Best Master’s in Speech Pathology Degrees 2021

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Speech pathology focuses on communication disorders in children and adults. A master’s in speech pathology prepares students for careers as speech-language pathologists, speech therapists, and language specialists. Graduates may work in schools, private clinics, hospitals, or research facilities.

Speech pathologists evaluate communication disorders and manage treatment plans for patients. They work with physicians, nurses, social workers, and physical therapists to provide optimal services to individuals with developmental delays, swallowing problems, and other communication issues.

A career in speech pathology requires patience, compassion, and expertise. Speech pathologists may work with a variety of clients or specialize in a specific age group. They need a deep understanding of both the physical and psychological aspects of human communication. The best speech pathology master’s programs enable learners to develop these important career-focused skills.

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Speech Pathology Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q. What is speech pathology?

    Speech pathology refers to the study of human communication disorders. Pathologists focus on both the physical and psychological aspects of communication.

  • Q. How long does it take to earn a master's in speech pathology?

    Learners typically earn a master’s in speech pathology degree in two years. Some programs may offer accelerated options for working students.

  • Q. What can I do with a master's in speech pathology?

    A master’s in speech pathology prepares learners for careers in speech-language pathology, occupational or physical therapy, and specialized nursing.

  • Q. Can I study speech pathology online?

    Several master’s in speech pathology programs offer online options. These programs may feature accelerated curriculum.

The following list highlights the best master’s in speech pathology degrees. These programs offer learners various options for pursuing graduate coursework in this growing field. The featured schools host both online and in-person instruction. The rankings offer information about courses, specializations, and affordability.

Best Master’s in Speech Pathology Degrees 2021

See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL



    The University of Florida manages a comprehensive catalog of degrees delivered in Gainesville and online. The MA in communication sciences and disorders prepares speech-language pathologists through classroom lectures and experiential learning opportunities. The degree teaches students how to provide evidence-based services to clients in clinical settings. Students choose a thesis or non-thesis track.

    The curriculum explores topics such as speech motor control disorders and adult language disorders. All speech pathology degree enrollees complete several practicums in hospitals, clinics, and schools. They are supervised by licensed and certified speech-language pathologists.

    Students pursuing the thesis track need not complete a clinical externship. Nonthesis students complete clinical externships in the Gainesville area. Others pursue opportunities further afield in Atlanta, Jacksonville, and New York. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and no GRE scores.

  2. University of Washington-Seattle Campus

    Seattle, WA



    The University of Washington enrolls about 54,000 students on campuses in Seattle, Bothell, and Tacoma. The school administers a speech pathology program with three tracks. Students choose the MS in educational speech‐language pathology, medical speech‐language pathology, or clinical research speech‐language pathology. Enrollees complete between 93-113 credits in seven or eight quarters.

    Students complete common courses such as clinical methodology for documenting change and the assessment and treatment of neurogenic motor speech disorders. All students complete 9-10 practicum courses that provide clinical experience. They can complete these at UW facilities or in community practice settings.

    Participants complete the degree as part of a cohort. First-year master's students who want to work in public schools may qualify for the CASE scholars program. This option provides some tuition assistance. Admission to the MS requires undergraduate speech and hearing sciences coursework and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The GRE is not required.

  3. University of South Florida-Main Campus

    Tampa, FL



    Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida operates three campuses in the Tampa Bay region. The MS in speech language offers three tracks to prepare speech language pathologists: residential, Suncoast consortium, and speech-language pathology prerequisite. The six-semester residential track immerses students in coursework and clinical experiences at USF's speech-language-hearing center and other clinical sites.

    The Suncoast consortium track enrolls bachelor's-level speech-language clinicians practicing in a Suncoast consortium school district. They continue to work while they earn this speech pathology degree over nine semesters. Students complete the program using a combination of distance education and on-site instruction. USF also offers the speech-language pathology prerequisite track. This caters to degree-seekers pursuing a master's without a bachelor's degree.

    Students can help pay for tuition with graduate assistantships, fellowships, and scholarships. Admission to the MS requires prerequisite courses, a minimum 3.2 GPA, and GRE scores.

  4. Indiana University-Bloomington

    Bloomington, IN



    At Indiana University-Bloomington, students enjoy rigorous academics on a dynamic campus. The MA in speech-language pathology provides learners with broad training in speech-language pathology (SLP). The two-year program enrolls students with a BA or BS in communication sciences and disorders or speech and hearing sciences. Students without an undergraduate degree in the field will need to complete prerequisite courses.

    Enrollees examine topics such as phonological disorders and motor speech disorders. Students interested in serving Spanish-speaking populations can choose the bilingual track. All students complete four semesters of clinical experience at Indiana University clinics and other sites. Participants also complete off-campus clinical externships in the final spring semester.

    Students can engage in SLP research opportunities with faculty. Enrollees culminate this speech pathology program with a comprehensive exam. Admission to the speech pathology program requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  5. California State University-Long Beach

    Long Beach, CA



    California State University-Long Beach began awarding speech language pathology degrees in the 1950s. The cohort-based MA in speech-language pathology (SPL) continues that tradition. The program enrolls students with a bachelor's degree in SLP or a related major. Enrollees complete the academic and clinical requirements necessary to earn the certificate of clinical competence. This is issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    The 50-unit curriculum requires several seminars covering topics such as dysphagia, motor speech disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. Two courses in this speech pathology degree focus on multicultural clinical practice. All participants complete a clinical internship and public school practicum in SLP. Students culminate the program with a thesis or directed readings and elective credit.

    Full-time students complete the degree in 2.5 years. Learners without an SLP degree need to complete at least 30 units of prerequisite coursework before admission to the MS. Admission requires a bachelor's degree.

  6. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

    Chapel Hill, NC



    The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is the flagship of a 16-college system. The MS in speech and hearing sciences meets all requirements for American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification. The program offers clinical and nonclinical tracks. The degree requires 60 semester credits that blend classroom and clinical learning. Students complete 10 core courses and electives.

    Core coursework covers topics such as neuroanatomy, early interventions, and adult communication disorders. Students can use elective credits to learn how to help special populations such as those with autism. Enrollees not interested in speech-language pathology certification chose the nonclinical track. Instead of completing clinical requirements, students in this track complete additional research.

    Learners without a degree from a speech pathology program may need to complete prerequisite courses. Admission to the MS requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  7. University of Wisconsin-Madison

    Madison, WI



    Established in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is one of the nation's top research colleges. The MS in speech-language pathology meets requirements for teacher certification and a license to practice as a speech-language pathologist in Wisconsin. It also prepares enrollees for American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification.

    The 40-credit degree offers thesis and non-thesis options. Coursework examines topics such as language and learning disorders of children, fluency and phonological disorders, and the management and assessment of voice disorders. Participants can use elective credits to learn sign language. All enrollees complete multiple supervised clinical activities at diverse sites, including the UW speech and hearing clinic and public school districts.

    UW also offers a 33-credit MS in normal aspects of speech, language, and hearing for those interested in a nonclinical track. Learners can help pay for either speech pathology degree with assistantships. Other financial aid includes scholarships and grants. Admission requires prerequisite coursework and school transcripts.

  8. Florida International University

    Miami, FL



    Florida International University enrolls 58,000 students in about 190 programs. The MS in speech-language pathology (SLP) is a six-semester program that emphasizes a bilingual curriculum. Students learn about a variety of disorders, diagnoses, and treatments. They receive the necessary training to work in schools, clinics, and hospitals. Graduates qualify to complete the Praxis exam. This is necessary to apply for American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification

    The 61-credit curriculum blends classroom learning and clinical experiences. Students explore topics such as phonological disorders, fluency disorders, and language learning in preschool children. Participants engage in four different rotations totalling 400 hours of clinical experience over four semesters.

    Students complete a master's-level project or thesis. The speech pathology program admits an average of 50 students each year. Learners need a bachelor's degree in SLP or related major for admission. Those without this background complete prerequisite coursework. Admission to the MS requires a minimum 3.0 GPA.

  9. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    Champaign, IL



    Illinois offers an MA in speech and hearing science that prepares speech language pathologists for clinical work or doctoral study. The degree meets state certification requirements to work as a speech language pathologist in public schools. It also provides the training necessary for certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    The speech pathology program requires 40-60 credits. Students can complete a curriculum with or without clinical practicum experience. Topics covered include stuttering: theory and practice, neural bases of speech language, motor speech disorders, and aphasia and related disorders. Participants complete a course focused on quantitative reasoning.

    Students in the clinical track complete a series of practicums that include a hospital placement. Those pursuing the nonclinical track complete only 40 credits. Both tracks offer the research thesis option. Students without a bachelor's degree in speech and hearing science or a related major must complete prerequisite coursework. Admission requires a minimum 3.0 GPA and GRE scores.

  10. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL



    The University of Central Florida lauds rigorous academics and affordability. UCF offers an MA in communication sciences and disorders to train speech language pathologists. The MA offers three tracks: two-year traditional, five-year consortium, and an accelerated BA/BS to MA.

    Students complete the same 72-credit curriculum with thesis and nonthesis options. The different tracks give enrollees learning flexibility to earn the speech pathology degree. Participants must follow each track's prescribed sequence of coursework and clinicals.

    The degree provides the educational and clinical requirements for state licensure and certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

    The curriculum's core explore topics such as voice disorders, articulation/phonological disorders, and aphasia and related disorders. Two courses focus on assessment and interventions of language disorders in children and adolescents. All enrollees complete at least 400 hours of supervised clinical experience. Students culminate the program with a comprehensive exam.

    Admission requires a bachelor's degree, prerequisite courses, and competitive GRE scores.

Career and Salary Outlook for Speech Pathology Master’s Graduates

Jobs for speech pathology professionals continue to grow much faster than average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 25% growth in speech pathology careers from 2019-2029. The demand for speech pathologists increases as advancements in medicine allow practitioners to better understand communication disorders. 

Speech pathologists who specialize in children or older adults may earn more than those without specializations. Students in speech pathology master’s programs may also specialize in speech therapy, fluency disorders, or audiology. The field features several industry certifications in child language, fluency, and swallowing disorders. Speech pathologists who pursue these certifications may include board certified specialist in their title.

Speech pathologists perform many duties, which may include diagnostic testing, medical evaluation, research, and therapeutic treatment. Pathologists work with patients, collaborate with other medical professionals, and provide guidance to family members and educators. After several years in the field, some speech pathologists seek career advancement. This enables pathologists to work as audiologists, physicians, and psychologists. These fields often require doctoral degrees.

Career Lowest 10% Median Annual Salary Highest 10%
Speech-Language Pathologists Less than $49,840 $79,120 More than $121,260

Source: BLS

Accreditation for Speech Pathology

Aspiring speech pathologists should look for programs at accredited schools. Accreditation ensures that a school meets instructional standards. Institutions hold either national or regional accreditation. A school gains regional accreditation by undergoing a regular, in-depth review process by external organizations.

Most master’s in speech pathology programs seek accreditation by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s Council on Academic Accreditation (ASHA-CAA). Many states require speech pathologists to attend a school accredited by the ASHA-CAA for licensure and certification. The organization maintains professional standards for speech pathology and related fields.

Courses in a Speech Pathology Program

Speech pathology programs include both core and specialized coursework. Enrollees study speech anatomy, language development, and vocal pathology. Most programs combine traditional classes with clinical experiences.

A master’s in speech pathology degree typically takes two years to complete. Learners concentrate on developing expert-level understanding of communication disorders and treatment methods. Courses that focus on children or older adults allow enrollees to pursue desirable specializations. Other specialized courses may include fluency disorders, swallowing physiology, and craniofacial anomalies.

Like other health-related degrees, speech pathology master’s programs require clinical training. Students gain important hands-on skills through supervised practica and clinical methods courses. Many programs also feature externships that place students in local clinics and hospitals. The list below highlights three common speech pathology graduate courses.

This course covers speech-related auditory issues. Students explore the symptoms and treatment for hearing disorders. Courses may include a clinical component or practical assessment. Since speech pathologists often work with hearing-impaired individuals, this class serves as an essential component of their training.

A core requirement for many master’s in speech pathology programs, this course explains how language develops in humans from childhood to adulthood. The course trains students to identify the various stages of language development and introduces them to assessment methods.

This class teaches enrollees about the anatomy of human speech. Students learn to accurately identify the body parts that influence human speech, such as parts of the tongue and vocal chords. Courses often contain a clinical component that allows students to practice the skills they learn in the classroom.

Scholarships for Speech Pathology

Speech pathology students may qualify for scholarships to help pay for tuition, fees, and living expenses. Many graduate programs also maintain institutional scholarships for new and current speech pathology students. Learners in master’s in speech pathology programs may also benefit from state grants and federal financial aid. The following list features three scholarships for students pursuing speech pathology.

  • Speech-Language Pathology Graduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Voice Aerobics sponsors this annual scholarship for speech pathology graduate students. Applicants must attend an ASHA-accredited master’s in speech pathology program. Application requirements include completing an online form with short-answer questions.

    Amount: $500

    Explore Here

  • ASHFoundation Graduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Students who attend an ASHA-accredited graduate program in speech pathology may apply. Applicants must submit transcripts, an essay, an online form, and three recommendation letters.

    Amount: $5,000

    Explore Here

  • AMBUCS Therapist Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: AMBUCS sponsors several annual scholarships for students pursuing graduate degrees in speech pathology and related fields. Application requirements include a completed FAFSA, proof of enrollment, a personal statement, and U.S. citizenship.

    Amount: Up to $6,000

    Explore Here

How Much Does a Master’s in Speech Pathology Cost?

The cost of pursuing a master’s in speech pathology degree varies by school and location. A degree at a private university often costs more than the same degree at a public institution. Additionally, many schools require enrollees to pay fees that cover campus activities or technologies.

Some schools offer more affordable online programs that enable students to cut costs by studying from home. Online learners may also continue full-time work while they complete their degrees. The cost of online degrees sometimes includes distance-learning fees.

Like other healthcare degrees, speech pathology master’s programs may require students to purchase insurance to cover clinical liabilities. Students may also need to factor in the cost of the exams needed for certification and licensure in their respective states. Some graduates may also want to acquire specialized certifications that require additional funds.

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