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 2024
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 for the ’23-’24 school year. Check out our top picks below.
|Students w/Institutional Aid
|Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry
|Tennessee State UniversityNashville, TN
Tennessee State University offers a distance learning format for the Master of Science degree in Speech and Hearing Science. The 53-hour program begins in the spring semester of every odd year and must be applied to by July 1st of every even year. Prospective students must hold a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology and/or complete 15 hours of prerequisite coursework in speech-language pathology. Additionally, acceptance into the program requires students to submit GRE or MAT scores. While the program is mostly online, students will be required to complete an in-person clinical observation course during the summer semester.
Master of Science in Speech and Hearing Services
|University of South FloridaTampa, FL
University of South Florida's Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program helps prepare students for careers as clinical speech language pathologists. Students will take courses taught by skilled and licensed clinicians and scientists from different specialties. Students will take a well-rounded curriculum of courses that train them in modern diagnostics, treatment, and rehabilitative equipment and services. The program offers a six-semester Residential Track in the Tampa Bay area and a nine-semester Suncoast Consortium Track to assist bachelor level professionals earn their master's degree while working. Each program has its own set of admission requirements and criteria.
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology
|University of Akron Main CampusAkron, OH
The University of Akron partners with the University of Cincinnati to offer a collaborative and fully online graduate program in speech-language pathology. The program includes coursework and professional clinical training to diagnose and treat various communication disorders. The program begins in the spring semester and must be completed in two years and eight months. The program is ranked among the top five best speech-pathology online master's programs in the United States. Students must hold a bachelor's degree in speech-language pathology in order to be accepted.
Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology
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
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.