Frequently Asked Questions

Admission to the Program

Does your program use CSDCAS? Yes. The M.A. in Communicative Disorders program uses the Communication Science and Disorders Centralized Application Service to manage admission. However, you must also apply to the NIU graduate school. Only applicants who submit to CSDCAS AND the NIU graduate school will be considered for admission.
How many student-at-large credit hours may be applied towards degree requirements? You can apply up to 12 combined semester hours of student-at-large credit and/or transfer credit toward your degree.
Can I transfer graduate credit from another school and receive credit at NIU? We will accept up to 9 hours of transfer credit.
What if I don't have an undergraduate degree in communicative disorders?

If you don't have an undergraduate degree in the discipline, you must complete the following prerequisite courses before applying to the graduation program in speech-language pathology at NIU.

  • COMD 221  Phonetics and Phonology - 3 credit
  • COMD 300  Introduction to Audiology - 3 credit
  • COMD 305  Introduction to Language Development - 3 credit
  • COMD 323  Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech & Hearing Mechanisms-3 credits
  • COMD 325  Introduction to Hearing and Speech Science - 4 credits
  • COMD 330  Neuroscience of Communication and Related Behaviors - 3 credits
  • COMD 421  Aural Rehabilitation - 3 credits
  • COMD 429  Assessment Procedures in Communicative Disorders - 3 credits
  • COMD 435  Clinical Methods in Communication Disorders - 3 credits

Program Requirements

What are the academic credit requirements to graduate? You’ll be required to complete 64 hours of graduate work: 46 academic and 18 clinical. Students typically take12 hours of academic courses and two hours of clinic per semester.
Is a master’s thesis required? No. If you’re interested in research, we strongly encourage a master’s thesis because you’ll work closely with a faculty member to pursue a research interest. However, you can also take a comprehensive exam instead of writing a thesis.
Do all students take comprehensive exams at the end of their program? You can choose to take the written comprehensive exam instead of writing a thesis at the end of your program. You’re only required to do one or the other.

Program Information

How long is the graduate program in speech-language pathology?The program is six semesters long and begins in the summer semester each year. The program follows a specific sequence and students enroll full-time.
What is the typical size of a graduate class in speech-language pathology?Our graduate courses have an average class size of 23 students.
What is the program graduation rate?The three-year average rate for graduation is 91%. More information is available on our student outcomes page.
What percentage of students enrolled in the Master's degree program in speech-language pathology pass the Praxis examination? One-hundred percent of the students from our program have passed the Praxis exam after graduating.
What percentage of graduates of the program is employed?The three-year average employment rate in the profession is 100%. More information is available on our student outcomes page.
How many faculty are there in the speech-language pathology and audiology departments?We currently have nine faculty members in speech-language pathology and seven in audiology.
Are graduate and/or research assistantships available?

There are a few half-time (10 hours per week) graduate assistantships available in the department. Some SLP graduate students also apply for and receive graduate assistantships in other departments across campus.

You may also have the opportunity to work on research projects for faculty members with externally-funded grants.

What is the cost of attending the speech-language pathology graduate program at NIU? The Office of the Bursar at NIU provides a planning and cost estimator.

Research Opportunities

Are graduate students encouraged to specialize in their studies?We don’t encourage you to specialize because we believe that a well-rounded clinician has the skills to work in all settings with diverse individuals.
Will I have the opportunity to gain additional information about a specific disorder?You’re always encouraged to follow your interests. Both our academic and clinical faculty are always available to provide expertise and provide further opportunity for clinical experience and research projects.
Are there active research programs in specific areas of study?

There are active programs of research in several areas. Students are encouraged to talk with faculty and can participate in research projects in a variety of topics:

  • mother-infant interactions and their influence on early language development
  • metrics for assessing phonological development in children under the age of three
  • language and literacy development and disorders
  • interactions between cognitive and linguistic processes in treating adult neurogenic language disorders
  • early communication skills of children with autistic spectrum disorder
  • motor and language interactions
  • Neuromotor Speech Disorders (apraxia of speech and Parkinson's disease)
  • Functional near-infrared optical brain imaging (FNIR) study
  • Speech intelligibility and cognitive processing in bilingual populations

Clinical Experience

How many clients can I expect to have during my first fall semester?Most students begin their first fall semester working with one to three clients.
What clinical opportunities might I have during my first five semesters?Clinical opportunities can be on campus at  the NIU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic or at off-campus sites.
Where might I be placed during my final semester?You’ll be placed at off-campus sites all over the northern Illinois area for full-time clinical experiences. This includes hospitals, rehab centers and school districts.
Are there special clinical programs?

Students participate in a variety of clinical programs supervised by faculty with expertise in that area:

  • specialty diagnostic teams (e.g. acquired language disorders, AAC, early intervention)
  • interdisciplinary clinics (e.g. language-literacy)

Additional Questions

What is the process if I have a complaint?

If you have a concern regarding a course you should first attempt to resolve the issue with the faculty member most directly involved. If the issue requires further resolution, the appropriate staff will intervene up to the dean if necessary. You may be asked to submit a written signed complaint.

Any student, instructor, staff member or member of the public may submit complaints about the NIU graduate speech-language pathology program.

Any specific concerns relating to the program's compliance with standards for accreditation should be signed and submitted to the CAA:

Chair, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology 
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard #310
Rockville, Maryland 20850