Speech Pathology: Bachelor's Degree at a Glance
Speech pathology entails the study of communication disorders involving cognition, speaking, hearing and language. The field is also known as 'speech-language pathology' and is usually paired up with audiology, which is the study of hearing issues and disorders. Speech-language pathologists, sometimes called 'speech therapists', are healthcare professionals who treat patients with communication problems, such as hearing impediments and issues with understanding language. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in most states a master's degree is the minimum level of education required to become licensed as a speech pathologist. Earning a bachelor's degree in speech pathology prepares you to work as an assistant to a speech language pathologist or to attend graduate school.
|Who is this degree for?|| - Individuals interested in entry-level jobs in the field |
- Individuals interested in attending graduate school to become licensed speech therapists
|Common Career Paths (with approximate annual salary)||- Speech-language pathology assistant (with 1-4 years of experience: $21,000-$57,000)*|
|Time to Completion||4 years, full-time|
|Common Graduation Requirements|| - Roughly 120 credits of coursework |
- Internship/clinical practice
|Prerequisites||High school diploma|
Source: *PayScale.com (December 2012 salary range).
Bachelor's in Speech Pathology
Bachelor's degree programs in speech pathology are usually offered as a Bachelor of Science in Speech-Language Pathology or Communicative Disorders. Sometimes, these programs are combined with studies in audiology. Although graduating from one of these bachelor's degree programs is usually not enough to prepare you to work as a licensed speech pathologist, it may prepare you for entry-level jobs in the field or admission to a graduate program.
Pros and Cons
- Speech pathologists are projected to have above average job growth during 2010-2020*
- Pathologists may work in a variety of healthcare settings, including clinics and specialized schools, thereby providing for the opportunity to work in the setting most interesting to you
- Programs prepare you for admission to a graduate program in speech-language pathology
- In most states, a bachelor's degree is not enough to become a licensed speech-language pathologist*
- Certification and membership with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association requires possessing a master's degree
- Working with children and the elderly, the main patient populations, may not be for everyone
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Courses and Requirements
In addition to general education courses, the curriculum of a speech pathology program includes classes in physiology and anatomy, linguistics, audiology and cognitive science. Programs also typically contain an internship or clinical/practicum hours, thereby providing you with hands-on experience working in the field. Some of the courses you might take include:
- Sign language
- Language disorders
- Physiology of speech
Online Degree Options
Fully online speech pathology bachelor's degree programs are available, but they're rare because of the clinical components of most programs. However, hybrid programs that combine distance learning and on-campus classes are available. Individual online courses covering speech pathology topics are also available.
Stand Out With This Degree
To stand out with your degree, consider joining speech-language pathology student organizations. Such organizations may provide you with valuable networking and additional learning opportunities, such as seminars and conferences. Working to stay abreast of changes in the field by participating in the learning opportunities these organizations offer may impress employers.