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Speech and language therapy master’s degree guide

If you want to help people with voice and communication issues, you could complete a speech and language therapy course. We explain what that means at postgraduate level.


What is a speech and language therapy master’s degree?

Speech and language therapy provides care for adults and children who have issues with their:

  • Speech
  • Communication
  • Language
  • Swallowing

Study a speech and language therapy course, and you’ll gain the skills you need to become a speech and language therapist (SLT). The role requires research, analytical and clinical expertise as well as a passion for helping people with various communication disorders.

Alternatively, you could pursue an in-depth research project in the field of speech and language therapy.


Why do a master’s degree in speech and language therapy?

A master’s degree will give you the knowledge and training for a career as a SLT. You'll be taught by speech and language experts, learn in modern facilities and practice on clinical placements with real patients. 

As well as developing clinical and lab-based skills, you’ll gain transferable skills such as:

  • Communication
  • Cultural sensitivity
  • Empathy
  • Interpersonal
  • Listening
  • Patience
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork

Courses are often approved or accredited by bodies that offer career and development opportunities. This includes:

  • Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC)
  • Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT)

After completing a training course, you should be able to register with the HCPC and begin practising as an SLT.


What qualifications can you get?

Qualification options include masters, doctorates, certificates and diplomas in speech and language therapy. Each has a slightly different focus and style of teaching.

Taught masters speech and language therapy

Most masters speech and language courses are Master of Science (MSc) degrees. They let you earn a pre-registration health qualification in a shorter time than an undergraduate degree. Courses combine academic study and practical experiences. You develop clinical skills while applying evidence-based practice. You don’t always need a relevant undergraduate degree to be eligible for this course.

Research in speech and language therapy

Doctorate degrees are usually a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the shorter Master of Philosophy (MPhil). They let you study a specialist topic of speech and language therapy in depth. You work with other researchers and can choose to focus on areas like therapy, applied linguistics, or public health and policy.

Certificates and diplomas in speech and language therapy

Postgraduate certificates (PGCert) and postgraduate diplomas (PGDip) are shorter versions of the master’s qualification. They’re useful if you’re already professionally qualified and looking to deepen your expert knowledge.


What jobs can you do with a master’s degree in speech and language therapy?

Many graduates work as professional speech and language therapists or pathologists. They work in various health and care settings, such as:

  • GPs or community clinics
  • NHS or private hospitals
  • Mainstream or special schools
  • Nurseries
  • Prisons or offenders’ institutions
  • Charities or voluntary organisations 

It’s also possible to work as a freelance practitioner or set up a private therapy practice.

Several graduates go onto further study and complete a doctorate degree or work in research.


What are the speech and language therapy master’s degree requirements?

To qualify for a master’s course, you’ll usually need:

  • MSc – bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with upper second-class honours (2:1) in any subject

Depending on the course and university, you might need relevant work experience and to demonstrate a strong interest in the area. Health and background checks might also be required such as a DBS, especially if your course involves working with the public.

For other postgraduate courses, you’ll usually need:

  • PGCert/PGDip – same as for a masters
  • MPhil/PHD – same as for a masters along with merit in a relevant master’s degree (or equivalent). You may need to submit a research proposal


What speech and language therapy courses are there?

Examples of postgraduate speech and language therapy courses in the UK:

  • Language Sciences (Speech Sciences) MSc
  • Speech Difficulties MSc/PGCert/PGDip
  • Speech, Hearing and Phonetic Sciences MPhil/PhD
  • Speech and Language Therapy MSc
  • Speech and Language Therapy PhD


What do you learn in a speech and language therapy master’s degree?

Typical module topics or areas you could focus your research on include:

  • Audiology
  • Autism
  • Biomedical sciences
  • Learning disabilities
  • Linguistics
  • Neurological conditions
  • Phonetics 


How will you be taught and assessed?

On a taught course (MSc/PGCert/PGDip), you could learn through lectures, practical classes, clinical work, tutorials and group projects. Assessment could be through coursework, presentations, written exams and practical assessments.

On a research degree (MPhil/PhD), you’ll be guided by a supervisor but receive less support than on a taught course. You’ll be assessed on your independent research project (thesis) and accompanying oral exam (viva).


How long is a master’s degree in speech and language therapy?

It depends on your chosen course. If you’re studying for an MSc that leads to SLT registration, the course is a full-time, fast-track programme that lasts two years.

Otherwise, courses ar e generally:

  • MSc – one to two years
  • MPhil – one to two years
  • PhD – three to four years
  • PGCert – around 15 weeks or one term
  • PGDip – around 30 weeks or two terms

Part-time courses can last twice as long.


Similar subjects to speech and language therapy

Other related subjects you could study include:

  • Art therapy
  • Counselling
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physiotherapy
  • Psychology
  • Sports therapy

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