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The Course Work in Grad School to Become a Speech Pathologist

by Kristie Sweet, studioD

As the number of people needing assistance with speech and language disorders increases, so does the need for experts in the field. Entry-level jobs in speech-language pathology require a master's degree. Understanding what courses graduate programs require can help you get a head start in the field during undergraduate or other educational preparation.

General Coursework

Graduate programs in speech pathology include courses on diagnostic methods, strategies for treatment and specific kinds of communication disorders, such as autism, aphasia, neuromotor difficulties, stuttering, phonological problems, articulation disorders and auditory processing problems. Students take courses in basic audiology assessment. Some schools offer separate courses that focus on particular groups, such as the University of Maryland's Child Language Disorders, Syracuse University's Pediatric Audiology and the University of Nevada's Rehabilitation for Hearing Handicapped classes.

Specialized Courses

Additional classes may vary among programs. For instance, Bloomsburg University's Speech-Language Pathology program also focuses on swallowing disorders and includes appropriate coursework. Doctoral programs, such as the one through Syracuse University requires classes in statistics and "Professional Issues." Students in this program also take courses in devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. Some schools and programs, such as the doctoral program through the University of Nevada include credits for taking comprehensive examinations.

Experiential Coursework

Graduate programs in speech pathology typically require hands-on experience as part of the coursework. Some supervised clinical experience may be required as early as the first semester to give students real-life application of the concepts learned. Nearly all programs, both at the master's and doctoral level, culminate in clinical work. The University of Nevada's doctoral program takes this learning one step further, requiring their Ph.D. candidates to spend three to six credits worth of time teaching in a clinical setting.

Writing and Research

Master's programs in speech pathology may include research courses and a thesis as part of the required credits. Some schools, such as the University of Maryland and Bloomsburg University, allow master's students to choose whether they want to write a thesis or take additional classes. Doctoral programs typically require a dissertation. The work may be spread out over a one- or two-year period. Other programs, such as the University of Nevada's Ph.D. program, requires a course in "Research Design and Data Analysis," but does not include a dissertation or other research coursework.

About the Author

Kristie Sweet has been writing professionally since 1982, most recently publishing for various websites on topics like health and wellness, and education. She holds a Master of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado.

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