College of Arts and Sciences

1. Locate schools to which you would like to make an application.

  • Search the listings in the ASHA Guide to Graduate Education in Speech-Language-Pathology and Audiology
  • Search individual graduate school catalogs available on line through the above link. Many will be available be on the Internet at the respective schools' Web sites
  • Know what makes you a viable candidate at that university. GPA? GRE score? Location? Cost? Length and structure of program?

2. Prepare for the Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The Graduate Record Exam scores are required for admission to some graduate programs. In fact, these scores may be used as an arbitrary cut-off for screening candidates for admission. Minimum GRE scores for admission to a particular graduate program may be listed in ASHA’s Guide to Graduate Education. (See the CAA link, above)

There are many study aids to help you prepare for taking the GRE. Our department has a computerized study program available for your use. Occasionally there are study courses available through IPFW’s Continuing Education programs. Self-paced study books are also available in the Donewald Library. Application form booklets are available in Neff 239 under the faculty mailboxes.

Plan ahead for taking the GRE. If you have test-anxiety, the better prepared you are before the test, the better you are likely to do. Have a strategy so you can do your best. Take the test early enough that you can be sure your scores will be available by the deadlines set by the graduate programs.

Be sure to have your GRE scores sent to the programs which require them. Follow up to see that these scores have been sent (and received) just as you follow up on other materials.

3. What to look for in a graduate program

3.1 Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) is essential
To be assured that you will be eligible for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in both the Master's and Doctoral degrees in Speech-Language Pathology from ASHA, you must attend a CAA-accredited program. "CAA” stands for the Council on Academic Accreditation. This council approves the curriculum, practicum experiences, staffing, etc., for the programs they accredit.

3.2. Are both master's and doctoral degrees offered at the school(s) you are considering?
A program that offers both levels of graduate degrees may place its primary emphasis on the doctoral program. This means senior faculty may not teach Master’s level classes or that this program has a heavy research emphasis. Sometimes the doctoral students may teach Master’s level classes. On the other hand, more equipment and a more diverse client population for practicum experiences may be available in this type of program.

3.3 Faculty expertise and interests
Find the names of the faculty members for the graduate program you’re interested in by checking ASHA’s Guide to Graduate Education. Have you heard of any of the faculty members who teach in this program? Have you read in class something they’ve written? Have you heard them present a paper? Do they have specialized interests which match something you might be interested in knowing more about? Do they participate in listserv discussions on the Internet? Do any of the CSD faculty know these faculty members that they could tell you something about them?

3.4. Financial opportunities
Check with the financial aid office at each university to determine what scholarships and assistantships are available. Also consider student loans. Ask for a packet of financial aid information. Study it carefully to determine which awards you may be eligible to receive.

The Speech Language Pathology and Audiology department may have grants and assistantships available through the department. Check to see how many and for what amounts may be available. Also ask if first year MA students are eligible for department financial aid.

If you work to support your education, consider the amount of hours you must work to earn enough to live on and pay your university fees. Be sure to allow enough time for study and clinical work. The practicum experiences require more time because you will have more clients to serve. Check to see when the majority of courses are offered when planning your work schedule. Courses may be scheduled in the evening for seminars and clinical practicum may be earlier in the morning. Carefully check the demands of the courses and practicum and compare those demands to the number of hours you must work to support yourself. If you work more than 15-20 hours per week, you should consider taking a reduced academic load. Would that university allow flexible scheduling?

3.5. Practicum experience

Consider and ask:

  • What kind of practicum experiences are offered?
  • How many practicum experiences are in the school's speech-language-hearing clinic? Will you be paired with another Master's student? Undergraduate student? How many clients can you expect to work with each semester?
  • Are there specialized practicum experiences such as a preschool language classroom, hearing impaired classroom, adult communication group: neurologically impaired?
  • What off campus practicum experiences are available? What is the diversity of the setting, such as regular hospital, specialized hospital (rehab or children's, agencies, schools, specialized settings (extended care facilities), private practice opportunities.
  • Is there diversity in the population you will work with clinically: age, race, gender, type of disorder. Can you meet the ASHA required clinical experiences on campus or will you need to rely on meeting these through your off campus practicum and externship experiences?
  • Will the Director of the Clinic ensure that you will receive the ASHA required diversity in the clients or do you need to take that responsibility? This is a good question to ask the students when you visit.
  • Does the school have opportunities for you to specialize or gain clinical skills with population(s) that you think you want to work with in the future? For example, does the school offer a gerontology certificate? Early childhood practicum? Educational audiology?
  • Who are the supervisors? Faculty? Clinic Staff? Graduate Students?

3.6. Visit the universities you are most interested in attending.
The best time to visit is at the end of your junior year or the summer/fall before you intend to apply to graduate school. Make an appointment to talk with the departmental Graduate Student Advisor or Chairperson of the Department. Ask to see the clinic and classroom/lab areas. If possible, talk with some of the students. Pay attention to how everyone treats you. Do they seem interested in you? For example, do they ask you about your interests? Do the students seem happy, busy and willing to share information with you? Are the students enthused about their academic and clinic experiences? Is that university someplace you want to spend the next two years? Would you want to spend time with the people you met? What other opportunities does the university and/or the city it is in offer? Is it in a city with many cultural and recreational outlets? Is the university large enough to have a variety of events and groups to enjoy? Is there a theater? Dance program? A variety of music groups? Outside entertainers and lecturers who come to the campus? Sports events? What are the housing opportunities? How will you travel to the university? Is parking a consideration?

4. How to apply to a Graduate Program

Gathering materials
From the ASHA Home Page or the hard copy of graduate school information, locate the name of the individual/office that will send you the necessary application materials. Call or write for the application materials far in advance of the application deadline. When they arrive, ensure that you have all of the needed items:

  • Application form
  • Forms upon which your reference letters are to be written
  • Deadline for the application's completion and filing
  • Applicable application fees and payment method
  • Financial aid information/application
  • Decide whether or not you will apply

Application procedure
Follow this procedure for all of the schools you are considering. Read all the materials very carefully.

Letters of recommendation:

  • What are you told about these in the application materials?
    Whom are they expecting to write these letters? Department faculty only?
  • Must the recommender use a form or simply prepare a letter on department letterhead?
  • Does the recommender mail the letter in? To whom? By when?  Send the letter to a web site or email it?
  • If the letter is written, does it need to be returned to you in a sealed/signed envelope so that you will send it along with your completed application?
  • Who will you ask to write your letters of recommendation? (Consider carefully who it is that know you well.)
  • Letters should address your academic and clinical experiences.

Letters of recommendation

A sample biographical sketch and a checklist are available for download.

Information for Graduate School Recommendation Letters [PDF]

In addition, federal regulation, the Family Educational Records Privacy Act (FERPA), requires that you authorize the release of your academic records for the purpose of letters of reccomendation. Each referee needs a signed copy of this form.

FERPA_release [PDF]

Ask those individuals whom you would like to write letters of recommendation.

Those individuals may ask you to sit in a brief interview to review your achievements and to outline your aspirations.

Give all the lead time you can to these individuals. Typically, letters are requested at the end of the Fall semester and grading exams takes precedence. A faculty member may be asked to write between 20 and 50 letters in any given year. Using every minute of the semester break may not be enough time!

Carefully complete all that is asked of you on the form(s) associated with letters of recommendation. Clearly indicate that you are willing to waive your right to see the letter which will be prepared. That tends to assure the recipient university that you have given the opportunity for the recommender to be open and forthright. If you do not wish to do so, please make that clear when you deliver the applications and/or the return envelopes. It is virtually impossible to contact you during the holidays to verify any unstated preferences.

Sign the recommendation form as required. Do not expect that the recommender will be able to locate you to remind you to do that. It makes particularly good sense to take time in order to do things correctly at this stage in your career.

Clearly, on a post-it note, write the grad school deadline for receiving the letter and attach one to each letter of recommendation form.

Prepare a typewritten, addressed envelope in which each letter/form will be returned to the grad school of your choice. Ask the department secretary for a department letterhead envelope.  Clearly type the address where the letter should be sent on the envelope.  Placing the proper postage on each envelope.

Properly address the envelope to the individual/committee indicated with each application. Align it correctly. Re-read. Check all spelling. 

It would be helpful if you would indicate to the faculty members whom you have asked to write letters of recommendation, that you will also be requesting letters for scholarships at a later date. That may facilitate later preparation.

If you decide not to follow through on a particular application, notify the person who is writing the letter immediately of your change of heart. Saving that time is important.

Applicant's statement

One of the most important parts of your application will be your personal statement. Make it neat and easy to read. Write in clear, grammatically correct sentences. Have others read your statement to give you feedback on it. Proofread.

Most applications call for you to offer a composition (length will be specified) that will give the grad school acceptance committee a clear picture of who you are.

You will need to write an impeccable composition.

You will need to have good things to write about! You should have been preparing for years to write this statement.

You've been an outstanding scholar! Awards, dean's list, etc. You've demonstrated special abilities that relate to SLP or A: you sing (voice), you have cared for a relative who had a stroke, you were a volunteer in SLP/A related agency/office, you have "people" skills and experiences - infants - elderly, you have been an effective team member on the job, and so on and on.

Ask a faculty member to help you gather your ideas to draw your own unique relevant information together.

Ask someone to read your statement to be certain that you have made all the points clearly. Bring all of your W233 learning to bear here.

State clearly why you want to continue with speech-language pathology or audiology.

  • Include the people, personal experiences, courses and events that motivated you to want to continue your education.
  • Add personal characteristics which you believe are important to the professions of speech-language pathology or audiology.
  • If you have had some extra activities such as volunteering in a hospital, nursing home, or school, describe how these experiences influenced your decision to continue your education.
  • Where possible, explain how that particular graduate school can assist with meeting your goals. For example, if you have a desire to work with the elderly, a particular school may have a specialized program or coursework directed toward the geriatric population.
  • If you know a professor who is doing research in an area of interest to you, add that you would be interested in that area of research and that you would welcome opportunities to assist.
  • Sell yourself and the unique skills or characteristics you bring. What are your goals? With whom and in what settings do you think you want to provide services? Do you think you would like to continue your education to earn a PhD? Why?

Remember: your application is the only "you" that the admission committee will see.

Be very careful. Do not wrinkle the paper. Triple check all that you do.

Prepare rough drafts before putting it on the one and only form that you have. There may not be time enough to write for a second one. Use your word-processing skills. Use a typewriter if you cannot line up short spaces on the form on the computer.

Make certain that you put sufficient postage on the envelope. Double check at the post office. You may wish to ask to have it mailed so that you receive a receipt telling that it was delivered to the addressee. That should put your mind at ease.

Application maintenance
You must make a phone call a couple of weeks before the application deadline to verify that all of the components have been received (application, letters, GRE score, transcripts, and whatever other materials they require of you).