Speech Language Pathology, Master of Science - SPPA

Program Description

The Speech Language Pathology program prepares graduate students to make a difference in the world on a very personal level—they improve the lives of individuals, one person, one family, at a time. The program develops leadership in individuals, who are educated in the liberal arts, and who use their talents to help support children, families, the elderly and disabled, and others in need. Our students realize their social responsibility first-hand by providing services to those in need. They think critically and creatively while responding with humanity. The Speech Language Pathology program fosters the development of lifelong learners who are adaptive and reflective clinicians, culturally sensitive, and empathetic to those in need.


  • Introduction to Communicative Disorders (recommended but not required)
  • Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism
  • Aural Rehabilitation
  • Phonetics
  • Speech & Hearing Sciences
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Child Language Development
  • Clinical Methods and Supervised Observation (recommended but not required)
  • Statistics
  • At least one course in the biological sciences, e.g., Introduction to Biology
  • At least one course in the physical sciences, e.g., Introduction to Physics, Acoustics, etc.
  • At least one course in the behavioral sciences, e.g., Developmental Psychology

Application Requirements

  • All applicants must have a Bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology, or related field, from a regionally accredited college or university, or the international equivalent. Candidates are normally expected to have maintained at least a 3.0 cumu­lative GPA in undergraduate coursework.
  • Submission of a completed CSDCAS application.
  • Official transcripts from every college or university attended.
  • Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or professional abilities, focusing particularly on the potential for success.
  • Personal statement that addresses reasons for pursuing an advanced degree in speech language pathology, professional objectives, and how Saint Mary’s aligns with personal and professional goals.
  • A video interview.

Applications for the fall term open in early August. Saint Mary’s College uses the Communication Sciences and Disorders Centralized Application Service (CSDCAS) appli­cation system. You must complete the application form, submit the application fee for CSDCAS (no additional fee is collected by Saint Mary’s), and provide all supporting documents through the CSDCAS application system. 

Praxis Examination

All students are required to report official Praxis scores to the College. Students should list Saint Mary’s College as both a report recipient and an attending institution using code 0970.

Eligibility for Clinical Placement

Adhering to the guidelines of the KASA standards of the ASHA CAA, any graduate student earning a failing grade (below a B-) in a clinical application academic class (e.g., SLP 516 Motor Speech Disorders, SLP 524 Autism Spectrum Disorders, SLP 522 Dysphagia, etc.) will not be eligible for a clinical placement in the area until he/she satisfactorily completes that academic class. This may result in an extension of the program.

Dual Degree in Autism Studies & Speech Language Pathology

The Master of Autism Studies and Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology dual degree program provides students with an opportunity to gain expertise in autism and become licensed and certified speech language pathologists while enjoying a savings of cost and time in comparison with what would be required if they pursued these degrees separately. Because this dual degree program combines the Master of Autism Studies and the MS in Speech Language Pathology, there are additional application requirements. For more information, see the Dual Degree in Autism Studies and Speech Language Pathology section of the bulletin.

Master of Science in Speech Language Pathology (61-64 hours)

SLP 502Assessment3
SLP 503Speech Sound Disorders3
SLP 505Early Childhood Language Disorders3
SLP 506Later Childhood Language Disorders3
SLP 508Adult Language Disorders I3
SLP 509Adult Language Disorders II3
SLP 510Research Methods in Speech-Language Pathology3
SLP 512Neurology for Speech-Language Pathologists3
SLP 516Motor Speech Disorders3
SLP 517Fluency3
SLP 518Voice2
SLP 520Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)2
SLP 521Cleft Palate2
SLP 522Dysphagia3
SLP 523Multi-Cultural Populations: Communication Disorders Across Cultures1.5
SLP 524Autism Spectrum Disorders3
SLP 525Counseling3
SLP 584Clinical Practicum: Proseminar1
SLP 585Clinical Practicum (taken twice)6
SLP 586Clinical Practicum2
SLP 587Advanced Clinical Practicum6
Select one of the following:0-3
Comprehensive Examination
Thesis (taken three times)
Total Credits61.5-64.5

Governmental Requirements for Some Professions

Some professions (e.g. nursing, teaching, social work, speech therapy, accounting, etc.) require specific requirements for licensure and/or hiring (e.g. acceptable criminal background check, sex offender check, drug and alcohol testing, citizenship or permanent resident status documentation, valid immigration status for non-US citizens, valid social security number, etc.). Such requirements may also apply to required clinical and fieldwork, or other out-of- class room experience necessary to complete degree requirements in the majors related to these professions. These requirements are determined by laws and regulations at both the state and federal levels and are subject to change. Saint Mary’s College strongly urges all admitted and current students to research and understand the appropriate requirements for their intended course of study and profession. Compliance with these requirements is the responsibility of the student and the graduate. You should become informed and continue to monitor such requirements as laws and other legal requirements are subject to change.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Prepare students with a wide theoretical base for understanding normal development of basic human communication and swallowing processes as well as the nature, causes, evaluation, and treatment of disorders of swallowing and communication, including issues pertaining to culturally diverse populations.
  • Provide a variety of opportunities for supervised student clinical education with persons from diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds, who are delayed or disordered in the development or use of effective communication and/or who display disorders of swallowing and who come from across the life cycle. Opportunities will include access to contemporary technology.
  • Develop competence in clinical diagnosis and intervention, interactions with families of individuals with communicative impairments, and collaboration with other professionals for effective and efficient team management of persons with complex disabilities.
  • Encourage students to realize their social responsibility first-hand by providing services to those in need. Provide a faith-based education for students as they enter the profession by integrating the Catholic perspective throughout the knowledge and skills of the profession.
  • Foster value of diversity, both in culture and opinion, and encourage an attitude of openness and discovery among students, faculty, and staff.
  • Challenge faculty, staff, and students to actively involve themselves in meeting the needs of their communities, as highly skilled professionals and good citizens.
  • Become eligible for clinical certification (CCC) in speech-language pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
  • Promote a value for scientific rigor and a spirit of inquiry among future professionals.
  • Empower graduates to function independently as life-long learners.

Program Director

Susan Latham
320 Spes Unica Hall


K. Boynton, E. Connelly, P. Cooke, P. Geels, S. Latham, K. Thomas, J. Voor, C. Youngdahl

Speech Language Pathology Courses 

SLP 502  Assessment  (3)  

Course content involves principles of measurement concepts and qualitative and quantitative assessment in speech-language pathology.

SLP 503  Speech Sound Disorders  (3)  

Focus is on assessment, interventions, and instructional strategies for speech sound disorders among children without known organic impairments.

SLP 505  Early Childhood Language Disorders  (3)  

Students examine the nature, assessment, and treatment of language disorders in infants, toddlers, and preschool children.

SLP 506  Later Childhood Language Disorders  (3)  

Students learn about diagnostic issues and treatment approaches for the school-aged population. Special attention is given to language and literacy interventions aimed at improving phonological processing and oral and written language comprehension and expression.

SLP 508  Adult Language Disorders I  (3)  

Information regarding assessment and treatment of persons with acquired aphasia and communication disorders associated with right hemisphere lesions will be explored from neurological, pathophysiological, theoretical, and clinical perspectives.

SLP 509  Adult Language Disorders II  (3)  

Information provided related to understanding, assessing and treating acquired adult communication disorders associated with traumatic brain injury and dementia. Disorders will be explored from neurological, pathophysiological, theoretical, and clinical perspectives.

SLP 510  Research Methods in Speech-Language Pathology  (3)  

Course content focuses on the speech-language pathologist’s role as clinical researcher and presents the need for science to inform clinical practice. Students read and critically analyze existing research within speech-language pathology and review common research designs and data analysis techniques. Students are required to design and complete a collaborative research project.

SLP 512  Neurology for Speech-Language Pathologists  (3)  

Course offering provides information related to basic structures and functions of the human neurological system with emphasis on human communication processes and related functions.

SLP 516  Motor Speech Disorders  (3)  

Information related to understanding, assessing and treating motor speech disorders (e.g., dysarthrias and apraxia of speech) in children and adults.

SLP 517  Fluency  (3)  

Study the behaviors, causative and maintenance factors, diagnosis, and treatment of fluency disorders.

SLP 518  Voice  (2)  

A theoretical and applied study of human voice anatomy and physiology and diagnosis and treatment of vocal disorders. This course covers the anatomy and physiology underlying normal voice production, the functional and organic disorders of voice, diagnostic procedures including clinical evaluation and standardized assessments, psychological interviewing principles and counseling of clients with voice disorders and the principles and techniques of voice therapy for children and adults.

SLP 520  Augmentative and Alternative Communication  (2)  

The primary purpose of this course is to teach students why, when, and how augmentative and alternative communication and related assistive technology can be used to aid individuals with complex communication needs (e.g., individuals with severe physical impairments, sensory impairments, severe communication disorders, etc.)The impact of cognitive, educational, physical, psychosocial, and linguistic aspects of human behavior on AAC use, characteristics of AAC, AAC assessment and intervention, and AAC research issues and needs will be addressed. The course will enable students to more effectively meet the needs of persons with severe communication disorders.

SLP 521  Cleft Palate  (2)  

A study of the effects of craniofacial anomalies on speech development with particular attention to the effects of clefts of the lip and/or palate. Focus is on assessment and treatment of speech, resonance and velopharyngeal dysfunction. Management of associated feeding problems in this population is also discussed.

SLP 522  Dysphagia  (3)  

Designed to provide information related to understanding and assessing normal swallowing and understanding the etiology, assessment, and treatment of individuals with feeding/swallowing disorders.

SLP 523  Multi-Cultural Populations: Communication Disorders Across Cultures  (1.5)  

This course examines how diversity offers major challenges and opportunities in the workplace and in the larger society. We will focus on competencies in the form of awareness, understanding and skills that maximize resources and empower individuals and groups with a wide variety of interests, talents, and cultural backgrounds. In today’s global environment, college graduates and employees are expected to collaborate with others as members of socially diverse teams, groups, organizations, and communities. The SLP is one of these professions who need to be actively engaged in the assessment and intervention of speech and language development in the culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) individuals. This course will dispel the myths about dual language development and the students will obtain the information that is required to properly support young bilingual children and their families as future professionals. The topics will include the need for CLD children continuous, consistent, and rich exposure to both languages, the typical stages of second-language acquisition, the ways to identify language delay that is the result of an actual disorder, the code mixing, the assessment strategies of CLD students, and the intervention plans. This course will also expose students to the background, values/beliefs, and language issues of CLD populations.

SLP 524  Autism Spectrum Disorders  (3)  

Students are provided an introduction to characteristics and communication of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), including recommended practices/framework for assessment and facilitation of communication for individuals with ASD.

SLP 525  Counseling  (3)  

Examines the role of speech-language pathologists in the provision of various forms of counseling to individuals with communication disorders and their families.

SLP 584  Clinical Practicum: Proseminar  (1)  

The emphasis of this class is to prepare the student for clinical practicum, laying the foundation for both onsite and offsite placements. Documentation, ethics, intervention, and evaluation techniques are all taught with the assistance of second-year mentors and the clinical supervisor. Class time is used to teach fundamentals and expose students to a variety of professionals working in the field that will describe various placement sites.

SLP 585  Clinical Practicum  (1-3)  

The student is assigned on campus with 2-3 clients, increasing throughout the course of the semester as need arises or the student is off campus 3 days per week. The increase in credit hours reflects the increased clinical load that the student can expect to take on. On average the student will spend 10-20 hours per week in clinical practicum. This course is repeatable twice.

SLP 586  Clinical Practicum  (1-3)  

Students in the class will all be assigned to an off campus placement. Some students will remain on campus for the first 3-4 weeks and will serve as mentors to 1st years. The mentors are assigned up to 4 clients and 4 first-year students. They will participate in co-evaluation and treatment of the clients and provide support to the student in the clinic. After their students have taken over the care of the client, the 586 student will proceed to his/her fieldwork site. Students will be off campus 3 days per week for 20 or more hours per week. The seat time component will be divided between in class participation and online instruction, since students can be placed up to an hour away and are not always able to come back to campus after a day in the field.

SLP 587  Advanced Clinical Practicum  (6)  

Student will be off campus 30 or more hours per week involved in direct client care for a minimum of 14 weeks. Depending on the preferences of the student, the clinical need, and the site placements, students will be placed either in one site for the full semester or two sites for 8-10 weeks each (typically school and medical). Students are aware that participation in two site placements may result in them having to continue at their site placement for a few weeks after graduation, but will not impact their ability to finish the program on time. All requirements for grading and clinical clock hours are anticipated to be met prior to graduation.

SLP 597  Independent Study  (1-5)  
SLP 698  Comprehensive Examination  (0)  

Second year students are required to complete comprehensive examinations in order to qualify for graduation. These are waived if the student successfully completes a thesis. The purpose of these examinations is to evaluate each student’s knowledge of concepts, content, procedures and terminology from their graduate studies as well as their ability to apply this knowledge. These examinations are designed to be summative in nature and to address the nine knowledge/skill areas identified by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

SLP 699  Thesis  (1)  

A thesis is intended to acquaint the student with research methodology. It is expected that original research or replication of a research project will be undertaken. Students who select the thesis option must identify an advisor that they believe will provide the best guidance in the pursuit of their objectives.