Distance MS Speech-Language Pathology

Program Description

Upon completion of our program graduates will be prepared to become a certified speech-language pathologist, able to assess and treat infants, children, and adults with acquired or developmental speech, language, and/or swallowing disorders. Our program is fully accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and meets the clinical and academic standards for Certification of Clinical Competence in Speech Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) by ASHA and licensure requirements in Montana and many other states.

We are committed to providing students with high-caliber academic and clinical training experiences with a focus on inter-professional education and research. Our goal is to prepare students with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide effective speech-language pathology services for diverse populations in all relevant environments. 

Degree options:

  • Thesis Option: 71 total graduate credits (35 graduate program course credits, 30 practicum credits, and a minimum of 6 thesis credits; may require an additional semester)
  • Non-thesis Option: 65-68 total graduate credits (32-35 graduate program course credits, 30 practicum credits, and 3 capstone/portfolio project credits)

Required Academic Coursework

  • 32 credits of graduate program courses, a majority of which focus on developmental and acquired communication and swallowing disorders.
  • Either a graduate thesis (6 credits) or graduate non-thesis portfolio project (3 credits option).
  • Permission may be requested from the graduate advisor to complete the required elective as a graduate course from another department. Some students will have multiple electives if there is a need to complete multiple undergraduate or Standard IV area requirements (not completed prior to graduate school) such as CSD UG 450 Introduction to Aural (Ear) Rehabilitation in order to be eligible for ASHA certification.

Required Clinical Education Coursework and Credits

Clinical education coursework includes (See Clinical Education website):

  • 30 credits of clinical practicum–includes specialty clinics and direct experiences across multiple settings (see clinical education coursework).
  • Working with children and adults with developmental/acquired/swallowing 3 practicum levels that develop clinical skill and competency across multiple sites.
  • A minimum of 375 supervised clock hours (25 hours of guided observation must be completed before beginning clinical practicum).

  Graduate students have the opportunity to:

  • Work closely with ASHA-certified faculty/supervisors.
  • Engage in extensive experience and specialized training in various aspects of speech, language, literacy, swallowing, and hearing.

Program Delivery Options

Distance Students

  • Participate synchronously in all academic courses with students on campus via web-broadcasting
  • Begin clinical practicum at the University of Montana's RiteCare Clinic on the University of Montana campus in the summer term following two semesters of academic study
  • Practica continue throughout the remainder of the graduate program in off-campus sites (and can be arranged throughout the state and country)
  • Are able to complete the program in a minimum of 4 semesters and 2 summer terms

Curriculum Options

*Students will be placed in 1 of 2 plans of study. Students in plan of study 1 will have an emphasis on developmental disorders and take SLP 560 during year 1. Students in plan of study 2 will have an emphasis on acquired disorders and take SLP 530 during year 1. 

Graduate Level Courses:  Course, course title, corequisites and prerequisites (in parentheses), and credits


Title / Requirements
Cr. Course
Title / Requirements Cr.
 (all courses online)
 (all courses online)
560 Language Assessment and Intervention for School Age Language 3 545 Social Communication Skills, Behavior, and Neurodiversity 2  
591(ST)/ 535 Motor Speech Disorders


640 Swallowing Disorders 3  
565 Aphasia & Acquired Apraxia of Speech 3 520 Speech Sound Disorders 3  
550 Language Assessment and Intervention for Children Infants - Preschool 3 570 (B) Clinical Processess in Professional Practice 1  
570 (A) Clinical Processes in Professional Practice 1 566 Cognition  3  
 (in Missoula)
571 Applied Clinic 6        
 (online courses + 576 externship)
 (online courses + 576 externship)
591(ST)/ 530 Voice & Resonance Disorders 3 576 Advanced Applied Clinic  6  
600 Research Methods 3 688 or
MS Capstone/Portfolio-or-
Thesis (6 credits total)
3 or
546 Augmentative and Alternative Communication 3        
575 Advanced Clinical Processess in Professional Practice 1        
576 Advanced Applied Clinic 6 DISTANCE YEAR #2
      675 Clinical Externship/Advanced Practicum 12


Course Descriptions

For descriptions of all School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences courses, please access current University catalog entries. Once there, scroll down to SLP 520 to begin viewing our graduate program courses.

SLP Graduate Program Prerequisites

Students enter the University of Montana Master’s degree program with 1) an undergraduate degree with a communicative sciences and disorders (CSD) undergraduate major, or 2) an undergraduate degree in a non-CSD area with the additional completion of leveling CSD leveling courses. The CSD prerequisite courses include the following (full descriptions found in the UM Course Catalog):

  • CSD 205 Clinical Application & Observation in SLP & Audiology
  • CSD 210 Speech & Lang Development
  • CSD 222 Intro to Audiology
  • CSD 265 Developmental Speech & Language Disorders and Treatment
  • CSD 320 Phonological Development & Phonetics
  • CSD 330 Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech & Swallowing Mechanisms
  • CSD 331 Neurological Bases of Communication & Swallowing Disorders
  • CSD 365 Acquired Communication & Swallowing Disorders
  • CSD 420 Speech and Hearing Science
  • CSD 450 Intro to Aural (Ear) Rehabilitation

ASHA Standard IV-A Course Requirements

In addition to the required CSD courses, in order to apply for SLP Certification the American Speech Language Hearing Association Requires student to complete Prerequisite Courses in the Content Areas of 1) physical science (physics or chemistry), 2) biological science, 3) social/behavioral science, and 4) statistics. Thus the following general undergraduate-level courses are prerequisites and described as follows:


  • Physical Science: Physics or chemistry.
  • Biological Science:  Science of living things (human or animal):  biology, general anatomy & physiology, neuroanatomy & neurophysiology, human genetics, or veterinary science (must be non-CSD courses)
  • Social/Behavioral Science: Psychology, sociology, anthropology, or public health.
  • Statistics: Prerequisite for SLP 600: Research Methods.  One stand-alone course is required.  UM’s graduate Research Methods CSD course does not count for stats. Psychology, Math, or Social stats; stats also meets the previous math course category.

*Advanced placement, CLEP, or exam of equivalency may be used, but transcripts must be provided.


Prior to the start of graduate school, the Graduate Advisor will review each student’s undergraduate CSD or leveling work to determine whether all prerequisite courses are completed prior to the start of graduate school. If some coursework is not completed in a student’s undergraduate or leveling training prior to the start of graduate school, then the Graduate Advisor will work with a student to determine how best to integrate the required courses into each student’s Plan of Study. Typically, students will take a course as an elective during their graduate studies and careful planning will be made to ensure a prerequisite course or courses are taken prior to/or concurrently with accompanying graduate coursework that requires associated foundational knowledge. It should be noted, however, if a student has a significant amount of prerequisite coursework that is not completed in an undergraduate and/or leveling post-baccalaureate studies, additional semester(s) of coursework may need to be completed and related extended plans of study may be required for full training completion.

Essential Functions and Technical Standards for Program Admission and Continued Enrollment

The Essential Functions and Technical Standards for program admission and continued enrollment describe the expectations and requisite abilities considered necessary for professionals in the field of speech-language pathology. The School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences at the University of Montana is committed to preparing all qualified individuals who are capable of performing the essential functions required of the profession, including persons with disabilities, with or without reasonable accommodation. In complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Civil Rights Rehabilitation Act of 1973 regarding students and applicants with disabilities, no otherwise qualified and competent individual with a disability shall be denied access to or participation in services, programs, and activities solely on the basis of the disability.

SLP graduate students are to achieve the level of competency required for graduation and practice as applicable. It is recognized that degrees of ability vary widely among individuals. Admission candidates who feel they may not be able to acquire the essential functions set forth are encouraged to contact the SLHOS school. Any admission candidates who may require academic modification to fulfill the essential functions and technical standards due to a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Services for Students Office at (406)243-2243.

Essential Functions

To be successful in the graduate speech-language pathology program and perform the roles of this profession, a student must consistently:

  1. Communicate effectively in English with clients/patients and professionals from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
  2. Have the ability to learn complex information, be able to perform clinical problem solving, synthesize and apply information from the discipline of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and related disciplines to formulate diagnostic and treatment judgments.
  3. Possess sufficient abilities to perform routine client/patient care in speech-language pathology.
  4. Have the capacity to maintain composure and emotional stability during periods of high stress.
  5. Demonstrate affective skills and appropriate demeanor and rapport that relate to professional education and quality client/patient care.
  6. Demonstrate flexibility and the ability to adjust to changing situations and uncertainty in an academic or clinical environment.
  7. Have the ability to reliably and critically self-evaluate their professional, technical, and personal skills that contribute to positive client outcomes.
  8. Have the ability to accept constructive criticism and respond by appropriate modification of behavior.

Technical Standards for Admission and Continued Enrollment

The technical standards for admission to and continued enrollment in the UM SLHOS graduate degree program reflect the essential qualities and abilities that are considered necessary to a student’s academic and/or clinical performance. Ability to meet these technical standards is required for admission and must be maintained throughout a student’s progress in the SLHOS graduate degree program. Students should carefully review the technical standards below to determine if assistance is needed to perform any of the required tasks.

Communication Skills

A student must possess adequate communication skills to:

Psychomotor Skills

A student must possess adequate skills to:

  • Execute movements reasonably required to move from area to area, maneuver in small places, use equipment, materials and technology (i.e. microphones, hearing aids, computers, AAC devices, etc.) as needed to provide clients with appropriate general care.
  • Access transportation to and from clinical and academic placements.
  • Participate in classroom and clinical activities for the defined workday.

Intellectual / Cognitive Abilities

A student must possess adequate, ethical, emotional, and cognitive skills to:

  • Comprehend, retain, integrate, synthesize, and apply information sufficient to meet curricular and clinical demands.
  • Identify relevant findings from history, evaluation, and data to formulate a diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment plan.
  • Solve problems, reason, and make sound clinical judgments in patient assessment, diagnostic planning, and therapeutic planning consistent with the principles of evidence-based practice in speech-language pathology.
  • Develop and exhibit a sense of ethics and recognize and apply pertinent legal and ethical standards
  • Self-evaluate, identify, and communicate limits of one’s own knowledge and skills.

Sensory / Observational Skills

A student must possess adequate skills to complete the following:

  • Accurately observe clients and interpret and analyze their behaviors to recognize communication disorders.
  • Adequately visualize anatomic structures and discriminate findings on various imaging studies, as well as to discriminate text, numbers, tables, and graphs associated with diagnostic instruments and tests.
  • Adequately treat clients using the equipment and materials of the profession safely and appropriately.

Behavioral / Social Skills

A student must possess adequate behavioral and social attributes to:

  • Display mature, empathetic, and effective interpersonal professional relationships by exhibiting compassion, integrity, and concern for others.
  • Recognize and show respect for individuals of different ages, genders, races, religions, sexual orientations, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, and disabilities.
  • Recognize when a client or client’s family does or does not understand the clinician’s written and/or oral communication.
  • Maintain emotional and mental health to fully utilize their intellectual abilities and exercise good judgment including prompt completion of all academic and clinical responsibilities.
  • Demonstrate honesty, integrity, and professionalism.
  • Maintain confidentiality of client/patient information.

Professional Responsibility

A student must have the capacity to:

  • Manage the use of time effectively and systematize actions to complete professional and technical tasks within realistic time constraints.
  • Adhere to policies of the university, their program, and clinical sites including professional dress and behavior, attending to the program’s academic schedule, which may differ from the University’s academic calendar and be subject to change at any time.
  • Learn and demonstrate knowledge of and commitment to the code of ethics of their profession and behavior that reflects a sense of right and wrong in the context of care.
  • Work cooperatively and collaboratively with other students on assigned projects, and participate willingly in a supervisory process involving evaluation of abilities and reasoning skills.
  • Meet the challenges of any medical situation that requires a readiness for immediate and appropriate response without interference of personal or medical problems (e.g. CPR certification, evacuation procedures, infection control, and universal precautions).

Candidates for the graduate degree programs in the School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences who have been accepted for admission will be required to verify that they understand and meet these essential functions. Admission decisions are made on the assumption that each candidate can meet the essential functions and fulfill essential functions. When a disability is present, the applicant should contact the Disability Services for Students office at UM. That office will review a student’s request for modification and confirm that the stated condition qualifies as a disability under applicable laws.

If an applicant states he/she can meet the essential functions with modification, the SLHOS school  may review the modification  to ensure it does not fundamentally alter the program, cause an undue burden, or cause harm to a fellow student or client. At any time in the course of a student’s enrollment in the department; the student can request accommodation through the Disability Services for Students office. However, retroactive accommodation requests do not have to be honored.

Applying to the SLP Graduate Program

Applicants to the program must meet the admission requirements of the University of Montana Graduate School and the School of Speech, Language, Hearing, and Occupational Sciences. Acceptance criteria include grade point average, GRE scores, letters of recommendations, written essays, and other activities related to the field. Every attempt is made to assess the special strengths that the applicant might bring to the program. 

Scholarships and Assistantships

Scholarships and assistantships are available each year through an internal department application process.  The application time periods vary throughout the year.Scholarship opportunities will be posted to the SLHOS school page (see Graduate Application Process-->Grad Student Scholarship Application Process). Information about assistantship opportunities will be made available at the appropriate time.

Funding, Tuition and Estimated Cost

  • Financial Aid and Tuition Resources:  for information about other financial aid resources and tuition, please refer to the University of Montana Graduate School under Tuition and Funding and Graduate Cost of Attendance (COA). Additional resources, Business Services and Financial Aid
  • Estimated Program Cost:  In addition to the program cost delineated in the university tuition and fees table, students in the graduate SLP program pay an additional yearly student tuition for expenses related to accreditation requirements of intensive clinical training. The annual program-specific-tuition of approximately $7,004 per year.  This fee is divided between the fall and spring semester each year you are in the program.  The average length of the program is 2 years.  In accordance with Board of Regents standards and tuition and fees may be subject to change in a given year.  


Information for Current CSD Graduate Students