Online Master’s in Communication Disorders Programs – Including Speech Pathology in 2024

An advantageous area of graduate-level communications, the Master's in Communicative Disorders (MCD) degree program prepares students to work with children and adults who struggle to communicate verbally and nonverbally. These include language disorders, speech sound disorders, stuttering, and social communication disorders. Disorders of this type can be caused by many things, including brain trauma, autism, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and more. Students enrolled in an MCD program learn via academic courses and clinical experiences. Research is also often emphasized, as graduates of this type of program often go on to work in clinical settings.

The following career titles are available to those who hold a Master's in Communicative Disorders:

  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Speech/Hearing Therapist
  • Clinical Supervisor
  • Educator (speech/language or special education)
  • Agency Director

Online programs are now readily available for those working full-time in the field and require flexibility to obtain a post-baccalaureate degree in communicative disorders.

2024 Best Online Masters in Communication Disorders Programs

With Master of Communication Disorders (MCD) programs offering numerous career pathways, including Speech-Language Pathology and Rehab Audiology, many graduate students are pursuing the most prestigious programs. As online MCD programs become more popular, students must understand the characteristics of a high-quality program. Therefore, we have compiled a list of the Top 5 Best Online Master’s in Communication Disorders programs in the country for 2024, considering costs, program options, graduate outcomes, and more. Check out our top picks for 2024 below to begin your search.

#1) Nova Southeastern University – Fort Lauderdale, FL

Nova Southeastern University Logo

NSU Florida’s Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology offers an online track for students interested in leading communication healthcare and education teams. This program prepares students to assist diverse populations, including children and adults, facing speech and language challenges. The 54-credit curriculum spans three years and covers topics such as Speech Sound Disorders, Augmentative and Alternative Communication, Language Disorders in Adults, and more. Students complete around 400 hours of supervised clinical contact as part of the program. NSU Florida’s online students benefit from the university’s clinical partnerships nationwide, which help them secure suitable externship placements.

Learn more about NSU Florida's offering here.


  • No GRE needed
  • Evening/weekend schedules available
  • Small class sizes for individual attention

#2) California State University, Northridge – Northridge, CA

California State University, Northridge Logo

The Tseng College at California State University, Northridge, offers a fully online Master of Science in Communication Disorders program. This accredited distance learning program follows a cohort format and prepares students for careers in Speech-Language Pathology. The curriculum includes courses such as Pediatric Audiology, Computer Applications in Communication Disorders, Structural and Neurogenic Speech Disorders, and more. The online courses feature live class sessions, on-demand access to learning materials, and daily networking opportunities. Students gain hands-on practice through a pediatric clinical practicum and an adult externship, both completed at sites near them.

Learn more about CSUN's offerings here.


  • A program designed to be completed in 3 years (10 semesters)
  • New cohorts begin at the start of the Spring semester
  • All clinical practicum experiences are arranged in the student’s local area

#3) East Carolina University – Greenville, NC

East Carolina University Logo

East Carolina University’s Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders offers students a comprehensive training program on treating and managing communication and swallowing disorders. The program provides academic and clinical experiences that fulfill the certification requirements for Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Students can choose between an on-campus or distance education program. The program offers two tracks: a speech-language pathology track, which prepares students for clinical practice through a 2-year, 54-60 credit hour program with in-person coursework and internships primarily in North Carolina, and a non-clinical track, which includes a thesis requirement for research training and does not lead to clinical certification.

Learn more about ECU's offerings here.


  • The campus-based option admits up to 32 students per academic year; the online version admits 10-12
  • A full-time (40+ hours) internship is completed as part of the program
  • Students who don't hold a BS in Communication Sciences & Disorders and have not completed prerequisites can apply as provisional students

#4) Emerson College – Boston, MA

Emerson College Logo

Emerson College’s online Master of Science in Communication Disorders prepares students for national certification and licensure in speech-language pathology. The curriculum, delivered by experienced faculty, focuses on assessing and treating communication issues across the lifespan. Students engage in live class sessions, on-campus immersions, and clinical placements, learning various family-focused, developmental, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, and medical models. The program includes one virtual clinical placement and four community placements. Emerson’s virtual campus fosters a close-knit community among students, professors, and colleagues. Two weekend-long on-campus immersion experiences are required.

Learn more about Emerson's offering here.


  • No GRE required
  • The 5-term track can be completed in 20 months; the 9-term track can be completed in 36 months
  • Access to Emerson’s student support network, including technical support, faculty advisor, field placement specialist, and more

#5) University of Northern Colorado – Greeley, CO

University of Northern Colorado Logo

The University of Northern Colorado’s Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology Online Program is a three-year, ASHA-accredited program designed to prepare students for entry-level roles as speech-language pathologists. The program adopts a clinician-researcher model to cultivate lifelong learners with a strong foundation in evidence-based practice and academics. Through a curriculum emphasizing hands-on learning in clinical practicum settings, students develop skills in formulating clinical questions, evaluating research, collecting data, and presenting findings. The online format caters to nontraditional students with work or family commitments. The program incorporates web-based instruction and requires on-campus meetings during the first summer and a 12-week, full-time internship in a medical setting during the final summer. Students must maintain employment as a speech-language pathology assistant under the supervision of an ASHA-certified Speech-Language Pathologist and complete clinical practicum courses at their place of employment.

Learn more about the University of Northern Colorado's offerings here.


  • Students without an undergraduate background in Speech-Language Pathology, Audiology, or Communication Disorders must complete prerequisite coursework
  • Students are admitted in cohort groups who progress through the program together
  • Most classes have between 25-28 students

Choosing an Online Master's in Communication Disorders Program

Choosing the right MCD program is extremely important, as it sets the stage for students to reach their academic and professional goals. Since prospective students have already obtained a BA or BS in a related field, many are already working full-time and must work their post-grad education into their busy schedules. In these cases, online and hybrid programs are ideal matches, but there are a few things that all students should consider before selecting an MCD program.

Certification, Licensure, and Accreditation

Many students choose to earn a master's in communication disorders so that they can become speech pathologists. In this case, students must ensure that their program of choice's curriculum satisfies the academic and clinical requirements to receive certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). They should also ensure that their program will leave them eligible for licensure in their state and also satisfies requirements for education credentials for public school employment if that is the route they wish to go.

An adequately accredited school and the program are also paramount, as they signify quality and academic excellence. Graduate programs in communicative disorders can be accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.

Program Cost

Much like undergraduate degrees, program costs for MCD degrees can fluctuate based on many factors. Students can expect to pay for tuition, mandatory school fees, and course materials. Financial aid options, including loans and scholarships, are typically available to well-qualified applicants.

For example, tuition for the Master of Science in Communicative Disorders through California State University, Northridge, is estimated at $52,416. This figure does not include additional fees, such as application and graduation fees or course supplies.

Program Length

With classroom-based lecture courses, internships, and clinical experiences required, most online master's in communicative disorders programs take at least two years to complete, with some requiring three years of study. While online courses are prevalent, students will generally have to be available for a certain number of hours per week for the clinical field experience portion of the program, which must be completed in person. Most programs culminate in a master's thesis or field study project.

Admissions Requirements

While each school will have its own admissions requirements, most include the following to be accepted into an MCD program:

  • Bachelor's degree in a related field, such as speech-language pathology (students with undergrad degrees in unrelated fields may be required to take more prerequisite courses)
  • Successful completion of all prerequisite courses with a grade of ‘C' or better
  • Satisfactory scores on GRE/MAT
  • Minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0

Classes and Courses

Enrolled MCD students take courses to help them understand and analyze various communicative disorders. These courses are rounded out with clinical experiences and internships, which provide hands-on training.

To provide an example, some of the courses and seminars required for the online Master of Science in Communication Disorders at Western Kentucky University include:

  • Early Intervention in Speech-Language Pathology
  • Voice Disorders
  • Dysfluency
  • Cognitive Linguistic Disorders
  • Rehab Audiology
  • Seminar in Phonology

A master's in speech-language pathology program includes online or classroom didactic coursework and clinical practice hours in which students put their skills to work in real-life supervised clinical
experiences. Following is a sample of typical master's in speech pathology classes, which are included in Boston University's Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program:

  • Speech Sound Disorders
  • Research Methods
  • Models of Language
  • Language Sampling Analysis
  • Evaluation & Diagnosis in Speech Pathology
  • Hearing Practicum
  • Cognition & Neural Bases
  • Clinical Reasoning
  • School-Age Language Disorders
  • Preschool Language Disorders
  • Aphasia
  • Dysphagia
  • Augmentative & Alternative Communication

Online Master’s in Communication Disorders Program Specializations

While schools tend to offer general communicative disorders programs, some will allow specializations. Speech-language pathology is the most common specialty in MCD programs. Audiology was a popular master's degree specialty at one time, but within the last decade, it was phased out in favor of the Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) program, which is the new educational requirement for entry-level audiologists.

Speech-Language Pathology

The speech-language pathology pathway trains students for clinical practice and research in the speech and language pathology field, where they will evaluate, diagnose, and treat children and adults with communicative and/or swallowing disorders. The course curriculum for this specialty focuses on compassionately working on communication techniques, considering the client's unique circumstances. Within this specialty, students may be able to sub-specialize in augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) or autism by taking some extra courses. Upon graduating from this MCD program, students are eligible for certification and licensure as speech-language pathologists and can find employment in schools, healthcare settings, and as part of interdisciplinary teams.

Read more in our Essential Guide to Speech Langauge Pathology.

Advantages of Online Master’s in Communication Disorders Programs

Online MCD programs have cropped up nationwide to allow working professionals to earn their master's degrees. These distance-learning programs provide flexibility, convenience, and even affordability. Online learners do not generally need to worry about the expenses of commuting to class or relocating. While some portions of the online MCD programs have to be arranged locally and attended in person (such as internships and clinical experiences), many consider the ease of taking the bulk of the online program a significant draw.

Colleges That Offer Accredited Online Master’s in Communication Disorders and Master’s in Speech Pathology Programs in 2024

Select Your State:


SchoolContact Information
California State University - Northridge
18111 Nordhoff Street
Northridge, CA 91330
(818) 677-3332


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University of Northern Colorado
501 20TH ST.
Greeley, CO 80639
(970) 351-2734


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Nova Southeastern University
3301 College Avenue
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314
(800) 541-6682


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Idaho State University
921 South 8th Avenue
Pocatello, ID 83209
(208) 282-2150


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Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd
Bowling Green, KY 42101
(270) 745-5173


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Emerson College
120 Boylston Street
Boston, MA 02116
(855) 997-0407

New York

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New York University - Steinhardt
82 Washington Square East
New York, NY 10003
(888) 698-0462

North Carolina

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East Carolina University
E 5th Street
Greenville, NC 27858
(252) 328-6131


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University of Akron
302 Buchtel Common
Akron, OH 44325
(330) 972-7111
University of Cincinnati
3225 Eden Avenue
Cincinnati, OH 45267
(513) 558-8501


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Texas Woman's University
304 Administration Dr.
Denton, TX 76204
(940) 898-2025


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James Madison University
800 S. Main St.
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
(540) 568-6211


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University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
105 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54702
(715) 836-4636