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Graduate school for Speech Language Pathologists

Hi, I am looking for more advice on graduate school for SLP. I was wondering how there are ways to pay for this course of study, as for scholarships and grants offered to pay for most of the tuition. I am located in Chicago, Illinois, so I am not sure if someone would have more information that is closer to home. I would also like to know how grad school is like compared to undergrad? #july20 #speech-pathology #graduate-school

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Christine’s Answer

Zamantha - graduate school is exciting and there are so many resources to assist with financial aid. I suggest you write all of your questions down and contact the program lead - I am sure you will get your answers. The internet also has a lot of resources to assist with more general information. Graduate school typically requires some standardized testing (GRE/GMAT, etc..,), references, resume, transcripts, etc... for admissions. There are many scholarships and grants available for graduate school, and also Graduate Assistant types of jobs that will assist you in getting through the program. There is also the student loan program. I suggest you consider part-time vs. full time course work and manage a job for pay that accommodates your schedule. Chicago is an expensive area, so you may consider other locations that have graduate programs in SLP where the cost of living is less so that you can manage your expenses. I hope this is helpful.

Christine recommends the following next steps:

Contact the SLP program of interest to answer your questions about financial aid.
Put together a graduate school budget.
Look at other locations that offer the SLP graduate program that may be less expensive than Chicago.
Start preparation for admission requirements (ie, study for GE, etc...)
Rearch career path for SLP professionals.

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Jason’s Answer

Hi Zamantha,

Common sources of financial aid for grad school are graduate assistantships and fellowships. The best thing to do is to contact the SLP programs that interest you. There is typically an admissions coordinator who can answer questions about the program and about sources of financial aid. Rush University is a university in your area that offers an SLP program. If you're interested in staying in Illinois for graduate study, the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association website has a list of program websites for various colleges and universities in the state. The site also has a link to information about SLP programs in other states.

One way grad school differs from undergrad is the focus of your coursework. Undergrad students have to take general education core courses in addition to courses in their major. In grad school, the courses are almost exclusively in the student's specific program. There may be a few courses outside the program, but those courses are usually closely tied to their area of study. Another thing that is different about grad school is the hours required for full-time study. Since courses at the graduate level require more work than those at the undergraduate level, the minimum number of hours to be considered full-time is less than what is required for undergrad students.

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Lisa’s Answer

Hi Zamantha!

I am not an expert in the field of Speech- Language Pathology but, as an educator, I do have some next steps that you might find useful as you explore this pathway.

To get you started, it is important to distinguish between the levels of degrees by explaining their purpose and outcome. An undergraduate degree prepares you to be an educated thinker. It prepares you with general education and liberal arts classes along with general classes in your major and is very different from a master’s degree. A master’s degree is focused on you building mastery knowledge and skills in a specific area of focus. Here’s an analogy to help you understand the differences between them a bit more: The undergraduate degree is like the Library if Congress or wide forest of information that you could pull on at anytime or apply to any field. The graduate degree focuses on a specific section of books or trees in that forest that you are interested in learning everything about. I hope this helps clarify these differences!

The information below assumes you will have a bachelor’s degree with prerequisites completed before starting a master’s program for SLP. It also assumes you have a general idea of what degrees, licenses and exams you’ll need to become an SLP and what’s your area of focus within the SLP field might be.

Step1: Peterson’s college search is an excellent tool to research any degree program and potential schools near you.

For example, there’s a Western Illinois University (in Chicago) that offers an MS program for SLPs. Peterson‘s website provides a great snapshot of that institution’s admissions requirements and processes, cost of the application and tuition, financial aid and graduate assistantships process, and much more. This online resource also allows you to establish contact with that institution directly. So please use this resource as a first step to determine your options and to weed out schools that do not meet your needs. As an educational consultant, I use this resource as a step one for clients to help them formulate a list of potential schools.

Step 2: Review the master’s programs, see if any of them provide job placement upon graduation (beyond the clinical practicum requirement), and programs meet the current needs in the field. Many schools may not offer this placement option but the ones who do may be helpful to you later on. Many of these programs require science, social science and communication classes and prerequisites and an undergraduate degree. Also, you may want to see which schools are using technology, simulations and other virtual spaces as part of their cutting edge therapy process.

Step 3: Once you have narrowed down your list of schools, then look to see if they specialize in your area of interest within SLP, such as research, working with children or adults, etc. This is the real process of elimination and this is the cool part. However, if you don’t know your focus area, then be sure to pick a school that provides a substantial garden variety of options or tracks available. Also, consider looking for schools that will pay your tuition and fees (and housing-if applicable) through scholarships and graduate assistants or researchers positions, etc. Please pay attention to the application deadline dates and processes for such positions- they are usually limited and can go rather quickly.

Finally, you may also find it helpful to create a sheet with all the things you would want and need in a degree program. For example, see if these institutions have day and evening (Online) classes, only a 2yr program from start to end, courses that can be applied to a doctorate, internships, clinical placement, job placement, research opportunities,etc. Once you have a list of all your must haves, wants and likes, see how your top 3-5 schools measure up. Then apply when ready.

I hope this answers some of your questions, Zamantha! All the best; you’ve chosen a growing and noble career path!

Thank you! I will definitely look into that. Zamantha F.

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Holly’s Answer

Lisa gives you great information. Many schools have the ability to apply for scholarships or grants when you apply for acceptance. Never hesitate to let them know you are interested. Back in the day (way back but we won't go there) I secured a campus job that enabled me to make some spending money - and book money. I remember that I had decided which graduate school I would attend and about 1 month before the semester started I received a phone call telling me that I qualified for a scholarship. So, sometimes you don't know before you get started. Also, sometimes you don't get money the first semester but you can qualify for something the second or third. Just keep asking!