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Guidance for undergrad with goal of masters in bilingual SLP

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I am a guidance counselor for a rising high school senior who would like to purse a track towards being a bilingual speech pathologist.  I wrote to several of the SPL masters programs in our state (NC) and received varying answers.  For the most part, if the university offered CSD at the bachelor level, then they leaned toward having students go that track.  If they did not, then the university highly recommend they take the pre-reqs before applying (possibly minoring in CSD), but said they preferred diversity in their applicants, so any major would be fine.  

Thought I'd throw that same question out to those of you who have been admitted into a masters program for your opinion on what 'real life' would say about this topic.   

Thank you in advance for taking time to reply. 


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Things I wish I knew when I was 18:

1. major in CSD

2. get as close to straight As as possible 

3. volunteer during the summers (speech clinic, organizations for special needs, hospitals, etc.)

CSD grad programs are highly competitive due to the amount of people trying to get in. A high GPA and GRE scores are important, as well as relevant work/volunteer experience. 

I am not familiar with bilingual programs, but if there is a bilingual masters program, I would recommend going to their undergrad program as well. That way, there is a smooth transition  from bachelors to masters. Depending on your undergrad program, you will be required to complete certain courses to graduate...for example my undergrad program didn’t include a fluency course or neuroscience but other programs did. This caused some confusion when I applied to some masters programs because some required these courses. It would be much easier to go to the same school for undergrad and grad school because of these differences. Plus, many grad schools favor their own student. If you’re in CA and want to go to a Cal State school, I would highly recommend attending undergrad at whichever school you hope to do your masters in. It’s very difficult to get into a Cal State CSD masters program if you were not an undergrad there


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Heyyyyy man so I am currently on that track! Here's what I've done to prepare myself:

1. I double majored in CSD and Spanish. I personally feel like at least minoring in Spanish helps you stand out because it shows that you are competent in the language enough to do well in an academic setting. Even if you are a native Spanish speaker, this will help show that you're also able to read and write in Spanish. I personally feel like it's more of a money saver to just major in your intended field...and it makes it much easier to complete required prereqs to get your license/Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC's) which are necessary for the field. I am not a native speaker, so majoring in Spanish has definitely made me seem more competent lol

2. A bilingual certificate is NOT required for being considered a bilingual SLP. There is no set standard for a bilingual certificate--some of the graduate students  and teachers I've talked to are hoping that that will be a possibility in the future, but chances are that a national certificate will make it so that earning a bilingual SLP certificate from before the set national one will make you have to redo everything. While not necessary, it is helpful since having professional experience during grad school with bilingual populations is a big plus for employers, especially those looking for bilingual SLPs. The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) has a search engine called EdFind that is extremely helpful for finding schools that specialize in Bilingual Certificate tracks or have a multicultural/multilingual focus.

3. When it comes time to apply for graduate school, I would suggest contacting schools to ask about placements with bilingual populations. While some of the schools I applied to don't offer a certificate, they're still able to make placements with bilingual populations!

4. I would suggest that the student shadows SLPs in the area, especially those that work with bilingual populations, both for experience and to ensure that this is definitely something they want to do!

Hope that's helpful!

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Hi, KImberlyNC! You're a great guidance counselor to be digging this deep for help for your student. My own take on this, which I hope will be encouraging, is that there are many paths to this goal. There have been a couple of great responses already from in-field applicants. I'm applying to speech-language pathology master's programs from (wildly) out-of-field, which means I have no CSD pre-reqs completed. However, I've been accepted formally to one school and informally to another. Here's the gist of my own path:

  • I majored in Spanish, not for utilitarian reasons, but because I loved it
  • I went to unusual lengths (fellowships, long-term living abroad) over the following decade to continue studying Spanish and other foreign languages, because I loved them
  • Meanwhile, I worked in a completely unrelated field, because I loved it
  • I had a high GPA and high GRE scores

In my case, I think I was successful because I had 1) a deep interest in bilingualism and language learning, sustained over many years, 2) clear enthusiasm for my profession, even though it was not SLP, and 3) strong stats.

As others have noted, there is no national standard for bilingual speech-language pathologists. If someone is bilingual (ASHA suggests "native or near-native proficiency” as a definition), and is also an SLP, they can be hired for these positions. Ideally, an SLP master's program for someone who hopes to work with bilingual populations would include special classes and training opportunities, but not every school offers these.

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I am also planning to become a bilingual SLP. Like the poster above said, there are so many paths you can take to reach this goal. I majored out of field (human development and Spanish) and I spent the past year teaching English in Spain while taking CSD pre-req courses. So far, I have been accepted to 3 different masters programs that have a bilingual track. I think having fluency in Spanish definitely helped, as well as having strong grades/scores, and relevant work/research/internship experience. I actually think that having a different background outside of CSD was a benefit, but it's taken me extra time to get all the classes I've needed done. 

This is a great resource for finding programs that specifically offer a bilingual track/certificate/emphasis: https://www.asha.org/edfind/results.aspx?be=true. However, many programs that don't offer a specific track still have faculty researching bilingualism and opportunities to do clinical experiences with these populations. 

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