Communication Sciences and Disorders

(Department name effective July 1, 2012)

Speech and Hearing Clinic
201 Carter Drive
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Dr. Gunter, Chairperson
Dr. Means, Director of Clinical Services
Dr. Koenig, Graduate Coordinator

Professor [top]

Cheryl D. Gunter, Ph.D., University of Texas - Austin

Associate Professors

Elizabeth Grillo, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Mareile Koenig, Ph.D., University of Illinois
Jennifer W. Means, SLP.D., Nova Southeastern University

Assistant Professors

Sojung Kim, Ph.D., Arizona State University
Patricia Swasey Washington, Ph.D., Temple University


Judith A. Curtin, Au.D., University of Florida

Programs of Study [top]

The department offers the master of arts degree in communicative disorders. The student may choose a thesis or nonthesis program. Both programs are designed to strengthen the knowledge and skill of the practicing speech clinician, to provide the foundation for further graduate study, and to afford an opportunity to complete requirements toward professional certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Attainment of the master's degree does not necessarily guarantee recommendation for certification.

Master of Arts in Communicative Disorders

Admission Requirements

In addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to a graduate degree program at West Chester University, applicants must do the following:

  • Present an undergraduate background of at least 30 semester hours distributed among the following areas of study: psychology, human development, linguistics, statistics, speech and language development, phonetics, speech disorders, language disorders, hearing disorders, basic speech and hearing science, neurology, acoustic phonetics, and 25 hours of supervised clinical observation
  • Present undergraduate transcripts showing at least a 3.0 overall grade point average (GPA) in their undergraduate degree program and demonstrate at least a 3.0 GPA in courses in speech-language pathology and audiology
  • Demonstrate a reasonable degree of speech and language proficiency which may be measured by a written essay and a personal interview
  • Submit Graduate Record Examination scores for purposes of evaluation and guidance
  • Submit a log of undergraduate clinical practicum, when available
  • Submit two letters of recommendation
  • Submit a 500-word essay describing future goals and how West Chester University can help them achieve these goals
  • Submit the department’s supplemental application form and a structured vita (both available from CollegeNet through WCU’s online application process or for download at

Admission to Degree Candidacy

  1. The applicant may apply for degree candidacy after having completed SPP 501 and three additional SPP courses. Application must be made before the student has completed 15 semester hours of graduate work required for the degree.
  2. During the precandidacy period, the applicant must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0.

Degree Requirements [top]

  1. Candidates must meet the general University requirements for the master's degree, including completion of all required courses, with an overall GPA of 3.0.
  2. Candidates must perform satisfactorily on two objective, summative assessments. The first of these is scheduled toward the end of the first year and the second near the end of the second year of study for full-time students. For part-time students these assessments are scheduled midway through the second and third years of study, respectively. Those who fail an assessment may repeat it once within one calendar year. Candidates who chose to write a thesis are required to respond satisfactorily to questions posed by their committee members during an oral defense. Candidates must satisfactorily complete SPP 501, 511, 512, 516, 523, 524, 526, 543, 551, 575, and 582; 27 semester hours of graduate clinical practicum; and six semester hours of elective course work chosen under advisement.
  3. Graduate students must be in continuous enrollment. Exceptions may be granted by requested by submitting a written request to the graduate coordinator.
  4. The M.A. requires the completion of at least 400 clock hours of clinical practicum. A minimum of 325 hours must be completed with a grade of B or better at the graduate level.  Graduate students must commit to meeting essential functions described in a document available at

Certification Programs

Candidates for the master of arts in communicative disorders may be recommended for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology issued by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. They also may be recommended for the Pennsylvania Instructional I Certificate upon satisfactory completion of additional, required course work and clinical practicum.

The State Board of Education adopted changes that affect all of Pennsylvania's teacher certification programs by adding nine credits or 270 hours or equivalent combination for adaptations and accommodations for diverse students in an inclusive setting, and three credits or 90 hours or equivalent combination to meet the instructional needs of English language learners. Although these regulatory changes became effective on September 22, 2007, the Pennsylvania Department of Education has not yet developed final requirements for colleges/universities to follow. Therefore, changes in program requirements may be proposed.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings, and completion rates of students who attended this program.

Course Descriptions [top]

Communication Sciences and Disorders
Symbol: SPP

501 Foundations of Research in Speech Pathology (3) Introduction to the scientific process and to the interpretation and application of research in the speech sciences. A research project prospectus required.

511 Child Language Disorders I: 0 - 5 years (3) Explores disorders of early language acquisition and factors that may place infants and toddlers at risk for normal communication development. Assessment and intervention are examined from the perspective of developmental, behavioral, team-based, and family-centered frameworks.

512 Child Language Disorders II: School Age Children and Adolescents (3) Explores disorders of later language acquisition and the interaction of language disorders with academic achievement, especially in the acquisition of literacy skills. Diagnostic assessment and treatment approaches are developed using the framework proposed by ASHA.

516 Adult Neurogenic Speech and Language Disorders (3) Examine the various causes, classifications, diagnoses, and treatments of speech and language disorders in adults who have sustained neurological damage.

521 Assistive Technologies for Communication and Participation (3) This course will provide a broad overview of normal and atypical communication development with a special emphasis on aspects relevant to teachers. Specific importance will be given to the various types of communication disorders, their characteristics, and the impact of high- and low-level technology, specifically, augmentative and alternative communication systems and assistive technologies to support the child with disabilities in the K-12 classroom. This will be accomplished through a practical, project-based, and interactive online learning environment. This course is cross-listed with EDA 521.

523 Voice Disorders (3) Examination of classification, etiology, diagnosis, and therapy for functional, organic, and psychological voice disorders.

524 Fluency Disorders (3) Consideration of the nature, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of stuttering and related disorders of speech flow. Critical review of pertinent research.

526 Clinical Articulation and Phonology (3) Acoustic and physiological mechanisms underlying speech sound production; theoretical models and evidence-based practices associated with clinical management of disordered speech sound production.

543 Therapy for the Hearing Impaired (3) Evaluative and therapeutic materials and methods applicable to the improvement of communication in hard-of-hearing individuals.

551 Graduate Clinical Practicum (1.5-3) Supervised practice in the Speech and Hearing Clinic. Designed to increase diagnostic and therapeutic skills with children and adults who have communication problems. PREREQ: Permission of department. Must be completed with a GPA of at least 3.0 in all SPP 551 practicums. This course may be taken again for credit.

552 Medical Affiliation Practicum (3, 6, 9) Supervised practice in an affiliated clinic or school. Designed to increase diagnostic and therapeutic skills with children and adults who have communication disorders. PREREQ: Permission of department and GPA of at least 3.0 in all SPP 551 practica. This course may be taken again for credit.

553 School-based Affiliation Practicum (3, 6, 9) Supervised practice in an affiliated clinic. Designed to increase diagnostic and therapeutic skills with children and adults who have communication disorders. PREREQ: Minimum 3.0 GPA in all SPP 551 practica and permission of the department.

560 Seminar in Speech Pathology (1-3) Selected theoretical and clinical areas of speech pathology and related disciplines. Topics vary each semester according to research developments and student needs. This course may be taken again for credit.

565 Communicative Enhancement for Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (3) Within the framework of evidence-based practice, this course addresses the principles and strategies involved in the assessment and enhancement of communication skills needed by individuals with autism spectrum disorders to express their interactions and to meet the communicative demands of the environment. Also considered is the role of communicative enhancement in the prevention of behavior problems and in the design and positive behavior support plans.

570 School Language, Speech and Hearing Programs (3) Orientation to and observation of the organization, administration, and operation of school speech-language and hearing programs (preschool through grade 12).

573 Administration and Supervision of Speech and Hearing Programs (3) Nature and scope of supervisory positions in speech and hearing programs. Emphasis on administrative problems.

575 Medical Speech Pathology (3) This course is designed to provide graduate students with an introduction to the terminology, documentation, types of insurance, and interactions with other medical disciplines, as well as frequently observed disorders, assessments, and interventions associated with pediatric and adult patients in a medical setting (e.g., acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities). The course is also designed to expose the student to the code of ethics and scope of practice within a medical setting as determined by the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA).

580 Orofacial Anomalies (3) Comprehensive consideration of the nature, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders associated with orofacial anomalies, particularly cleft lip and cleft palate.

582 Dysphagia (3) This course prepares students to identify anatomical and neurological structures in swallowing, as well as assess, treat, and modify diets for patients with normal and abnormal swallowing patterns.

589 Neuromuscular Disorders (3) Nature, causes, diagnosis, and treatment of communication disorders associated with neuromuscular dysfunction, with particular attention to the cerebral palsies.

590 Independent Study (1-3) Individualized research projects, reports, and/or readings in speech pathology or audiology under faculty supervision. PREREQ: Approval of department chairperson.

598 Workshop in Communicative Disorders (3)

610 Thesis (1-6)