The ability to communicate is one of the most important gifts bestowed upon humanity. Any impairment in this ability, described as a communication disorder, can have far-reaching consequences, affecting every aspect of a person's life, from learning, to work, to interactions with family, friends, and community. The primary career paths in communication disorders are speech-language pathology, audiology and communication science. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists provide services to prevent, diagnose, evaluate, and treat communication disorders. Communication scientists provide the research on which clinicians base their methodology.
Professionals in this field work in settings such as hospitals, clinics, schools, nonprofit agencies, colleges and universities, and private practice. Speech-language pathologists and audiologists work with individuals of all ages. Some examples of job responsibilities may include treating an infant who is unable to swallow, diagnosing a child with a hearing loss, treating a child with autism, working with an adult who has had a stroke or working with an elderly client who needs a hearing aid. An example of the work that might be done by a communication scientist includes working in a laboratory to develop evidence-based methods for diagnosing and treating individuals with speech, language, and hearing problems.
The field has taken on many new dimensions in recent years, combining technical and scientific expertise with the rewarding work of human service. Students learn basic sciences like anatomy, physiology, and acoustics, and also may participate in service projects and observations at clinics like Southern's Center for Communication Disorders, where graduate students receive some of their professional training.
The minimum entry level degree for speech-language pathology is a masters degree. Audiologists are required to have a doctoral degree and most communication scientists will earn a doctoral-level degree. Southern offers a masters degree which prepares students for careers as speech-language pathologists. Upon completion of the program, students will be eligible to apply for state and national licensure and certification. Undergraduate students complete a pre-professional program that prepares them for entry into a masters or doctoral program.
B.S. with a major in communications disorders
M.S. with a major in speech-language pathology
Visit the School of Graduate Studies site for more information on the M.S. Degree program.
Visit the Department of Communication Disorders site for more information on degrees and the field of communication disorders.