Speech Pathology Graduate Programs
Speech pathology graduate programs train therapists to diagnose and treat conditions related to language, speech, and the throat. Clients may be unable to communicate well or simply want to speak more clearly. Speech pathologists also help to treat swallowing problems. Aspiring speech pathologists should look for accredited programs, enroll in available work experience internships, and prepare for the national examination.
Most speech pathology graduate programs look for candidates with specific personality traits. Aspiring speech pathologists should be exceedingly patient, have strong interpersonal communication skills, and be detail-oriented. The job will require building strong relationships between the pathologist and their clients. A client’s treatment plan and goals may take several months to complete successfully. Introverted people will find it difficult to succeed in speech pathology.
A majority of speech pathology jobs require a master’s degree at minimum. Speech pathology graduate programs should be accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA). The CAA is a division of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Enrollment in CAA-accredited program is not a requirement. However, some states require that speech pathologists graduate from a CAA-accredited program for a license to practice. Additionally, professional credentials from ASHA can only be received after graduation from a CAA-accredited program. Nearly 240 accredited institutions had speech pathology graduate programs in 2009.
As of 2009, 47 states had laws to govern speech pathologists. The common requirements for a license included:
- Graduation and a master’s degree from a program with full accreditation
- A passing score on the Praxis Series of the Educational Testing Service’s national examination
- 300 to 375 hours of experience in a supervised clinical setting
- 9 months of experience after graduation in a clinical setting
Additional license requirements may vary by individual state. All accredited programs will tailor their instruction to the license requirements in their location.
To renew a speech pathologist license, most states require education credits to be submitted. This keeps speech pathologists updated on new techniques and tools. Accredited institutions often offer further education in addition to speech pathology graduate programs.
A majority of speech pathologists will also seek professional certifications. ASHA offers the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). Often, certification requirements can be worked towards while enrolled in a graduate program. Speech pathologists working in schools may need to receive special certification from their state to work with children. Specific certifications may increase job opportunities or the chances of a promotion and raise.