Program Summary

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders offers an on-campus graduate degree program that provides students with career-ready skills and the hands-on experience needed to make an immediate impact on people’s lives.

Students receive classroom and hands-on preparation in applying family-focused, developmental, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, and medical models to the assessment and treatment of a broad range of communication disorders and differences. We welcome students applying from a wide variety of undergraduate degree programs. Our diverse pool of applicants includes those who have not completed their undergraduate studies in communication disorders.

Students interested in the Online Communication Disorders (MS) program should visit the Speech@Emerson website.

Apply Now


The 54-credit curriculum is designed to prepare you to work with the full array of communication disorders across the lifespan. It is a combination of 42 credits of academic coursework, 4 credits of clinical methods, 5 credits of clinical practicum and 3 credits of intersession courses.

Academic Requirements (42 credits):

Number Term Course Credits
CD 680 Fall 1st year Neurologic Bases of Communication 3
CD 686 Fall 1st year Preschool Language Disorders 3
CD 609 Fall 1st year Research Methods and Measurements 3
CD 645 Spring 1st year Language and Literacy Disabilities 3
CD 635 Spring OR Summer 1st year Speech Sound Disorders 3
CD 642 Spring 1st year Autism: Social Communication 3
CD 690 Spring OR Summer 1st year Aphasia 3
CD 641 Summer 1st year OR Fall 2nd year Dysphagia 3
CD 689 Summer 1st year OR Fall 2nd year Aural Rehabilitation for the Speech-Language Pathologist 3
CD 623 Fall OR Spring 2nd year Fluency Disorders 3
CD 650 Fall OR Spring 2nd year Motor Speech Disorders 3
CD 677 Fall OR Spring 2nd year Voice Disorders 3
CD 684 Fall OR Spring 2nd year Augmentative and Alternative Communication 3
CD 692 Fall OR Spring 2nd year Cognitive Communicative Disorders 3

Clinical Methods Requirements (4 credits)

Number Term Course Credits
CD 600 Fall Intro to Clinical Methods* 1 (non-tuition course)
CD 601 Fall OR Spring 1st year Clinical Methods I 1
CD 602 Spring 1st year OR Fall 2nd year Clinical Methods II 1
CD 603 Fall OR Spring 2nd Year Clinical Methods III 1
CD 604 Spring 2nd Year Clinical Methods IV 1

*CD 600 is only required if you begin the program without 25 hours of clinical observation.

Clinical Practicum Requirements (5 credits)

Number Term Course Credits
CD 611 Fall or Spring 1st year Clinical Practicum 1
CD 612 Spring 1st year or Summer Clinical Practicum 1
CD 613 Summer of Fall 2nd Year Clinical Practicum 1
CD 614 Fall 2nd Year or Spring 2nd Year Clinical Practicum 1
CD 615 Spring 2nd Year or Summer 2nd Year (for August Graduates) Clinical Practicum 1

Students must satisfy both (1) the Emerson College requirements that they enroll in at least 5 semesters of Clinical Practica (CD 601-615) while in the program and (2) the ASHA requirements to accumulate at least 400 hours. These are both minimums and they are independent requirements. To complete the 400 clock hours required by ASHA, 25 hours must be spent in clinical observation and 375 hours must be spent in direct client/patient contact. Of the 375 contact hours, at least 325 must be obtained within the graduate program.

Intersession Course Requirements (3 credits):

Three 1-credit seminars are taken during winter and spring intersessions. Students choose three from the available courses offered.

Sample courses:

  • Craniofacial Anomalies
  • Counseling and Family Systems
  • Early Intervention
  • Linguistically and Culturally Diverse Populations
  • Progressive Neurodegenerative Disorders
  • Practical Approaches to Fluency Therapy
  • Practicing Speech-Language Pathology in a Medical Setting 

Program Foundations

All students entering the Master’s in Communication Disorders program need to complete six foundational courses prior to matriculating/enrolling into the program.

Please note that students that have taken these courses and either received a B or below, or have taken these courses over five years ago, will need to retake foundational coursework in order to satisfy this requirement.

  • CD 625 - Speech and Hearing Anatomy and Physiology
  • CD 626 - Language Acquisition
  • CD 627 - Survey of Communication Disorders
  • CD 628 - Clinical Observations and Foundations
  • CD 629 - Phonetics and Acoustics
  • CD 630 - Introductory Audiology

In order to take Communication Disorders foundational coursework at Emerson, you will need to be admitted into the program and have paid your enrollment deposited. Once admitted into the program, you will be notified of the foundational coursework you’ll need to fulfill. Emerson will be offering these courses over the Summer Term, and we highly recommend completing your foundational courses with us.

The Graduate Program Director will need to approve foundational coursework that will be taken at Emerson or at an alternative institution. If you intend on taking foundational courses with Emerson, your Graduate Program Director will be registering you for these courses.  Please notify patti_nelson [at] (Patti Nelson) to confirm your foundational plan of study.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Emerson specialize in any disorder or population?

Our goal is to prepare generalist clinicians who can successfully work with the entire range of disorders and differences across the lifespan. The coursework and clinical practica in our program provide rich opportunities for students to acquire strong clinical skills with children and adults having communication disorders and differences. Some students choose to develop a more specialized expertise through a combination of elective seminars, work with particular client populations, and/or participating in research projects.

Can I transfer graduate credits from another institution to Emerson’s program?

Credit for up to two graduate courses may be transferred if they were completed at an ASHA-accredited graduate program before you entered Emerson, earned a grade of B or better, and are approved by the Emerson Graduate Program Director. Transfer credit is only approved following review of a course syllabus. Transfer credits cannot have been counted toward any other completed degree.

Can I complete this program online?  

Emerson offers an online, fully-accredited version of this program called Speech@Emerson. Our online program features that same curriculum and faculty as our on-campus program. Please note there is a separate application process for applying to Speech@Emerson.

May I start the program in January or during the summer?

Graduate students for the on-campus graduate program are only admitted for a September start. Our online Speech@Emerson program has three cohort starts throughout the year, in January, May and September. foundational courses for the inaugural cohort begin in September 2018.

Is it possible to complete the program part-time?

Emerson’s program is designed for full-time study. Full-time is typically three academic courses, a clinical methods course, and clinical assignments (practicum). Please refer to Speech@Emerson if you are interested in a part-time more flexible course of study.

How long will it take to complete the on-campus degree?

Those entering with an undergraduate major in Communication Disorders who have completed their 25 hours of observation as part of a course or program complete the coursework and clinical requirements for the degree in two academic years and the intervening summer. Others need an additional summer to complete all degree requirements.

How long will it take to complete the online degree?

Our online program can be completed on a full-time basis in as few as 20 months or on a part-time basis in 36 months. You can apply and be admitted to the online program without taking all of the undergraduate-level Communication Disorders courses prior to applying.

If you need to complete undergraduate-level Communication Disorders foundational courses as part of your plan of study, the program will take longer to complete.

When do I start clinical work?

We require at least 25 observation hours be completed prior to beginning clinical work.

Students entering the program with completed observation hours may begin clinical work during their first semester. These observation hours must be documented with signed verification from faculty within a college- or university-based course in Communication Disorders. Students who enter the program without 25 verified observation hours will acquire these hours during their first semester and will begin clinical work during their second semester.

Can I obtain the required observation hours on my own?

No. We accept observation hours that were acquired through an undergraduate course of study, associated with a particular course and verified by the course instructor. If you enter our program without completing the observation hours, you will obtain them during your first semester through coursework in the graduate program.

Do I need an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders to be admitted to the on-campus master’s program?

No! The only requirement is that you have completed our required foundational coursework. Approximately half of each entering graduate class have undergraduate degrees, and often careers, in other areas.

Is the program accredited?

Emerson’s program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (, and has been since 1980.

The program is also a Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education–approved program for the preparation of Teachers of Students with Speech, Language and Hearing Disorders (all levels, pre-K through 12).

What undergraduate coursework is required for ASHA certification purposes?

You must have had one college-level course in each of the following areas:

  • Biological Science
  • Physics or Chemistry
  • Statistics
  • Social/Behavioral Sciences

If you have not completed these courses before entering the graduate program, they should be completed by the end of the first year in the program.

High school Advanced Placement (AP) courses can fulfill these requirements if the courses were accepted for undergraduate credit and are listed on an undergraduate transcript with the course titles and grades.

Student Outcome Data

The Praxis examination is a national examination administered by ETS (Educational Testing Service), and is taken by our graduates in order to qualify for ASHA certification, as well as licensure in many states.

Over the past three years, close to 100% of our students passed the examination on their first attempt.

Praxis Statistics
Time Period # Students Taking Exam Pass Rate (%)
2015 – 2016 38 100%
2016 – 2017 48 100%
2017 – 2018 39 97%
3-Year Average
(2015 – 2018)
42 99%
Graduation Statistics
Time Period # Students Completed Program within Expected Time Frame # Students Completed Later than Expected Time Frame # Students Not Completing % Students Completing within Expected Time Frame
2015 – 2016 38   1 97%
2016 – 2017 48 1 1 96%
2017 – 2018 39   3 92%
3-Year Average
(2015 – 2018)
42 <1 2 95%

Close to 100% of our master's degree program graduates have found Clinical Fellowship positions within three months of starting a search. Many graduates have jobs prior to commencement.

Post-Graduate Employment Rate

  Employment Rate in Profession
Period # of Graduates % of Graduates
2015 – 2016 38 100%
2016 – 2017 47 98%
2017 – 2018 39 95%
3-Year Average (2015 – 2018) 41 98%


Council on Academic Accreditation Logo

The master’s of science education program in speech-language pathology at Emerson College is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700.

Any concerns specific to the program's accreditation status should first be addressed to the program and Emerson College and then to the CAA.

MS in Communication Disorders