Streamlining SLP Grad School Applications

This isn’t a post with answers. This is a post with questions. Questions to add to the already mounting questions other SLP Graduate school hopefuls have after filling out an avalanche of applications.

People applying to SLP Graduate Programs across the country have to do the following, in general:

  1. Locate an accredited university with a Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology
  2. Find the Communication Sciences and Disorders (or SLP) tab/link/website/hidden portal to the underworld
  3. See the requirements for applications – 3+ letters of recommendation, resume, letter of intent, essay, application form, all your money (approx $3.8 million per school…approximately).
  4. Find the application portal. (All these portals, you would think we are getting somewhere. But no, you stay in one place waiting for their call)
  5. Submit application requirements.
  6. Wait for what seems like eternity. Usually 1-4 months.
  7. Receive rejection or acceptance email/letter/pigeon – Rejoice! or Weep in a pool of tears.


And that’s just for one school. In a recent post by the ASHA Leader, they quoted Kenn Apel, chairman of USC’s CSD program saying, “Apply to more than one school, no matter how badly you want a specific program.” I wholeheartedly agree. Increase your chances. Yes. But that is extremely time consuming, stressful, and confusing, you know? I had a reader say they were applying to 17 different schools. I bet that cost close to $1,0000 in application fees. Not to mention a massage and sleepless nights. I had another reader say they’ve applied 3 years in a row to 8 schools each year (different ones at times), and still not being accepted (with what I would call a GREAT background). *sigh*

So here are my questions: 

Can this process be streamlined?

Can universities come together?

Can we have one application portal?

Can we can submit the same basic info through a universal portal, then tailor other things like essays and letters of intents?

Can we have more consistent entry requirements?

Can ASHA put suggestions out there? Like having a 300 total GRE score, a 3.5 GPA, or something?

Who should these questions be addressed to?

Who would be able to streamline the process?

Will this process ever change?

What are your thoughts, readers? Am I crazy?

6 thoughts on “Streamlining SLP Grad School Applications

  1. Thank you for writing this! I’m going through my first round of applications right now (finishing up, actually!) and have been completely overwhelmed and disheartened by the process. It is EXPENSIVE, confusing, and stressful to have to bounce back and forth between applications and just try and keep each schools’ requirements straight in my mind. I’m not sure what can be done to make this process more efficient, but it is definitely something ASHA and the universities should discuss!

    xx. Victoria, SpeakEasySpeech.

  2. Hello!
    As a student who just finished this process, I finally feel like I have something to add to this discussion
    First, CSDCAS is exactly what you’re talking about when you mention “streamlining”. It offers a way to upload separate essays, send in GRE scores, transcripts, fill out a “resume” (think of all of the components of a great resume: extracurriculars, research experience, publications, etc – there’s a way to input all of this info in!), course history, GPA, etc! Not only is it easier (one set of instructions backed by one organization of people who run the site – not 10 different program directors), but it is CHEAPER! (Only need to send in one GRE score/transcript for CSDCAS, no matter how many schools on there you are applying to). In simplistic terms – I explain to others that CSDCAS is like a personal webpage where it has all of your stats, info and essay on and then you pick which schools (and pay per school) can have access to it! I had NO issues at all through the CSDCAS process.. I highly recommend it! The only downside is that not enough programs utilize it!
    As far as fees go, I payed around $1,500 for this process. That includes 2 GRE sign ups, 2 sets of scores being sent to my 9 schools, 2 or 3 (community college + undergrad + potentially an “academic update” aka Fall 2013 grades even if your app was submitted before these grades were posted) sets of transcripts to my 9 schools, plus applications (and postage) for said 9 schools. Some schools I had to pay twice for (one to apply to the graduate school, the other to apply to the actual program), which personally seems like a waste.
    ASHA has a great tool to help narrow down choices and find program averages (GPA, GRE): EdFind. The only downside to this is that many programs do not keep their information updated (some still have the old GRE format up).
    Some tips I’ve picked up along the way:
    – Know what schools you want to consider applying to when taking the GRE. Once you’re done with the test, you get some free scores sent. This worked well for me, but I know some students who had no idea where they’d apply, so they sent the scores wherever and then had to pay for each score to be sent. Sounds confusing, but look into the GRE website for more info on this..
    – Talk to your program adviser/professors. At my school, our adviser is THE BEST! She is straight forward when it comes to “reach”/”good fit” schools. I brought her a list of schools and she basically told me to pick more safety schools. I did not get offended at all, but appreciated the help! I’d rather spend money on a program I have a chance of getting into versus a program that wont look if you don’t have a ___ on the GRE. Also, when I asked my professors for letters of rec, I asked them where they went and what they recommended for me. One of my professors made something very clear to me, which helped a lot. Yes, I may have a better chance at getting into a school not in the midwest (where I am now, it is heavily populated with SLP2B’s ) but if I’m a student who needs a lot of support from family or friends to keep going on those stressful days, think long and hard about that programs potential for you.
    – Be organized! I kept a log of EVERYTHING I did, the date and how much I paid, and that was very helpful! Some schools I didn’t even remember doing things for and then I could look it up and see the date I completed it! Half of the struggle is getting your application components done correctly/on time.
    – Send everything in EARLY. I haven’t had any issues, but I have friends whose transcripts didnt get received on time, letters of rec getting lost in the mail, etc. The earlier everything is done and mailed/sent, the earlier you can begin to contact programs about missing information. Some programs will send you a “You’re missing this…” or a “We received all of your application materials” (Thank you if you are a school that does this… Life saver…) but others will not.
    I appreciate this post because when I begun this process, I thought to myself “SLP’s are Type A personality people… Why isn’t there an organized and simple way to apply to these programs!”. We find out results typically in March/April, so keep your fingers crossed for us, SLP2B’s! I’d love to hear some insight from others!
    Thanks again! — Elizabeth

    1. I had come across this several times and almost mentioned. However, it’s not mandatory of all universities. And the ones that use, don’t all require applicants to use. I was going to write a follow up post on your exact comment 🙂

      One day..maybe all university applications for SLP grad school will be on this system. That’s my hope!

  3. sayitanywayou

    Hopefully Katie won’t mind a perspective from the other end on her blog…
    I can greatly appreciate the added stress that tracking multiple requirements creates in this process. As Elizabeth noted, CSDCAS is an effort to help reduce this stress nationwide. Individual programs elect to participate and a list of participating institutions can be found by checking the CSDCAS website.
    It is my firm belief that programs are not deliberately trying to make the process difficult. One of the challenges has to do with what individual universities will allow. CSDCAS definitely helps but there can still be differences program to program even with CSDCAS. A discussion of this delves a little into the depths of university-organized structures so I’ll try to be brief. A university generally has different colleges within it. The colleges then have schools/departments/units. That means you could have a University with a College of Health Professions (generic choice of name) and then a Department of CSD. You might also have a university that tracks graduate students separately through what is known as a Graduate College in addition to the structures above. OK. So why is this important? It is important because different entities within the university have negotiated their own ways of tracking students for administrative and financial purposes (graduate assistantships for example). Each of them works to a certain extent autonomously, but must still relate to the others in some way now and then. So the way that CSD tracks students may differ slightly from the way that programs own College of Health Professions does as well as the way that University’s Graduate College does. Once different facets of the organization are involved each has their own particular way of doing things. So in addition to a CSD unit’s decision to join CSDCAS, the program may still need to have students be tracked through a different university pathway such as a Graduate College. It is the negotiation of these structures within each university that make things tricky. I do this as part of my job and still say Huh?
    What this means for students is that they may or may not need to file multiple forms with the same university or the forms they file for each university may look different. This isn’t meant to defend the practice necessarily, but at least to provide a little perspective. Universities have thousands, sometimes tens of thousands of graduate students all of whom need to be tracked by a number of different units across a university. In the same way that having a centralized application process for CSD applicants would be helpful, a single platform for universities to communicate internally would also be good. Unfortunately there are a number of barriers to go into related to that and I don’t wish to hijack Katie’s blog any further.

    1. THANK YOU John. Perspective is always appreciated. I sometimes get so frustrated on behalf of hearing others’ stories. I forget faculty at Universities have their own view of it all. So glad you chimed in!

      1. sayitanywayou

        No problem. I have been thinking about doing a post on this myself, but I’ll probably get better readership through your blog
        Believe me it would be nice for things to be simpler on the CSD program end too.

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