Common Prerequisites for Speech Pathology Graduate Programs

For many, speech-language pathology is a rewarding career. In addition to offering a relatively high salary, stable job demand, and a variety of career opportunities, it also empowers you to make a real difference in the lives of your patients. 

Becoming a speech-language pathologist (SLP) will require a commitment of time and energy. One of the most significant steps in the process (and one that many aspiring SLPs lose sleep over) is completing their master’s degree. 

But preparing for your speech-language pathology graduate program doesn’t need to be a stressful experience. Once you understand the most common prerequisites programs look for, you can prepare for them and smooth the transition. Below, we take a look at seven of the most common prerequisites for SLP grad programs. 

SLP Prerequisites for Graduate School

1. Complete an undergraduate degree from an accredited university.

As is the case when you pursue any graduate degree, you need to complete an undergraduate degree to enroll in an MS in SLP program. While some graduate programs require an undergraduate degree in the field of communication disorders, many do not. At Northeastern, for example, any undergraduate degree can meet this basic requirement.

However, if you’re certain you want to work as a speech-language pathologist, earning an related undergraduate degree, such as a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology or Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders, can help you best prepare for your graduate studies. 

2. Complete any required undergraduate coursework.

In addition to earning an undergraduate degree, most master’s level programs require that you have completed specific prerequisite courses in order to enroll. While these vary from program to program, they typically cover the same fundamental concepts and include one course each in the following subject areas:

  • Anatomy and Physiology of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Introduction to Speech and Hearing Science
  • Language Development
  • Phonetics

This step is particularly important if you did not complete your undergraduate degree in a field related to speech-language pathology.

3. Earn a GPA that meets the program’s requirements.

In completing your undergraduate degree, it’s essential to keep your GPA as high as possible, as each graduate program will evaluate your undergraduate GPA when processing your application. To gain entry into the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program at Northeastern, you will need to have an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.35. 

4. Obtain Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores that meet the program’s requirements.

While some graduate programs no longer require GRE scores as a part of the application process, many still do have this requirement. Generally speaking, it is better to complete the test in case your desired program requires it.

At Northeastern, GREs are not currently a requirement for application to the SLP graduate program but may be in the future. 

5. Obtain TOEFL scores that meet the program’s requirements.

Generally speaking, students who earned undergraduate degrees from foreign institutions where English is not the primary spoken language will need to complete the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Each program will have its own minimum accepted score. At Northeastern, applicants must earn a score of at least 100. 

6. Complete any ASHA-required undergraduate coursework. 

In addition to the coursework described above, you will need to complete certain undergraduate-level coursework to qualify for the ASHA certification you’ll get after your master’s degree. This coursework includes:

  • At least one course in the following subject areas: statistics, behavioral or social sciences, physical science (physics or chemistry), biological science
  • A minimum of 25 hours of guided clinical observation, which must be documented and under the direction of an ASHA-certified SLP

If you earned an undergraduate degree in a field related to speech-language pathology, you would most likely have already completed these requirements. If you haven’t, you will need to confirm with the graduate program whether you need to complete these before the start of your first semester or whether they can be completed during your first semester. ASHA requires that these requirements be met before beginning your Clinical Fellowship (CF), so most programs will work with applicants who have been admitted to help them satisfy those requirements.

The Foundation for Your Graduate Studies

While there will, of course, be variations from program to program, most speech-language pathology graduate programs require you to have fulfilled prerequisites like those discussed above. These prerequisites are the foundation upon which you will build your career.

If you have earned an undergraduate degree in a field related to speech-language pathology or communication disorders, there is a good chance you have already completed most (if not all) of these prerequisites. If you are uncertain whether you have fulfilled these requirements, reach out to an admissions counselor to get personalized guidance. 

Are you interested in becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist? Learn more about the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Northeastern University.

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