By Jeff Murphy, September 8, 2022
The Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders serves local needs while providing real-life experience for students who are seeking a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. This University of Central Missouri program was recently approved for continued accreditation .
WARRENSBURG, MO – The Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, an academic program at the University of Central Missouri that connects graduates with opportunities to make a difference in the lives of people of all ages, has met a new milestone. After a lengthy preparation and review process, the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has continued the program’s accreditation for eight years.
Greg Turner, Ph.D., a professor who serves as graduate program coordinator in communication disorders, said the university was notified of CAA’s decision in July. The program, which has been continuously accredited since 1977, continues this status for the period Sept. 1, 2022 to Aug. 31, 2030.
Turner said the CAA’s decision enables the university to continue a tradition of producing well-qualified graduates who will have the knowledge and background they need to become licensed to practice in speech-language pathology. The CAA’s approval of this academic program helps ensure the program is meeting a national set of standards that are important to maintaining the quality preparation of graduates.
“There is consistency across the country, whereby if students get a degree from this accredited program then they can be certified by a national organization which allows them to gain employment anywhere across the nation,” Turner said. “Being part of an accredited program provides students with a level of knowledge and skill that is going to help them be very successful down the road.”
Turner noted that the planning process for continued accreditation began approximately two years ago, with the last several months dedicated to compiling documentation about the program. This was shared with a CAA committee that conducted a virtual site visit with UCM program members during the spring 2022 semester. UCM faculty spent approximately two days working with the site visit team to engage in a comprehensive review, then the committee’s recommendations were passed on to the council for final consideration and approval. In addition to the virtual meetings, the university will host a follow-up visit by the CAA team within approximately one year. The U.S. Department of Education requires accrediting agencies to conduct on-campus visits as part of a program’s accreditation review.
Accreditation provides UCM the opportunity to continue a proud tradition of preparing students for much-needed positions in a high-demand field. Speech-language pathologists provide services to patients of all ages across a spectrum of communication, swallowing and hearing disorders and differences, such as stroke, autism, hearing loss, and dyslexia. They work in settings that include education, health care, or in private practice in Missouri, Kansas and throughout the nation. UCM graduates have found plenty of job opportunities after receiving their degrees.
“We’ve had 100 percent employment over the last three years,” Turner said. “The outlook has been very good in the field for the future, based on the (U.S.) Bureau of Labor Statistics.”
Her also pointed out that 98 percent of UCM’s Speech-Language Pathology graduates have passed the Praxis subject assessment in Speech-Language Pathology. This enables graduates to apply for licensure from the Missouri State Board of Registration for the Healing Arts. Knowledge obtained in the graduate program is instrumental in helping students pass the National Examination for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology to earn state licensure, which is a necessary credential for working in the field.
The MS in Speech-Language Pathology is housed in UCM’s Department of Human Services within the College of Business and Professional Studies. In addition to classroom instruction, the program utilizes the Welch-Schmidt Center for Communication Disorders, located in the Martin Building, to provide students with opportunities to gain real-life experience in a therapeutic setting. Opportunities at the center include the assessment and treatment of communication swallowing and speech and language disorders, the Functional Feeding and Swallowing Clinic, Augmentative and Alternative Communication Clinic, and the RiteCare Early Childhood Language and Literacy Lab. Recently, the Parkinson Voice Project awarded the UCM Communication Disorders program a grant that provides training in the SPEAK OUT! ® and The LOUD Crowd® programs to enrolled graduate students. The SPEAK OUT!® and The LOUD Crowd® programs, developed by the Parkinson Voice Project of Dallas, Texas, were created specifically for individuals who have a voice disorder as a result of Parkinson's disease.
Individuals who want to learn more about the MS in Speech-Language Pathology at UCM are encouraged to visit the program’s website.