Can You Become a Speech Therapist with a Bachelor’s Degree?

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Updated on May 13, 2024
Boluwatife Oluwasegun

Written by Boluwatife Oluwasegun

Master’s in Audiology and Speech Pathology

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Speech therapy is a field in healthcare that has the potential to transform lives by fostering effective communication and improving the quality of life. If you’re interested in helping people overcome speech and language difficulties, you may wonder what education is required to become a speech therapist or speech-language pathologist (SLP). 

One common question among aspiring SLPs is whether pursuing this fulfilling career with just a bachelor’s degree is possible. Let us explore this question in-depth and discuss the feasibility and pathways available to individuals with a bachelor’s degree who aspire to become speech therapists.

Speech-language Therapists/ SLPs and their roles

  • A speech-language pathologist can diagnose various communication impairments, including voice, language, fluency, and speech sound disorders.
  • After a communication impairment diagnosis, speech-language pathologists design personalized treatment programs suited to each patient’s needs.
  • A speech-language pathologist employs various methods and exercises to improve communication abilities, including exercises to enhance fluency, articulation, and language comprehension.
  • Speech-language pathologists work with patients of all ages, including those who have experienced a stroke or severe brain damage, as well as children with developmental difficulties.
  • Speech-language pathologists work closely with medical doctors, psychologists, and occupational therapists to develop comprehensive treatment plans.
  • Speech-language pathologists educate individuals and their caregivers on promoting communication development outside therapy.

Can you become a speech therapist with a Bachelor’s degree?

Getting a Bachelor’s degree is a traditional path that can provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge and skills. A Bachelor’s degree is a four-year undergraduate program that covers a range of courses, including linguistics, anatomy, physiology, audiology, and speech therapy. These courses equip you with the fundamental knowledge and skills to assess and treat communication disorders, develop treatment plans, and work with clients of all ages.

While pursuing a Bachelor’s degree, you may have the opportunity to participate in clinical experiences, where you will work with clients under the supervision of licensed professionals. These experiences provide students with real-world exposure and skills that will be valuable in their future careers.

One of the key benefits of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in CSD or a related field is that it can serve as a stepping stone towards pursuing a graduate degree, which is required to become a licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Additionally, a Bachelor’s degree can open up opportunities in related fields such as special education, counseling, or healthcare, where knowledge of communication disorders is highly valued.

With a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Science Disorders or other related fields, you can work as or become a;

  • Speech-Language Pathology Assistant
  • Audiologist Assistant
  • Special Education Teacher
  • Rehabilitation Specialist

These are just a few of the many career paths you can pursue with a Bachelor’s degree in CSD or related fields. The knowledge and skills you gain from this degree program will prepare you for many opportunities in healthcare, education, and other related fields.

What degree do you need to become a speech therapist?

Ideally, getting your graduate degree in Communication Science Disorders or other related fields would be best for becoming a speech therapist. Graduate programs in speech-language pathology usually require certain prerequisites to be fulfilled before admission. These prerequisites are typically courses in anatomy and physiology, linguistics, psychology, and communication sciences and disorders.

To pursue a graduate degree in speech-language pathology, you must carefully research and understand the specific prerequisites required by the programs you are interested in. Fulfilling these prerequisites during undergraduate studies is highly recommended, as it can help you gain a deeper understanding of the field and prepare them for the rigor of graduate-level coursework. Additionally, completing the prerequisites during undergraduate studies can help students save time and money in the long run, as they will not need additional courses after graduation.

Masters Degree in Speech Pathology

A master’s degree in speech-language pathology will give you a comprehensive understanding of the discipline. Typically, these programs combine clinical experience, education, and research possibilities. Clinical training is a crucial element of these programs that provides you with practical experience in various settings, including clinics, hospitals, and schools. Internships and externships, which allow students to work with patients and clients under the supervision of certified professionals, are essential components of clinical training. These experiences aid in developing useful abilities required for successful practice as speech-language pathologists.

In some schools, a thesis or research project may be required in addition to clinical training. These research opportunities help you better understand the subject and prepare you for a career in research or graduate studies. Conducting research provides students with invaluable experience in research design, data analysis, and scientific writing.

Earning a master’s degree in speech pathology from an accredited college is important to becoming a licensed speech-language pathologist. Accreditation ensures that the program meets high-quality education and clinical training standards. Graduates of accredited master’s programs are well-equipped to work in various settings, such as clinics, hospitals, schools, and private practices. Moreover, they meet the requirements for national certification in speech pathology and state licensure, which are mandatory for practicing in the field. Therefore, obtaining a master’s degree from a recognized university is essential for a successful career in speech pathology. With the increasing demand for speech-language pathologists across various sectors and age groups, pursuing a master’s degree in speech pathology is a wise investment that can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career helping people voice their thoughts and feelings.

Upon completing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology, you are prepared for various employment opportunities in speech and language therapy and have a comprehensive education. These programs give students a well-rounded education that equips them to significantly influence the lives of their patients and clients by combining theoretical knowledge with real-world experience.


To practice as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) in the United States, one needs to obtain a license from their state after the master’s degree. The licensure standards vary from state to state but typically require the candidate to pass a national exam, hold a graduate-level degree in speech-language pathology, and meet state-specific requirements.

Praxis Exam:

The most common exam for licensing in most states is the Praxis exam, which consists of a clinical simulation segment and a multiple-choice section. The multiple-choice section evaluates the candidate’s knowledge of speech-language pathology. At the same time, the clinical simulation component checks their clinical abilities. Some states require additional state-specific licensure tests in addition to the Praxis.

Continuing Education

SLPs must also fulfill continuing education requirements to keep their licenses current and stay informed about developments in their field. Depending on the state, continuing education units (CEUs) are typically required every one to two years. Online courses, conferences, and workshops are ways to earn these CEUs. To stay up-to-date with advancements in the industry, ongoing education is essential for SLPs and maintaining licensure. Speech-language pathology is an ever-changing profession, with new techniques and studies being developed regularly. By engaging in continuing education, SLPs can stay informed about these developments and provide the best possible care to their patients.

Career Outlook for Master degree holders in Speech Pathology

Obtaining an accredited master’s degree can significantly enhance an individual’s career prospects. A master’s degree is an advanced level of education that imparts specialized knowledge and skills relevant to a particular field. It not only boosts job opportunities but also increases earning potential and career growth.

One of the most significant benefits of pursuing a master’s degree is the potential for higher earnings. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, individuals with a master’s degree earn substantially more than those with a bachelor’s degree. The average salary for someone holding a master’s degree is around $78,000 per year, which is considerably higher than the average salary of $62,000 per year for a person with a bachelor’s degree. This wage differential can significantly impact an individual’s financial stability and future.

Moreover, obtaining a master’s degree helps individuals acquire in-depth knowledge and skills specific to their study area. The curriculum of a master’s degree program is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of their chosen field and prepare them for the challenges of their profession. This level of education can also help individuals develop critical thinking, problem-solving, and analytical abilities crucial for success in any career.


Becoming a speech therapist is a challenging but rewarding journey that requires dedication, education, and practical experience. While a bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders or a related field is a good foundation, it is generally not enough to practice as a licensed speech-language pathologist (SLP). However, it can open up opportunities for related careers and serve as a stepping stone towards pursuing a graduate degree. Graduate education in speech-language pathology is rigorous and comprehensive, focusing on clinical training, research, and theoretical knowledge. Master’s programs in speech-language pathology prepare students for the diverse challenges they will encounter in their careers, equipping them with the skills and expertise needed to make a meaningful difference in the lives of their patients.