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The master of science program emphasizes a research-clinical approach to Communication Sciences and Disorders. A master's graduate is best characterized as a general practitioner with many skills in specific areas of Speech-Language Pathology. Through academic preparation, practica, research, and externship experiences, our graduates are capable of functioning independently with some initial supervision and guidance.

Master's degree graduates meet the academic and practicum requirements for ASHA certification and Pennsylvania state licensure (except for the Clinical Fellowship Year and passing the Certificate of Clinical Competence test). Master's graduates also can meet the requirements for a Pennsylvania Instructional Level I certification in Speech-Language Impaired, which are required to practice as a speech-language pathologist in a Pennsylvania public school. To do so, the student's academic and practicum program must meet current Pennsylvania Department of Education standards. To meet these standards, students may be required to enroll in additional courses, complete a full-time minimum twelve-week public school externship, and pass Pennsylvania certification tests.

The master's degree program provides:

  • academic courses in speech-language pathology
  • research training and experiences
  • opportunities to work with nationally-recognized faculty on basic and applied research projects
  • opportunities to observe and conduct diagnostic evaluations and therapeutic procedures for a variety of speech, language, and hearing impairments under supervision at the Penn State Speech and Hearing Clinic and at other selected sites
  • opportunities to develop an understanding of the process of working with individuals who have speech, language, or hearing disorders in relation to the broader aspects of human adjustment, and in various educational and clinical situations
  • training in state-of-the-art technology for assessment, therapy, and research
  • experience in reading and understanding the professional literature and standard works in speech and language pathology, as well as in areas of related and general interest
  • experiences in professional report writing

The requirements of the master's degree program include:

  • maintaining a 3.0 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale at the end of each semester
  • completing all academic requirements
  • completion of a master's research paper or a master's thesis
  • a minimum of 50 graduate credits
  • a minimum of 375 supervised clinical practicum clock hours and 25 observation hours which could include up to 75 hours of CCC-supervised practica at the undergraduate level.

Applying to the Master of Science Program

Penn State is proud to participate in the CSDCAS application system for master's applicants.

Master of Science (M.S.) Application Instructions

Admission Requirements for the Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

Length of master's degree program

Penn State operates on a fifteen-week semester system and two six-week summer sessions. Full-time students begin in the fall semester and typically require four semesters and two six-week summer sessions to complete the master's program.

Typical Master's Degree Curriculum


Prior to graduation, students complete at least 400 clock hours of supervised clinical practicum that concern the evaluation and treatment of children and adults with disorders of speech, language, and hearing. At least fifty hours must be completed in each of three types of clinical settings. Students are assigned to practica in the Penn State Speech and Hearing Clinic during each semester and summer session. Students must have 200 hours of CCC-supervised practica before they are permitted to go on the final semester externship.


All master's degree students must complete an externship. The externship is a full-time (forty hours per week), twelve- to fifteen-week experience and typically occurs in the last semester of each student's curriculum. Students are individually placed in externship sites located in Pennsylvania. Penn State has many externship sites—rehabilitation centers, child-development centers, hospitals, community clinics, school districts, etc. Students interested in Pennsylvania Instructional Level I certification must have a minimum twelve-week externship in a school setting and an additional externship experience at another site.

Note: The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders does not permit nondegree students to enroll in courses leading to the master's degree. Students are required to be admitted to the Graduate School at Penn State.