Best Online Speech Pathology Master's Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 9/9/2021
2021 Best Online Colleges Offering Master's Degrees in Speech Pathology Badge

The 9 schools offering top online master's degrees in speech pathology have ROIs ranging from $440,200 to $658,300. We calculated ROI by looking at earnings among graduates over 10 years and subtracting student debt payments. By evaluating income and debt over time, ROI indicates whether earning a degree may be profitable in the long term. California State University-Northridge is the top-ranked school on our list with an ROI that is higher than the national average by $137,800.

ROI amounts are based on data reported by the U.S. Department of Education. Tuitions are manually researched in order to determine tuition amounts specific to online degrees. Read our methodology for more details.

Start Your Online College Search:
OnlineU has over 200 partner colleges that advertise on our site. Search results include only our partner colleges, which are marked with the word "Ad." Learn more about how we make money.
RankSchool Annual Tuition Median Starting Salary Median Debt 10-year ROI
# 1 #1 California State University-Northridge $17,472 $68,931 $41,244 $658,300
# 2 #2 James Madison University $23,389 $59,756 $30,500 $577,200
# 3 #3 Texas Woman's University $19,445 $58,823 $41,000 $554,500
# 4 #4 Baylor University $41,055 $57,318 $42,950 $536,600
# 5 #5 University of South Florida Online $23,945 $57,149 $50,160 $525,900
# 6 #6 University of Northern Colorado $12,600 $52,733 $48,152 $482,900
# 7 #7 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire $12,600 $50,717 $36,438 $476,800
# 8 #8 University of Akron $14,147 $47,520 $34,495 $446,300
# 9 #9 Nova Southeastern University $25,977 $53,384 $87,796 $440,200

Best Master's Degrees in Speech Pathology Rankings Details

#1

California State University-Northridge

Northridge (CA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $658,300
  • Median Salary: $68,931
  • Annual Tuition: $17,472
  • Median Debt: $41,244

The online Master of Science in Communicative Disorders degree at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) is a 41-month program that prepares students to go into the field of speech-language pathology. A clinical practicum and externship are also part of the program, and online students are placed at sites near their communities. A total of 63 semester units are required,... and include coursework and clinical practicum. This online master’s in speech pathology prepares students for licensure to practice as speech pathologists in medical and rehab facilities, private practices, and schools. It fulfills the requirements for the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification.

This online program, delivered through Canvas, is in a cohort format for optimum interaction with faculty and fellow students. Students can be eligible for financial aid, including loans, grants, and scholarships. Special benefits are available for veterans and other special groups. Students have the option to transfer 75 clocked hours of clinical practica if the student has already completed these hours at CSUN or another accredited university. The online speech pathology programs at CSUN are taught by faculty members who possess real-world experience in the speech pathology field.

To apply, students submit an online application. Students have access to the myNorthridge Portal, where they can access campus resources online. The portal offers degree road maps to help students plan their education.

Cost per Credit: $832
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: WSCUC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 917

#2

James Madison University

Harrisonburg (VA)
  • 10-Year ROI: $577,200
  • Median Salary: $59,756
  • Annual Tuition: $23,389
  • Median Debt: $30,500

The online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology degree at James Madison University (JMU) is a three-year program composed of two to three courses each semester. Through coursework and clinical practicums, students learn how to diagnose and address communication disorders in children and adults. In addition to coursework, online students are required to attend a two-day... orientation at the JMU campus, complete a six-week clinical on campus, and complete four additional clinical placements in the field in order to graduate. Upon graduation, students can become certified in speech-language pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

The online MS in speech-language pathology at JMU is a cohort program consisting of online coursework and on-site clinical work at local facilities. Course meetings are held through WebEx on Canvas, and courses are both synchronous and asynchronous. Students participate in small group sessions, discussions, and question-and-answer periods. Financial aid is available to students, and assistantships are available to full-time students.

To apply, students complete an online application due in February. The online master's in speech pathology at JMU accepts students every two years. A variety of resources are available to online students, including online tech support and academic advisory services.

Cost per Credit: $1,231
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 364

#3

Texas Woman's University

Denton (TX)
  • 10-Year ROI: $554,500
  • Median Salary: $58,823
  • Annual Tuition: $19,445
  • Median Debt: $41,000

Texas Woman's University (TWU) offers an online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. During this 61-credit hour online program, students will study prevention, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of common speech and auditory issues in children and adults. The program, which includes 18 practicum hours, can be completed in as little as 27 months. Students in the program... can work as school-based licensed speech-language pathology assistants while pursuing their degrees. The program prepares students to apply for a Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and for a Speech Language Pathology intern’s license with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulations. Students must commit to working as an SLP in the schools of Texas for a period of time following graduation. All students must successfully complete a comprehensive exam for degree completion and graduation.

Classes are held online and at education centers throughout Texas, with the curriculum's online component delivered through the Canvas learning management system. Canvas supports streaming pre-recorded lectures, video conferencing, discussion forums, interactive virtual activities, quizzes, and assignments. The program has an exceptional Praxis exam pass rate for graduates, and several scholarships are available for current students.

Students can apply online by October 15 for the summer semester during even years only. Resources for online students include academic coaching, career development services, tutoring, writing assistance, and technical support.

Cost per Credit: $720
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,677

#4

Baylor University

Waco (TX)
  • 10-Year ROI: $536,600
  • Median Salary: $57,318
  • Annual Tuition: $41,055
  • Median Debt: $42,950

Baylor University (BU) offers an online Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. Students learn best practices in assisting patients with disorders associated with hearing, swallowing, and speaking. Students are required to complete 45 credit hours, including required courses and electives. The online program... can be completed in five semesters on a full-time basis or up to 10 semesters on a part-time basis. In addition to the online program, students are required to complete 400 field hours through a clinical practicum and internship. Online students can be placed in an internship close to their homes or up to 100 miles away. The program prepares students to earn licensure after graduation. BU is a Christian university, but students do not need to be Baptist in order to attend.

The online portion of this program is delivered using the Canvas learning management system, accessible to students 24/7. Financial aid is available for students through federal loans, private loans, and repayment plans. Military education benefits are also available.

Those interested in applying can do so by submitting an online application for upcoming cohorts. Each cohort has various start dates and various application deadlines. BU offers distance learners support services that include academic advising, learning resources, and student wellness services.

Cost per Credit: $1,785
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,214

#5

University of South Florida Online

Tampa (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $525,900
  • Median Salary: $57,149
  • Annual Tuition: $23,945
  • Median Debt: $50,160

The College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida (USF) offers a nine-semester online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. The program's Suncoast track is geared toward working speech-language professionals in the Suncoast Consortium school system. Students in the online Suncoast program must remain employed with one of the collaborating... school districts while completing their graduate degrees. USF also offers the degree through a post-baccalaureate track for those with a bachelor's degree in another field. Students in this track will need to complete prerequisite courses. Students will learn about neuroanatomy, language development and disorders, and more, which will prepare them to work as speech-language pathologists. The program is accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. There has been a 100% success rate for completion, exam passage, and employment within one year over the past three years.

The coursework is completed online, with some on-site classes required. Online coursework is accessible through the Canvas learning management system, and each year consists of an average of 14 students. M.S. students are eligible for graduate assistantships, fellowships, scholarships, and research assistantships as sources of funding.

Interested students can apply to either program online. Applications are due by January 15 of each year. Resources for enrolled distance learners include academic advising, IT support, and access to the school’s library system.

Cost per Credit: $772
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,739

#6

University of Northern Colorado

Greeley (CO)
  • 10-Year ROI: $482,900
  • Median Salary: $52,733
  • Annual Tuition: $12,600
  • Median Debt: $48,152

The University of Northern Colorado (UNC) offers an online Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology. This program requires 63-75 credits and takes three years to complete. To participate in the online program, students also must be employed as an SLPA or have a Temporary Teacher Endorsement. Students who complete the master’s in speech pathology online program can go on to earn... their Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology. Students are required to spend two weeks at the Greeley campus during their third semester (summer) in addition to the online coursework. Students receive academic advising and complete laboratory experiences in audiology and speech-language pathology during this two-week period on campus. Online coursework includes studies on speech and hearing science and classes on fluency and motor speech disorders.

Students complete their coursework on their own schedule using the Canvas online classroom. Here, they will find the materials, assignments, feedback, discussion groups, collaborative project rooms, and more. UNC offers financial aid specifically for graduate students, and has a Veterans Services Office with the most up-to-date information on military credits, benefits, and aid.

Applications are accepted online.The college has an online library, and there is a technical support center with a comprehensive knowledge base.

Cost per Credit: $600
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,186

#7

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Eau Claire (WI)
  • 10-Year ROI: $476,800
  • Median Salary: $50,717
  • Annual Tuition: $12,600
  • Median Debt: $36,438

The online Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is a part-time, three-year program designed to give speech pathologists the tools and academic pedagogy needed to advance their careers. The program requires 54 graduate credit hours in total, including 40 hours of coursework and 14 hours of clinical application.... Topics in the degree program include anatomy, human development, statistics, sign language, neurology, voice assessments, child language, and hearing disorders. Graduates of the program can pursue careers as speech coaches, audiologists, and school administrators.

Students at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire use the Canvas learning management system to access course materials, lectures, and PowerPoint slides. Scholarships are available, including scholarships that students are automatically entered for simply by applying to the school using the Admissions Scholarship Application. Students who meet minimum requirements for the Midwest Student Exchange Program may be able to receive as much as $24,000 over the course of four years.

Applications to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire must be submitted digitally on the university website. Online students can access resources like the LTS Help Desk, the Academic Skills Center, the Career Center, and the Financial Aid office.

Cost per Credit: $700
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 467

#8

University of Akron

Akron (OH)
  • 10-Year ROI: $446,300
  • Median Salary: $47,520
  • Annual Tuition: $14,147
  • Median Debt: $34,495

The Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of Akron is a 74-credit hour online degree program. Students who have completed post-baccalaureate coursework in speech-language pathology and audiology from an accredited university can enter the program, which spans eight semesters. Beginning in the third semester, students must complete five clinical practicums.... Students learn how to diagnose and treat communication disorders in children and adults during their online coursework, which includes classes in neuroscience and communicative disorders. Fieldwork gives students faculty-supervised, hands-on experience in a clinical setting, and is arranged in their hometown. Students in the online speech pathology programs are trained by licensed speech pathology professionals with clinical competence certificates from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Coursework is done asynchronously on the Brightspace learning platform. It involves occasional live chat discussion and group work. There are no program-specific scholarships, but financial aid can be applied.

The program begins in January of each year, with applications being accepted online through mid-June. Students have access to online tech support and the Academic Advisement Center, which offers academic and career-related guidance. There is also online tutoring and a comprehensive online library available.

Cost per Credit: $442
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: HLC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 263

#9

Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale (FL)
  • 10-Year ROI: $440,200
  • Median Salary: $53,384
  • Annual Tuition: $25,977
  • Median Debt: $87,796

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) offers an online Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. The online program requires 53 credits for completion, including 42 credits for core courses. The program curriculum includes an array of courses on speech disorders and language disorders. Students take related electives chosen from a range of options, and they participate in clinical... practicums and externships. To graduate, students need to complete 400 clinical hours, and the school will work with distance learning students to find suitable practicum sites close to their homes. Successful program completion qualifies students to earn their Certificate of Clinical Competence.

The online format is available for students who live further than 50 miles away, and coursework includes synchronous discussion forums, real-time classrooms, and online assignments. This master’s in speech pathology online program is held on evenings and weekends, so students can continue working. Program faculty consists of academic professionals from NSU and other universities; some are also licensed working professionals in the speech pathology field.

To apply, students complete an online application. Application deadlines vary depending on the term start dates. A variety of resources are available to students, including a help desk to assist with any technical issues, online tutoring, advisory services, and access to the library database.

Cost per Credit: $1,237
School Type: Non-Profit
Accreditation: SACS COC
Graduate Online Enrollment: 5,532

Overview of Online Master's in Speech Pathology Degrees

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work with both children and adults to resolve many types of communication disorders. Those who aspire to become speech professionals will need to earn a master's degree in the field, which they can accomplish through on-campus or online graduate programs. The degree may be called a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, a Master of Science in Communicative Disorders, or something similar.

Most SLP master's programs require the completion of 61-64 credit hours, which typically includes about 18 credit hours of clinical practice courses. Some online speech pathology programs are designed to be completed in one and a half years of full-time study, while others cater to working adults and are meant to be completed in two years to three years of part-time study. Accredited master's programs in speech-language pathology prepare students to meet licensing and certification requirements after graduation.

To be admitted into most SLP programs, applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and will need to submit transcripts from their undergraduate institution, as most schools require a minimum GPA of 3.0 or higher. Other application requirements may include GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement. Many online programs also require students to have taken up to nine prerequisite courses in language development, phonetics, speech and hearing science, and diagnostics. If these courses were not taken while earning a bachelor's degree, graduate applicants may need to fulfill these course requirements before enrolling in a master's degree program.

Curriculum

In general, SLP master's students learn about anatomy, physiology, and the many types of communication disorders that can affect hearing, swallowing, and speech. Additionally, students learn about early intervention, assessment, diagnosis, and the development and implementation of treatment plans. Early in an online program, they can expect to take classes such as:

  • Language disorders
  • Pediatric audiology
  • Articulation
  • Voice disorders
  • Evaluation and diagnosis in speech pathology

Later, students take required and elective courses such as:

  • Pediatric dysphagia
  • Autism
  • Fluency disorders
  • Aphasia
  • Augmentative communication
  • Neuromotor speech disorders

Accredited speech pathology programs also require students to complete a minimum number of hours of real-world experience. These experiential learning activities—known by different names, including clinical internships, clinical externships, practicums, or field experience—are invaluable opportunities to put theory into practice. By working with children and adult clients, students enhance their listening, diagnostic, and collaboration skills. Many programs involve a part-time clinical practicum each academic term, plus a one-term, full-time practicum experience, which serves as a capstone to the program.

How Do I Fulfill the Clinical Practice Requirement for an Online Master's in Speech Pathology Program?

When students are completing SLP degrees online, they'll work with program staff to make arrangements for field placement. The objective is to find a recognized healthcare or educational facility where the student can work under the supervision of licensed speech pathologists. Upon completing their clinical experience, students may be asked to pass an exam or complete a project to document that they have gained the appropriate level of skill.


Accreditation for Master's in Speech Pathology Programs

Students planning to earn a graduate degree in speech-language pathology will want to enroll in an online program that has been accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. The CAA is part of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), which is the leading professional organization for speech-language pathologists and audiologists. To become accredited, an online speech-language pathology program must undergo a comprehensive analysis of its curriculum, learning outcomes, and faculty. All aspects of the program must meet national standards for academic rigor and quality.

A degree from a CAA-accredited SLP program is a requirement for licensure in most states, and it assures students they're enrolled in a credible, quality higher education program. For a list of accredited online programs, students can visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the U.S. Department of Education.

Licensure and Certification

To legally practice as a speech-language clinician, individuals must obtain a license from their state. Licensing requirements vary by state, but typically include a master's degree or higher in speech-language pathology and 375-400 hours of supervised clinical experience. Some states also require applicants to complete a six- to nine-month full-time, paid clinical internship after earning their master's degree. Finally, applicants must pass the national Praxis exam in speech-language pathology, usually within one year of graduation. The fee for the initial licensing application also varies by state, ranging from about $105 to $220, and the Praxis exam fee is $146.

Licensing requirements typically include a master's degree or higher in speech-language pathology and 375-400 hours of supervised clinical experience.

Licensed SLPs may also want to seek ASHA certification, known as the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). ASHA certification is an additional signal to clients and employers that an SLP has undergone rigorous training and demonstrated academic excellence. Certification fees vary from $286 to $511, depending on the applicant's circumstances.


Careers with a Speech-Language Pathology Degree

Even an entry-level position as a speech-language pathologist requires a master's degree, as well as some type of state licensure or certification. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the median annual income for speech-language pathologists is $80,480, with the highest-paid practitioners earning more than $122,000 per year. The best-paying opportunities for speech pathologists are in nursing homes, residential care facilities, and hospitals, but there are many additional openings in private practices and schools. The demand in this field is expected to increase by 25% through 2029, a projected growth rate that is much higher than that of other professions.


The demand in this field is expected to increase by 25% through 2029, a projected growth rate that is much higher than that of other professions.


An online degree in speech-language pathology prepares graduates for a number of other occupations as well. For example, SLPs can work as voice coaches and teach executives, politicians, and entertainers to speak well and use their voices frequently without straining their vocal chords. Those who enjoy working with children may want to become special education teachers. Graduates willing to pursue doctoral degrees can become academic professors, researchers in university or commercial laboratories, or audiologists, who treat hearing and balance problems. ASHA notes that bilingual SLPs are in demand, and may find additional job opportunities working as or in conjunction with interpreters.

Will I Need to Get a Doctoral Degree to Practice as a Speech Pathologist?

No, it is not necessary for graduate students to earn doctoral degrees to practice as speech pathologists. However, depending on their career goals, students who have earned master's degrees may want to consider pursuing one of the two types of doctoral degrees available in speech-language pathology. A clinical doctorate prepares speech pathologists for advanced leadership roles in clinical settings, such as a master clinician or clinical administrator. By contrast, a Ph.D. in speech pathology prepares students for research and teaching roles in academia.


Is an Online Speech-Language Pathologist Degree Worth It?

For students who want to make a difference in people's lives by becoming licensed speech-language pathologists, a master's degree from an accredited graduate school is essential. However, before choosing a program, and particularly an online program in speech-language pathology, prospective students may want to weigh some of the pros and cons of earning this degree:

Potential Benefits

  • SLPs earn considerable salaries. Once they've obtained a license to practice, SLPs can expect to earn salaries in the range of $71,410 to $95,010.
  • SLPs face a bright job outlook. Due primarily to an aging population needing treatment for speech impairments following medical emergencies like strokes, as well as medical advances improving the survival rate of these patients, the BLS predicts that 40,500 new jobs will emerge in the next decade.
  • Online SLP programs give prospective students more options. By opting to pursue a speech-language pathology degree online, full-time working students can choose from a broader selection of SLP programs and price points without having to relocate and find a new job.

Potential Drawbacks

  • Connecting with peers can be more challenging in online programs. Due to the constraints of the distance learning environment, some online students may find it difficult to build a professional network that can be useful later in their careers.
  • Completing practicum requirements may require extra effort. Some online SLP students may have to work more diligently with program staff to find appropriate venues for completing their supervised clinical practice requirements that are close to home.

In the end, after considering the advantages and disadvantages of the career itself and the educational paths for obtaining an SLP degree, prospective online students must make a decision based on their own circumstances, resources, and goals.

This website offers school details to prospective students as an informational resource. The appearance of a school listing on this website should not be interpreted as an endorsement of the school by this site.