Frequently Asked Questions About the CD Program at SFSU

Thank you for your interest in the Master of Science Degree in Communicative Disorder in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS). Here you will find information about how to apply to the program, what qualifications are desired, information for those without an undergraduate degree in SLHS, and more. We also welcome you to contact us with additional questions or schedule a meeting with an advisor by emailing slhsinfo@sfsu.edu, calling (415) 338-1001, or visiting Burk Hall 114.


The undergraduate degree, Bachelor of Science in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, requires a minimum of 120 units. Individuals entering the undergraduate SLHS department must hold the status of junior and declare SLHS 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.

Students who plan to apply to graduate study in preparation for working as a speech-language pathologist must have completed an undergraduate degree in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences or the equivalent. The SLHS department 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 SLHS.

In order to apply for the Master of Science degree in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) at San Francisco State University, applicants must posses a bachelor’s degree in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences or the equivalent. Those applicants who have completed 12 undergraduate courses, as listed on the SFSU SLHS website (http://slhs.sfsu.edu/bachelors), are considered to have met the equivalent of the bachelor’s degree curriculum.

For those who do not possess a bachelor’s degree in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, students must have completed a total of 9 courses in order to enroll in our program as a graduate student. In order to submit an application to the SLHS Graduate Program, we require that applicants have completed a minimum of 3 courses prior to the fall semester in which the student is applying. We also require the student to be in the process of completing at least 3 additional courses during the fall semester in which the student is submitting an application. Transcripts with final fall semester grades for these 3 courses must be submitted no later than January 15. Lastly, applicants must submit proof of spring enrollment in the final 3 courses (completing the 9 course requirement) as a part of the application package, no later than January 15. Remaining prerequisite courses not completed or available to candidates must 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 SLHS 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.

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 SLHS department 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 the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences:

  • 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.

ASHA Standard IV-A Requirement:  Upon completion of degree requirements, applicants must have demonstrated knowledge of the biological sciences, physical sciences, statistics, and the social/behavioral sciences, in order to apply for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). The SFSU Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences requires that courses in these areas be completed or enrolled in upon application to the graduate program, and must be verified in academic transcripts. Course syllabi may be requested as well to confirm fulfillment of ASHA Standard IV.

According to ASHA’s 2014 Standards, acceptable courses in biological sciences should emphasize a content area related to human or animal sciences (e.g., biology, human anatomy and physiology, neuroanatomy and neurophysiology, human genetics, veterinary science).Acceptable courses in physical sciences should include physics or chemistry. Acceptable courses in social/behavioral sciences should include psychology, sociology, anthropology, or public health. A stand-along course in statistics is required. Research methodology courses in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) may not be used to satisfy the statistics requirement. A course in biological and physical sciences specifically related to CSD may not be applied for certification purposes to this category unless the course fulfills a university requirement in one of these areas.  Please see the ASHA Standard IV-A page in the SLHS application form for more details.

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:

  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 SLHS 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 GPAs generally at 3.5 or higher.

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 Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences 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.

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 the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, the full-time classified graduate student should complete the requirements for the Master of Science degree in two years (5 semesters).

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 (5 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.

SLHS 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 SLHS students taking the Praxis II exam is 96%.

There are 150-200 students enrolled in the SLHS department (approximately 100 undergraduate students and 70 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.

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 SLHS department.

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.

DEGREE. Graduates of the SLHS department possess a Master of Science degree in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences, 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. Please visit ASHA's website for more information.

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.

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.

In addition to academic teaching, all full-time SLHS 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. SLHS faculty are engaged in scholarly and creative activities. 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 SLHS students.

The SLHS department 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.

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

A variety of scholarships are opportunities are available within the SLHS department and beyond. For more information, visit the SLHS department 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

All of the undergraduate and graduate courses in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences 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 SLHS department in the spring semester without prior coursework in SLHS.

All undergraduate and graduate coursework in the SLHS department 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 SLHS department balance part-time employment and their academic pursuit, but working more than 10 hours a week is not recommended. Taking less than a full-time academic load will lengthen the estimated time required to complete the master's degree. (See #5 & #6 above).

All undergraduate coursework in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences taken at other CAA-accredited SLHS programs is transferable.

A maximum of 6 semester units in graduate coursework in the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences taken at other CAA-accredited SLHS programs is transferable into the master's program at SFSU.

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

While it is not possible for postbaccalaureate students to take prerequisite SLHS coursework at SFSU, you may want to pursue taking such coursework online. The SFSU SLHS department 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".

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