In every facet of life, communication is key. From first words through job interviews, the gift of language is how people work with others to convey their thoughts, feelings, needs, and desires. Those with speech pathology therefore suffer greatly. Obtaining a Master’s in Speech Language Pathology opens the door to a wide range of careers that allow individuals to give back to those in need. Here are the types of coursework included in a master’s program.
To understand speech language pathology, one must first understand speech language. Phonetics refers to the study of human speech sounds. Students will begin their master’s program by gaining an advanced understanding of how people acquire phonetics skills throughout the lifespan. They will learn about how people organize phonetics differently in various world languages.
Speech Anatomy and Physiology
Once students understand the historical, theoretical and conceptual foundation of phonetics, they will learn about the human anatomy and physiology behind speech sounds. People rarely stop to think about how many nerves, muscles, and organs are working in concert each time they utter a single sound, let alone string infinite sounds and inflections together to create words, sentences, speeches, songs, conversations…the list could go on for quite some time. This is an important course, as anatomy and physiology is at the root of a great many speech language pathology issues.
The next step in the academic journey of a future speech language pathologist is to understand the social learning processes behind acquiring language skills. Students will learn about the language acquisition processes from birth through early childhood, as this is the period during which humans transition from exploring every possible phoneme (or speech sound), to receiving social reinforcement for native language-specific phonemes, to achieving fluency in ones native language or languages. Students will learn about the cognitive differences between being raised unilingual, being raised multilingual, and learning a new language after the point of early childhood natural language acquisition.
Speech, Language, and Communication Disorders
Having gained a solid background knowledge in normal speech, language, and communication development and functioning, students will then be ready to learn about the various disorders they will eventually help others overcome. They will learn which disorders are physiological versus cognitive or emotional, which are inherited genetically versus learned or resulting from illness or injury. Finally, students will learn the difference between disorders emerging in childhood versus later in life.
Audiology and Rehabilitation
Finally, students will begin to taste their future career fields, audiology and rehabilitation. These courses will teach students the research behind the current practices in place for preventing and treating speech language pathology. Students will begin by listening and watching, then transition to practicing on each other, and will complete their studies by doing supervised work with real patients. During this period, students will gain exposure to the different roles they can play in the field and settings they can work in. U.S. News & World Report provides a glimpse into the projected earnings and job satisfaction in the speech language pathology field.
Those who find these coursework descriptions fascinating will enjoy earning their Master’s in Speech Language Pathology. They will likely enjoy their resulting careers even more. Giving people back their ability to communicate is a wonderful way to spend the workday.