Skip to Content

Arnold School of Public Health

  • Woman in the communications sciences and disorders department working with a child

Degree Programs

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (COMD) offers programs at the graduate level. We have a master's degree program option and a Ph.D. degree program. The master’s degree (M.S.) is designed to prepare students for the clinical practice of speech-language pathology. The doctoral degree program (Ph.D.) is intended for those interested in scholarly research and who wish to pursue careers in university research and teaching.

Master's Degree Program

The COMD master's degree program has been continuously accredited for 30 plus years by the Council of Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and offers the master's degree in two modalities: Master of Science (residential/on-campus, full-time) and Master of Science (distance education, part-time). The degree is designed to prepare students for the clinical practice of speech-language pathology. Graduates are eligible for national certification, state licensure, and South Carolina teacher certification.

Master of Science (residential/on-campus, full-time)

The residential, full-time MS degree is offered via the traditional, on-campus modality. Students admitted to the residential program must be continuously enrolled on a full-time basis for two calendar years. Students who begin in the summer semester complete the program in 7 terms. Students who begin the program in the fall semester complete the program in 6 semesters. While a student's undergraduate major and post baccalaureate courses are not a consideration for admission, the point of entry into the MS (residential/on-campus) program [pdf] is dependent upon previous coursework, clinical observation, and practica completed. Students begin the program during fall semester, provided they have completed a minimum of 25 clock hours of supervised observation plus three semester hours of coursework with a grade of B or higher in each of the following:

  • anatomy & physiology of the speech & hearing mechanism
  • phonetics
  • language development
  • articulation disorders

All other students enter the program in the summer to complete the above courses.

A limited number of graduate assistantships and/or stipends are available on a competitive basis. These may provide out-of-state students with lower in-state tuition rates.

In addition to a broad-based training in communication sciences and disorders (infants through adults), the Department offers opportunities for students to pursue additional course work and practicum in several areas. These include, but are not limited to: 1) long-term rehabilitation of neurogenic speech-language disorders (with particular emphasis on traumatic brain injury) and 2) habilitation of individuals with cochlear implants. Applicants should indicate their specific interests in either of these areas in their applications.

Master of Science (distance education, part-time)

The Master of Science (distance education) degree is offered only as a part-time three- or four-year curriculum (depending on undergraduate background) through distance learning. The program may be completed on a part-time basis in 12 terms without an undergraduate background, or in 10 terms with an undergraduate background. This particularly modality is an alternative to the residential/on-campus modality and is intended for individuals who, due to geographic and/or financial circumstances, are unable to attend the full-time program in Columbia, SC. Courses are taken on a part-time basis (generally two courses each fall and spring semester) with summers being reserved for clinical practicum experiences. As is the case with the residential/on-campus modality, the exact point of entry into the distance education modality is dependent on a student’s previous coursework and clinical practicum (see course sequence). For applicants with undergraduate majors in speech-language pathology (that include a minimum of 25 hours of clinical observation and 50 hours of supervised practicum), the course sequence begins in the summer and continues for three calendar years plus a summer internship. Students with undergraduate majors in other disciplines take background coursework during fall and spring semesters prior to entry into the regular MS (distance education) curriculum that begins in the summer. Financial assistance is available for students who agree to work in the South Carolina public schools for a specified period of time upon completion of the degree program.

Please note: Courses offered through distance education are not self-paced. Instead, they follow the university’s academic calendar and semester schedule. Course content is provided through streaming video as well as with internet support (e.g., interactive online chat, discussion boards, and Blackboard). Students considering the Master of Science (distance education; part-time) program will want to be aware of the licensing requirements in their particular state. Further information about licensing can be found here.

Before You Apply

Learn more about the prerequisites required to be admitted to our degree programs and how we maintain our accreditation. 

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 for which 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
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is accredited by the Council of Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The CAA developed standards, representing a set of knowledge and skills, that students must meet to apply for ASHA certification. The Department provides opportunities via courses and clinical experiences for students to demonstrate competency in these knowledge and skills representing those standards. At the end of their program, the Department chair, based on data and documentation supplied from the Department faculty and relevant others, will complete and sign a verification form that confirms whether the student has met some or all of the CAA standards.

Ready to Apply?

Apply to one of our master's degree programs.

Ph.D. Program

The Ph.D. degree prepares professionals for academic careers, and therefore its emphasis is on research and the scholarly study of the science of human communication and its disorders. Doctoral students, under the director of a mentor, regularly participate in laboratory activities and pursue a program of scholarly research leading to publication in scientific journals.

Academic coursework consists of 12 credit hours of statistics and experimental design, 9 hours in speech and hearing science, and 24 hours in a concentration area, followed by written and oral comprehensive examinations. The degree culminates in the successful defense of a dissertation (12 credit hours). 

Students may enter the doctoral program following the bachelor or master degree, depending on their professional goals and interest in clinical certification. Applications are invited from students with majors in a variety of disciplines, including (but not limited to), audiology, engineering, linguistics, psychology, physics, physiology, and speech-language pathology. Research assistantships are available for qualified applicants.

Apply to the Ph.D. program.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.