Graduate Admission to Specialize in Speech-Language Pathology

Our specialization in speech-language pathology will prepare you to enter the field as a confident, knowledgeable and well-prepared professional. This program is designed for full-time students. It allows you to finish your degree in six terms while working alongside peers in a supportive cohort environment.

Admission Requirements

Your three letters of recommendation should come from professors or employers that can attest to your abilities to succeed in a graduate program and your qualifications. Your letter of intent should help us get to know you. We want to know what steps you took to prepare yourself for graduate study in speech-language pathology and what your goals will be as a graduate student at NIU. A competitive applicant has above a 3.6 cumulative GPA, strong letters of recommendation and enrichment experiences outside of the classroom. See Admission statistics.

Admission to specialize in speech-language pathology is limited to the summer term with an application deadline of January 1.

To be considered for admission, applicants must apply by January 1 through CSDCAS and through NIU's graduate school admission system. At the time of application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, your resume and a letter of intent should be submitted only to CSDCAS. If admitted, you will be asked to send NIU official transcripts certifying your bachelor's degree. When students accept their admission offer, they will be asked to enter into a matriculation agreement with NIU. The agreement requires a $100 non-refundable deposit to hold your spot in the program. The amount of the deposit will be applied to the first year’s tuition unless the agreement is broken, which will result in forfeiture of the deposit.

Prerequisite Requirements

If you don't have an undergraduate degree in communicative disorders, you will need to complete some prerequisites before applying to the graduate program. Get more information on prerequisite requirements.

Basic Sciences

Before applying to the graduate program, you should complete specific courses in statistics, biological sciences, physical sciences and social sciences. These classes also serve as prerequisites for the required courses in communicative disorders.

Human Communication Sciences and Disorders

Once you have completed the basic sciences prerequisites, you can work on the 28 hours of required communicative disorders courses. These courses are undergraduate and will provide you the background knowledge needed for the graduate program. In addition, they will count toward the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's certification requirements.

You can take these classes at Northern Illinois University by applying as a communications disorders student through undergraduate admissions. Once admitted, contact the School of Allied Health & Communicative Disorders to declare your major and work with an advisor to plan out which prerequisites you still need.

If you take the prerequisite courses at another college be sure to verify that they are the equivalent to our requirements.

Thesis Information

As you apply for the speech-language pathology specialization, consider if you'd like to complete a thesis upon graduation. You don't have to decide when you submit your application, but it is helpful to think your research goals about as you plan your educational path.

Thesis option

You'll work closely with a faculty mentor to construct a thesis and perform research in a specialized area of interest. You can work on it throughout the program and submit it when you have completed your coursework.

Note: Only three credit hours of thesis coursework can be applied toward degree completion.

Exam option

If you decide not to complete a thesis, you will take a comprehensive exam to test your knowledge and ability in speech-language pathology at the end of the program.

Requesting Accommodations

A student may request reasonable accommodations to meet the essential functions of the program by submitting such a request in writing to the program director at the Disability Resource Center (DRC). If you need an accommodation for any class, please contact the DRC. The DRC coordinates accommodations for students with disabilities. It is located in the Campus Life Building, suite 180 and can be reached at 815-753-1303 or

Northern Illinois University's speech-language pathology program maintains curriculum and policies and procedures for admission, internal and external clinical placements and retention of students that reflect consideration of cultural, linguistic and individual diversity. A positive clinical and learning environment is based upon mutual respect, open communication and nondiscrimination; and our program and facilities do not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, age, disability, veteran status, religion, sexual orientation, color or national origin.

The following are basic essential functions of physical health, emotional health and communication required for matriculation in the program and all clinical settings. In compliance with the American Disabilities Act and the Council on Academic Accreditation in Speech-Language Pathology, students must have:

  • Adequate physical health to meet job requirements and not endanger the health of the student, patient or employee.
  • Adequate emotional health to work safely and accurately under stress.
  • The ability to use oral and written communication effectively in English and to read, understand and follow directions printed in English.

Students applying whose native language is not English must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores administered no more than 24 months prior to the beginning of the academic term for which admission is sought. Students must earn an IELTS score of 6.5 or TOEFL score of at least 80 on the TOEFL IBT, 213 on TOEFL CBT or at least 550 on the PBT where applicable. Students may be required to improve their competence in English by earning an A or B in either ENGL 451 and ENGL 452, or ENGL 453. International students should review the special instructions for admission on the Graduate School website.