Communication Disorders (CD) is the major you would choose if you are interested in how people learn to communicate and what can be done to help those who experience a breakdown in their communication ability due to illness, accident, or atypical development. With a graduate degree, you may become a certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Many people who choose this major have an interest in working with people, and perhaps have thought about a career in teaching but think they would prefer more one-on-one contact with a particular focus on speech, language, or hearing. This major also appeals to students who have interests in a variety of biological and/or social sciences, since the curriculum weaves aspects of psychology, sociology, and biology with linguistics and human development. A bachelor’s degree in CD helps prepare you to work with people across the life span, such as infants and toddlers in early intervention programs, children in school settings, or adults in hospitals or rehabilitation centers.
The bachelor’s degree program in CD here at Emerson College offers you the opportunity to obtain an excellent, well-rounded education in the fields of speech-language pathology and audiology.
We pride ourselves in the close relationships we build with our students. Classes in this major are often no larger than 25 to 30 students, and are taught by highly qualified faculty. Students begin taking CD courses in their freshman year and continue to do so throughout their four years of study. We weave clinical application of knowledge into our courses throughout the curriculum. Because we are a small program, it is easy for you to get to know others in your major. Likewise, your major professors will get to know you. Our faculty offices are in the same building as many of the CD classes, the in-house speech and hearing clinical program, and your student mailbox. Faculty have an open-door policy, welcoming student contact outside of class.
One of the unique aspects of our program at Emerson is the number of different clinical opportunities available to undergraduates. In your first year, you will take a course called Introduction to Communication Disorders, which includes class sessions devoted to observing videotaped therapy and evaluation sessions. You will learn how to use clinical terminology when reporting your clinical observations. As part of the course, Language Acquisition, taken in your sophomore year, you will spend time observing normal young children as they acquire speech and language skills in their preschool classroom. In your junior year, coursework is supplemented by your direct observation of treatment sessions in the Robbins Speech, Language and Hearing Center here on campus. In your senior year, if you elect to take Field Experience, you will be placed in a local school, hospital, or clinic as an assistant to a certified speech-language pathologist or audiologist. Additionally, there are often volunteer opportunities to assist graduate students working with clients in our various clinical programs.
Yes. Many of our students have attended the Kasteel Well program in the Netherlands for a semester. You would meet with your academic advisor in advance to plan your course sequence. Since CD courses are typically not offered at Kasteel Well, you would simply take more courses in your major during the semesters just prior to, and upon return from, your semester away.
Yes. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association sets national standards of education to practice in our field; individual states require that you have a graduate degree in order to obtain a license to practice.
If two students have comparable records, the student with a bachelor’s degree in CD from Emerson is given priority. Students must keep in mind, however, that admission to any graduate program in CD can be competitive and all applicants must meet certain criteria to be admitted. We want to accept our undergraduates into the graduate program, and we do so whenever we can. We have instituted an early application process for Emerson seniors who want to apply to our graduate CD program. The application fee is waived, only two letters of recommendation are required, and students are notified by Dec. 1 about their admission decision. In this way, we hope to encourage our strong CD seniors to apply to our graduate program.
With a bachelor’s degree in CD you may be hired as a speech-language pathology aide or an audiology technician. As such, you would be assisting the licensed speech-language pathologist or audiologist with treatment or evaluation. Under their supervision, you may conduct initial hearing screenings or carry out speech therapy programs designed by the speech-language pathologist. Aide and technician positions are becoming increasingly common in schools, hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities. These jobs are an excellent way to apply your undergraduate education and gain valuable experience in a work environment.
A majority of students with undergraduate degrees in CD decide to become speech-language pathologists or audiologists, but many of our graduating seniors have gone on to graduate programs in special education, social work, public health, deaf education, sign language interpreter training, and other areas. Some have deferred a decision about graduate school and taken jobs as speech-language pathology aides, audiology technicians, or teacher aides.
Many CD students minor in areas to complement the CD major and broaden their education. Here are some examples:
- A minor in marketing communication would teach you to develop communication strategies for organizations that deliver healthcare services, develop community outreach programs, or advertise clinical products produced for speech-language pathologists.
- With a minor in political communication, you could work with the public in grassroots organizations around issues such as patient advocacy and disability rights, or as an advocate at various levels of government around issues affecting public policy.
- Many CD students minor in psychology, science, and/or hearing and deafness. These areas prepare you well for graduate school in CD or can lead to other career paths.
- Our unique minor in health communication would introduce you to a field that applies marketing and public relations skills to health.
No. If you apply and are accepted to Emerson College, you may declare your major in CD without any further application procedure. An interview is not required.
Yes. A double major requires careful advising from a faculty member in each of the programs in which you wish to major. Different programs, however, have different degree requirements and you may find that you cannot complete the requirements of both programs in four years because of course conflicts.
CD students have historically been among the most active on campus. They have been student government leaders, orientation leaders, family weekend staff, resident assistants, and have been actively involved in the radio/TV stations and athletic teams. CD students have been performers in major theatrical productions on campus. We have an active chapter of the National Student Speech, Language and Hearing Association on campus, a CSD Journal Club, and we host American Sign Language (ASL) Emerson, a group that gets together to practice sign language and interact with the deaf community. Many of our students volunteer for service programs such as Jumpstart or Best Buddies.
It’s easy to get to know students who share your academic interests, as you will be in class with them. But you will have many other opportunities to meet and make friends with people who share your other interests. The sky is the limit as far as participation on campus is concerned.