Language Pathology

A Few Facts About Speech-Language Pathology

About half work in educational services, and most others were employed by health care and social assistance facilities. A master’s degree in speech-language pathology is the standard credential required for licensing in most States. Employment is expected to grow because the expanding population in older age groups is prone to medical conditions that result in speech, language, and swallowing problems. Excellent job opportunities are expected.

Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called speech therapists, assess, diagnose, treat, and help to prevent speech, language, cognitive-communication, voice, swallowing, fluency, and other related disorders.

Speech-language pathologists work with people who cannot produce speech sounds, or cannot produce them clearly; those with speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; people with voice disorders, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; those with problems understanding and producing language; those who wish to improve their communication skills by modifying an accent; and those with cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory, and problem solving disorders. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.

This information comes directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook published by the Dept. of Labor. For additionl information on the SLP profession, training, employment, job outlook, and salaries visit Use the A to Z menu and click on the link for Speech-Language Pathology.

Undergraduate Preparation

Undergraduate Preparation

Choosing a Major

There is no formal major for student preparing to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Professional programs are interested in broadly educated students who have developed excellent writing and speaking skills, possess analytic and synthetic thinking ability, and can demonstrate an understanding of the basic sciences. Understanding of the social aspects of rehabilitation medicine is just as important as understanding the science. Your major will not determine your success in applying to professional school. Your interests should determine your choice of major. Majoring in an area that you enjoy is more likely to lead to academic success than pursuing a field for which you have little enthusiasm.

Admission prerequisites for a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology/Communication Sciences and Disorders:

Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university (almost any major), a minimum GPA of 3.0
Undergraduate courses in the following: Human Anatomy 3 SH
Human Physiology 3 SH
(A College of Charleston student must successfully complete BIO 111 & 112 and the associated labs to enroll in any upper level biology courses, such as, anatomy and physiology
Physical Science 3 SH (Chemistry or Physics)

Volunteer Service

Students are urged to do volunteer service in their intended Allied Health field. This is especially true for those interested in the Rehabilitation Sciences, but may also apply to other areas. You may volunteer only a few (e.g. 3) hours per week, but you must be dependable and your activities should extend over a significant period of time. The experience component of your applicant profile is increasingly important for some programs, so you should make the most of this opportunity. Also, you should ensure that someone familiar with your performance can serve as a reference.

Tests and Application

Tests and Application

Applying to an Allied Health Program

STANDARDIZED TEST SCORES are weighted heavily in the determination of your acceptance into most programs at MUSC. MUSC uses the highest score from a single sitting in the ranking process, so that you may take it more than once (after sufficient time has lapsed) without penalty if necessary.

Master’s programs typically require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)-General Test. The GRE-General Test covers Analytical Writing, Verbal Reasoning, and Quantitative Reasoning. For more information on the GRE, see their web site:

Packets for the GRE are available in the Office of Career Services or the Graduate Program office. The GRE General Test is offered in a computerized form. The computer-based tests can be scheduled year-round, subject to site availability, and must be taken in time for the scores to reach the admissions office by the application deadline. Make your appointment well in advance to take the computer-version test since the slots fill up rapidly, especially during the busiest months of November through January. Be sure to use test prep materials designed specifically for the computer test if you are taking the computer-based test. Test prep assistance is available from the Center for Student Learning (which administers the GRE), test prep books and computer programs, as well as commercial prep courses. Remember that the best preparation of all is to develop your skills throughout your academic career, but preparation for the style of testing can be beneficial.

APPLICATION FORMS are available from the admissions office of the school to which you are applying. Most schools offer an online application process, but if that's not available, contact the school's admissions office to There may be several options: applying on-line, downloading the form from their web site, requesting that a paper application be sent either by telephoning, visiting in person, or an e-mail request. Each school will provide information on their process. You should apply during summer or early fall for the following academic year. The telephone for MUSC’s Office of Enrollment Services is 843.792.3281 The MUSC application requires you to assemble all of your materials and submit them as a packet; you should allow ample time to complete this important process and also submit it as early as possible. Deadlines may be shifted to an earlier date than in prior years or as listed in this publication. Some programs have "rolling admissions" where they accept the application at any time, but you are still urged to submit early.

You should BE SURE YOUR APPLICATION FILE IS COMPLETE by the deadline. Materials occasionally go astray. Allow plenty of time for transcripts, letters of reference, etc., to be sent or submitted to you. Use a full and correct address for all correspondence. Put your identification number on all items. Specify clearly for which program you are applying. Keep a copy of what you send. After sufficient time has passed that your file should be complete, check to be sure it is. If not, track down the missing items [i.e. check with your references for letters of reference, the registrar for transcripts, etc.] and follow up until your file is complete. If the items were sent, it is possible the receiving office has filed them incorrectly. If all your efforts fail or if you receive no notification of the action taken on your application, see your advisor. MUSC is now using "self-completing" applications, which require you to send much of the material with your application. Be sure to allow at least two weeks (preferably longer) for your references to be written (but don't hesitate to remind your referee you are waiting for it).

Some applications require an ESSAY as a very important part of your packet. Keep a journal of your volunteer and/or relevant work experience. Start preparing early by jotting down points you might like to make in your essay---as they occur to you. Referring to your journal will be much easier than staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for inspiration!!! Examples include: your unique qualities that make you well suited to your chosen profession, work or volunteer experiences, how you reached your decision, people or incidents which influenced your choice, why you want to enter this field (besides the fact that you "want to help people"), special interests or aptitudes, and other ideas which may be appropriate for your essay. Record daily your impressions, emotions, personal reactions, etc., and not just a list of what you did. Then when it is time to write, you can select your strongest points and organize them into an essay which will make the admissions committee take notice. If the essay is part of the interview process (as it is for some programs) instead of part of the application packet, this exercise may still be valuable in preparing for the interview.

NOTE: Other institutions may have different policies from MUSC; you should learn what they are well in advance so you have time to meet the requirements.


Design an Academic Plan

It is important to know your timetable and plan accordingly.


Fall Semester

Explore various majors and declare as early as possible. As soon as you declare your major, you will be assigned an academic advisor within that department. Make sure to identify that you are a pre-health professions student on the major declaration form. Make an appointment with your advisor to discuss professional goals and determine an academic game plan to ensure you will have taken all courses needed to prepare for standardized admissions tests in your field of interest by the time you take the exam (usually around the end of your junior year). Most medical laboratory programs require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) which is not subject specific. As soon as you get settled into your classes, contact the Pre-professional Health Advisor, to make an advising appointment to discuss professional goals and discuss the necessary prerequisites, shadowing/volunteer work etc.

Spring Semester

Meet with your academic advisor to discuss your progress. Search for shadowing and volunteer opportunities in your field of interest.

First Summer

Shadowing/Work/ or volunteer to gain insight into your career choice.



Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss your Spring schedule. Visit the Center for Student Learning and get acquainted with the GRE.

Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss Spring schedule. Get organized, order review booklets and practice tests to prepare for standardized exams. Explore various professional schools and determine to which ones you will apply. Pay close attention to appllication deadlines.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor. Meet with the Pre-Health Professions advisor to determine if your GPA is competitive and whether or not this is the year you should apply to professional school. (Contact the Pre-Health Advisor) Collect materials needed to fill in application and start working on application essay. Apply and study for standardized admissions tests. Check the deadlines and do not miss them. Practice, practice, practice taking the standardized admissions test. Take the standardized admissions test and request that scores be released to the College of Charleston, schools to which you are applying. Request letters of evaluation from faculty and health professionals who know you well.

Third Summer

Organize application materials and make sure that everything is complete Retake the GRE, if necessary.



Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor. Get a degree audit and apply for graduation. Make sure your application materials are organized and submitted within the deadlines (earlier is always better than later when submitting application materials). Prepare for interviews (if applicable) Interview and wait. Search for sources of financial aid.

Spring Semester

Send updated transcripts directly to the professional schools to which you have applied. Sometimes it takes more than one try to get accepted. If you don't get accepted the first time, discuss options with the pre-health advisor.

Letters of Recommendation


As part of the application process to various SLP programs, you will be required to provide letters of reference (usually 3). Different programs may ask for these letters to come from specific individuals, such as science professors and a licensed speech therapist. Check with the schools to which you will be applying to make sure that you are satisfying their criteria. If the application is done online, there are usually recommendation forms provided. You want to make sure the appropriate forms accompany any letters that are submitted on your behalf. Not using the recommended forms can delay processing of your application.

Online Resources

Online Resources

Some useful addresses and websites of professional organizations able to provide information about training programs in various medical fields:
The National Health Council, Inc.
1730 M Street, NW, Suite 50, Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone: 202.785.3910
Call for price list and order form. [Publisher of 270 Ways to Put Your Talent to Work in the Health Field and good source of much more information.]

American Association for Clinical Chemistry
2029 "K" Street, N.W., Washington, DC 2006

American Association For Respiratory Therapy
11030 Ables Lane, Dallas, TX 75229

American Association of Medical Assistants
20 N. Wacker Dr, Suite 1575, Chicago, IL 60606-2903

American College of Health Care Executives
840 N. Lake Shore Dr., Suite 1103 W, Chicago, IL 60611

American Health Information Management Association.
919 N. Michigan Ave, Chicago, IL 60611

American Industrial Hygiene Association
345 White Pond Drive, Akron, OH 44320

American Society For Microbiology
1752 N Street Nw, Washington, DC 20036-2804

American Society For Cytotechnology
American Society For Clinical Pathology
(For Blood Banking, Medical Technology, Clinical Lab Sciences)

Association of Schools of Public Health
1015-15Th St, N.w., Suite 404, Washington, DC 20005

Association of Surgical Technologists
7108-C South Alton Way; Englewood, CO 80112

Health Sciences Communications Association
6105 Lindell Blvd; St. Louis, MO 63112

Association of University Programs In Health Administration
1911 N. Fort Myer Drive; Arlington, VA 22209

Institute of Food Technologists
221 N. Lasalle St; Chicago, IL 60601

Joint Commission On Allied Health Personnel In Ophthalmology
1812 N. St. Paul Rd., St. Paul, MN 55109

Medical Library Association
6 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 300; Chicago, IL 60602

National Environmental Health Association
720 S. Colorado Blvd, Suite 970, South Tower, Denver, CO 80222

National League For Nursing
National Rehabilitation Counseling Association
1910 Association Drive, Suite 206; Reston, VA 22091

Society For Public Health Education
2001 Addison St; Berkeley, CA 94704

Additional Web Sites

US News & World Report Rankings (Includes Graduate Schools)

Occupational Outlook Handbook (For Professional & Technical Professions, Including Many In Health Care)

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to be a science major to go to apply to a SLP professional program?

No. Your major is not important as long as you complete the pre-requisite course work to satisfy the admissions requirements and prepare for the standardized admissions test in your field of interest.

Will majoring in science give me an advantage in applying to professional schools?

Not necessarily. Most perfusion programs are looking for well rounded students who have an aptitude for science. They do not give preference to science majors.

Should I minor or take a double major?

Only if you are truly interested in another field of study. There is no evidence that those students who have a second major or minor have a better chance of accepted than those who do not.

Should I take a commercial prep course before taking the GRE?

There is no hard evidence that commercial courses produce significant gains in test scores. These courses may benefit students who need the extra motivation to buckle down and study. They do provide the opportunity to take multiple full length practice test in real time situations. However, motivated students can do the same on their own or in a study group. There are plenty of practice materials available and practice exams are even offered by the GRE The Director of the Center for Student Learning at the College of Charleston works with students to prepare for standardized tests, both individually and in groups.

Can I take required courses in the summer and/or at another institution?

In general, it is best to take your required courses at your primary academic institution and during the regular school session. Professional schools want to know that a student can handle science courses while taking a normal academic load. If you have a compelling reason, for taking a course during the summer, for example to be able to get the proper course sequence, then do so. You should try, at least, to take the course at your primary institution or one with equivalent academic rigor. Taking your science courses in a piecemeal fashion and at a two-year institution may be looked on with suspicion by health professions schools. You should also check with the appropriate department to see that the credits from another institution will transfer.

Can I get into an SLP program in less than 4 years?

Most programs in SLP are master's level or above and require that you complete a bachelor's degree prior to application.


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