Speech pathologists provide a crucial foundation in the diagnosis and treatment of speech and communication disorders. With a rising need among the baby boomers for care after strokes or dementia, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates the field’s growth over the next decade at 29 percent.
New research and early treatment for children with communication issues stemming from conditions like spectrum disorders also mean more need for speech pathology professionals, from practitioners to educators and researchers.
With job responsibilities including the diagnosis and assessment of physical issues—like the efficiency of swallowing musculature, or levels of hearing loss—the speech pathologist must have specific medical training. Speech pathologists also need training in linguistics and writing, meaning future speech pathologists need a solid background in sciences and in humanities.
Most speech pathology positions require at least a Master’s degree, and each state maintains its own licensing and certification requirements. Many speech pathologists pursue specializations within the field, sometimes focusing on an age group or on a particular disorder and its treatment.
Excellent programs in speech pathology can be found across the country on large and small campuses, in urban and rural areas. According to U.S. News, the following 15 schools rank as the best Speech-Language Pathology programs at the time of this writing.
The 15 schools below furnish excellent training and a range of specialty programs for future speech pathologists, but applicants should be sure to check their state’s requirements before beginning any graduate program.
Here are the 15 best SLP programs in the US.
University of Washington (Seattle, WA)
The University of Washington in Seattle Speech & Hearing Sciences department offers three MS degrees in Speech pathology: Educational, Medical, and Clinical Research. Students planning careers as instructors and researchers may continue studies through the PhD program.
The UW Speech and Hearing Sciences department no longer requires the GRE in its application process. Applicants must complete the general UW graduate application, along with the department’s supplement, detailing prerequisite coursework and GPA.
UW requires prerequisite coursework, preferably an undergraduate major in Speech and Hearing Sciences, Communication Disorders, Communication Sciences, or similar degrees.
Undergraduate work in physical sciences, social sciences, biology, and statistics, as well as specific speech and language course knowledge, should be part of every applicant’s transcript.
The program curriculum trains students in research, counseling, and assessment techniques using classroom and clinical settings. The campus hosts research facilities in diagnostic imaging, autism, and hearing.
Graduate students at UW receive clinical training through university services and local practices in cooperation with the department. Seattle area clinicians provide mentoring and guidance, while the department furnishes continuing education for area practitioners.
The University of Washington is a large, state-run research institution located in metropolitan Seattle, Washington.
University of Texas, Dallas (Dallas, TX)
Home of the UT Dallas Callier Center for Communication Disorders, the School of Behavioral and Brain Science at the University of Texas in Dallas offers several graduate degrees in areas related to hearing, speech, and cognition.
Besides an AuD in audiology and a PhD in speech-language and hearing services. The school offers an MS in speech pathology, which prepares students for careers in medical, clinical, or educational settings.
For students with the required prerequisite courses, the MS in speech pathology takes five full-time semesters to complete. UT reports 100 percent employment within field after graduation for its speech pathology Master’s program.
A large state university, the University of Texas in Dallas features a STEM focus, a Forbes top rating for value in Texas, and a championship chess team. Admission to the program requires submitting transcripts, GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose.
University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX)
The Moody College of Communication at the University of Texas at Austin houses labs and facilities for the study and treatment of disorders like stuttering and aphasia.
Degrees offered by its faculty include an AuD in audiology and an MSSLHS, a Master of Science in Speech, Language, and Hearing Services.
The department grounds its programs in experiential and interdisciplinary learning. Graduates must demonstrate proficiency in core competency areas related to certification and licensure; electives offer students the opportunity to add specialty areas of focus to their degrees.
The department offers bilingual instruction in English and Spanish, and it features bilingualism as one available specialty area. Students may earn a bilingual/multicultural certificate as part of their coursework.
Candidates may apply to the program at UT Austin through the ApplyTexas website. The admissions process includes an interview, along with application, transcripts, GRE scores, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.
MGH Institute of Health Professions (Boston, MA)
Graduate students in the speech pathology program at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston complete their clinical training in over 200 clinical settings, including schools, rehabilitation facilities, and hospitals in the area.
Founded as a nursing school for Massachusetts General Hospital, this school offers graduate programs in a range of health care specialties.
MGH’s speech pathology MS program focuses on childhood literacy, and the department participates in active research on autism, dysphagia, feeding disorders, aphasia, and motor speech disorders.
Students learn the relation between written and spoken language, developing the skills they will need in their careers as they complete clinical assignments and collaborative, team-based learning experiences.
Specialty areas offered within the MS degree curriculum include preparation for reading specialist licensure, medical speech-language pathology, voice disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and adult neurogenic communication disorders. First-year students begin their clinical practicum at the school’s Speech, Language, and Literacy Center monitored and mentored by licensed faculty.
Applicants may apply online at the Council of Academic Programs and Communication Science and Disorders website. MGH requires transcripts, recommendation letters, a statement of intent, and responses to MGH custom questions.
Indiana University (Bloomington, IN)
Indiana University’s Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences offers an MA in Speech-Language Pathology in which students can earn a certificate of clinical completion, allowing for licensure in all 50 states. The program can be completed in two years by students with either a BA or BS in speech, hearing sciences, or communication disorders.
Citing the growing need for speech pathology services in Spanish, Indiana offers STEPS, an English-Spanish track for bilingual students. Graduate students have the opportunity to conduct research during their coursework with a faculty mentor.
All students complete a clinical practicum in the Indiana University clinics or in partner facilities around Bloomington and Indianapolis. A weekly seminar during practicum examines issues related to diagnosis and assessment.
Applications should be sent through both CSDCAS and Indiana University’s application systems. Transcripts, a personal essay, and recommendation letters are required.
Boston University (Boston, MA)
Boston University makes use of its status as a large, public university to offer its MS in speech-language pathology graduate students an extensive range of clinical opportunities working with patients of all ages.
From schools to private practices to clinical facilities and education centers on campus, students receive ample exposure to many kinds of treatment situations.
Students work with patients individually and in groups at the Academic Speech, Language, & Hearing Center and the Aphasia Center. These facilities address issues related to literacy, hearing, stuttering, and voice and swallowing.
The program at Boston University resides in the College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College. Interested candidates should apply online through CSDCAS, including transcripts, CV, recommendation letters, and the department’s three short essays.
BU does not require GRE scores and will not consider them. The program also encourages students to apply even if they have an undergraduate degree in a different field and lack some of the prerequisite coursework.
Committed to a diverse student population, BU represents a good choice for those students discovering an interest in speech pathology after their undergraduate degrees.
Boston University’s longitudinal data shows almost 100% on time program completion and maintains employment rates at 100% within six months of graduation. The program also offers a combined MS/PhD in Speech-Pathology.
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC)
The Department of Allied Health Sciences at the UNC School of Medicine offers both clinical and non-clinical tracks within their MS program in speech and hearing.
The 60-hour clinical track provides the professional training necessary for licensure and ASHA certification, while the non-clinical track serves students planning careers in research.
Students take five core courses, an elective, and a clinical practicum per semester, finishing with at least 60 hours of coursework. Rather than completing a Master’s thesis, students work with a faculty mentor on a research project.
Applicants must complete the CSDCAS application process, along with a supplemental UNC application. UNC’s speech pathology program no longer considers the GRE among its application materials.
Located in the college town of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, UNC offers graduate students in speech pathology the benefit of access to a world-class teaching hospital at a large public research university.
University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)
The University of Kansas locates its speech pathology programs at the KU Lawrence campus and the KU Medical Center, a massive research hospital with over 25 institutes and centers for various kinds of treatment and study.
KU offers a Master of Arts in speech-language pathology, along with an SLPD (clinical doctor) and a PhD in speech-language pathology.
The program reports that 94% of students complete the program in two years, and 98% of graduates find work within the field during the year after graduation.
Masters students may replace a thesis with thesis-level research or a research practicum. Clinical experiences in Lawrence, Topeka, and Kansas City can include working in literacy programs, adult communication facilitation, rehabilitation environments, and assessing many kinds of communication needs and disorders.
While KU does not require a specific undergraduate degree for application to the speech pathology program, students must complete required prerequisite coursework in the sciences. Interested candidates may apply through the SLATE system, noting the specific instructions for recalculating their GPA to include their relevant coursework only.
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA)
Under the guidance of then-dean Carl E. Seashore, Iowa’s department pioneered the field of speech pathology and audiology. In 1924, Iowa granted the first PhD in this new discipline. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association formed there in the 1930s.
Students in the program complete required curriculum in foundations, then select elective coursework to specialize in a professional field.
Students also complete an evidence-based practice seminar, a clinical practicum, and either a thesis or laboratory research.
Applications to the program can be completed through CSDCAS and through the graduate college at Iowa. Iowa does not accept GRE scores but invites candidates for interviews after submitting materials.
University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
The University of Arizona at Tucson offers MS, PhD, and AuD degrees in speech, language, and hearing sciences. U.S. News has ranked the program at UA among the top ten speech pathology degree programs for over thirty years.
Students train at the University’s Speech, Language, and Hearing Clinic, and at other area facilities. A research PhD can be pursued concurrently with the Master’s program.
A bilingual certification program for speakers of multiple languages and those who only speak English offers graduate students a way to learn how to assess and treat non-English-speaking patients.
Candidates can apply through CSDCAS and the UA Graduate College. The department has also dropped the GRE as an admissions requirement. The department looks for solid recommendation letters and statements of purpose, especially highlighting research, volunteer, or work experience.
University of Wisconsin, Madison (Madison, WI)
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a practitioner track and a PhD track for its MS program, the MS in Speech-Language Pathology, and the MS in Normal Aspects of Speech, Language, and Hearing.
Graduates with an MS in Speech-Language Pathology can be licensed to practice or certified as teachers in the state of Wisconsin.
Students applying without all of the required prerequisite courses may apply to the Capstone Program at UWM for a certificate of completion in preparation for graduate coursework.
All applicants must meet UWM’s requirements for graduate school. The department has eliminated the GRE as a requirement.
The speech pathology program at UWM shows a strong record of student completion, exam success, and employment.
First-year students complete at least 25 hours of clinical observation; second-year requirements include a minimum of 100 hours of supervised clinical practice. A thesis is optional and may be replaced with research work.
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA)
Future speech pathologists can pursue an MA or MS degree in Communication Science and Disorders with a concentration in speech-language pathology through the School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. Pitt’s program can prepare students for a range of speech pathology careers.
Concentration areas allow students to customize their curriculum to their professional goals. Areas of study include Pediatric Speech and Language, Dysphagia, Voice, and Augmentative and Alternative Communication.
Pitt’s longitudinal data shows 100% program completion on time, praxis examination success, and employment rates in profession. Other programs include AuD, CScD (Doctor of Clinical Science), and a PhD in Communication Science and Disorders.
Applicants can submit materials through CSDCAS. GRE requirements are suspended at present, but all other CSDCAS instructions should be followed.
Purdue University (West Lafayette, IN)
Purdue University’s MS program in speech-language pathology, administered through the College of Health and Human Sciences, prepares students for a broad range of speech pathology careers.
Upon graduation, students can meet Indiana licensure and certification requirements, along with ASHA credentialing requirements.
The IPE-SHINE program at Purdue provides an exceptional funding opportunity for students interested in working with K-6 students.
This scholarship offers full two-year funding, a stipend, and mentorship. Candidates may apply to the IPE-SHINE program with their regular application materials through the CSDCAS website.
Application materials include transcripts, resume, recommendation letters, two personal essays, and a video response to a question.
Students without a relevant bachelor’s degree may apply and can be accepted, but those students will often need an additional year to complete prerequisite coursework before starting the program.
A large public land-grant university, Purdue’s location of West Lafayette, Indiana, places it within a relatively easy drive from Indianapolis and Chicago.
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL)
At Northwestern, evidenced-based curriculum design with immersive experience, collaborative learning, and mentor support characterizes an innovative MS program in speech, language, and learning. Sixteen core courses and seven core clinical registrations comprise the program’s two-year curriculum.
Located in Evanston, Illinois, just outside Chicago, Northwestern’s on-campus clinics for patients of all ages and needs provide students with a wide range of clinical experience. Students also complete two full-time externships in medical facilities or in private practice during the program.
Candidates apply to the program through CSDCAS, including four required essays and a work and volunteer experience history. GRE scores are no longer considered in the application process.
While Northwestern welcomes students with a variety of undergraduate backgrounds, accepting a fairly equal amount of non-majors as speech majors into the program, some prerequisite courses may need to be completed before starting the program.
Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN)
Administered through the prestigious Vanderbilt School of Medicine, the MS in speech-language pathology at Vanderbilt spans a full five semesters over at least two academic years. Students can be certified for practice or continue on for a research PhD.
Clinical experience at Vanderbilt can occur at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center for Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences, Vanderbilt University Hospital, the Carrell Children’s Hospital, or other partner facilities.
Graduate students can pursue specialized training tracks in children’s hearing loss, spectrum disorders, feeding and swallowing disorders, and school-aged language and literacy deficiencies.
Candidates may apply online through Vanderbilt’s application portal. Official transcripts, a one-page personal statement, a resume, and up to five letters of recommendation should be submitted. Applicants to Vanderbilt’s speech pathology graduate program must meet the GRE standards for Vanderbilt graduate admissions.
A large, private, research institution located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University has the number one ranked program in speech pathology and in audiology, based on U.S. News.