Do you want to help people cope with speech-related disorders? Do you have knowledge of speech and hearing sciences?

A background of undergraduate courses in speech and hearing sciences is essential to your path to earning an MS in communication sciences and disorders. If you do not have an undergraduate degree in the field, specific undergraduate courses must be taken prior to formally beginning the MS degree sequence.

Both face-to-face and online coursework is present in the degree. In addition to traditional classroom and online instruction, you will complete both part-time and full-time clinical internships. Typically, a student will graduate with a minimum of 400 clinical clock hours of experience.

The department also offers a three-year, full-time master's degree through a distance education program. We consider the distance-education program a "distance education" program, not an "online" program. Your lectures are online, but there are classes that require library research, activities in the community (service learning), and observations at health-care facilities, for example. Some classes require group work and assist you with having "cyber meetings" with your classmates.

As a speech-language pathologist, you could work with people who have a variety of speech-related disorders. These disorders can include the inability to produce speech sounds or produce them clearly; speech rhythm and fluency problems, such as stuttering; voice quality problems, such as inappropriate pitch or harsh voice; problems understanding and producing language; and cognitive communication impairments, such as attention, memory and problem solving disorders. They also work with people who have swallowing difficulties.

ECU Advantage

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has gained national attention in groundbreaking research. Our faculty's findings have led to the development of devices and methods that have made a difference for people living with speech-language conditions.

The College of Allied Health Sciences is the largest university-based allied-health provider in the state of North Carolina. The college has eight departments: Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, Biostatistics, Clinical Laboratory Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Services and Information Management, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies, and offers degrees on the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

Delivering a comprehensive professional education that will prepare allied-health graduates to make a difference in the health of the region, state, and nation was the primary reason for the creation of the College of Allied Health Sciences and its departments. Fueled by the growth and aging of our population, the demand for these highly skilled specialists is expected to greatly increase as health care continues to be a priority for our citizens.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Allyson Turnage (3310-AD Health Sciences Building; 252-744-6131; turnagea14@ecu.edu)

The master of science in communication sciences and disorders 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.


Application for admission to the graduate program in communication sciences and disorders must be initiated through the Graduate School. The department requires that the applicant take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). A minimum overall cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in undergraduate work is required with a minimum of 3.2 in communication sciences and disorders major (or pre-requisite speech-language pathology courses). The applicant must submit three letters of reference with at least two from faculty of the college(s) or university(s) previously attended. Additional requirements for admission will be posted to the department website on an annual basis.

Completed applications should be received no later than January 15 for enrollment in the fall semester. Applications for fulltime study beginning in either the spring or summer semesters will be considered only under special circumstances because of the sequential nature of the program of study. 

    Major Areas of Study

    Candidates for the MS degree in communication sciences and disorders may select from the major emphasis areas of speech-language pathology or communication sciences.

    The speech-language pathology emphasis area is a professional program designed to prepare students for credentialing as a clinical speech-language pathologist. This program of study is designed to meet all academic and clinical requirements for certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). In addition, graduates of this program may also be eligible for licensure in North Carolina as well as in most other states, and advanced licensure by the North Carolina State Department of Public Instruction.

    The communication sciences emphasis area is tailored to the special interests of the students.  This non-clinical course of study can include a substantial portion of the courses in the speech-language pathology or audiology areas. Additionally, communication sciences students are required to complete a thesis and successfully pass a final oral defense of the thesis. Students in the communication sciences emphasis do not receive clinical training and are not eligible for credentialing as a clinical speech-language pathologist.

      Degree Requirements

      The university confers the degree of master of science in communication sciences and disorders when the candidate has earned 54-56 s.h. of graduate credit. An additional 4-6 s.h. of graduate credit is available for those interested in receiving the Advanced Certificate of Teaching from the Department of Public Instruction.

      A background of undergraduate courses in speech and hearing sciences is required. For those students who do not have an undergraduate degree in the field, specific undergraduate courses must be taken prior to formally beginning the MS degree sequence. The following undergraduate courses or their equivalent must be taken prior to enrolling in graduate courses: CSDI 3010 (phonetics), 3020 (child language development), 3040 (anatomy and physiology), 3045 (speech science), 3050 (acquisition and development of phonology and articulation), 4100 (introduction to audiology), 4110 (aural rehabilitation), and 4440 (Neural Processes). See requirements for the BS degree in the undergraduate catalog for course descriptions.

      Candidates are required to take and pass a final comprehensive examination, which may be taken upon completion of enrollment in all didactic courses required for the degree in the major area of study.

        Required Courses

        Regardless of the major emphasis area chosen, 6 s.h. of specific core courses are required as follows: CSDI 6100, CSDI 6103. The communication science emphasis requires an additional 6 s.h. (CSDI 6101, CSDI 6523). The communication sciences emphasis also requires a thesis. For the speech-language pathology emphasis, only 3 s.h. of thesis credit may count toward the degree. For the communication science emphasis, 6 s.h. of thesis are required for the degree. For the speech-language pathology emphasis, a minimum of 25 hours of clinical observation are required prior to beginning any clinical experience in the graduate program.

        In addition to the general core requirements, the emphasis in speech-language pathology requires an additional 33 s.h. of didactic courses. These courses include CSDI 6101, CSDI 6104, CSDI 6106, CSDI 6108, CSDI 6109, CSDI 6110, CSDI 6112, CSDI 6113, CSDI 6114, CSDI 6200, CSDI 6320, CSDI 6321, CSDI 6901. Clinical course requirements include: CSDI 6226, CSDI 6227, CSDI 6229, CSDI 6992, CSDI 6993. CSDI 6111 and CSDI 6117 are available as electives, but cannot replace any of the required courses.

        For the candidate whose major area of study is in speech-language pathology a minimum of 250 clinical clock hours in the diagnosis and treatment of communication disorders is required at the graduate level.

        If there are no hours accumulated at the undergraduate level, 375 hours will be required at the graduate level to meet certification and licensure requirements as set forth by the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) and the North Carolina State Board of Examiners.

          For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

          Careers With This Degree

          Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

          • Audiology/Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathology
          • Audiologists
          • Speech-Language Pathologists
          • Health and Human Services
          • Education and Training
          • Audiology/Audiologist and Speech-Language Pathology

          Career Opportunities

          ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

          NC Tower

          This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

          • Self-employed;
          • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
          • Work outside of North Carolina.

          US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

          This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

          Degree-specific internships

          For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.