Communicative Disorders Program Department of Special Education

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Frequently Asked Questions About the CD Program at SFSU

  1. What is required to earn a bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders?

  2. Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in Communicative Disorders to enter the Master’s Program? What if I have a bachelor's degree in another area? Can I take undergraduate CD courses through Open University (College of Extended Learning)?

  3. What are the requirements to apply to the graduate program and what are the desirable qualifications?

  4. What are the academic and clinical practica requirements for the M.S. degree in speech-language pathology?

  5. How long will it take to complete the graduate program?

  6. What is the program completion rate?

  7. What is the passing rate for the Praxis II exam?

  8. How many students are enrolled in the program and what is the average class size?

  9. Tell me about the on- and off-campus clinical experience.

  10. When I complete the program, what qualifications will I possess?

  11. What is the employment rate within the first year following graduation?

  12. What are the special areas of expertise and research for the faculty members?

  13. What are the costs for the program and what financial support is available?

  14. When are classes offered and will I be able to work and complete the program?

  15. How many coursework units in communicative disorders will I be able to transfer into the program at SFSU?

  16. Can I take courses in the CD program as a non-matriculated student?

  17. How can I learn more about the CD program at San Francisco State University?


1. What is required to earn a bachelor's degree in Communicative Disorders?

The undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders, requires a minimum of 120 units. Individuals entering the undergraduate CD program must hold the status of junior and declare CD their major in order to take undergraduate coursework.

All undergraduate students, regardless of their intention to become an audiologist or speech-language pathologist, take the same coursework. There are 12 core courses required for the major.

The B.A. is not a terminal degree. The Master of Science degree is required for employment as a speech-language pathologist. Graduation from the B.A. program does not guarantee admission into the master's program in speech-language pathology. Entrance into the master's program is highly competitive.

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2. Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in Communicative Disorders (CD) to enter the Master’s Program? What if I have a degree in another area? Can I take undergraduate CD courses through Open University (College of Extended Learning)?

Students who plan to apply to graduate study in preparation for working as a speech-language pathologist must have completed an undergraduate degree in communicative disorders or the equivalent. The CD Program regrets that we no longer have resources to admit students with undergraduate degrees in other fields as "Conditional Graduate Students." However, we value students with backgrounds from other fields and strongly encourage you to apply after you've completed the equivalent of a bachelor's degree curriculum in CD.

In order to apply for the Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders (CD) at San Francisco State University, applicants must posses a bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders or the equivalent. Those applicants who have completed 12 undergraduate courses, as listed on the SFSU CD website (http://www.sfsu.edu/~comdis/bachelors.html) are considered to have met the equivalent of the bachelor’s degree curriculum. In order to apply to the CD Graduate Program, we require that applicants have completed a minimum of 6 courses. Prior to enrolling in the CD Graduate Program, we require that candidates have completed at least 9 courses. Remaining prerequisite courses not completed or available to candidates may be completed as part of the graduate program.

At this time, our undergraduate courses are not available to postbaccalaureate students, nor do we offer an on-line option. We encourage prospective master's candidates to complete the equivalent of the CD coursework via university or on-line course offerings at other institutions.

In addition, some programs offer online bachelor's level courses in speech-language pathology:

Additional options for completion of undergraduate courses may be found on the American Speech- Language Hearing Association website, under “Find an Academic Program” (http://www.asha.org/students/academic/EdFind/) .

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3. What are the requirements to apply to the graduate program and what are the desirable qualifications?

The general requirements for admission to graduate studies at all California State University campuses are in accordance with University regulations as well as Title 5, Chapter 1, Subchapter 3 of the California Code of Regulations. Specifically, a student shall (1) have completed a four-year college course of study and hold an acceptable baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting association, or shall have completed equivalent academic preparations as determined by appropriate campus authorities; (2) be in good academic standing at the last college or University attended; (3) have attained a grade point average of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units attempted; and (4) satisfactorily meet the professional, personal, scholastic, and other standards for graduate study, including qualifying examinations, as appropriate campus authorities may prescribe. In unusual circumstances, a campus may make exceptions to these criteria.

Each department and program at the University can set additional admission requirements. The CD program requires a departmental application containing the following:
1. Official transcript
2. Minimum two letters of recommendation
3. Minimum 3.0 grade point average (GPA) in academic major
4. Personal essay
5. CBEST passed (if California resident)

Applicants will be required to submit evidence of one of the following as a part of their application for admission to our M.S. in Communicative Disorders:

  • score of at least 3.5/6.0 on the GRE Analytical Writing Test or GMAT Analytic Writing Assessment;
  • score of at least 4.5/6.0 on the essay test of the paper-based [PBT] TOEFL (a minimum score of 24/30 on the Writing section of the Internet-based test [iBT] TOEFL);
  • score of at least 6.5/9.0 on the IELTS writing test, or a concordant score on the Pearson Test of English;
  • a passing status score of at least 220 on the CSET Writing Skills Test;

Applicants who do not meet one of these requirements will be denied admission.

Each faculty member individually reviews each applicant’s file and rates the applicant using a 1-5 scale. Ratings of all faculty members are combined and the applicants are rank ordered. Applicants are rated across five areas of equal weight:

  1. Academic Performance: Examples of sources of information for academic performance include academic transcripts and letters of recommendation from an academic source.
  2. Writing Skills: Examples of sources of information for writing skills are the applicant's performance on the writing requirement (listed above) and quality of writing in the applicant's application materials.
  3. Clinical Potential: Clinical potential refers to the demonstration of professional qualities that are important for the practice of speech-language pathology, such as strong communication skills, good interpersonal skills, respect for individuals with diverse abilities. The Essential Functions Guide describes the essential characteristics necessary for success in the SLP field.
  4. Commitment to Diversity: Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to the promotion of diversity and respect for individuals of different ages, gender, race, religions, sexual orientation, language backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  5. Recommendations: Letters from individuals who can speak to the applicant's potential for success with graduate studies in the CD field. At least one letter should be from an academic source.

Although 95% of all applicants meet our minimal acceptable standards, the actual acceptance rate is between 20 and 30%, with GPA’s generally at 3.5 or higher.

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4. What are the academic and clinical practica requirements for the M.S. degree in speech-language pathology?

San Francisco State University is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The Communicative Disorders Program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Speech-Language Pathology, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC), and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).

The Master of Science degree program for speech-language pathology includes 30 units of core academic courses and 21-28 units of clinical practica as recommended/required by the Council for Clinical Certification (CFCC) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the California Board of Medical Quality Assurance, and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, respectively.

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5. How long will it take to complete the graduate program?

The length of the program is related to full-time or part-time enrollment. For example, full-time enrollment is equal to about 15 units each semester. With an undergraduate degree in communicative disorders, the full-time classified graduate student should complete the requirements for the Master of Science degree in two years (4 semesters).

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6. What is the graduate program completion rate?

Based on the most recent data, 96% of the graduate students completed the program of study; 85% of them completed the program within the estimated time frame (4 semesters for full-time classified graduate students). Taking less than a full-time academic load lengthens the estimated time required to complete the master's degree.

The California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, requires that all the requirements for a master's degree be completed within a seven-year period.

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7. What is the passing rate for the Praxis II exam?

CD graduate students take the national Praxis II exam in speech-language pathology during their final semester in the program. This multiple-choice exam is required for ASHA certification, CA licensure, and the Speech-Language Pathology Services Credential (see question #10 below). Based on the current data, the first-time pass rate for SFSU CD students taking the Praxis II exam is 92%.

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8. How many students are enrolled in the program and what is the average class size?

There are approximately 200 students enrolled in the CD Program (100 undergraduate students and 100+ graduate students). Our students are representative of the rich diversity of the San Francisco Bay Area. The size of undergraduate courses averages 45 students. The size of graduate courses averages 30 students. On-campus clinics are limited to 4 students per clinical supervisor.

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9. Tell me about the on- and off-campus clinical experiences in speech-language pathology.

A minimum of 400 clock hours in a minimum of three types of clinical settings serving adults and children with a variety of communicative disorders is required by ASHA. Graduate students typically take a clinic every semester of their enrollment in the CD program.

Graduate students are required to complete four clinics on campus (articulation, child language, adult rehabilitation, and diagnostics). Off-campus clinical practica occur during student teaching and aural rehabilitation experiences in the public schools, and internship in a hospital/ rehabilitation/ community setting.

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10. When I complete the graduate program, what qualifications will I possess?

DEGREE. Graduates of the CD Program possess a Master of Science degree in Communicative Disorders, with a specialty in speech-language pathology.

ASHA CERTIFICATION. In addition, graduates are eligible for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in speech-language pathology by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Although not a legal requirement, ASHA certification is recognized by employers throughout the nation as a symbol of professional training and competence, particularly for speech-language pathologists. ASHA's website is: http://www.asha.org.

ASHA requires that, after graduation, the individual undergo a 9-month full-time clinical fellowship (CF) experience, in which he or she is employed while being supervised by someone who holds ASHA certification. Upon completion of the CF experience, coupled with state licensure (see below), the individual can practice independently.

CALIFORNIA STATE LICENSURE. The practice of speech-language pathology in the state of California requires a license issued by the Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology Board (SLPAB). Exempt settings are public schools and federal agencies. The academic and clinical requirements for state licensure essentially parallel those for ASHA certification. Following graduation, the individual undergoes a Required Professional Experience (RPE) for 9 month's full-time employment while supervised by someone who holds CA state licensure. After the RPE is completed, the individual can practice independently.

SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY SERVICES CREDENTIAL (SLPSC). The SLPSC is issued by the CA Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CCTC) for individuals intending to practice speech-language pathology in the public schools. Recent legislation allows speech-language pathologists who possess a CA state license to work in the schools as consultants without the SLPSC. Be advised, however, that many school districts are choosing to hire only individuals who hold the SLPSC. Therefore, it is recommended that graduate students complete the requirements for the SLPSC.

Once the graduate has completed the requirements for the Speech-Language Pathology Services Credential with or without Special Class Authorization, the credential(s) will be awarded following proof of receipt of the Master of Science degree, a passing score on the Praxis II Speech-Language Pathology Test, and completion of a 36-week, full-time, mentored clinical experience or equivalent supervised practicum.

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11. What is the employment rate within the first year following graduation?

Based on the current data, 100% of our graduates were employed within their first year following graduation. At least half of the new graduates were employed in the California public school system, followed by hospitals and rehabilitation centers.

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12. What are the special areas of expertise and research for the CD faculty and advisers?

In addition to academic teaching, all full-time CD faculty supervise on- and off-campus clinical practica. Faculty who teach a disorder seminar usually are responsible for supervising therapy for the clients with the disorder.

All students are advised every semester regarding the upcoming semester (coursework and clinical practica). The undergraduate and graduate advisers are Drs. Laura Epstein, Minnie Graham (spring semester only), and Betty Yu. Advising week is announced in classes and information bulletins are posted near the CD office (BH113).

CD faculty are engaged in scholarly and creative activities. Recent publications and research activities include child language and bilingual/multicultural language issues (Epstein), alaryngeal speech rehabilitation and group treatment across communicative disorders (Graham), collaboration and augmentative and alternative communication (Robinson), and issues of culture and language in bilingual, immigrant families of children with autism spectrum disorders (Yu). In addition to research activities, several of the faculty are concurrently engaged in clinical practice at other facilities within the San Francisco Bay Area community. These activities provide a well-rounded mix of academic and reality-based experiences that are shared with the CD students.

The CD Program benefits from the academic and clinical expertise of a number of part-time lecturers and supervisors. For more information, visit the Faculty and Staff page.

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13. What are the costs for the program and what financial support is available?

Information regarding tuition (residency requirements, out-of-state tution, etc.) can be accessed at http://www.sfsu.edu/~bulletin/current/fee.htm Financial aid information is located at http://www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/

A variety of scholarships are opportunities are available within the CD Program and beyond. For more information, visit the CD Program scholarship information page.

The university also supports a work study program on http://www.sfsu.edu/~finaid/newworkstudy.html and other employment opportunities on campus: http://www.sfsu.edu/jobs.htm

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14. When are classes offered and will I be able to work and complete the program?

All of the undergraduate and graduate courses in communicative disorders are offered once per year. The classes are arranged in a yearly sequence so that fall semester courses are prerequisites for spring semester courses. Second year undergraduate/graduate courses require completion of the first year coursework. Therefore, it is not advised to apply to the CD program in the spring semester without prior coursework in CD.

All undergraduate and graduate coursework in the CD program is offered in 3 hour blocks, once a week, during the daytime (e.g., 9:10 – 11:55 a.m. or 1:10 – 3:55 p.m.) The average full-time courseload is four classes, so a student’s schedule may require them to be on campus all day Monday (2 classes), Tuesday morning (1 class), and Thursday afternoon (1 class), for example. On-campus clinics are offered twice a week in 90-minute blocks, usually in the late afternoon (e.g., 4:00 – 5:30 p.m., or 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.).

Many of the current students in the CD program balance part-time employment and their academic pursuit. Taking less than a full-time academic load will lengthen the estimated time required to complete the master's degree. (See #5 & #6 above).

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15. How many coursework units in communicative disorders will I be able to transfer into the program at SFSU?

All undergraduate coursework in communicative disorders taken at other CAA-accredited CD programs is transferable.

A maximum of 6 semester units in graduate coursework in communicative disorders taken at other CAA-accredited CD programs is transferable into the master’s program at SFSU.

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16. Can I take prerequisite courses in the CD program as a non-matriculated student?

We are unable to accommodate students who are not in the CD program because we have limited seating and priority is given to CD students.

While it is not possible for postbaccalaureate students to take prerequisite CD coursework at SFSU, you may want to pursue taking such coursework online. The SFSU CD program does not offer online coursework, however, there are other ASHA accredited universities that do. To find a current listing of those programs, go to http://hes.asha.org:8080/EdFind/Masters/MastersSearch.aspx and search for programs in speech-language pathology that have "distance education availability."

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17. How can I learn more about the CD program and San Francisco State University?

After exploring the remainder of this website, you may want to contact the CD Clinic office (415.338.1001 or cdinfo@sfsu.edu) to make an appointment to meet with an adviser. Or you may contact the appropriate CD faculty directly:

Dr. Laura Epstein, Assistant Professor,Interim Program Coordinator, Undergraduate and Graduate Adviser at 415.3381058 or lepstein@sfsu.edu

Dr. Minnie Graham, Professor, Undergraduate and Graduate Adviser (spring semester only) at 415.338.7656 or mgraham@sfsu.edu

Dr. Betty Yu, Assistant Professor, Undergraduate and Graduate Adviser at 415.338.3429 or bettyyu@sfsu.edu

Dr. Patti Solomon-Rice, Assistant Professor, Undergraduate and Graduate Adviser at 415.338.7652 or psolomon@sfsu.edu

Also, there are group informational meetings about the CD program held several times each semester.

Take time to visit the One Stop Student Services website at http://www.sfsu.edu/~puboff/onestop.htm

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