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M.A. in Linguistics


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I have a double major Speech and Hearing Sciences and Family and Human Development at Arizona State University and I want to go into the field of Speech Language Pathology. I am considering applying to a couple of M.A. Linguistics programs as well as master's programs in SLP/ Comm. Disorders. If I get a Master's in Linguistics after I finish my bachelor's, could it help me get into a master's program for SLP/Comm. Disorders? Would it be worth it? 

 

Any thoughts would be a great help!

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I don't think pursuing a linguistics M.A. would necessarily hinder or help when it comes to SLP admissions. SLP programs are primarily concerned with your speech coursework, experience, and career goals.

 

Is there another reason you want to pursue a degree in linguistics? Having a linguistics background certainly wouldn't hurt an SLP, but it won't make your application stronger per se. Maybe you can integrate some linguistics courses or minor in ling while you're still in undergrad if you just have the desire to study the subject more.

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I have read a lot of people with undergraduate degrees in linguistics then pursuing SLP Master's degrees, so I was curious how closely related they are. I do like languages(have studied Spanish extensively and Sign Language at the basic level), but my passion is to become an SLP. I am entering into my senior year next year with a 3.5 GPA/ 3.4 Comm GPA. It's hard to bring up this close to the end (esp. Comm. GPA) and I got scared of how competitive SLP programs are! I  was curious about a possible segue I could take to increase my chances of admissions. I am planning on applying to 7-8 programs and am terrified I will be rejected from every one! I've thought about applying to related programs such as Audiology, Linguistics, or Special education (all in addition to SLP), but have never considered entering those fields as a professional

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I know that the programs in Arizona are very competitive, but if you apply to six or so programs that aren't as inundated with applications, you'll probably be okay! People here are great at suggesting schools if you're not quite sure where you want to apply.

 

I think you'll be fine if you do really well during your fall semester; perhaps you can take a course or two this summer to boost your GPA as well? Volunteering or gaining SLP-related experience throughout 2013 might be a good idea, too.

 

And don't forget that schools will consider your GRE scores, SOP, CV, and LORs, not just your GPA.

 

Good luck!

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As a linguist turned SLP grad student, I can say that a linguistics background has been very helpful for me in the classroom, and much of what you learn in SLP grad school makes a ton of sense when you look at it through the lens of linguistics. However, if your sole purpose in getting a master's degree in ling is to look more competitive for SLP grad school, a better use of your time (and money) could be getting a couple years of work experience, and taking some related coursework (psych, neuro, linguistics, slp grad level courses) to demonstrate your interest and skills. And any volunteer work you can do with individuals with communication disorders will be helpful too.

If you want a master's in ling because you have a specific research interest, then by all means go for it. But linguistics is much more than liking languages, so before you make that commitment I'd suggest reading some books on the topic to make sure it's interesting to you! Feel free to PM me if you want some reading suggestions, or ask around on the Linguistics forum.

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If SLP is your dream, I wouldn't recommend getting a backup master's unless you just have extra $$$ :-)  As Midnight said, I don't think it would hurt or help either way.  

 

Choose your schools carefully, find ones that don't get as many applications and be willing to move.  Rock the GRE and write a really passionate SoP and I think you'll find you'll do better than you think!

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I have heard that if you plan to get a PhD degree in Comm Disorders, a linguistics MA is extremely competitive. One of my professors was strongly encouraging of this.

His thought was that an SLP Master's and Comm Disorders PhD was more common than the Linguistics MA and Comm Disorders PhD, and so if you do that it would be marketable.

 

But if you're not planning to get a PhD I don't think it would be worth it.

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I'm also a linguist-turned-SLP-grad student. 

 

I second what GandalftheGrey has said regarding a Lx background being helpful and also regarding Lx being a lot more than liking languages (although that helps!) -- it's really more about liking Language with a capital L.   I'd recommend you read Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, and perhaps a good intro to Lx text like the one by Fromkin & Rodman to gauge your interest.

 

I'll add that how competitive it makes you may very well depend on the programme you're applying to and how much stock it puts in linguistics -- I've spoken to some programmes where they've looked at my background, encouraged me to apply, and effectively waived all pre-reqs, while another (not to be named) told me that they wouldn't accept any of my coursework as it wasn't taught by an SLP in the context of an SLP department.  Based on the little that I've seen in the courses I'm taking, it seems to me that the SLP profession as a whole would be somewhat enhanced if there were more folks with a linguistics background in the field.  I hope no one takes that comment as snarky, but I've got classmates who are still a little rough as to what a morpheme is and instructors (SLPs) whose competence in certain relevant areas of linguistics leaves something to be desired.

 

Bottom line is that I have the lx degrees and no other SLP background.  Applied to the school that encouraged me and was accepted.  But that's an N of 1, so it's hard to say what will be right for you.

 

Another thing to note:  an MS in Lx might not be worth much on the job market unless you were to combine it with a TESL certification.  So you may get very little return on your investment unless you can find a programme that will fund you, and that's more likely if you pursue a doctorate.

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I'm also a linguist-turned-SLP-grad student. 

 

I second what GandalftheGrey has said regarding a Lx background being helpful and also regarding Lx being a lot more than liking languages (although that helps!) -- it's really more about liking Language with a capital L.   I'd recommend you read Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct, and perhaps a good intro to Lx text like the one by Fromkin & Rodman to gauge your interest.

 

I'll add that how competitive it makes you may very well depend on the programme you're applying to and how much stock it puts in linguistics -- I've spoken to some programmes where they've looked at my background, encouraged me to apply, and effectively waived all pre-reqs, while another (not to be named) told me that they wouldn't accept any of my coursework as it wasn't taught by an SLP in the context of an SLP department.  Based on the little that I've seen in the courses I'm taking, it seems to me that the SLP profession as a whole would be somewhat enhanced if there were more folks with a linguistics background in the field.  I hope no one takes that comment as snarky, but I've got classmates who are still a little rough as to what a morpheme is and instructors (SLPs) whose competence in certain relevant areas of linguistics leaves something to be desired.

 

Bottom line is that I have the lx degrees and no other SLP background.  Applied to the school that encouraged me and was accepted.  But that's an N of 1, so it's hard to say what will be right for you.

 

Another thing to note:  an MS in Lx might not be worth much on the job market unless you were to combine it with a TESL certification.  So you may get very little return on your investment unless you can find a programme that will fund you, and that's more likely if you pursue a doctorate.

 

I'm not offended at all; in fact, I'm opting to take one of my SLP pre-reqs through the linguistics department rather than through the speech department for some of the reasons you mentioned. Linguistics is fascinating and absolutely relevant in the context of SLP.

 

Speech and hearing sciences/comm dis is such an interesting path largely because it has the potential to be interdisciplinary and extremely dynamic, but it seems that many programs don't necessarily view it that way (and I'm sure many departments have to be somewhat proprietary for valid reasons like funding and overall support).

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Another thing to note:  an MS in Lx might not be worth much on the job market unless you were to combine it with a TESL certification.  So you may get very little return on your investment unless you can find a programme that will fund you, and that's more likely if you pursue a doctorate.

 

True. Look at the job postings on linguistlist.org to see what's out there. (Hint: computational linguists should be just fine.)

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True. Look at the job postings on linguistlist.org to see what's out there. (Hint: computational linguists should be just fine.)

Yep, but comp ling is not for the faint-hearted.  When I started out, I foolishly thought that you could train a linguist to be a programmer more easily than you could train a programmer to be a linguist.  A few comp ling courses changed my mind.  :-)

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I really appreciate all of your replies! @ Wandering_Tine, I'll definitely check out those books.  First and foremost I want to get my master's and further my education but I am certainly planning on obtaining my PhD and my long-term goals are to do research as well as clinical work. I hope to conduct in-depth research about language acquisition, Autism Spectrum Disorders, bilingual language acquisition, language structure, neurological development, and different ways in which receptive and expressive language can be taught. I know I have a lot of interests but I can never imagine myself not learning something new! Clinically, I am most interested in working with the lowest functioning of communication clients; and hope that my research and clinical work can aid one another. 

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Another linguist turned SLP grad student-to be here.  I echo the sentiments that it helped serve as a foundation for certain topics in Comm Dis: phonetics, formant frequencies, morphology, syntax, semantics, etc.

 

If you plan to conduct research in language structure, having a linguistics background will definitely be helpful.  I've enjoyed looking at the field of comm dis from multiple perspectives: a former patient, a teacher, a linguist, and a future clinician.

 

Regardless of your own experiences, use them to help you become the best clinician you can be.

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  • 3 weeks later...

What about just doing a linguistics certificate? A masters would only be useful if you pan to continue researching in your professional career. Most slp programs focus on other areas and seem to not value these types of extra education (I don't know why?!) but that is what my advisor said at FIU. She actually recommended I redo a bachelors over a masters in linguistics. I left dumbfounded. Also, there are many online certificates that you could complete that might strengthen your application.

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