Grad School Is Possible for the Non-CSD Undergrad Seeking a spot in CSD graduate school but lacking a strong background in communication sciences and disorders? An aspiring SLP offers tips that worked for her. Student's Say
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Student's Say  |   May 01, 2015
Grad School Is Possible for the Non-CSD Undergrad
Author Notes
  • Christina Gibson is a second-year graduate student in communicative disorders at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at CSU, Long Beach, and master’s in counseling from CSU, Fullerton. She plans to pursue a career as a school-based speech-language pathologist. cgibson21@csu.fullerton.edu
    Christina Gibson is a second-year graduate student in communicative disorders at California State University, Fullerton. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology at CSU, Long Beach, and master’s in counseling from CSU, Fullerton. She plans to pursue a career as a school-based speech-language pathologist. cgibson21@csu.fullerton.edu×
Article Information
School-Based Settings / Professional Issues & Training / Student's Say
Student's Say   |   May 01, 2015
Grad School Is Possible for the Non-CSD Undergrad
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 36-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.20052015.36
The ASHA Leader, May 2015, Vol. 20, 36-37. doi:10.1044/leader.SSAY.20052015.36
In the spring of 2014, I sat in my first communicative disorders graduate class listening to my peers introduce themselves. I remember being astounded by how many of them had majored in something other than communication sciences and disorders. Many were in the program by way of psychology, business or linguistics.
Like many of my classmates I, too, have degrees in fields outside of CSD—a bachelor’s in sociology from California State University, Long Beach, and a master’s in counseling from Cal State, Fullerton. As part of my counseling practicum, I worked with children, some of whom had communication disorders. I came away from that experience knowing that I wanted to be a speech-language pathologist, with a new interest in and passion for the field of communication disorders. I had seen the challenges communication disorders present, and I wanted to help.

I realized that I was behind. I would lack the CSD courses and relevant electives taken by peers who earned bachelor’s degrees in the field.

In one of the communicative disorders prerequisite courses, my professor spoke about the rigors of getting into a master’s program in communication sciences and disorders. I realized that I was behind. I would lack the CSD courses and relevant electives (such as sign language and special education) taken by peers who earned bachelor’s degrees in the field.
I had only about a year and a half to make myself stand out in hopes of getting into graduate school. To make the most of that time, I listened to the recommendations of professors in my prerequisite program to:
Volunteer to do research. The semester before applying to graduate school I did research with a professor on cultural competency, which I had studied as an undergrad. You can use the knowledge and expertise you have in another subject to do research that is related to communication disorders.
Volunteer in multiple settings. Over the summer I volunteered at a private practice and a clinic to get experience in both environments. I enjoyed both settings and reaffirmed my choice to become an SLP.
Learn another language or improve your proficiency in a language you already know. While volunteering at a clinic, I chose to work with a group of Spanish-speaking children. I learned more Spanish vocabulary, songs and even some baby sign language.
Join clubs. I joined the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association and an on-campus autism club. At meetings and events I networked and learned more about the profession of speech-language pathology.
Keep up your grade-point average. I took it one day at a time and focused on studying and getting good grades. When I needed help, I went to professors’ office hours and asked for it. Don’t try to take too many classes at once; maintaining a high GPA is imperative to getting into CSD grad school.
Attend workshops/conferences. I attended many local workshops and conferences, on topics such as brain inury and autism, which were low-cost or free (if you volunteer) for students. At these workshops I networked, received information about the profession and scouted potential places to volunteer or eventually work.
Enjoy the experience. You are entering a rewarding, versatile and growing field.

I did research with a professor on cultural competency, which I had studied as an undergrad. You can use the knowledge and expertise you have in another subject to do research that is related to communication disorders.

Waiting for an acceptance—or rejection—notification was nerve-racking. I finally received a call from the professor with whom I was doing research (I thought she was calling me about a paper revision) who told me that I was accepted. I felt equal parts of disbelief, joy and relief.
Getting into graduate school was well worth the effort. The greatest part so far is having the privilege to work with clients I am able to help and who have absolutely helped me become a better future SLP.
1 Comment
May 19, 2015
Elaine Rau
Excellent article!
Christina, I think you will make good use of your counseling background. I have often wished I had more of a background in that area, particularly in working with youngsters and teens who stutter. as well as with parents of children who have any type of communication disorder. I think any previous education has value, either in our personal or professional lives. My undergraduate major was French - very far removed from speech-language pathology but the "ear training" I received, along with many hours of transcribing French into IPA in French Phonetics, has served me well in graduate school and beyond in working with children with speech sound disorders.
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May 2015
Volume 20, Issue 5