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Speech & Hearing Sciences

The field of Speech and Hearing Sciences (SPHSC) addresses the fundamental aspects of normal human communication (hearing, speech, and language) and swallowing, and the nature and causes of communication and swallowing disorders in children and adults, as well as the identification, prevention and treatment of those disorders.

SPHSC undergraduates complete an academic course of study that prepares them to apply to graduate school to pursue research and teaching careers, or clinical careers as Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) or Audiologists.

Undergraduates learn about the clinical professions by observing and volunteering with practicing professionals across a variety of settings including schools, clinics, private practices, hospitals, and skilled nursing facilities.

What type of education is required?

A graduate degree program:

  • A 2-year Master's degree to practice as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
  • A 3 or 4-year Doctoral degree to practice as an Audiologist.
  • A Doctoral / PhD degree is required to teach or conduct research in hearing, speech, or language science.

Coursework required for all Speech-Language Pathology graduate programs

Basic Science and Math Coursework

  • 9 credits Behavioral science (i.e., Psychology, Sociology, Special Education, Anthropology, Public Health)
  • 1 Physical science (i.e., Physics or Chemistry)
  • 1 Biological science (i.e., any human or animal biology course, Anatomy & Physiology is recommended)
  • 1 Statistics course (must not be remedial, historical, methodological in nature)

Speech & Hearing Coursework / Areas of Knowledge

  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics / Language Science
  • Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech Mechanism
  • Speech & Language Acquisition / Development
  • Speech & Language Disorders
  • Hearing Science / Nature of Sound
  • The Hearing Mechanism
  • Hearing Disorders
  • Audiometry
  • Aural Rehabilitation / Management of Hearing Loss
  • Social-Cultural Aspects of Communication
  • Principles of Assessment
  • Principles of Treatment

At the UW Students Take:

  • SPHSC 250: Human Communication and Its Disorders
  • SPHSC 261: The Nature of Sound
  • SPHSC 302: Phonetics
  • SPHSC 303: Language Science
  • SPHSC 304: Developmental Aspects of Communication
  • SPHSC 320: Anatomy and Physiology of Speech
  • SPHSC 371: Hearing Disorders
  • SPHSC 461: Introduction to Hearing Science
  • SPHSC 305: Speech and Language Disorders
  • SPHSC 308: Social-Cultural Aspects of Communication
  • SPHSC 405: Diagnosis of Speech and Language Disorders
  • SPHSC 406: Treatment of Speech and Language Disorders
  • SPHSC 425: Speech, Language and the Brain
  • SPHSC 445: Models of Speech Processing
  • SPHSC 471: Basic Audiometry
  • SPHSC 481: Management of Hearing Loss

Coursework required for all Doctor of Audiology graduate programs

Basic Science and Math Coursework

  • 9 credits Behavioral science (i.e., Psychology, Sociology, Special Education, Anthropology, Public Health)
  • 1 Physical science (i.e., Physics or Chemistry)
  • 1 Biological science (i.e., any human or animal biology course, Anatomy & Physiology is recommended)
  • 1 Statistics course (must not be remedial, historical, methodological in nature)

Speech & Hearing Coursework / Areas of Knowledge

  • Normal development of speech and language
  • Language and speech disorders across the life span

At the UW Undergraduate Students Take:

  • Same as listed above for Speech-Language Pathology

Preparing for the major

You are eligible to apply to the major once you have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and completed the Basic Science & Math Requirements. It takes two years to complete the major so we strongly recommend applying to start by Autumn quarter of your Junior year. Students can download the major application from the department website.

Applying to Graduate School

For the UW SLP and Audiology programs, the deadline is February 1st of each year for Autumn quarter entry only. Most graduate programs look for applicants with work/volunteer experience in research or clinical settings, and/or community experience with individuals with mental, physical, or developmental disabilities.

The UW requires:

  • UW Graduate School Application
  • SPHSC Department's supplemental application (document undergraduate coursework in basic math, science, and speech and hearing sciences)
  • Transcript/s
  • GRE scores
  • (3) Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement

Other Information

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) oversees clinical certification for the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology professions. In order to practice in the field, a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) is required in addition to a graduate degree. To be eligible for the CCC, applicants must take a national exam at the end of their graduate program and complete a mentored 9-month-1 year clinical fellowship. The clinical fellowship is completed post-graduation by Speech-Language Pathology students and during the final year of the doctoral program for Audiology students.

All graduate SLP programs require 25 hours of documented clinical observation prior to beginning graduate study. Students complete these hours at the undergraduate level, once admitted to the major.

There are over 300 Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology graduate programs in the United States. Apply widely as entrance into programs is competitive and ensure the graduate program is accredited by the ASHA's Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The following resources can help locate programs:

Student & Professional organizations

Websites to visit