Why Can’t I Get Into SLP Graduate School?

An applicant is only allowed to put limited, watered-down  information in an application for SLP graduate school. Then, schools may limit the number of pages per document. A one page resume here. A one page, single spaced letter of intent there. Send official transcripts over here and way over there. All this information rests in the hands of secretaries, clinical directors, and graduate school departments; it’s only your future and dreams wrapped into an envelope or “submit” button. No big deal (ha!). Interviews, waiting lists, and nail-biting email subject lines create a haphazard funneling process as hopeful applicants clamor for the few and coveted SLP graduate school slots.

Have you applied before? Have you applied more than once? Twice? Three times? Nothing breaks my heart more than the countless emails I have received over the past year and a half from fellow SLP graduate student hopefuls asking similar questions: “Why can’t I get into SLP graduate school?”…”Is it hopeless?” …”What’s the trick?”

SLP Grad school - behind the scenes

Limited Display

You can’t showcase some of the best qualities in an SLP graduate student in one page resumes, letters of intent, GPA, and GRE scores. When you consider the funnel above, the circles inside the funnel are the only semi-objective ways schools tend to make decisions. The bubbles show the additional qualities and essential traits an SLP graduate student needs; but it’s hard to put these concepts on display when you want to highlight other qualities and experience. Some measures do not showcase level of commitment, number of observations, or how raising five children and being a loving wife or husband contribute to leadership abilities. If I knew a better way to objectively allow applicants to display their talents, I would share.

Applicant Pool

I used to play softball when I was younger, and my favorite part of the season was try-outs for the All Stars team. The best-of-the-best displayed their talents and waited to be chosen. Applying to SLP graduate school for any university is a similar situation, only with more education and more at risk. Consider how many potential applicants go through the same process for each university. It’s hard to estimate how many people have the right “package” the university is looking for from year-to-year, but sometimes you just happen to be #21 on a list where they only take #1-20. Higher GPA’s, higher GRE scores, or those with more experience happened to apply the same year. You tried your best, and continue to pursue your dream; each year is different.

GPA and GRE Scores

As much as relevant experience and undergraduate course work can work in your favor when applying, sometimes a lower GPA or GRE score can knock you down once schools begin making final selections. I’m not involved in this process, but how else can schools decide between two, highly qualified, experienced adults who both gave beautifully written letters of intent and stellar interviews. If one had a 3.5 GPA and the other had a 3.8, it might just come down to the details, despite your best efforts.

Limited Openings

SLP graduate schools admit anywhere from 10-30 people per year, and some per semester/quarter. Given 100+ applications, 30 or so may be interviewed and narrowed down even further. Waiting for an acceptance letter, only to meet a polite yet short rejection email. Again with the list that was narrowed down from 100 to 20, and your slot happened to be #21.


I don’t have all the answers, and many of my responses may not apply to all universities. I do not want to end on a negative note, though. I wrote this post to reach out to those with lingering questions, those who’ve lost hope, and those who do not yet know the difficulties in applying to SLP graduate school. It’s hard, stressful, and a test of patience. Yet, there is a sadness with every rejection letter and hope in the ones that start with “Congratulations”. Whatever road you happen to travel, I hope you find your way and share your knowledge of applying with others going through the same struggles and excitements.

Zen Pencils - Poster 1

29 thoughts on “Why Can’t I Get Into SLP Graduate School?”

      1. This is what I am worried about. I am finishing up my sophomore year and will be applying for grad school in approximately 1.5 years. I have no observations/shadows yet and am having a hard time trying to find one. Do you have any advice on how I can find a SLP to shadow? How should I ask? Over phone/email/in person/ etc. Also, is it possible to shadow for half a day instead of the full day? I ask because with my school schedule, I have classes everyday. Thanks!

  1. I just found your blog and love it. And while I probably should be re-writing my Clinical Neurology paper (ahem) I can’t stop reading your posts. I am an “adult learner” who has her undergraduate degree in CSD, worked for 8 years in another branch of special education and 8 years as a Speech Assistant. This year I returned to my undergraduate university, cleaned up some grades (2 C’s horrors!) and re-applied to grad school. The comments and posts on this pursuit of grad school are so apt. The anxiety, frusteration and anger over the acceptance process and the feeling of being stifled at what we were MEANT TO DO speaks to me. I am not alone. Thanks for reminding the masses of undergrads, newly (or not so newly) graduated that we may not be SLP’s yet, and hey maybe not at all, BUT we are not alone. Going to share your blog around my department. Thanks!

    1. Thank you for leaving a comment and adding to the discussion. So often people start on a pursuit and fall in love. Yet, the obstacles and challenges may “stifle”, as you said, the dreams and goals of those who invest time and money. I am passionate about my career choice, but realize there are others who cannot seem to start the same path. Thanks again for stopping by 🙂 enjoy the reads.

    2. Christine, did you ever end up in Graduate School? Did cleaning up your grades work? I have gotten negative and positive feedback about retaking courses. I have been denied due to my low gpa. I graduated college at 19 with a BA in CSD. My rush was to have freedom- f
      inancially and mentally. 5 Years later I realize I want to go back but I’m caught in this rut of not being able to get accepted. I love this work and will definitely take my courses more seriously, obviously. Any feedback helps! Thanks!

  2. I already posted on one of your blogs about getting into a grad school my second time applying but I find myself constantly coming back to read all the stories. Thank you for giving hope to people about grad school. I wish I saw this last year because I really did feel alone and hopeless. People need to realize there are SO many others that are scared and confused just like I was. Please don’t stop writing inspirational blogs!!!

    1. Aww thank you for the encouragement. I am glad it has helped a few people not to feel alone. It certainly helps me feel the same. 🙂

  3. I love this post. I applied to a total of 16 programs over a 2-year period before I was accepted to where I’m about to finish my first semester. After several rejections and wait lists upon graduating with my Bachelor’s, I moved 1,500 miles away to live and work in a state as an assistant. The 2-year ‘break’ from school is just what I needed and I made the best life for myself here. I’ve earned some incredible experience working as an assistant and it has made the transition back into school seamless. My GPA wasn’t great, but I made sure to explain why while highlighting my passion for this field to admissions committees. I was persistent with e-mails, but made sure it wasn’t overkill. I took the GRE 3 times in 2 yrs and the 3rd time was my charm. Overall, it was all worth the wait, the move, the tears, and frustration because being an SLP2b is just the best thing in the world. I wish there was something I could say to grad school hopefuls to encourage them to not give up. There was no way I was going to let anything stand in my way. Again, thanks for the post and best of luck to you and all who read this who are applying!

  4. To piggy back in what I said, I also applied to huge, top-ranked universities the first time around. I had no business doing that but didn’t know any better at the time. Those who are struggling with rejections should consider maybe smaller, lesser-known programs. My program is small, but still had a pool of applicants of 350 this year. That’s better than trying to stand out in a crowd of 3.9s in an applicant pool of 800 at a huge school! The only thing that matters is that the program is accredited and offers what meets your needs as a grad student (ie research-based vs clinical-based or MA vs MS, etc). Sometimes your undergrad institution isn’t where you’re going to get in and you might need to make a ‘sacrifice’ that involves moving or going to program that makes another person ask, “Where’s that?”. I know that I’m going to get some amazing clinical opportunities with some really amazing faculty members guiding me along the way, and for that, I’m grateful.

    1. Hey Amelia – Thanks for writing into this blog. I feel like I am going to be the same as you with this journey of applying. I applied to 9 programs after working as an SLPAssistant for a year. I am waiting to hear back from 3 of them after getting 6 rejections. I also applied to huge programs and regret it soo much! Where did you end up going if you don’t mind me asking.

      1. Amelia, are you still going to TWU? Do you know anything about their TETN program? Right now I’m a teacher and I’m in the leveling program at TWU. I plan to apply to the TETN program so I can continue working while going to school. I’m 41, with a husband, two kids, and a mortgage, 🙂 so I can’t afford to quit work for school. I’ll be paying for my own kids’ college in 7 years!

        Do you like your program there? Everyone talks about UTD, but I can’t seem to find any information about TWU.. Thanks for sharing!

      2. Laurie–yes, I am still at TWU in the on-campus program with 2 semesters left. I’ve heard good things about the TETN program, though I’m not positive about the inner-workings of the program. I would recommend that you e-mail someone, like Laura Moorer-Cook, to get some more information. I believe that most people who do that program are in the same boat as you, being a parent, or someone with another job. I’ve worked a few part-time jobs during the on-campus program and I’ve made it work. Please let me know if you have other questions and I wish you the very best in your higher education endeavors!

      3. I also really love my program. I’ve had so many wonderful clinical opportunities in the local schools, clinics, and hospitals. It has all flown by so quickly. I can’t believe I have less than 9 months left!

  5. Be careful or you may get your wish. I just completed my MS SLP and it was two years of nonstop stress that left me with stress related health problems and total burn out. The two year program consumed every minute of my life. I lost all of my friends because I had no time to spend with them. If I had known two years ago what I know now, I wouldn’t of persued this degree. If you try and try but still can’t get into a grad school for speech pathology, move on. Do something else.

    1. That’s such a bummer that you didn’t have a good experience with your program. Graduate school is definitely a beast and not an easy feat. I feel like if you have a passion for the field, you’ll do whatever it takes to push through to make it to the end. Hopefully you find your passion doing something that doesn’t make you feel so overwhelmed!

  6. Hi I am a new freshman at California state university long beach I was a pre nursing major who then switch to CD major I did not know how hard it is to get into graduate school I ended my freshman first semester with a solid 3.5 I hope I get into the undergrad program . Do you think me being actively involved in 7 orgs on campus that promote outreach programs and mentoring will help me ?

  7. Found your blog upon scanning Pinterest and am a sophomore in Speech Path- after reading a few of your submissions I am officially hopeless for my future!

    1. Oh Anna, I’m sorry my posts made you feel hopeless. I felt so hopeless on the regular. A dose of reality on the stakes at hand was more of my intention. Nothing is truly hopeless, but it does show you the work and effort needed to get in. Prayers for you and finding a path!

  8. Hi! I just found your blog today and I love that you have it! The information you post is very helpful and I’m greatly appreciative of the stories on here!
    I’m currently an undergrad majoring in speech pathology (switching over from journalism) and my GPA from my lower division classes wasn’t that great due to me having a learning disability and not knowing what I actually wanted to do as a major. However, since becoming a CSD major, my GPA has improved, but it seems that it will still be low by the time I graduate. Did the schools you applied to only look at your GPA of your speech classes or did they look at your overall GPA?

  9. Wow I wanted to Study speech Pathology when I went to Uni & reading this has made me sad ughh my dream has been crushed

  10. Well I was just starting to look into this field as a potential career at midlife. But what I am hearing here and elsewhere is that poor grades can kill that dream quickly. And I have under 3.0 when I graduated years ago. Not only that, but my grades were were when I graduated than when I started. In an unrelated major as well. I was told previously that even if I retake my entire undergrad, it may still not be enough to get me in somewhere, aside from all else. I will keep looking into this though, in case I am overlooking something.

  11. I’m a junior (going into my senior year) at Cortland in New York and every time I look at GPA requirements I feel my heart sink. I know I will have to come back and take a few courses over. It sucks being in a class where girls cram and gain great grades while you study and can hardly break an A. Yet, this is something I know I want to do.

  12. Graduate schools limit the number of seats as a way of keeping the number of SLP’s in the profession down it’s a gatekeeper process keeping SLP’s in high demand commands higher salaries

  13. A year ago 3.2 GPA terrible GRE scores , fast forward a year later I started a post-bac program and have obtained 4.0 in all my CSD courses and GRE scores in the above the 70th for Verbal and above the 80th for written, math stayed low 😦 . I applied to 16 schools, and have gotten 2 interviews so far. Still in the waiting process.

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