Kenn Apel, Chair
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers graduate training leading to the master’s and doctoral degrees. The master’s program is a professional degree intended to prepare students for the clinical practice of speech-language pathology. The program has been continuously accredited for more than 30 years by the Council for Academic Accreditation of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Graduates of the master’s program are eligible for their state license to practice speech-language pathology, a teaching certificate from the South Carolina State Department of Education, and board certification from ASHA (the Certification for Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology). The Department provides two paths to the master’s degree in speech-language pathology. The Master of Speech Pathology degree (MSP) is the traditional, on-campus program in which students are continuously enrolled on a full-time basis for two calendar years. The Master of Communication Disorders degree (MCD) is a part-time degree program, offered through distance education, requiring three to four years of study, depending on a student’s prior academic training.
The doctor of philosophy degree is designed to prepare individuals for careers in research and the scholarly study of the science of human communication and its disorders. Doctoral students, under the director of a mentor, regularly participate in laboratory activities and pursue a program of scholarly research leading to publication in scientific journals and grant writing. The Ph.D. is an academic degree and focuses on providing students with the skills necessary to be successful university professors at research-1 institutions.
Department Admissions Requirements
Due to the large number of applications received each year, admission to the master’s degree programs in speech-language pathology is highly competitive. The mean four-year undergraduate GPA for those admitted during the previous year was 3.75 (on a 4.0-point scale), while the average Verbal and Quantitative scores on the Graduate Record Exam were 154 and 15, respectively.
All applicants to the graduate programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders must have completed college-level coursework in the following four areas: 1) a biological science, 2) a social/behavioral science, 3) statistics, and 4) chemistry or physics. Typically, these requirements are met prior to applying to graduate school. Under no circumstances will a student be permitted to begin our master’s degree program unless all four of these prerequisite courses have been completed. Previous coursework in speech-language pathology is not a requirement for admission to the master’s degree program and only affects the point of entry into the program.
While students’ undergraduate major and post baccalaureate courses are not a consideration for admission, they do affect when students begin their master’s program. Students in the MSP program begin course work during the fall semester while students in the MCD program begin in the summer, provided they have completed a minimum of 25 clock hours of supervised observation plus three semester hours of coursework in each of the following:
- anatomy and physiology of the speech and hearing mechanism
- language development
- articulation disorders.
MSP students who have not met these requirements enter the program in the summer; MCD students who have not met these requirements enter the program in the fall.
The mean graduate GPA for those admitted to the doctoral program in previous years was 3.77 (on a 4.0-point scale), while the average Verbal and Quantitative score on the Graduate Record Exam were 160 and 155, respectively. Since the purpose of the Ph.D. program is to prepare communication scientists to fill faculty positions at Research I institutions, applicants should demonstrate an interest in pursuing a career in scholarly teaching and research. Completion of a masters thesis, research presentations at professional meetings, published abstracts and peer review articles are examples of items on an applicant’s resume that show evidence of a research interest.
Applicants to the Ph.D. program should specify, in the personal statement accompanying their application, their area of research interest. The department currently has laboratories supporting research in neuroimaging, adult neurogenics, voice disorders and instrumentation, and child language. For information on this research and these laboratories, go to the department’s research web sites: http://www.sph.sc.edu/comd/research.htm.
Academic Requirements for Progression
Students pursuing a graduate degree in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders may not receive more than 11 semester hours of grades below B. Upon receipt of the twelfth semester hour of C+ or below, the student becomes academically ineligible to continue in the program. It should be noted that this academic requirement is more stringent than that of The Graduate School, which requires only that students maintain an overall graduate grade point average of 3.0.
USC Speech and Hearing Research Center
The USC Speech and Hearing Research Center is one of more than 300 practicum sites where students pursuing their master’s degree in speech-language pathology receive supervised clinical experience. Clinical services include speech, language, and hearing evaluations and treatment for persons of all ages, including University students and faculty members. The Center is located at 1601 St. Julian Place, Middle Office Park, Columbia, SC. and employs three audiologists, nine speech-language pathologists, and four staff members.
Programs and Courses