Department of Linguistics

Linguistics: Becoming an SLP or Audiologist


How to become a speech-language pathologist or audiologist

...and how USM Linguistics can help:

The standard preparation for a career as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist involves earning a graduate degree from a university program accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (commonly referred to by its old acronym as 'ASHA'). For those intending to practice as a speech-language pathologist the student completes a Master's degree and meets ASHA's requirements for the Certificate of Clinical Competency ("the C's"). There is a similar pathway for prospective audiologists, though there is also an emerging pathway in which the student earns an AuD degree -- a doctorate in audiology. Typically, the process of meeting ASHA's certification requirements is directly built into the process of completing any of these degrees. Most states have their own licensing requirements for speech-language pathologists and for audiologists, but these are generally closely aligned with ASHA's certification standards.

Most graduate programs are flexible as to what undergraduate degree applicants have. Though students planning graduate work in this field often complete undergraduate degrees in communication sciences and disorders, there are many graduate programs that welcome applications from students with undergraduate majors in other areas, e.g. linguistics, biology, physics, cognitive science, psychology, computer science, and others.

However, there are also specific course prerequisites students must satisfy in order to enroll in most graduate courses in these programs. The USM Linguistics major, with the concentration in speech-language science, is specifically designed to satisfy all of the most common course prerequisites that entering graduate students must meet in ASHA accredited programs. But the list of prerequisites required by each individual graduate program is independently determined by that program and these prerequisites do vary across programs. If you are planning to apply to one or more specific programs, it is important to find out early on what specific course prerequisites each program requires (see the links below). Keep in mind that these prerequisites cover a range of areas in addition to linguistics that are critical to an understanding of issues in speech and hearing sciences, e.g., biology, psychology, statistics, physics. Most graduate programs have arrangements whereby students can be admitted to the program even though they lack some prerequisites. But these deficiencies must be made up early on in the student's graduate career, which can add to the time it takes to complete the degree.

As noted, ours is solely an undergraduate program, but many students have used the Linguistics major, with the concentration in speech and language science, to become competitive candidates for admission to first rank graduate programs in speech pathology or audiology.

But, there have also been a number of students who have come to us after earning a B.A. in some other field, often at another institution, and have used our offerings to build a strong application for graduate school. This can take many forms. Some students have completed a second B.A., which typically requires completion of about 30-40 credit hours. Others have simply augmented their prior background by taking selected courses from our linguistics curriculum and the speech and language science concentration. Some have become involved with research projects. What's appropriate for a given student depends heavily on specifics of the student's background and goals. Those who are interested in pursuing any of these opportunities should consult with us about the details.

When thinking about developing applications for graduate programs it is a good idea to keep in mind that most programs consider applications for fall admission over the preceding winter and early spring. Any work a student wants to do to strengthen their case for admission to a graduate program should be completed by the December preceding the fall when they would like to start graduate school.

For further information contact Prof. Wayne Cowart at (207) 780 4477, or

Speech Pathology and Audiology resources on-line:

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Education and career information from ASHA

Graduate Programs in the Northeast:


Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Maine, Orono

New Hampshire

University of New Hanmpshire, Durham


Boston University

Emerson College, Boston

MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston

Northeastern University, Boston

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Worchester State College, Worchester


Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven

University of Connecticut, Storrs

Rhode Island

University of Rhode Island


University of Vermont, Burlington