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Distance Education Programs in Speech Pathology

by Erica Loop, studioD

Speech pathology is a dynamic profession that includes working to diagnose and treat language, communication and swallowing disorders, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Although several undergraduate programs in communication studies are available to students, ASHA notes that certified speech pathologists must have a graduate-level degree. If you're looking to start a career in speech pathology, but need the freedom of a distance-learning program, online virtual schools provide a flexible option.

Online, But Not Completely Away

Although a distance education program in speech pathology allows you to take courses from anywhere with an Internet connection, you may need to go to a college campus at times. Programs that require clinicals or field experience mean that you must go to the school's location or a specialized site. For example, Idaho State University's online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology requires students to come to campus in the summer time for two clinical practicum experiences and complete a third field placement in or near their home town.

Licensing Matters

Attending an online or distance learning program in speech pathology can take you on the same track as a traditional university degree when it comes to licensing and credentials. Each state licenses speech pathologists who work in professional education and health care settings. If you plan on practicing as a licensed speech pathologist, you'll need to ensure that the distance learning program of your choice provides an adequate curriculum to meet state standards. For example, the University of Wisconsin in Eau Clair's online Master of Science degree provides the practical and academic courses that meet the state's licensing requirements. If you plan on attending an out-of-state online school, check with your state's licensing board -- or the school -- for specific licensure requirements prior to application.

Accreditation for an Education

The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology -- or CAA -- accredits speech pathology programs at the master's and doctoral levels. Accredited programs demonstrate that the curriculum and course content meets the CAA's quality standards. While not every distance education program -- or brick and mortar school -- holds a CAA accreditation, choosing one that does shows you are getting a superior education. Online M.A. and M.S. programs -- such as the University of Northern Colorado -- with CAA accreditation will display their credentials on their websites or provide them upon request.

College Courses

A distance-learning speech pathology program typically follows a similar curriculum in comparison to the more traditional on-campus types. For example, Longwood University's online master's in speech-language pathology includes courses in language development, communication disorders, phonetics, phonology and the anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing. Some programs, such as the program at Idaho State University, also require courses on research in communication disorders, swallowing disorders and disorders of specialized populations such as children or adults.

About the Author

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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