Why Should I Study Communication Disorders at Southeast?
The program in communication disorders has an established record of strong faculty accessibility and mentorship at all phases of training including course instruction, academic advising, as well as clinical and research supervision. Recently, the U.S. News and World Report recognized the master's degree program in communication disorders at Southeast as one of "the leading graduate programs in health" in its 2012 edition of Best Graduate Schools (U.S. News Media Group, 2012). The graduate program is nationally accredited in speech-language pathology.
Our students are highly regarded and sought by employers. To date, nearly 100 percent of all students in communication disorders at Southeast Missouri State University who have sought employment have been employed immediately upon graduation. The U.S. News and World Report has named speech-language pathology and audiology twice in the last four years as "top-10" career choices. The job market in communication disorders is very healthy and offers a variety of employment settings.
The program has seven full-time and one half-time faculty members representing expertise in all content areas mandated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Thus, the student is afforded broad content exposure throughout the program, yet the student has the opportunity to select his/her preferred focus areas for research and clinical externship experiences during the second year of study. The pass rate of program graduates on the national certification examination (the PRAXIS exam) in speech-language pathology is consistently above the national average.
Students in the graduate program in Communication Disorders utilize state-of-the-art clinical and laboratory facilities during their study at Southeast. The instrumentation found in the speech science lab is comparable to any clinical program in the country and includes instrumentation for acoustical analysis of speech; electrophysiological measurement of speech, language, and hearing; as well as voice and swallowing analysis. Hands-on learning is infused throughout the curriculum so students learn and practice what they learn in a concurrent manner.
The program has a newly remodeled speech-language and audiology clinic that provides a professional setting for clinical practicum experiences. Students have access to a dedicated clinical computer lab, computer-equipped therapy rooms, video observation and recording capabilities in all therapy areas, as well as a library of current professional assessment and intervention materials. Students also obtain experience in a state-of-the-art audiology assessment clinic that includes behavioral, electroacoustic, and electrophysiologic diagnostic capabilities.
The program strives to provide financial assistance to most students through departmental as well as non-departmental assistantships. In addition, several scholarships are available to support additional expenses incurred such as books, supplies, etc. Every student is encouraged to take advantage of financial assistance opportunities.
The program actively fosters collegiality among its faculty and students. The size of the program, peer and faculty mentoring, and a professionally active environment contribute to a warm, inviting, challenging, and fun learning experience for students.
Admissions Policies / Requirements
Consult the admissions section of the program webpage for the current criteria for regular admission to the graduate program in Communication Disorders as well as procedures for application to the graduate program.
Courses and Curriculum
Students are assigned a graduate faculty academic advisor upon admission to the program. In addition to an initial advising meeting upon admission to the graduate program, students attend a scheduled advising meeting once per semester throughout their graduate study.
All students participate in a capstone experience through completion of a graduate research project. This experience may entail completion of a graduate thesis or a non-thesis research project. In addition, all students must pass a comprehensive examination.
- Department of Communication Disorders Guidelines for Capstone Research and Comprehensive Examination
Completion of study in communication disorders at Southeast prepares the student to meet certification and licensure requirements as a speech-language pathologist. Once the student has completed all requirements for national certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as the state licensure requirements for the state in which the student intends to practice, he/she will have a variety of career options. Job opportunities exist in schools, clinics, hospitals, residential and outpatient medical and health facilities, as well as private practice. In many settings, the speech-language pathologist will be a member of a collaborative team that may include audiologists, physicians, physical and occupational therapists, psychologists, special educators, teachers, and other health care personnel and administrators. In most cases, the speech-language pathologist will provide services to a variety of populations including persons of all ages and persons with a wide range of speech, language, and/or swallowing disorders. Additional career information may be found on the department webpage.
Students who enjoy "learning by doing" will find study of communication disorders appealing due to the clinical emphasis in training. During the first year of graduate study, students practice what they are learning in the on-campus speech-language and audiology clinic. This provides a structured, realistic way for students to develop professional skill and competency under the close supervision of a certified speech-language pathologist. During the second year of graduate study, the student will participate in a "real-world" research experience as well as two "real-world", off-campus clinical externships. The second year experiences are tailored to the student's personal professional interest as much as possible.
Graduate Assistantship Opportunities
The department offers a number of graduate assistantships to qualified students. These assistantships are competitive so students are encouraged to consider departmental as well as non-departmental assistantship opportunities. Information on the graduate assistantships is available online.
The department sponsors the local chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA). This student-governed organization is a national affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. All students are encouraged to participate in this professional organization and leadership opportunities exist with organization officers elected annually. The primary purpose of the organization is to support students during their professional training and to provide opportunities for professional involvement and growth at this important early stage of their careers.
Also, the Graduate Student Advisory Council is an advisory group comprised of students enrolled in any master's-level degree. Students may have the opportunity to serve on this council or as a "student representative" to departmental faculty meetings.
Professional Certifications and Organizations
Graduate study in communication disorders at Southeast prepares the student to meet academic and clinical requirements necessary for national certification in speech-language pathology. This certification, the Certificate of Clinical Competency in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) is granted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). In addition to national certification, students must insure that they acquire the appropriate license to practice in the state in which they will be employed. In many states, the CCC-SLP qualifies the student to acquire a state license. Due to variations in state licensure requirements, the department cannot guarantee that all requirements are met for licensure in a particular state following completion of the graduate degree. However, all graduates to date have been able to achieve the appropriate licensure with no or minimal additional requirements if the student acquires the CCC-SLP.
In addition to our national organization, ASHA, the department maintains active involvement in the state association, the Missouri Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA). Many department faculty members have held a variety of offices in this association including past president, and students and faculty members in communication disorders participate in the annual MSHA conference.
Classroom and laboratory facilities in communication disorders are currently housed in Pacific Hall. The classrooms are equipped with computer and video projection capabilities. A voice laboratory contains state-of-the-art speech and voice analysis instruments and can accommodate most acoustical and physiological types of analysis currently available. An augmentative and alternative communication laboratory houses a variety of electronic devices and supporting software to provide students hands-on experience with technology to support communication in non-speaking populations. A phonetics listening laboratory is also available to support instruction in phonetic analysis and transcription. Additional specialty lab and office space is available for students to conduct research projects. A short, but easy walk from Pacific Hall is the Grauel Building which houses the department’s administrative offices and clinical facility. Students are able to practice what they learn in the classroom in the newly remodeled speech-language and audiology clinic. In addition to modern clinical therapy rooms with full videotaping and observation capability, students have access to computers in each room as well as a student computer lab in the clinic area.
All faculty members in the department are actively engaged in research in their areas of expertise. In the graduate program in communication disorders, students are exposed to research through completion of a graduate research project or thesis. This capstone experience allows the student to work in conjunction with a faculty member, conducting research in naturalistic environments, clinical environments, or in one of the department’s laboratories.
Although the department does not use graduate assistants as the sole instructor in any courses, graduate assistants do have the opportunity to participate in teaching experiences as assigned by their assistantship supervisor. Also, graduate assistants are involved in the tutoring and mentoring of undergraduate students, an important component of teaching. Students have also been assigned to instruct laboratory components of various courses.
Dr. Tom Linares
Department of Communication Disorders
Southeast Missouri State University
One University Plaza, MS 2600
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701
Phone: (573) 651-2155
Fax: (573) 651-2155