Audiologist & Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) Schools

Audiologists and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) specialize in the medical complexities of communication. Audiologists focus on the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of hearing and balance problems. Speech-language pathologists specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of speech, language, and swallowing disorders. These are two separate professions, but they’re strongly connected.

When hearing is impacted, often language is, too—and vice versa—meaning audiologists and SLPs collaborate and refer to one another frequently. At the undergraduate level, aspiring audiologists and SLPs may even major in the same subject (e.g., speech and hearing sciences). The links extend to several stages of an audiologist or SLP’s career, from pooling scientific and academic research to holding the same public policy agendas.

Differences remain, however. For example: nearly half of all speech-language pathologists work in education-affiliated settings, where they may work with students throughout a school district. But only one in ten audiologists work in educational settings, with the majority instead working in healthcare settings. Further specializations within both fields lead to nuanced pockets of practice that differentiate themselves further.

Audiologists may specialize in several different areas, including:

  • Balance
  • Cochlear Implants
  • Geriatrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Tinnitus

Speech-language pathologists may specialize in one of the following areas:

  • Child Language and Language Disorders
  • Fluency and Fluency Disorders
  • Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders

The most critical difference between these two professions is that audiologists will need a doctoral degree in order to practice, while SLPs may need only a master’s degree. While the professions remain closely aligned, very few people practice both speech-language pathology and audiology simultaneously. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) less than 1,000 of its 200,000 members are certified to work as both an audiologist and a speech-language pathologist.

Whether you’re considering becoming an audiologist or a speech-language pathologist, the future is bright. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS 2019, the need for speech-language pathologists will increase by 27 percent between 2018 and 2028, making speech-language pathology one of the fastest growing occupations in the nation. Audiology is forecasted to grow 16 percent over the same timeframe, a rate that’s over twice as fast as the national average. To learn more about educational programs in these two intertwined professions, read on.

Admissions Requirements for Audiologist Schools & SLP Programs

Admissions requirements for audiologist schools and SLP programs will vary from institution to institution, and also vary based on the level of education being sought out.

For undergraduate programs, admissions requirements typically include:

  • A strong high school GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • SAT and/or ACT scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • A personal statement

For graduate programs, admissions requirements typically include:

  • A strong undergraduate GPA (3.0 or greater)
  • GMAT and/or GRE scores
  • Letter(s) of recommendation
  • A personal statement
  • Prerequisite coursework
  • Relevant work experience

Do note that international students may also need to present a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score.

Audiologist School & SLP Program Accreditation

Accreditation ensures that a university, school, or program is meeting quality standards. Accreditation means students and employers can trust an educational institution, and it’s of paramount importance in an increasingly fragmented landscape of on-campus, online, and hybrid programs.

At the undergraduate level, audiologist schools and SLP programs will generally receive a broad regional accreditation. Those regional accrediting entities include:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC)
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS)
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC)

At the graduate level, it’s critical that audiology and SLP programs be accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Professional audiologists and speech-language pathologists who seek out state licensure or registration will need to have graduated from programs accredited by this entity in particular.

On-Campus Audiologist & SLP Schools – Degree Programs

Arizona State University (MS in Communication Disorders)

ASU’s on-campus master of science in communication disorders program prepares students to become certified speech-language pathologists.

The first three semesters cover core classes such as the neural bases of communication disorders; clinical methods in speech-language pathology; differential diagnosis of communication disorders; and language assessment and intervention. The final two semesters are dedicated to specializations and clinical skills, drawing on electives like bilingual speech-language pathology, survival sign language, and counseling in communication disorders.

The full program consists of 52 credits and can be completed in under two years. The curriculum includes a clinical practicum and an internship.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $26,032 per year
  • Program Length: 20 months

Washington State University (MS in Speech and Hearing Sciences)

WSU’s master of science in speech and hearing sciences program prepares graduates to work as speech-language pathologists in both educational and medical settings. Virtually all of the program’s graduates are gainfully employed in clinical fellowship positions following graduation.

The curriculum’s course of study emphasizes behavioral, neurological, physiological, and psychological dimensions of normal development, fundamental communication processes, and disorders of communication. Required courses include topics such as infant and toddler communication and language; autism spectrum disorder; problems in stuttering; augmentative communication; and neuropathologies of language.

  • Location: Spokane, WA
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $12,915 per semester
  • Program Length: Two years

Illinois State University (AuD)

Illinois State University’s doctor of audiology (AuD) program that prepares students for work as certified clinical audiologists. This is a four-year program that consists of formal coursework, a practicum, a year-long residency, and an independent study capstone project.

Students will take a total of 94 credit-hours: 56 credits of coursework and 38 credits of clinical practicum. Required courses include psychoacoustics; auditory processing and disorders; implantable auditory prostheses; vestibular evaluation and rehabilitation; and business and practice management in audiology

Notably, Illinois State University is also home to the Eckelmann-Taylor Speech and Hearing Clinic, which boasts state-of-the-art equipment and treats over 12,000 clients a year.

  • Location: Normal, IL
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $838 per credit
  • Program Length: Four years

Arizona State University (AuD)

ASU’s highly ranked doctor of audiology (AuD) program is designed to prepare audiologists for autonomous and evidence-based clinical practice. This is a full-time, three-year program followed by a flexible one-year clinical externship.

The three-year course of study consists of three parts: basic science coursework, professional knowledge coursework, and clinical practicum experiences. Courses include topics such as neurophysiology of the auditory system; physiologic measures of auditory function; auditory pathologies and disorders; and cochlear implants.

Students will be given formative, summative, and certification exams throughout the course of their study. Upon completion, students will have satisfied all academic and clinical requirements for state licensure.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $26,832 per year
  • Program Length: Four years

Online Audiologist Schools & SLP Programs

Arizona State University (BS in Speech and Hearing Sciences)

ASU’s online bachelor of science in speech and hearing sciences program covers all the essential aspects of human communication. The degree provides graduates with the foundational knowledge necessary to enter graduate-level programs in audiology and speech-language pathology.

The core curriculum includes classes that cover topics such as developmental speech and language disorders; clinical methods and treatment of communication disorders; acquired speech and language disorders; and the principles of audiology. Graduates of the program will be prepared for licensure as SLP assistants within Arizona.

  • Location: Tempe, AZ
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $15,928 per academic year
  • Program Length: Four years

New York University (MS Communicative Sciences and Disorders)

NYU’s online master of science in communicative sciences and disorders program, Speech@NYU, prepares students to earn their speech-language pathology certification. The curriculum is evidence-based and person-centered, enabling graduates to serve diverse populations.

The curriculum includes 48 graduate-level credits and 375 direct clinical contact-hours. Classes cover topics such as adult language disorders; speech/sound disorders in children; critical evaluation of research in communicative sciences and disorders; motor speech disorders; and principles of intervention with speech-language disorders. Speech@NYU students have a 100 percent pass rate on the national praxis certification exam.

In addition to online coursework, students will need to attend two on-campus immersion sessions in order to help them prepare to perform clinical diagnostics in speech pathology.

  • Location: New York, NY
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $86,160 in total
  • Program Length: Six to ten semesters

Baylor University (MS in Communication Sciences and Disorders)

Baylor University’s online master of science in communication sciences and disorders program, Speech@Baylor, is rooted in research, clinical experiences, and real world competencies. Baylor brings over a half-century of SLP experience to its online offering.

The curriculum consists of 45 credits, with classes exploring topics such as language development; phonological science; clinical audiology; structures and functions in communication and swallowing; speech sound disorders; aphasiology; and aural rehabilitation. The program includes both clinical practicums and a clinical internship.

  • Location: Waco, TX
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $1,785 per credit-hour
  • Program Length: 20 months

University of Northern Colorado (MA in Speech-Language Pathology)

The University of Northern Colorado’s master of arts in speech-language pathology program prepares students for entry-level work as speech-language pathologists. The program uses a clinician-researcher model, and employs a strong emphasis on evidence-based practice.

The curriculum includes classes that cover topics such as evaluation of behavioral research; neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of communication; articulation and phonological disorders in children; and diagnostic procedures.

The program consists of 63 to 75 credits, and includes a two-week residency at the university’s Greeley campus for laboratory experiences. Upon completion of the program, graduates will be eligible for licensure and certification in most states.

  • Location: Greeley, CO
  • Accreditation: CAA
  • Tuition: $600 per credit
  • Program Length: Three years

Audiology & SLP Professors to Know

Dr. Kelly Bridges is a clinical associate professor and the director of the master’s program in the department of communicative sciences and disorders at New York University. She’s developed four courses for (and actively teaches in) the school’s online MS program, Speech@NYU. An alumna herself, she earned her PhD in communicative sciences and disorders from the university in 2014.

Dr. Bridges’s clinical and teaching interests include neuroanatomy and physiology, adult neurogenic communication disorders, and dysphagia. She’s authored and co-authored academic papers on aphasia and dysphagia, older sibling influences on the language environment and language development of toddlers in bilingual homes, and the role of subcortical structures in recited speech.

Dr. Julie Hanks is a professor and department chair of audiology and speech-language sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. She holds an MA in speech-language pathology and an EdD in special education (deafness), both of which she earned from the University of Northern Colorado.

Dr. Hanks’s research interests lie in clinical training and the speech production of children who are deaf and hard of hearing. She’s authored academic papers on promoting literacy skills of children who use cochlear implants, as well as one on the collaboration between speech-language pathology and deaf education.

Dr. Diane Loeb is a professor and the Martin Family Endowed Chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Baylor University. She earned her MS in speech-language pathology from the University of Nevada, Reno, and her PhD in speech-language pathology from Purdue University.

Dr. Loeb’s expertise is focused on language development, language disorders, and language intervention. She’s served as associate editor for three ASHA journals, and is a current editorial board member for another. Her dedication to the profession has earned her multiple awards for contributions to academic journals, research, and education in speech-language pathology.

Matt Zbrog
Matt Zbrog Writer

Matt Zbrog is a writer and freelancer who has been living abroad since 2016. His nonfiction has been published by Euromaidan Press, Cirrus Gallery, and Our Thursday. Both his writing and his experience abroad are shaped by seeking out alternative lifestyles and counterculture movements, especially in developing nations. You can follow his travels through Eastern Europe and Central Asia on Instagram at @weirdviewmirror. He’s recently finished his second novel, and is in no hurry to publish it.