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Master of Science in Communication Disorders

Graduate Programs in Speech-Language Pathology
Our graduate curriculum is part of a cooperative program with Washington State University, called the University Programs in Communication Disorders (UPCD), located in the Health Sciences Building at the Riverpoint campus in Spokane, WA. The Master's of Science education program in speech-language pathology at Eastern Washington University is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700.

The Master of Science degree is designed to equip the student with the academic and clinical skills required to function as a competent entry-level speech-language pathologist.

What will I study?

The graduate curriculum includes exposure to science and research areas, as well as to clinical disorders and related practice.

Eastern Washington University's graduate program in Communication Disorders is a joint venture with the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences of Washington State University. The two programs share facilities, faculty and resources to create a challenging and rewarding educational experience. Both programs follow the semester system, which begins in late August and ends in early May. Although the curriculum utilizes a semester system, academic credit earned by an Eastern Washington University student is still reported in quarter credits.

To meet ASHA certification standards, the graduate curriculum in Communication Disorders reflects a wide array of courses and clinical experiences. In addition, students are expected to complete a thesis or research project and pass an oral comprehensive examination. Regardless of which research option the student chooses, graduation is contingent upon the student earning at least 78-81 quarter credits. Although the Eastern Washington University graduate catalog refers to "core" and "elective" credits, the student can expect to enroll in most courses the program offers because of the new certification standards. There are relatively few courses that can be taken on a purely "elective" basis, and those are listed below.These elective courses are placed on the course schedule only when the demand is great enough to justify them being offered. COMD 540: Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing and COMD 547: Augmentative Communication are typically offered annually because of students' high interest in these topics.

On average, the graduate program in Communication Disorders requires five semesters of study.

First Year Courses (Fall, Spring, Summer)

  • COMD 520 Research Methods
  • COMD 538 Phonological Acquisition and Behavior
  • COMD 542 Infant and Toddler Communication and Language
  • COMD 543 School-age and Adolescent Language
  • COMD 547 Augmentative Communication
  • COMD 552 Neuropathologies of Language
  • COMD 556 Problems in Stuttering
  • COMD 557 Cleft Palate and Other Craniofacial Disorders
  • COMD 559 Dysphagia
  • COMD 561 Clinical Practicum (in-house clinic; repeated 3 times)
  • COMD 568 Advanced Diagnostics
  • COMD 600 or 601 Thesis or Research Project

Second Year Courses (Fall, Spring)

  • COMD 539 Seminar
  • COMD 539 Bilingual and Cultural Issues
  • COMD 553 Voice and Resonance Disorders
  • COMD 554 Motor Speech Disorders
  • COMD 562 Advanced Clinical Practicum (off-campus)
  • COMD 600 or 601 Thesis or Research Project (repeated 2 times)
  • COMD 697 Clinical Field Experience


  • COMD 539 Autism
  • COMD 540 Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing
  • COMD 598 Seminar in Communication Disorders
  • COMD 599 Independent Study

Clinical Practicum

Clinical training is designed to provide the student with a wide array of experiences working with persons presenting the full spectrum of cognitive, speech, language, swallowing and hearing disorders.  A large variety of sites and settings provides speech-language pathology services across the life span.  Multiple practicum experiences focus on developing clinical skills in evaluation and treatment of both adult and pediatric patients. 

Clinical practica during the first year of graduate study are obtained in the University Hearing and Speech Clinic as well as in various community-based facilities.  During the first semester, students complete all clinical experiences under the supervision of university faculty and clinical educators.  Students may be placed in an off-site practicum during the spring or summer semesters or continue in the University Hearing and Speech Clinic.  Clinical placements are assigned based on student needs and available clinic sites. 

Students in their second year of graduate study complete a clinical experience in a community-based facility.  In addition, a full-time clinical internship is completed during the student's final semester.  Students may select this experience and site based on their area(s) of interest.  Upon completion of the graduate program, students will have accumulated a minimum of 400 clock hours of clinical practicum in a variety of settings.  Following the completion of their clinical education, students will be qualified to practice in a variety of areas including early childhood programs, schools, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation facilities and hospitals. 

 Summative Assessment of Student Learning 

The Communication Disorders graduate program requires a summative assessment for all students expecting to earn the M.S. degree in Communication Disorders:  defense of thesis or research project.

Defense of Thesis or Research Project

Every student in the Communication Disorders graduate program must conduct some type of research activity, whether it take the form of a thesis or research project. All theses and research projects must be presented at a special Research Day (which may actually take place over more than one day) scheduled during the Spring semester immediately prior to graduation. Whether engaged in a thesis or research project, the student must have a research committee comprised of a minimum of two faculty members from the University Programs in Communication Disorders (UPCD). For the Research Day where students must defend their research, an additional committee member is assigned by the Office of Graduate Studies to serve as an external observer. All theses must be presented by way of a platform presentation to the student's research committee and any other interested parties. A student who conducts a research project must create a poster that is then presented to their research committee and any other interested parties. The candidate for the master's degree must pass the oral defense of their research in order to graduate. 

Emphases / Concentrations:

  • Be intelligent consumers of research in the discipline of communication disorders.
  • Know and be able to discuss and evaluate the principles, processes and procedures for the prevention, identification, evaluation, intervention and management of communication disorders.
  • Use the products of technology in both scholarship and clinical applications.
  • Write and speak clearly and effectively.
  • Understand and be able to evaluate and utilize new information in the discipline of communication disorders.
  • Know and adhere to the Code of Ethics of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

What could I do with my degree?

  • The Master of Science degree is designed to equip the student with the academic and clinical skills required to function as a competent professional in the field of communication disorders. The master's graduate is qualified to provide clinical services to a wide range of communication disordered children and adults in a variety of professional settings. Upon completion of the graduate program, the student will have met all requirements for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) with the exception of the Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship. The student must also pass a national examination in speech-language pathology; most students take and pass the exam prior to earning the master's degree.
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