Speech Language Pathology

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There are many pieces to becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist, including an undergraduate degree, specific communication sciences and disorders related coursework, and other qualifications.  Use the navigation below to explore each aspect of preparing to become a Speech-Language Pathologist.


  • What is a Speech-Language Pathologist?
  • They prevent, assess, diagnose and treat speech, language, special communication, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults

    They can provide aural rehabilitation for individuals that are deaf or hard of hearing

    Also can provide augmentative and alternative communication systems for individuals with severe expressive and/or language comprehension disorders

  • Becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Obtain a bachelor’s degree

    In any discipline but most often in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)
    If you choose a major not CSD, there are some prerequisites you need to follow

    Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology (2 year full time) at a CAA-accredited program

    Apply for ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) certification

    Need to take Speech-Language Pathology Praxis Exam for ASHA with a passing score of 162 on a scale of 100-200. More information here: https://www.asha.org/Certification/praxis/About-the-Speech-Language-Pathology-Praxis-Exam/

    Get certificate of clinical competence in speech-language pathology (CCC-SLP)

    If you want a clinical doctoral degree (CScD, SLPD) for specialization and for career advancement, it is and additional 2-3 years beyond a master’s degree

  • Speech-Language Pathology Prerequisites
  • Speech-Language Pathology follows a competency based approach rather than specific coursework. If you did not graduate with a CSD major, there are accelerated programs that are designed to catch you up to fulfill the following competencies so that you can apply to SLP programs.

    Academic Preparation (outlined by ASHA)

    General Knowledge, Skills, Aptitudes, and Experiences
    Critical thinking, problem solving
    Exposure to scientific method and opportunities for research experiences (PSC 41)
    Exposure to the culture of science (e.g. ethics-PHI 15)
    Exposure to other disciplines and professional scientific organizations
    Opportunities in collaborative learning
    Exposure to “evidence-informed decision making”
    Cultural competence (CHI/ASA/NAS)
    Competencies in oral and written communication (ENL/UWP/COM)
    Social, Behavioral, Biological and Physical Science Foundations
    Human anatomy (EXB106/CHA101) and physiology (NPB 101/110C)
    Math and statistics
    Physics and acoustics
    Psychology and cognitive science
    Exposure to research contributions across fields

    CSD Content Knowledge, Skills, Aptitudes, and Experiences
    Historical and philosophical tenets of the professions
    Normal communication across the lifespan
    Overview of hearing and balance disorders
    Overview of speech, language, and swallowing disorders
    Overview of the clinical process, continuum of service delivery, and evidence-based practices
    Co-curricular experiences, service learning, and undergraduate research
    Exposure to health and education policy and advocacy
    Knowledge of how to work in teams
    Knowledge of clinical, academic, and research careers, including faculty and graduate student research

    ASHA Basic Science Requirements:
    Biological sciences: Human or animal biology
    Physical sciences:Physics or Chemistry
    Social/behavioral sciences
    Statistics: stand alone, NOT research methods
    Admission to a graduate school requires a minimum 3.00 grade point average

    Each school is slightly different. Make sure to check each school’s prerequisites before applying.

    There is now a centralized application called CSDCAS that you can apply through for multiple Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology programs.

  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • The Graduate Records Examination (GRE) is available on a continuous basis throughout the year

    The exam includes three sections:
    Verbal reasoning
    Quantitative Reasoning
    Analytical Writing

    The exam cost $160 each time you take it and can be taken it every 90 days after a previous exam.

    The GRE is not a course-dependent test, meaning there are no specific UCD courses you need to take to prepare. The best way is to give yourself time to study the test by buying test prep books or taking a test prep course

  • Experiences
  • Shadow a speech-language pathologist. There are a number at the UCDMC

    A lot of the bullets under academic preparation can be satisfied by shadowing a speech-language pathologist

  • Applying to Speech-Language Pathology Programs
  • Some schools need:
    Minimum of a 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 units
    Must satisfy the English language proficiency requirement

    Bachelor’s Degree in speech and hearing sciences and/or disorders as well as ASHA basic science requirements (above in academic preparation) OR a bachelor’s degree AND ASHA basic science requirements and any other SLP prerequisite courses at the institution you are applying to or their equivalent.

    GRE scores

    Go to: www.asha.org/edfind to find all the institutions offering degree programs in audiology, speech-language pathology and speech, language and hearing science. Also includes metrics of accepted students.

    An essay and/or biosketch

    Biosketch: Consists of 4 sections
    Personal statement, positions and honors, contributions to science and research support
    Limited to 5 pages
    Figures, tables and graphics are not allowed
    Contribution to Science: describe their most significant contributions (do not exceed 5 and each limited to ½ page or less)
    Provide historical background
    Outlines findings of prior work and its effect

    Describe their roles in the discoveries

    Reference up to 4 peer-reviewed publications or non-publication research products for each discovery

    Accepted to a Speech-Language Pathology Program?

    You will need to complete and submit:
    The Basic Skills Requirement in one of six ways:
    Pass the California Basic Educational Skills Test (CBEST) if in California
    Pass the California Subject Examination for Teachers (CSET)
    Pass the California State University (CSU) Early Assessment Program (EAP)
    Achieve a qualifying score on the SAT or ACT
    SAT: 550 or higher in math and English
    ACT: 23 or higher on math and 22 and higher on English
    College Board Advanced Placement (AP) Examinations
    Math: 3 or more on AP Calculus AB/BC or AP Statistics
    English: 3 or more on AP English Language/Literature and composition
    Pass a basic skills examination from another state

    Find more information here: https://www.ctc.ca.gov/docs/default-source/leaflets/cl667.pdf?sfvrsn=91a6cf60_26

    Certificate of Clearance
    Preferably online although mail is an option

    Find here: https://www.csusm.edu/slp/documents/cl900.pdf

  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • More questions? Check out our FAQ page or schedule an appointment with an adviser!