Communication Disorders Graduate Programs

Communication Disorders Graduate Programs Master of Science (M.S.)

About Communication Disorders

Embark on a rewarding career helping individuals with speech-language pathologies.

Communication and swallowing are critical parts of daily life. With a master's degree in communication disorders from PennWest California, you will gain scientific insight into in the full range of communication and swallowing disorders that affect individuals from all age groups, and you will learn how to effectively analyze, diagnose and treat these problems.

 This specialized professional training program prepares you for a professional career providing evidence-based clinical services as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in a variety of settings.

Hands-on clinical contact is essential to job success.

All program students complete:

  • Clinical rotations in PennWest California's on-campus Learning and Language Center Preschool Program and Speech and Hearing Clinic.
  • Clinical rotations in speech diagnostics and audiologic screenings.
  • Two different clinical externships at top hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation clinics, or public and private schools in western Pennsylvania.

View the department's five year strategic plan.


Top Accreditation
The Master of Science (M.S.) education program in speech-language pathology at PennWest California is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. 

Cohort Model
Build relationships with fellow students and benefit from networking opportunities. You will progress through this program in a five-semester cohort. Cohorts complete an identical core of required courses that are critical to success as an SLP. Each cohort also completes a unique combination of additional courses geared toward the specialized speech-language pathology services needed by diverse patient populations.


Students interested in applying for the Master's in Communication Disorders should apply through CSDCAS, a state-of-the-art, online application designed to reduce paperwork, streamline processing, and facilitate ongoing communication between programs and applicants.


Student Outcome Data

Year of Graduation # of Students # Completing on time # Passing Praxis # Employed within 1 year
2020-2021 31 31 (100%)  31 (100%) 31 (100%)
2019-2020 32 31 (96.88%) 31 (96.88%) 23 (96.88%)
2018-2019 24 24 (100%) 24 (100%) 24 (100%)
3-year average   98.96% 98.96% 98.96%


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Degree Benefits

The exceptional benefits of PennWest California's master's degree program in communication disorders prepare you for career success.

  • Close 1:1 mentorship with faculty members, particularly in the University clinical setting.
  • Complete comprehensive courses led by faculty who maintain active clinical practices that ensure real world application.
  • Acquire hands-on, evidence-based clinical experience with instruments and procedures used in communication and swallowing intervention.
  • Over 100 top clinical facilities in the region have contractual relationships with our program.
  • Opportunities to present graduate-level research at local, state, and national conventions.
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Graduate Outcomes

Graduates of this program will be prepared to seek certification as a clinical speech-language pathologist - a career with a diverse range of job settings and high job-growth rates. The vast majority of program graduates find jobs in speech therapy soon after graduation. Our alumni have successful careers working in:

  • Hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
  • Long-term care facilities.
  • Public and private schools.
  • Outpatient clinics and home-care companies.
  • Early intervention programs.
  • Research labs.
  • Corporations and governmental agencies.

Curriculum, Admission Requirements and Related Programs

This 59-credit accredited master's degree program combines comprehensive academic courses and extensive clinical experiences to provide specialized training in all areas of communication disorders.


View Cohort Sequences  |  View Course Descriptions

Course Credits
Area I: Core Courses Required 36
CMD 600  Research and Professional Practice in SLP 3
CMD 701  Language Disorders in Adults 3
CMD 702  Language Disorders in Children 3
CMD 703  Fluency Disorders 3
CMD 705  Voice Disorders 3
CMD 707  Phonology and Articulation 3
CMD 708  Neurology 3
CMD 718  Advanced Audiology for the SLP 3
CMD 765  Dysphagia
CMD 766  Traumatic Brain Injury  3
CMD 772  Augmentative and Alternative Communication  3
CMD 785  Seminar in Medical Speech-Language Pathology 3
Area II: Clinical Experiences Required 15
CMD 711  Applied Therapeutic Procedures in Preschool Setting  1 to 3
CMD 712  Applied Therapeutic Procedures in Outpatient Setting 1 to 5
CMD 713  Applied Diagnostic Procedures in Speech Pathology 1 to 3
CMD 714  Applied Audiologic Diagnostics and Rehab Procedures 1 to 3
CMD 715  Applied Therapeutic Procedures in Educational Setting 1 to 3
CMD 716  Applied Neurogenic Procedures in Healthcare Facilities 1 to 3
Area III: Rotating Elective Courses 3
CMD 731  Early Intervention in Speech-Language Pathology 3
CMD 732  Counseling in Speech-Language Pathology 3
CMD 763  Communication Problems of Special Groups 3
CMD 764  Instrumentation in Speech Language Pathology 3
CMD 773  Communication and Diversity 3
Area IV: Research Course Required 2 (min.)
RES 829  Research Project 2
RES 849  Master's Thesis 3 to 6
Total 56

Program Requirements

  • 25 clinical observation hours
  • 375 supervised clinical hours
  • Successful completion of candidacy
  • Praxis 5331 passing score

Note: All academic coursework and clinical practicum must be completed before beginning the CF experience. If any coursework or practicum is incomplete, which includes all pre-requisites (i.e., basic biology, chemistry or physics, etc.) and core coursework, the hours completed toward your CF experience will not count toward your minimum 1,260 hours. (Retrieved from


Admission Requirements

Regular Admission Requirements

  • Regionally Accredited Bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.25 or higher
    • Regionally accredited Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of a 3.0-3.24 will be reviewed for a decision
  • Official transcripts from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution
  • Upload a 2-3 page personal statement regarding your decision to pursue a master's degree in Communication Disorders in the Documents section of CSDCAS
  • Upload a resume in the Documents section of CSDCAS
  • Request 3 letters of recommendation to be sent through the CSDCAS recommender portal
  • ***GRE IS BEING WAIVED FOR THE 2022 APPLICATIONS*** Take the GRE exam and send the results directly to CSDCAS by using the code 3006 for PennWest California CSDCAS


Conditional Admission Requirements

  • Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements:
    • Regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a GPA of 2.9 and below will be reviewed for a decision.  However, if admitted, will be required to earn a 3.0 in their first term to remain in the program
    • Deficiencies in Pre/Co-requisite courses (up to two maximum terms to satisfy foundation course requirements)

Pre/Co Requisite Courses

  • Applicants may remove deficiencies in the following foundation courses at PennWest California or another accredited institution prior to regular admission or after conditional admission:
    • Anatomy and Physiology
    • Articulation/Phonology
    • Introduction to Audiology
    • Introduction to Communication Disorders
    • Phonetics
    • Speech and Language Development
    • Speech Science

Applicants without a degree in communication disorders will need to complete a minimum of 36 undergraduate credits in communication disorders prior to being considered for graduate admission; 21 of these pre/co-requisite credits must cover the areas listed above.

Provisional Admission:
Applicants who have provided unofficial documentation of test scores, prerequisite courses, transcripts or lack of letter(s) of recommendation may be admitted provisionally.

This policy also applies to undergraduate students who apply for graduate admission pending bachelor degree completion. Upon receipt of all official documents, a student will be changed from Provisional Admission to either Regular Admission or Conditional Admission. Provisional Admission students may take classes for one term but will not be eligible for Federal Financial Aid.

Admission Deposit:
Admission to this program is highly competitive.  Students admitted to the program are required to submit a non-refundable $100 deposit.  When the deposit is not received by the due date indicated by Graduate Admissions, the offer of admission will be withdrawn and offered to another applicant.  Please click here to pay this deposit.

How to Apply:

  • Complete the CSDCAS application – Deadline for verified application – March 1, 2022
  • Request that official transcripts from all US institutions attended to be sent directly to CSDCAS
  • Upload a 2-3 page personal statement regarding your decision to pursue a master's degree in Communication Disorders in the Documents section of CSDCAS
  • Upload a resume in the Documents section of CSDCAS
  • Request 3 letters of recommendation to be sent through the CSDCAS recommender portal
  • Take the GRE exam and send the results directly to CSDCAS by using the code 3006 for PennWest California CSDCAS

International Applicants

In addition to the requirements above, please submit the following:

  • Request that official evaluations of transcripts from all foreign institutions be sent to CSDCAS as follows:
    • Use the World Education Services (WES) link in the Academic History section of the application to order your official WES evaluation or
    • Use the “Download Evaluation Request Form” in the Academic History section of the application to request an evaluation from an evaluation service other than WES.
  • If you do not hold a U.S. degree, or did not have English as your medium of instruction in your undergraduate studies, please submit your official IELTS, TOEFL, Duolingo, or ITEP scores to CSDCAS.  Unofficial scores can be uploaded in the Documents section under "other".
  • Submit the Affidavit of Financial Support along with any supporting documentation by July 30, 2022 to


  • Applications must be verified by 11:59 PM ET on the deadline date (March 1, 2022). Applications can only be verified by CSDCAS once all payments and requirements have been received. To ensure your application is verified on time, try to complete your application at least four weeks before the deadline.

For additional information:
Phone: 724-938-4187


What Can I Do with a Communication Disorders Degree?


Meet Elizabeth Straub, M.S. CCCSLP, a speech-language pathologist at McKeesport School District who has served as president of the Southwestern PA Speech and Hearing Association.


Certification and Licensure

Completion of a master's degree in communication disorders is a major step, but not the only one, to become certified in speech-language pathology. In most clinical practice situations, speech-language pathologists are required to possess one or more of the following:

  • A Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) issued by the ASHA.
  • A state license.
  • A state teaching certificate.

Speech and Hearing Club

Join PennWest California's chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. Membership benefits include networking with communication disorders professionals; traveling to local, state and national conferences; and participating in social, educational and community service activities.

Students work with a patient in the learning and language clinic.

Learning and Language Center

The Learning and Language Center Preschool Program is a laboratory school under the direct supervision of faculty in the communication disorders program. Both graduate and undergraduate students complete a clinical practicum in the preschool program and work directly with the children.

PennWest California students use hearing testing equipment.

Speech and Hearing Clinic

The on-campus Speech and Hearing Clinic provides high-quality professional services to individuals of all ages with communicative, hearing and swallowing needs. Graduate students under the direct supervision of licensed and certified clinical faculty provide clinical services.

Communication Disorders Faculty

Nancy Carlino
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Sheri Lake
Assistant Professor

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Dr. Robert Skwarecki

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April Wright
Assistant Professor

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