The SLP Post-baccalaureate Plunge
Universities across the U.S. offer a set of courses which prepare students to begin a graduate program in Speech-Language Pathology (SLP). There are a few different reasons a person might choose to complete these prerequisite courses (aka post-baccalaureate courses) in SLP or Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD):
- You have your Bachelor’s degree in an unrelated field (psychology, exercise science, biology, underwater basket weaving).
- If you have a degree in a non SLP/CSD field, you were rejected from or SLP graduate schools so are deciding to take the classes while you reapply.
- You are considering making a career change and want the inside scoop before applying to SLP graduate schools.
What is a “Post-Bacc” program for Speech-Language Pathology and Why Take Them?
Universities like La Salle in Philadelphia offer a set of 10 or so prerequisite courses which will take about a year to complete. The curriculum for these post-bacc programs generally includes introduction courses to anatomy and physiology, communication disorders, phonetics, audiology, assessment, and clinical considerations. ASHA requires students to have a degree with at least 75 credit hours addressing Speech-Language Pathology Knowledge and Skills. The post-bacc courses cover the basic content necessary to begin the graduate coursework.
I’ve created a list of post-baccalaureate programs for SLP across the U.S.. It may not be comprehensive, but it’s a start for those of you interested in both online and on-campus courses.
Impact of 2014 SLP Certification Standards
If you haven’t or won’t graduate from a Speech-Language Pathology graduate program by 2014, the new ASHA SLP certification standards will now apply to you. The biggest impact to the Post-Bacc option is the new 2014 SLP Certification standards require a statistics course and science courses in biological sciences, physical sciences, and/or social/behavioral sciences. So, if your previous degree didn’t include these types of classes, add that to the post-bacc course list which may or may not be discussed when you start taking the advised program track.
While I did not enroll in a Post-Bacc program, I have heard from enough people and read enough descriptions to give an advisory or sorts; well, more of a “keep-in-mind” statement. No matter what program you select from around the country or how long it takes, completing the courses will NOT guarantee you admittance into that universities graduate program, or any program for that matter. You will get to know the professors who may also serve in the graduate program, however, don’t be surprised or taken off-guard if you apply to the same university and aren’t accepted.
You take the Post-Bacc Courses - Then what??
These courses will give those without an SLP or CSD background insight into what SLP graduate school will be like. Kind-of. Add a ton of stress, clients, avalanche of knowledge, and a sprinkle of fun and that’s grad school. As long as the degree program is accredited, you can now apply to any SLP graduate program of your choice. In my opinion, having a bachelor’s degree in something else, such as early childhood education, biology, exercise science, etc AND the post-bacc courses doesn’t make you less than those with just a bachelor’s in SLP or CSD. Knowing you have a varied background and an interest in speech might make you stand out. But, I’m sure there are those who might see it as indecisive or changing your mind … they shouldn’t be in charge of admissions decisions (hehe) :)
Well, if you decide to enroll in one of these post-bacc classes prepare for a plunge of emotions. There is no guarantee you will be admitted into a program. You are going to invest a year or more into a career path that may or may not work out. There is a certain amount of blindness, anxiety, and anticipation when taking the classes. No matter how stellar the university, the professors, or reputation, the commitment isn’t guaranteed to pay off. Thus, the plunge. BUT, it just might pay off! You could be accepted as soon as you complete the courses. You could feel the effervescent high of acceptances and grad school giddiness. Again, a plunge. Into hope. Into faith. Into a career. A career worth the plunge, in my opinion.
Best of luck to those about to take the plunge!!