How to Become a Speech Pathologist

A speech pathologist, or a speech-language pathologist, identifies and treats communication disorders and to become a speech pathologist, you will need an undergraduate and graduate degree and complete an internship.


You will need to first complete an undergraduate degree before applying to a graduate program in speech-language pathology. You can complete your undergraduate degree in any major, including liberal arts, though you will need to make sure that you complete any additional courses that are required for admission to the graduate program. There are also some undergraduate programs for speech language pathology. You will also need to write the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) for admission to most graduate programs and maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average in your undergraduate degree program.

According to College Navigator, there are over two hundred post-secondary institutions in the US that offer training in speech-language pathology. The American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) provides a database of master's and doctoral programs for speech language pathology, audiology and the speech and hearing sciences. You can also use this database to look for grants and scholarships and you can narrow your search by state.

You will also need to complete a clinical practicum of four hundred hours of supervised clinical work as a speech-language pathologist, so you can apply for certification. Certification will include keeping records while a student, gathering materials from the school directors and keeping track of the clinical hours and your experiences while on practicum.

Tips and Advice

If you are currently in high school, it is a good idea to take courses in biology, chemistry and communications, in addition to your prerequisites for applying to college. If available, take courses in anatomy, language studies and psychology, since learning in general in these areas will help you understand some of the basic communication issues and difficulties experienced by your client.

While in college, you should take courses in anatomy, linguistics, physiology, psychology and communication. It can also be helpful to take some courses in research, either qualitative or quantitative research, since you will be expected to conduct, or at least design, research studies while in graduate school. It is also necessary that you maintain at least a 3.0 grade point average if you hope to be admitted to a graduate program in speech language pathology.

You will need to write and pass the Graduate Records Examination (GRE) for admission to most graduate programs. You should perform any test preparation, either classes or self-study, in the summer between your third and fourth year of college. Write the examination in your final year of your undergraduate studies.

Most graduate schools will ask that you write a letter about your desire to become a speech-language pathologist or a personal statement about your suitability for this program and the profession. To make yourself stand out as a candidate, it would be helpful if you have some volunteer experience or relevant paid experience to the field. Working with children, working in social or rehabilitative facilities, experience teaching English as a Second Language, especially if you want to work in the accent reduction area of speech-language pathology, as well as experience tutoring, instructing and directing others, will all be helpful on your application.

Different Types

Speech language pathologists work in hospitals, care facilities, schools and in private practice. There are opportunities to work with both children and adults, in any of these settings.