Grad Program: Speech Pathology / Audiology
The expanding population of older age groups is increasing the need for speech pathologists (or "speech therapists," as they’re often called) at a rate faster than the national average for other professions. However, this doesn’t mean that speech pathologists must work solely with elderly patients: They can work in educational and private clinical settings or, as Ph.D.s, contribute to research in this expanding field. As clinicians, most of a speech pathologist’s time is spent one-on-one with patients, assessing, diagnosing, treating, and helping to prevent speech, language, cognitive, communication, voice, swallowing, fluency, and other related disorders. Patients may suffer from congenital, developmental, or acquired problems, such as cleft palates, cerebral palsy, and strokes; bringing together knowledge of biological, physical, and social/behavioral sciences as well as math skills, speech pathologists help their patients learn or regain the ability to communicate.
Master’s programs in speech pathology (M.A. or M.S.) are typically two-year programs combining classroom and fieldwork. Ph.D. programs (which can tack on another four years) also require fieldwork, around fifteen hours a week over a two-year period. You’ll probably want a program accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), because this will streamline the process, after graduation, of state and national certification.
- Do you want to work with a specific population (like children or the elderly)?
- Do you want to work in a school, rehabilitation center, clinic, or hospital?
- Do you want to work in the area near your program? (While ASHA’s certification is nationally recognized, most states still require you to satisfy separate or additional requirements for state certification, and programs are often geared to providing you with what you need to pass that specific state’s tests.)
- Does this program offer the internship/field experience you want?
- Do graduates of this program tend to work in the setting or population of interest to you?