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For Future COMD Students

This section provides information for future COMD students on essential functions of master's degree students, financial aid information, tuition and fees, university links, information about the Columbia community, and more. Let us know if you need additional information. 

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders serves to fulfill its mission in educating students who will become leading clinical scientists and researchers in their work settings. Throughout this process, the department does not discriminate against any persons on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or sexual orientation. Students within the department are treated in a nondiscriminatory manner-that is, without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national or ethnic origin, disability, age, sexual orientation, genetic information, citizenship, or status as a covered veteran. The department complies with all applicable laws, regulations, and executive orders pertaining thereto.

COMD Information

Prerequisite Coursework

All applicants to the graduate programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders must have completed college-level coursework in the each following: 1) a human biological science (not marine biology, etc.), 2) a social/behavioral science (e.g. psychology), 3) Physics or Chemistry, and 4) statistics. These must be stand alone courses, and not simply material that is part of a course covering a broad range of topics. Our department does not consider a course whose content is limited to the anatomy and physiology of the speech, language, and hearing systems (as taught in a CSD program) as meeting the biology requirement. Similarly, a course in "speech science" taught in a CSD program is not a satisfactory substitute for a course in physics. All four requirements must be met prior to enrolling in our graduate program. Under no circumstances will an applicant, even if admitted, be permitted to enroll in graduate courses if any of these prerequisite courses has not been completed.

Possible Content Areas for General Biology:

  • General biology
  • Cellular biology: the basic structural and functional unit of all organisms; they may exist as independent units of life (as in monads) or may form colonies or tissues as in higher plants and animals
  • Cybernetics biology: the field of science concerned with processes of communication and control (especially the comparison of these processes in biological and artificial systems)
  • Bioscience, life science: any of the branches of natural science dealing with the structure and behavior of living organisms
  • Ecology: the branch of biology concerned with the relations between organisms and their environment
  • Cytology: the branch of biology that studies the structure and function of cells
  • Embryology: the branch of biology that studies the formation and early development of living organisms
  • Evolutionism, theory of evolution, Theory of organic evolution: a scientific theory of the origin of species of plants and animals
  • Genetic science, genetics: the branch of biology that studies heredity and variation in organisms
  • Microbiology: the branch of biology that studies microorganisms and their effects on humans
  • Molecular biology: the branch of biology that studies the structure and activity of macromolecules essential to life (and especially with their genetic role)
  • Morphology: the branch of biology that deals with the structure of animals and plants
  • Neurobiology: the branch of biology that deals with the anatomy and physiology and pathology of the nervous system
  • Physiology: the branch of the biological sciences dealing with the functioning of organisms
  • Radiobiology: the branch of biology that studies the effects of radiation on living organisms
  • Sociobiology: the branch of biology that conducts comparative studies of the social organization of animals,  including human beings, with regard to its evolutionary history 

Possible Content Areas for General Physics

  • Basic physical principles for non-majors
  • Basic principles of mechanics
  • Basic principles of sound
  • Basic principles of thermodynamics
  • Basic principles of optics
  • Basic principles of electricity and magnetism
  • Courses may include practical examples of the role of physics in other disciplines

Basic Content Areas for General Chemistry

  • Atomic structure
  • Chemical bonding
  • Radioactivity
  • Behavior of gases and solutions
  • Behavior of acid and bases
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Functional groups and important biological molecules
  • Chemical principles in human or animal physiology
Background Courses

Students who will be applying to the Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) master’s program at USC are not required to have specific background courses (e.g., anatomy and physiology, phonetics) to be accepted into either degree (MSP, MCD) in its master’s program. COMD offers background courses required for students admitted to the COMD master’s degree program without a speech-language pathology background before the student begins taking core master’s degree coursework. Students interested in applying to a communication sciences and disorders program other than USC’s COMD program should be aware that other universities with a communication sciences and disorders master’s degree program may require different or additional courses than the COMD background courses.

Current USC Undergraduate Students Interested in 500- and 700-level Courses

COMD Policy re: Undergraduate Students’ Enrollment in COMD 500-level Courses

At times, an undergraduate student may request permission to take one or more 500-level COMD courses. The COMD faculty are open to such requests, particularly for students who intend to pursue a Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate degree. For obtaining permission to do so, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The student has an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher,
  2. The student provides an unofficial transcript of courses taken at USC,
  3. The student provides a brief statement (approximately one paragraph) regarding why s/he wishes to take the course, and
  4. The student requests permission to take a 500-level course by USC’s official date for the midpoint of the preceding semester  (see USC’s Official Academic Calendar for the exact date).  For Fall course requests, requests must be made by July 3rd.

If the student meets the above criteria, s/he must contact the COMD Graduate Director and ask permission to take a 500-level COMD course. The Graduate Director will ensure the student meets the above criteria. The Graduate Director then will consult with the instructor of record for the requested course and determine that instructor’s willingness to have the student enroll in the course. If the instructor approves the request, the Graduate Director will ask the Graduate Admissions Coordinator to provide the information necessary for enrollment in the course. No undergraduate students will be permitted to take COMD 560, and no exceptions will be made. This policy does not apply to the undergraduate independent study course (COMD 525) and the introductory course, COMD 500.

 

COMD Policy re: Undergraduate Students’ Enrollment in COMD 700-level Courses

At times, an undergraduate student may request permission to take a 700-level COMD course. The COMD faculty are open to such requests, particularly for students who intend to pursue a Communication Sciences and Disorders graduate degree. For obtaining permission to do so, the following criteria must be met:

  1. The student is in the USC Accelerated Degree Program,
  2. The student has the prerequisite coursework needed for the requested course,
  3. The student provides an unofficial transcript of courses taken at USC,
  4. The student provides a brief statement (approximately one paragraph) regarding why s/he wishes to take the course, and
  5. The student requests permission to take a 700-level course by USC’s official date for the midpoint of the preceding semester  (see USC’s Official Academic Calendar for the exact date).  For Fall course requests, requests must be made by July 3rd.

If the student meets the above criteria, s/he must contact the Graduate Director and ask permission to take a 700-level COMD course. The Graduate Director will ensure the student meets the above criteria. The Graduate Director then will consult with the instructor of record for the requested course and determine that instructor’s willingness to have the student enroll in the course.  If the instructor approves the request, the Graduate Director will ask the Graduate Admissions Coordinator to provide the information necessary for enrollment in the course.

External Clinical Practicum Experiences

COMD is committed to ensuring that students in the master's program complete clinical experiences which prepare them for any type of professional setting.  In addition to participating in supervised practicum in the University's state-of-the-art Speech and Hearing Research Center, students have opportunities to hone their clinical skills in numerous settings, serving a variety of different age groups with multiple supervisors.  USC maintains relationships with more than 700 external practicum sites within South Carolina and throughout the United States.  These sites include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, skilled nursing facilities, community clinics, auditory-verbal centers, public/private schools, and private practices.

Clinical placement is a complex process involving communication between practicum administrators, students, external supervisors, and site administrators.  Practicum administrators schedule all external practicum assignments, taking care to consider each student’s academic knowledge, clinical skill, learning style, and progress toward graduation requirements.  The combination of practicum experiences in which students participate result in graduates who are exceptionally prepared for careers as speech-language pathologists.

Additional Academic and Clinical Opportunities
in the area of Adult Neurogenic Disorders

COMD has a unique opportunity for students to expand their experiences in preparation for hospital and rehabilitation employment.  The department has active research in neurogenic disorders and maintains clinical affiliations with area medical centers. There is an opportunity for a limited number of master’s degree students to receive extra training in all aspects of brain dysfunction - stroke, head injury, dementia, and progressive diseases.

Students pursuing this additional training have the opportunity to participate by:

  • Attending monthly meetings to discuss and learn through use of guest speakers, films, and presentations.
  • Working with stroke support groups
  • Attending workshops, and other special events
  • Completing practicum assignments in neurogenic medical and rehabilitation sites.
  • Completing internships in settings geared toward neurogenic populations.

Students who complete the additional neurogenic coursework and practicum experiences emerge with a certificate that reflects their additional training and expertise working with these populations.

Additional Academic and Clinical Opportunities
in the area of Auditory-Verbal/Cochlear Implants

Our Department offers a program that is perhaps unique across the nation. A limited number of master’s degree students receive specialized training in therapy techniques for individuals having hearing loss and cochlear implants (CIs).

Students pursuing this additional training have the opportunity to participate in a working Cochlear Implant Team by:

  • Conducting pre-implant evaluations

  • Sitting in on team meetings to determine if a patient is a candidate for an implant\

  • Scrubbing in and joining our surgeon in the operating room while the device is implanted

  • Participating in the programming of the external device (ie., Mapping)

  • Participating in AVT and Aural Rehabilitation therapy sessions

  • Assisting in support groups for teens and adults with cochlear implants or hearing aids

  • Attending monthly meetings involving guest speakers and other specialized events

  • Enrolling in specialized coursework on CIs, AVT, and Aural Rehabilitation therapy

  • Completing a 10-week internship geared toward children and adults with hearing loss.

These select students may even be present to observe a parent see their child respond to sound for the first time. Alternatively, they may be present to see an adult hear their loved ones’ voices for the first time in years.

Students graduate with a Certificate that reflects their additional training and expertise. Further, participation can be a stepping stone for those wanting to pursue international certification in AVT.

Participation in these additional and unique experiences are available to only a small number of new students each year. Those interested should so indicate in the “Goal Statement” portion of their application. Click for more information on our unique AVT opportunities, and our CI program.

PRAXIS Examination Pass Rates,
Employment Rates, and Graduation Rates
for our COMD Students

Passing of the PRAXIS exam is required for national certification and often for state licensure. Learn more about our pass rates, employment rates, and graduation rates here.

Student Health Insurance Requirements

All full-time students are required by the Graduate School [pdf] to be covered by health and accident insurance. Students will automatically have University sponsored health insurance charged to their tuition unless they provide evidence of coverage by their own policy. Such evidence should be presented to the Thompson Student Health Center in order for this fee to be waived.

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders provides both professional liability insurance and workman’s compensation policies for all practicum students.For additional information on insurance coverage, click here.

Tuition and Fees

View current Tuition and Fee information. 

Important information about Programs Leading to Licensure

Further information about licensing can be found here.

University Links