally aim to provide you with the skills to be able to run a respectable practice. This includes, but is not limited to, being sensitive to other cultures and their needs, how to work through and recognize ethical quandaries, going over your non-clinical duties as an SLP professional, how to work as part of a care team. There may not be a single course on this rather it may be sprinkled into various areas of your other courses.

Teaching Methods

Once you attain your Ph.D. you open up the possibility of teaching academically. These courses try to give you the skills you need to do that successfully. You may also be teaching in your professional practice as, depending on where you end up working, you may be the clinical placement for other SLP masters and Ph.D. students as such you may be expected to give them instruction on how to work with clients, and how to treat and diagnose clients.

Clinical Practice

Students are required to complete a number of hours of clinical practice, during which time they will be supervised by a mentor. Practicum may be across a broad range of disorders, or more specialized, depending on the student's focus of study. Students will need to complete a number of hours for both clinical observations and practicum and may be required to complete an externship. As the program is shorter in time, clinical practice time may also be reduced.

Applying to the Dual Program

The schools that offer this type of program have different methods for students to apply. Some ask students to apply via their Master's program, others ask that students follow the Ph.D. protocol, and some have an application process entirely unique to the dual program, so when exploring be sure to pay special attention as to how they want you to apply. Regardless, the admissions requirements are fairly common;

  • Bachelors Degree with a speech and hearing specialization

For students without a speech and hearing background, the school may allow you to take extra courses to gain a foundation in the field, before officially pursuing the dual program. These courses generally occur in biology, phonetics, and how to identify common language impediments.

  • 3.0 GPA from undergraduate work
  • Letters of Reference
  • Identification of research faculty mentor
  • An interview with a faculty member

Students wishing to pursue a dual master's and Ph.D. program in speech-language pathology can do so in sometimes as much one-year faster than if they choose to complete the two programs separately. These programs provide a more condensed form of study while still maintaining proper industry standards.