Complete Guide to an Online Speech Pathology Degree
Online speech pathology degrees are offered at 17 accredited colleges and universities. Speech pathology is the study and treatment of speech and language problems that can occur in both children and adults. Online degrees in the field are available at the bachelor's, master's, and certificate levels. In their careers, speech pathologists provide therapy in the areas of speech disorders, language disorders, social communication disorders, and cognitive communication disorders.
Prospective speech pathology students should pursue degree programs that have been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA). This will ensure that they are receiving quality educations and will benefit them in their career pursuits. In addition to accreditation, students should be aware of the professional certification and licensure requirements which vary by state. Certification and licensing can be sought upon completion of a degree.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Speech Pathology Degrees (17)
Online Speech Pathology Degree Overview & Career Information
Online speech pathology degrees are available at the master's, doctoral, and certificate levels. Entry-level positions as speech-language pathologists and assistants require at least a master's degree. An online master's program, typically comprised of about 36 units, takes around two years to complete. The admissions process for online master's programs is highly competitive; thus, an average GPA of 3.5 in undergraduate studies is required. An online certificate degree is also available for aspiring speech pathologist assistants, which can be earned with 24 units of coursework as well as eight hours of clinical training.
A career in speech pathology requires professional training to practice. Interested individuals will need to pursue a master’s degree or certification as a speech language pathologist assistant. To prepare for professional training, individuals interested in pursuing a career in speech pathology should first explore online bachelor’s programs in the field of communication sciences and disorders (CSD).
Bachelor’s programs in CSD are pre-professional degrees that can take a full four years of undergraduate study. These programs help prepare students for continuing education in speech pathology. Undergraduate studies include coursework in liberal arts and sciences as well as courses related to speech, language, and hearing. Programs normally require at least 30 hours of major coursework focused on language development, speech and language disorders, anatomy, physiology, and diagnostic procedures. In addition, most programs require supervised clinical observation of diagnostic and treatment sessions with professional speech pathologists.
Interested individuals can find both online and traditional bachelor’s programs in CSD at larger, public institutions of higher education. Applicants will need a high school diploma or GED as well as ACT or SAT test scores. Admission to a bachelor’s program in CSD is competitive. Some programs do not admit students directly to the bachelor’s program and require at least a 3.0 college GPA through their first two years of general study. Because degrees in communication sciences and disorders are pre-professional and prepare students for graduate study, students may need to maintain a 3.0 GP to graduate and typically need a GPA of 3.75 or better to continue their studies at the graduate level.
Students can graduate with an online master's degree in speech pathology in as little as a year and a half, but it may take up to three years. Required coursework usually totals around 36 units comprised of classes like Models of Language, Language Disorders, Pediatric Audiology, Voice Disorders, Evaluation and Diagnosis in Speech Pathology, Aphasia, and Language Sampling Analysis. Upon graduation, students may be prepared to work as entry-level speech pathologists, aiding adults and children who have a variety of communication disorders.
Admissions for online master's programs are extremely competitive; therefore, students should follow requirements and prerequisites closely. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree in communication disorders or a closely related field with a GPA of 3.5 or higher. The applicant must also earn a minimum score of 143 on the verbal portion of the GRE and at least a 3.5 on the writing portion. The test scores must also be within five years of the application date. Applicants are often required to submit an essay stating why they are interested in becoming a speech pathologist and what they intend to get out of the program.
There are online certificate degree options offered at universities for graduates who hold bachelor's degrees and are looking to provide speech-language therapy under the supervision of certified speech pathologists. Most online certificate programs are designed to prepare students to work as assistants in a variety of settings—typically in schools, clinics, and rehabilitation agencies.
Students must usually complete 24 units of core coursework and an additional eight hours of hands-on clinical training. Required classes for online certificates often include those in speech and language development, speech and language disorders in children, speech and language disorders in adults, competencies and strategies, aural rehabilitation, and phonetics. In order to qualify for admission, applicants must have previously earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and turn in all official transcripts. A letter of intent must also be submitted explaining the applicant's interest in the field of speech pathology.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Speech Pathology Degree
Accreditation ensures that the quality of education received at a particular institution or program is up to par. Accrediting organizations require that approved institutions participate in rigorous reviews and recertification to maintain accreditation. Students who need financial assistance from federal aid programs should also seek out accredited programs. Those wishing to transfer schools or programs should note that most credits are only transferable if they were earned at another accredited school. Before choosing an online degree plan, students should also conduct in-depth research in their field of choice to determine what kind of credentials employers within the industry look for.
The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) is the main accrediting body for speech pathology programs. The CAA examines a variety of areas within the academic program to assess its quality and effectiveness. These areas include administrative structure, faculty, academic curriculum, student assessment, and program resources. Education programs seek accreditation through CAA on a voluntary basis. Programs are then required to file annual reports showcasing continued compliance.
Careers in Speech Pathology
There are a variety of settings in which someone with an online degree in a speech pathology may find themselves working including private practice, healthcare facilities, and educational environments. Speech pathologists work with both adults and children to help treat a wide range of communication disorders. On a daily basis, they will evaluate and diagnose patients with speech or swallowing disorders then work with patients through counseling, activities, and other treatments to help improve their speech. Other tasks that a professional may encounter include conducting research to establish new and effective treatments, managing a private practice, researching human behavioral patterns to better understand the communication process, and working with employees to improve overall communication with clients.
- Accreditation. Council on Academic Accreditation. Accessed August 29, 2016. http://caa.asha.org.
- Arizona State University. Accessed August 29, 2016. https://chs.asu.edu/programs/speech-language-pathology-assistant.
- University of Houston. Accessed August 29, 2016. http://www.uh.edu/class/comd/programs/slpa/curriculum/.
- Arts in Speech-Language Pathology. University of Northern Colorado. Accessed August 26, 2016. http://www.unco.edu/nhs/audiology-speech-language-sciences/programs/slp-online/.
- Entrance Requirements. Nova Southeastern University. Accessed August 29, 2016. http://healthsciences.nova.edu/slp/doctor-speech-language-pathology.html?drop=EntranceRequirements.
- Graduate Admissions. WKU. Accessed August 26, 2016. https://www.wku.edu/communicationdisorders/graduateadmission.php.
- Master of Science in Communicative Disorders. Tseng College. Accessed August 26, 2016. http://tsengcollege.csun.edu/programs/CDS/programrequirements.