Online Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA) Programs

Learn how you can train to become a certified speech language pathology assistant through convenient and accredited online programs.

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Last Updated: 09/22/2021
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Pursuing work as a speech-language pathology assistant (SLPA) can launch you into a successful career, especially if you have a strong sense of compassion, solid interpersonal skills, and an interest in language development. A high-demand profession, SLPAs can expect 7% job growth through 2029. Taking advantage of those trends is now easier than ever thanks to flexible online SLPA programs that allow you to earn your degree or certificate and begin work in just a few years.

This guide covers everything you need to know about this rewarding degree and career path, including a list of top online SLPA programs, a breakdown of the different program options, details on earnings potential and certification requirements, and answers to key questions you may have.

Best Online SLPA Programs for 2021

We spotlight three best-in-class online SLPA programsbelow to help jumpstart your school search. Each school profiled offers high-quality programming complete with the flexible delivery methods, affordable tuition rates, and certification prep resources you need to become a skilled SLPA. Discover what sets each school apart and learn more about what a typical program entails.

Elms College

A Catholic-affiliated school located in central Massachusetts, Elms College administers over 30 courses of study, including several online speech pathology assistant programs. Its curriculum focuses on school-based applications and equips learners from all walks of life for roles helping children improve their communication skills in the classroom. Popular courses look at phonetics and phonology, autism spectrum disorders, rehabilitation practices, and language development across the lifespan.

Prospective students choose from four different plans of study: an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree, a certificate, and a second bachelor’s degree for career changers. The school uses fully online formats for each path, including a blend of synchronous and asynchronous experiences (e.g., videoconferencing, discussion boards, blogs, etc.). New students complete the program with a cohort of peers, and most graduate in two years or less after receiving focused instruction and completing clinical labs and practicum experiences. Qualified applicants need a relevant associate degree earned at an accredited institution.

Chemeketa Community College

Chemeketa Community College’s speech-language pathology assistant program integrates theory and practice using online learning modalities for increased flexibility and convenience. The program extends two different tracks: a certificate of completion and an associate of applied science. Both tracks follow a cohort model and use the same 15-course sequence, covering topics like language therapy, human anatomy and physiology, intervention strategy, and language therapy.

Aspiring professionals can enroll on a full-time or part-time basis, completing their studies in five terms (i.e., roughly two years) in either case. Faculty advisors facilitate guided fieldwork experiences near the end of the program, equipping students for work in hospitals, schools, and rehabilitation centers. Chemeketa’s course of study stands out among other online SLPA programsby charging the same in-state tuition rate to all students regardless of location.

University of Montana

The University of Montana’s 23-credit speech-language pathology assistant certificate program prepares learners for roles in clinics and other treatment and intervention settings. The course of study involves eight classes administered in an accommodating asynchronous learning environment. Busy students can easily finish all coursework requirements within a single calendar year, accessing material and completing assignments at their own pace. Course content builds key knowledge foundations in audiology, phonological development, acquired communication, and common treatment techniques.

Students also complete a clinical application component, which includes hands-on observation in audiology and speech-language pathology. Graduates can use their credentials as a stepping stone for further study or enter the field as language and hearing specialists in supervised contexts. The University of Montana accepts applications on a rolling basis throughout the year. Interested students can use the school’s preliminary inquiry process to reserve a spot in the program before official admission.

Types of SLPA Programs Offered Online

Online speech-language pathology assistant programs offer several entry points to accommodate a variety of circumstances and educational levels. Wherever you are and whatever your background, the program types detailed below extend convenient options that build the skills and knowledge needed for SLPA certification.

SLPA Associate Degrees

These programs usually last two to three years. They provide more training than a certificate but are not as exhaustive as a bachelor’s degree and do not provide a direct path to graduate study in audiology or speech-language pathology. Most involve 60-65 credits, including core instruction in language therapy and general education subjects like writing and composition, mathematics, and the social sciences. If you’re interested in pursuing further training, earned credits at this level create convenient transfer pathways to four-year institutions.

Examples of Accredited Colleges with This Online SLPA Program

SLPA Bachelor’s Degrees

This pathway provides a comprehensive experience that builds key SLPA skills while preparing you for graduate-level study. Completion takes longer than some of the other options – up to four years on average – but it puts you in a good position to broaden your knowledge base and develop further competency. These programs accept transfer students with relevant associate degrees and students new to postsecondary education. They include a more intensive sequence of general education courses than do associate degrees along with expanded opportunities to specialize or explore free electives.

Examples of Accredited Colleges with This Online SLPA Program

SLPA Certificates

Certificates offer an accelerated path to career readiness achievable in a single year. They typically come as entry-level programming for students with no academic background or as post-baccalaureate certificates for those who already have degrees. Versatility in format and delivery make SLPA certificates an ideal option for working professionals, career change, and new students alike. They focus solely on technical SLPA skills and some even offer pathways to apply credits to more advanced degrees.

Examples of Accredited Colleges with This Online SLPA Program

What Do You Learn in a Speech Language Pathology Assistant Program Online?

Online SLPA programs qualify students for work under the direction of a certified speech-language pathologist. As support personnel, SLPAs provide supervised clinical services to help patients manage or overcome a range of speech and language disorders that impact communication and social functioning. When you enroll in an SLPA program, you receive training and instruction in allied health that empowers you to fulfill those responsibilities. Topics covered range from theory-based courses in phonetics and audiological science to hands-on experiences in lab and therapy settings.

Some of the skills and knowledge you can expect to gain in online speech-language pathology assistant programs include:

  • A working understanding of normal speech behavior, language development, and communication patterns with special focus on how those elements shift or evolve across the lifespan along with other health concerns.
  • The ability to conduct hearing screenings and language assessments and to assist qualified speech-language pathologists in making evidence-based diagnoses that improve patient health and communication.
  • Strong analytical and clinical reasoning competencies, including skills in technology-assisted hearing prevention, patient-centered treatment planning, data collection and information management, confidential record-keeping, and other speech-language intervention techniques.
  • Knowledge of the healthcare compliance and regulatory measures that govern audiology and the speech-language pathology profession, along with applicable state and local laws that protect clinic security and ensure patient privacy.
  • Hands-on experience providing language therapy sessions – both group and individual –directed by a certified speech therapist and informed by cultural diversity training.

Common Courses in Online SLPA Programs

Introduction to Speech-Language Pathology

This course provides a working overview of speech-language pathology as an allied health professional. It establishes crucial knowledge foundations in communication science and behavioral disorders with a focus on language acquisition and speech evolution. Students also explore language development across the lifespan and consider differences in dialect and accent.

Phonetics and Phonology for SLPAs

Students in this class build the key skills in listening and transcription needed to identify and treat disordered speech behavior. Course material looks at how linguistic factors affect language acquisition and how motor skill development can contribute to abnormal speech patterns. Learners also assess intervention and treatment techniques using recent case studies.

Language Therapy and Speech Intervention

Learners in this course develop strategies for speech-language rehabilitation, primarily in the early childhood, adolescent, and young adult life stages. A prerequisite for clinical fieldwork in most online SLPA programs, the class focuses on corrective approaches using insights from cognitive-behavior therapy and speech science. Additional topics may include learning impairment and articulation disorders.

Audiology and Hearing Rehabilitation

This class looks at audiological science within the context of auditory functioning and hearing loss. Students focus on loss prevention and learn to implement assessment techniques that measure acuity and sensitivity. Some programs may include a hands-on element in hearing screening and audiometric testing in diagnostic settings.

Anatomy and Physiology for SLPA

Course content for this offering looks at human anatomy and physiology with special emphasis given to elements that directly contribute to speech, hearing, and language development. Advanced topics include respiration and phonation and speech and swallowing mechanisms. Some online speech pathology assistant programs may offer this class as an elective, others require it for graduation.

FAQs About Online Speech Language Pathology Assistant Programs

How much do online speech language pathology assistant programs cost?

Enrollment status, school and program type, and your location of residence all impact the overall cost of online SLPA programs. Additionally, private institutions tend to be more expensive than public colleges and universities. Some schools charge a flat rate for online programming, but others have different rates for in-state and out-of-state students. Here are a few examples to give you a sense of the range of costs found among SLPA programs.

Utah State University

Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education Degree

Total Credits: 120

$687/credit (in-state)
$2,061/credit (out-of-state)

University of Colorado Boulder

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Certificate Program

Total Credits: 7

$480/credit

Elms College

Speech-Language Pathology Assistant Online Associate of Arts

Total Credits: 64

$579/credit

Can you get a speech language pathology assistant degree or certificate completely online?

These programs extend options for a fully online experience, making them an ideal choice for busy students looking to balance their education with other responsibilities. Whether you plan to earn a certificate or a full-fledged degree, you can complete all course requirements 100% online using intuitive, responsive tools in an interactive learning environment. The only exception could be your fieldwork component, but most online SLPA programs offer accommodations for this as well.

How is clinical fieldwork integrated into online SLPA programs?

Each college or university implements its own policy for fieldwork and clinical practicums. Since the SLPA position is an applied role, those experiences must be completed in person. However, most schools work with students to make arrangements that fit their unique situations. Eastern New Mexico University, for example, requires online SLPA students to complete 100 hours of supervised fieldwork but provides convenient placements within their own communities.

Is financial aid available for online speech language pathology assistant programs?

Scholarships and other financial aid opportunities can help defray the final price tag, though eligibility and application requirements vary quite a bit. Many schools, like Mitchell Technical College and Eastern New Mexico University, extend awards to new and returning students. At another school, Arizona State University, over 80% of undergraduate students receive financial aid. Professional organizations like the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association also offer scholarships to rising SLPAs. For more financial aid information, see our comprehensive financial aid guide and scholarship listing.

Accreditation for Online Speech Language Pathology Assistant Programs

Any program you consider should possess institutional accreditation, which ensures that your degree carries long-lasting value. While they do not play a direct role in the process, the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation establish guidelines used by independent agencies to accredit colleges and universities. Those agencies typically grant regional accreditation to nonprofit institutions with an academic focus. Technical, vocational, and for-profit schools often receive national accreditation from those same entities. Any potential program should hold one of these forms of accreditation.

Some online SLPA programs may also possess programmatic accreditation from organizations like the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. That credential does not replace institutional accreditation, but it does provide additional endorsement.

Job Demand and Earnings for Speech Language Pathology Assistants

Salary potential and job outlook trends for qualified SLPAs remain consistent with national numbers reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to PayScale, speech-language pathology assistants earn $40,863 on average (the median annual wage nationwide is currently $41,950 by comparison). Experienced SLPAs can bring home up to $57,000, while the lowest 10% receive $29,000 annually.

O*Net Online reports that work for SLPAs will grow by 5-7% through 2029, leading to approximately 11,000 new job openings across the country. Those figures outpace national job growth rates by several percentage points with the average for all occupations currently resting at 4%. This growth is likely due to aging populations nationwide and rising awareness of speech and language impairments in children.

SLPA Licensing and Professional Certification

Earning your SLPA degree or certificate is only the first step to becoming fully credentialed. After you graduate, you need to complete the certification process to become authorized for work. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) oversees this process and provides a useful step-by-step guide along with a listing of state-specific policies and requirements. Applicants must complete course prerequisites in ethics, safety, and patient confidentiality. They also need at least 100 clinical hours providing patient care. Online SLPA programs include appropriate coursework, but practicum observation hours may not double as clinical hours.

Once all preliminary requirements are met, you can take the national SLPA exam, which assesses audiology knowledge and prepares you for research-based practice. ASHA offers a free exam blueprint and study resources to candidates.

There are plenty of opportunities to advance once you’ve earned your SLPA credentials, both within the field and beyond it. Continuing education pathways and related degree programs help you do that by deepening your skills or expanding them into new areas. Consider these options as you work to grow your career or explore something different.

Continuing Education Pathways

Online Master’s in Speech Language Pathology

Working professionals interested in becoming licensed speech-language pathologists typically earn this degree, which takes two to three years to complete and requires some background in communication. If you already work as an SLPA, this is a great way to advance your career in audiology or language therapy.

Online Master’s in Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists work with patients dealing with injuries, illnesses, and other conditions by assisting them in everyday activities. Earning an SLPA degree or certificate can help you prepare for that role by laying key foundations in allied health, therapeutic care, and treatment planning.

Online Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis

A background in speech-language pathology can set you up for graduate study in applied behavior analysis (ABA). ABA deals with behavior modification or enhancement, especially for patients with prominent disorders, learning impairments, or cognitive injuries. It often overlaps with audiology and encompasses language therapy techniques employed by SLPAs.

Similar Degrees You May Be Interested In

Online Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs

These programs prepare students for work under the supervision of a qualified occupational therapist. OT assistants essentially fulfill the same responsibilities in occupational therapy as SLPAs do in speech-language pathology. This is a great option if you’re interested in broadening your skills but aren’t ready to pursue a graduate-level degree.

Online Physical Therapy Assistant Programs

Physical therapy assistant programs and other exercise science degrees give the skills you need to help people rehabilitate from injuries and other ailments that impact movement. If you have an interest in kinesiology, this is a great way to advance in therapy-related care.

Online Resources for SLPA Students and Professionals