5 Popular Electives in a Master’s in Speech Language Pathology Program

5 Most-Common Electives for a Master's Degree in Speech Language Pathology or Audiology

  • Studying Abroad
  • American Sign Language
  • School-Based Coursework
  • Praxis Review
  • Business Courses

Most Master's in Speech Language Pathology programs don't offer many electives. These degrees are focused on providing students with the skills they'll need to care for patients and meeting licensing standards set by state and federal boards. That doesn't leave much room for student-selected courses. However, some programs allow a handful of optional classes. Here are some of the most commonly chosen elective courses for students pursuing a master's degree in speech language pathology.

Resource: Top 50 Master's in Speech Language Pathology Degrees

1. Studying Abroad

One popular voluntary option for speech language pathology students is studying abroad. This can be a one-week, one-credit course over spring break or a one-month clinical rotation during the summer. Some schools offer fall or winter break study abroad classes, as well. Although studying abroad costs more than regular classes, it provides priceless experiences. Audiology students might volunteer at a clinic, complete rotations at a small hospital or teach at schools for students with disabilities. The exact experience varies by school, but this is a wonderful opportunity to explore the world, make new friends and gain graduate credits.

2. American Sign Language

The majority of speech language pathologists work with children and adults who are hard of hearing or deaf. Most universities want graduates to gain some competency in American Sign Language. This is the language that many deaf people use to communicate and is completely different from English. It has unique vocabulary, grammar and culture that must be learned. Some universities require courses in American Sign Language. Students can choose to take additional courses to develop further proficiency.

3. School-Based Coursework

Pathologists who are confident that their future career includes work in an elementary school can take classes to help them meet those goals. A few classes on child psychology, child-specific swallowing disorders or speech language pathology in pre-teens can make the difference between getting a job interview and waiting by the phone. These courses are more challenging than studying abroad or learning a new language, but the investment can pay off with an easier time finding work after graduation.

4. Praxis Review

To become a licensed speech language pathologist, graduates must pass the ETS Praxis Exam. Schools are concerned about the pass rate for graduating students on this exam because the pass rate is a measure of the school's quality. Some schools offer remedial or review courses for the Praxis. Students can take sample Praxis tests and elect to enroll in a review course if necessary. Not all of these classes provide credit. However, working as a speech language pathologist is almost impossible without passing the Praxis, making these courses almost required.

5. Business Courses

Most graduating speech language pathologists work at a school, hospital or large clinic. These institutions provide a strong business support system that allows pathologists to focus on patient care. Experienced providers may want to open a private clinic or work from a home office. An elective course in business can help make this dream a reality.

Universities should provide a curriculum on their web site. This document will list required and optional courses as well as the recommended schedule for completing them. Prospective students should contact the communications department directly to see if the Master's in Speech Language Pathology program allows electives from other departments.

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