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This article provides an overview of the masters in speech language pathology degree program, some of the subject matters and courses that the degree covers, and why this degree could benefit you in terms of career advancement. It also describes an online masters in speech language pathology program that you may want to consider.
What Is a Masters in Speech Language Pathology?
The career of speech pathologists focuses on the how and why of speech development. A speech pathologist and a speech therapist are exactly the same, as they are essentially specialists in speech development. They often work with those who have physical disabilities, learning difficulties, or language disorders. Most speech pathologists require licensure, and a master’s degree is the minimum educational requirement for this license in most states.
As a speech and language pathologist, you will help people who have problems with language development, talking, and perhaps also swallowing. Additionally, you may work with people who have physical disabilities that impact how they speak, or with those who want to develop a different accent. Work for such specialists can found in hospitals, schools, medical clinics, acting companies, and more. Besides the master’s degree, you will also have to complete a number of hours of supervised training before you can become licensed.
The exact regulations for licensure, however, will vary from one state to the other. The Council on Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has a list of programs that people can undergo should they want to become licensed. It is almost always required to have completed one of those programs. Additionally, membership at ASHA is also almost always required.
During the masters degree program, you will take a number of core courses, including:
- The body parts involved in swallowing and speech
To become licensed, you will usually have to undergo supervised training hours as well. Some schools offer this as part of the degree program. Certain schools also offer specialization opportunities. These include speaking disorders, swallowing disorders, certain disabilities, certain ages, and so on.
Why Earn a Masters in Speech Language Pathology?
As a speech-language pathologist, you will assess, diagnose, and treat people in private practice facilities, homes, schools, hospitals, and so on. You will help to determine why someone may have communication problems and then come up with ways to improve on that. You may work in certain areas of specialization and most pathologists end up working with the same people for a long time, watching them progress over the years. This is something that you can take a lot of professional pride in.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), speech and language pathologists had a median salary of $74,680 per year as of May 2016. The BLS has also reported that there will be a 21% increase in demand for these professionals from 2014 to 2024, which is much faster than the national average. This will translate into some 28,900 new jobs.
Online Option for Masters in Speech Language Pathology
New York University
If you are interested in obtaining a masters in speech language pathology, you may want to consider the Online Master of Science Program in Communicative Sciences and Disorders offered by the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University. It has an ASHA-accredited curriculum and it focuses on people of all backgrounds and ages, and the faculty has real-world experience in speech-language pathology. Students can enroll in the program three times per year for added flexibility. It also includes field placements, organized in the student’s own community. Students work together with faculty to find placements, serving people with swallowing and communication disorders.
While the program is offered online, it includes face to face classes that enable students to build relationships with the faculty and fellow students. The curriculum is holistic and delivered through both the online curriculum and through practicum experiences. It focuses on each of the three career paths available to speech and language pathologists: research settings, educational settings, and medical settings.
The program focuses on:
- Basic human swallowing processes and communication, including the neurological, biological, psychological, acoustic, linguistic, developmental, and cultural sources
- The key principles of physical sciences, biological sciences, social and behavioral sciences, and mathematics
- The various modern professional issues and ethics
The field of communication disorders and sciences continuously develops as various related scientific fields change and discover new things. The curriculum at NYU Steinhardt responds to these changes and ensures that graduates are ready to take on positions of leadership and apply evidence-based practice to any work setting they become involved in.
The degree is offered online, but students do have to take part in instrumentation and research courses, disorder courses, clinical practicum and field placements, and a range of elective courses. Students may also need to complete up to 14 foundational courses depending on their educational background.
Graduates from this program are highly sought-after for their ability:
- To recognize the nature of swallowing, communication, hearing, language, and speech disorders and what sets them apart, focusing on characteristics and etiologies
- To apply methods, principles, and research of prevention, intervention, and assessment for adults and children with swallowing and communication disorders
- To communicate effectively during treatment of clients and with colleagues regardless of their linguistic and cultural background
Students must complete a number of foundation courses:
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech and Swallow Mechanism
- Neurological Bases of Cognition, Behavior, and Communication
- Science of Language
- Speech Development and Disorders
- Language Development and Disorders in Children
- Introduction to Audiology and Aural Rehabilitation
Next, students must complete the following courses:
- Phonological Analysis of Normal and Disordered Speech
- Language Disorders in Children
- Critical Evaluation of Research in Speech and Hearing Sciences and Disorders
- Speech Science: Instrumentation
- Voice Disorders
- Language Development and Disorders in School-Aged Children
- Adult Language Disorders
- Motor Speech Disorders
- Fluency Disorders
- Dysphagia in Adults and Children
- Multicultural Issues in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
- Principles of Intervention with Speech-Language Disorders
- Professional Issues in Communicative Sciences and Disorders
- Drug and Alcohol Education, and Child Abuse and School Violence Protection
Graduates can get to work as a speech-language pathologist. They can do this in a variety of fields. Many enter private practice, whereas others work in clinics or hospitals. Schools are also common employers of graduates from this degree program. Almost all graduates work clinically, in direct contact with patients.
Clearly, obtaining a masters in speech language pathology is a great way to advance your career. In fact, in many states, a graduate degree is a requirement in order to become licensed to work in this particular profession. The job is for those who want to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, helping them to overcome various difficulties. Thus, it is a highly rewarding career.
- Speech-Language Pathologists. (2015, Dec. 17). Retrieved from https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/speech-language-pathologists.htm
- Speech@NYU. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://speech.steinhardt.nyu.edu/
- Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://caa.asha.org/