You want to help people harness the gift of speech. You know you need the right education to make it happen. With an online master’s in speech language pathology, you’ll work to diagnose and treat communication, speech, and swallowing disorders in patients across a variety of age groups. Earning a master’s also makes you a more competitive job candidate and puts higher salaries within your reach. In 2019, speech language pathologists earned a median salary of $79,120 per year, with the top 10% of pathologists earning an estimated $121,260 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019).
If you’re ready to take your first steps toward a new career, now is the time. Keep reading to review top online SLP programs and learn about curricula, cost, accreditation, and how it all works in the distance learning format.
Top Online SLP Programs for 2023
With jobs for speech-language pathologists set to grow by 25% over the coming decade, it stands to reason that more online master’s in speech pathology programs are being created to meet the demand. Since there are more options than ever before, it’s crucial that you find a degree that supports your future career goals and puts you on a strong path toward a meaningful career. To help you find the best option for your individual needs, we’ve pulled together the top online SLP programs available in 2023. Check out our top picks below.
|#||School Name||Type||Cost||Online Programs||More Details||School Information||Online Students||Academic Counseling||Career Placement||Students w/Institutional Aid||Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry||Accreditation|
|1||The University of MontanaMissoula, MT||Public||$$||1||
The University of Montana offers a M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology fully online. This program emphasizes quality academics and authentic clinical experiences, with a focus on interprofessional education and research. Graduates are prepared to provide high-quality services to diverse populations in multiple settings. Students can choose a thesis or non-thesis degree. Students who choose the non-thesis option will complete a portfolio project in lieu of the thesis. Courses are synchronous and the 30 credits of clinical practicum begin during the first summer term on campus. After that, students can arrange off-campus sites for continuing practice. The program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology
|2||University of Akron Main CampusAkron, OH||Public||$$||1||
The University of Akron offers a competitive, fully online M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology. Their program boasts a 100% pass rate for the Praxis Exam and a 100% job placement rate for graduates seeking employment. The program begins in the spring semester and takes 2 years and 8 months to complete. The program focuses on foundational theories and practice, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of disorders, and ethical standards. The university will arrange clinical hours in or near students’ hometowns. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in speech-language pathology, 3.0 GPA, 3 letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose. The GRE is waived for the 2021-2022 admissions cycle. The University of Akron is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology
|3||University of South FloridaTampa, FL||Public||$$||1||
Students enrolling at the University of South Florida for a M.S. in Speech Language choose either the residential track or the Suncoast Consortium track. The residential track is for students in the Tampa Bay area. The Suncoast Consortium track is a non-thesis option designed for people who are already working full-time in one of the Suncoast Consortium school districts and wanting to pursue their master’s. Students enrolled in this program will complete practicum hours in the school district where they are employed. Further practicums will include at least one clinical practicum at USF’s Speech Language Hearing Center in Tampa and one externship experience. USF requires a GRE score for admission. The program is accredited by the Council of Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Master of Science in Speech Language (Suncoast Consortium Track)
Earning Your Master’s in Speech Pathology Online
Deciding to pursue a master’s in speech pathology online provides several benefits over traditional, campus-based programs – especially for learners who need flexibility. Below, we take a look at some of the most common benefits and challenges of earning your degree in this format.
A Look Inside the Online Master’s in Speech Pathology
Before applying to any online SLP programs, you need to spend ample time researching the ins and outs of every degree to find one that meets your professional, personal, financial, and academic needs. To do this confidently, you likely have lots of questions that need answers – some of which we provide in the following section.
Paying for Your Online Master’s in Speech Pathology
As the cost of higher education rises each year, finding innovative ways to cut costs is on the mind of almost every student. Plenty of options exist to help lower costs and make sure you don’t break the bank while getting an advanced education.
Scholarships & Grants
Scholarships and grants don’t need to be repaid as long as you meet the terms of the award, making them a continually popular option for students at all academic levels. You can find these via colleges and universities, professional associations, and state and local governments, among others.
Student loans provided by state and federal governments can help you cover the remaining cost of your education after exhausting savings, scholarships, and any other forms of funding. Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) helps you identify which ones apply to your needs.
At the graduate level, some schools provide teaching and/or research fellowships that offer tuition remission or a stipend. You may also be able to find a paid internship or fellowship to help alleviate costs. Lastly, if you qualify under the FAFSA, you can apply for a virtual job at your school through the federal work-study program. This provides an hourly wage that can be used as you wish.
Accreditation Standards for Your Online Master’s in Speech Pathology
One of the most important things you can do when searching for prospective online SLP programs is to ensure the degree you choose holds programmatic accreditation. Within the world of speech pathology, the Council on Academic Accreditation is the name to know. This accrediting agency operates under the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. As of 2020, the CAA accredits nearly 300 programs throughout the U.S.
Finding a properly accredited institution should also rank high on your list of priorities, as failing to do so can lead to issues transferring credits to other schools, applying for state licensure, or receiving professional certification. Regionally accredited institutions are considered the most rigorous and esteemed options. When in doubt, use the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to find suitable programs and schools.
What’s After Your Online Master’s in Speech Pathology?
While you need at minimum a master’s degree in speech pathology to receive licensure and certification, your career aspirations may call for further education after graduating. Understanding where your degree can take you and how much you can earn will help you make an educated decision about next steps.
Do I need certification or licensure to work in speech pathology?
Speech-language pathology positions are regulated in all 50 states. Some states require these professionals to hold licensure while others mandate registration. To receive licensure, you must possess at minimum a master’s degree and certification.
Specific licensure requirements vary by state, so you should check with your state board to learn more. The Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology is provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which sets specific requirements and mandates that professionals complete continuing education credits to renew every three years.
How much can you earn with a master’s in speech pathology?
Earning your license as a speech-language pathologist is a sure way to make a substantial living. The Bureau of Labor Statistics found that these professionals were paid median salaries of $79,120 in 2019. Those in the lowest 10% of earners received $49,840 while the top 10% brought home salaries of more than $121,260 during the same year.
Working in this field also provides a lot of job stability. The BLS projects that roles for speech-language pathologists will grow by an impressive 25% between 2019-2029, leading to the creation of more than 40,000 new jobs. Reasons for this growth include an increased understanding of communication disorders and ongoing advances in treatment.
Continuing Education & Related Degrees
After completing a master’s in speech pathology online, you may decide to grow your career further or branch off onto a different path. Plenty of opportunities exist for doing both through continuing education and related degree programs. Take a look at a few of the degree options that may be a good fit.
- Doctorate in Speech Pathology
Pursuing an SLPD provides the skills needed to take on leadership roles in the field, whether they focus on policy, organizational change, research, education, or supervision. Programs typically take 3-4 years to complete and can be done as a traditional campus degree or online.
- Doctorate in Audiology
The AuD serves as a professional degree program and the minimum requirement for working as an audiology practitioner. Most programs take four years. Those looking to go into research or academia should pursue the Ph.D. in audiology. Like the SLPD, programs can be found online and in person.
Related Degrees to Consider
- M.S. in Deaf Education
These two-year programs provide the skills and training needed to work with children from birth through high school who face hearing impairments. This could be a great option if you know you want to work with communication impairments but desire to use a different approach.
- M.S. in Occupational Therapy
While speech-language therapists focus exclusively on impairments affecting language, speech, and swallowing, occupational therapists address function issues in the whole body. These programs typically take two years to finish and exist both online and in person.
- M.A. in Voice
If your passion is helping vocalists and professional singers work on their performance skills, sing in ways that don’t damage their vocal cords, and expand their range, an M.A. in voice could be a great fit. Most programs take two years to complete and may include an internship component to build coaching skills.
Resources for Speech Pathology Students & Professionals
A Day in the Life of a Speech-Language Pathologist:
Mountain Valley Rehabilitation Hospital put together this informative article to help you visualize yourself as an SLP.
American Academy of Private Practice in Speech Pathology and Audiology:
Members of AAPPSPA can take advantage of annual conferences, training, and a membership directory.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:
ASHA serves as a membership organization for SLPs while also providing certification and accreditation.
Conversations in Speech Pathology:
Listeners can tune into this weekly podcast to learn about what it’s like to be a SLP and hear from professionals in the field.
National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing:
Joining NBASLH provides access to annual conventions, mentoring opportunities, scholarships and awards, and publications.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders:
Operating under the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, this agency provides research, emerging study, and resources.
This active Facebook group has more than 35,000 members and provides a place where you can get to know other SLPs, ask questions, and find support.
What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
Therapy Playground provides this YouTube video as a way of expounding on what to expect when working with children.