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Role of Speech-Language Pathologists

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) work to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, social communication, cognitive-communication, and swallowing disorders in children and adults.

  • Speech disorders occur when a person has difficulty producing speech sounds correctly or fluently (e.g., stuttering is a form of disfluency) or has problems with his or her voice or resonance.
  • Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings (expressive language). Language disorders may be spoken or written and may involve the form (phonology, morphology, syntax), content (semantics), and/or use (pragmatics) of language in functional and socially appropriate ways.
  • Social communication disorders occur when a person has trouble with the social use of verbal and nonverbal communication. These disorders may include problems (a) communicating for social purposes (e.g., greeting, commenting, asking questions), (b) talking in different ways to suit the listener and setting, and (c) following rules for conversation and story-telling. All individuals with autism spectrum disorder have social communication problems. Social communication disorders are also found individuals with other conditions, such as traumatic brain injury.
  • Cognitive-communication disorders include problems organizing thoughts, paying attention, remembering, planning, and/or problem-solving. These disorders usually happen as a result of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, or dementia, although they can be congenital.
  • Swallowing disorders (dysphagia) are feeding and swallowing difficulties, which may follow an illness, surgery, stroke, or injury.

Additionally, SLPs:

  • Provide aural rehabilitation for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing.
  • Provide augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) systems for individuals with severe expressive and/or language comprehension disorders, such as autism spectrum disorder or progressive neurological disorders.
  • Work with people who don't have speech, language, or swallowing disorders, but want to learn how to communicate more effectively (e.g., work on accent modification or other forms of communication enhancement).

Note: Information above was taken directly from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.



Pursuit of Speech-Language Pathology at Clemson

Speech-language-pathology is not a major. Therefore, you must choose a degree-granting major (and minor, if appropriate). Clemson offers basic science and social science prerequisite coursework required by Speech-Language-Pathology (SLP) graduate programs; however, courses in linguistics, anatomy and physiology of speech and hearing, and audiology are not offered on our campus. Therefore, students must make plans to take these courses elsewhere in order to become eligible applicants for most SLP graduate programs. Be sure to accommodate prerequisite courses for your SLP schools of interest.

What is considered competitive?

Admissions criteria vary by institution and should be verified individually. A competitive GPA for the occupational therapy program at UNC in Chapel Hill has been a 3.6 in recent years, and a competitive applicant should score in the 50th percentile or higher on the GRE. Many programs require a minimum of 25 hours of documented observation with an SLP practitioner with ASHA certification.

Programs vary as it relates to when prerequisite coursework must be completed. Some programs require completion prior to application while others will provisionally accept students and allow completion of coursework at the program's institution prior to matriculation. Finally, a handful of programs will allow students to complete remaining prerequisite coursework alongside of the program curriculum. In some cases, this could add up to a year of additional time to your graduate studies.

Core Preparation Courses

General Biology BIOL 1030+1050 and 1040+1060 or BIOL 1100 and BIOL 1110
Physical Science PHYS 2070+2090 and PHYS 2080+2100 or CH 1010 and CH 1020
Behavioral or Social Science PSYC 2010, SOC 2010, or ANTH 2010
Statistics STAT 2300, STAT 3090, or MATH 3020

Courses To Be Taken Elsewhere

Categories listed here are not offered at Clemson and must be taken elsewhere.
Anatomy and Physiology of Speech and Hearing
Communication Disorders
Introduction to Audiology
Introduction to Language Development
Introduction to Phonetics
Note. Requirements vary by institution and should be verified individually.