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Communication Sciences and Disorders
Teachers College, Columbia University
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frequently asked questions

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frequently asked questions

Below you will find the answer to many questions we receive about the CSD program from prospective students as well as students who are newly admitted to the program. 

We also recommend that you look through our current student handbook.   

For questions regarding the application process, please also visit the Office of Admissions application instructions page for additional information. 


The Application Process

Can you mail me the application materials?

The application process for the program is entirely online; therefore, we do not distribute paper application forms. For more information regarding our application process, please visit the website for the Office of Admissions.

How many recommendation letters are required?

Two letters of recommendation are required.

How much does tuition cost?

You can find the most up-to-date tuition costs on the website for the Office of Financial Aid.

How many applicants do you have for the program? How many do you accept?

These figures vary from year to year.  In recent years, we have received approximately 800 applications each year.  We have an acceptance rate of approximately 15%.

What are the criteria for an admissions decision?

We evaluate each applicant on his or her own merits. We look for unique candidates that we feel would make a contribution to the program, their fellow students, and eventually the profession.  Many areas are considered including, but not limited to, previous academic performance, leadership experience, commitment to multicultural values, volunteer or community engagement activity, strong supporting letters that address the applicants academic potential and suitability for clinical practice.

What is the deadline for application?

The deadline for receipt of all application materials is January 15th.  Please note that this is a received-by deadline, not a postmark deadline.


Do you accept applicants for spring semester?

No. All our applicants begin the program in the fall.

Am I required to submit the GREs with my application?

No. We do not require the GREs for admission. 

However, many of our students take the GREs for other programs and you do have the option of submitting your GRE scores to us if you have them. We use all the information we receive in our admissions decisions.

Do official undergraduate transcripts need to be uploaded by my college, or am I supposed to mail them in myself?

For applicants submitting transcripts from the U.S. or Canada, unofficial transcripts can be uploaded to the Online Application for the review process.  If offered admission, students will be required to submit official transcripts to the Office of Admission.  Visit the Office of Admissions application instructions page for more information.

I am not a native speaker of English. Is there a second language competency requirement for admission?

Applicants to the program are required to have at least 100 on the Test TOEFL IBT.  The Office of Admission strongly prefers that all application materials, including TOEFL scored, be submitted online through the online application system.

I obtained my baccalaureate / undergraduate degree from a country other than the United States. What should I do?

If your transcripts do not show GPA or, if the transcript has a different system for documenting your performance the Office of Admissions requires international transcripts to be evaluated by World Education Services (WES). More information is available on the Office of Admissions website.

What is the average undergraduate GPA of the students you admit?

The average GPA is approximately 3.6 – 3.8.  However, please note that GPA is only one factor taken into account during the admissions process.

What is the average score on the GREs of the students you admit?

Given that GRE scores are not required for admission, we do not calculate averages for GREs for admitted students.

My university has a specific procedure for sending in recommendation letters. Is the Teachers College recommendation form required?

The Office of Admission strongly prefers that recommendations be submitted online through the  online application system. Letters should be submitted in a format that verifies they were submitted by the sender (e.g., on official letterhead) and should be signed.



Can I speak with someone to get more information about the admission process, or about the program?

Appointments (in-person or phone) can be scheduled with the Admissions Liaison to your program of interest.  He or she can answer questions you may have about the program as well as any questions regarding the admission process. For more information, please contact the Office of Admissions.


About the Program

What are the pre-requisites for the program?

Our program does not require prerequisites to be considered for admission.

I have a bachelor's degree in a field other than communication sciences and disorders or speech-language pathology. Should I apply as a non-matriculated student first?

We do not require specific prerequisite courses in the field before matriculation.  It is possible for students who enter the program without coursework in the field to accomplish all the required coursework as part of their masters program, usually requiring two additional semesters (one summer and one fall).

Would I be able to teach in a school with a Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders or would I need a separate Masters in Education to do so?

If you are interested in working in the schools as a speech and language pathologist, you need a Teaching Certificate for Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (the TSSLD).  Most of our students obtain this certification.  In our program, it is accomplished by the addition of one two-point course, plus a school-based practicum experience. All the other content information required by the state is infused within the curriculum.  For more information, please see the website for the Office of Teacher Certification.

I speak a language other than English and would like to work with a non-English-speaking population after I graduate. Does your program support this?

Yes. You can obtain a bilingual extension on the Teaching Certificate for Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD) that enables you to work with bilingual students.  One additional course is required, and a practicum experience with bilingual children.  For more information please click here.

Additionally, a unique part of our program is the chance to participate in the Transcultural Speech-Language Pathology practicum experiences. At present we have programs in Bolivia and Ghana.  For more information, please click here.

How long does it take to complete the program?

Completion of the program is most directly related to the student’s completion of the clinical requirements after they have become fully matriculated students with full-time status.  Once the full-time student begins clinical training, presuming continued full time enrollment and satisfactory progress through the clinical sequence, a student who enters the program with an undergraduate major in speech pathology (or communication sciences and disorders) will likely be eligible for graduation at the end of the second spring or second summer semester.  A student who enters the program with an undergraduate major in an area other than speech pathology (or communication disorders) regardless of the number of relevant courses they may have completed elsewhere prior to assuming full-time status in our program, will likely be eligible for graduation at the end of the third fall semester.

What are the graduation rates? (How many students complete the program in the expected time?)

More than 95% of our students graduate within the predicted time frame. Please click here for additional information.

How many students pass the PRAXIS?

During the past three years, 100% of our students have passed the Praxis Exam.  Please click here for additional information.

What professional status is associated with completing the Master's Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders?

Our Master of Science degree qualifies graduates to obtain the state license in speech and language pathology and, if they so choose, the Teaching Certification for Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD).

The Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders ensures that you meet the academic and practicum requirements for certification with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). However, there are additional requirements post-qualification in order to obtain the ASHA certificate of clinical competence (CCC-SLP). For more information about ASHA Certification requirements, please visit the ASHA website.

How many students graduating from your program find work as Speech-Language Pathologists?

Information regarding employment rates can be found here.  You can also find more information about the career paths of our graduates from our Office of Career Services.

I do not have U.S. citizenship / I do not have a green card / I am not a permanent resident of the U.S.A. How does this affect my licensing / certification?

Getting a license in New York State requires proof of your legal status in this country - a work visa or H1B status.

The Teaching Certification for Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities is different. For initial certification, a work visa or H1B visa is required.  However, for permanent or professional certification, you need permanent residency (a green card), or U.S. citizenship.

Which certification do I register for?

There are several Professional Certification levels available for registration. Your academic advisor can help if you have questions about which certification is appropriate for you.
  • MSCSD is for students who DO NOT plan to obtain teacher certification following graduation.
  • MSCSD - Initial Certification is for students who DO plan to obtain teacher certification following graduation.
  • MS-Professional Certification is for students who have extensive professional teaching experience and already have teacher certification; please discuss this with your advisor.
  • MS-Dual Certification is for students who DO plan to obtain teacher certification following graduation and ALSO PLAN TO COMPLETE THE BILINGUAL EXTENSION.

Are there opportunities for students to get involved in faculty research?

We involve our student in research when we can. We recommend researching ongoing research projects on our website and contacting faculty you might be interested in working with to see if there are opportunities available.


What options are available for living on campus? Is it required?

Living on campus is a personal choice, and is certainly not required.  We have students who live on campus and others who commute from the local area, including the five NYC boroughs, Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut, and New Jersey.  You may wish to look at the housing options on our website for more information at http://www.tc.columbia.edu/housing/.

How do the study-abroad programs work?

International programs vary from year to year depending on a variety of factors.  Your ability to participate in a particular international trip will depend on how many students are interested at the time and whether or not you are fluent in another language.  Please see our program website for additional information about the international programs

Do you offer a combined MA/PhD program?

No, our program is a Masters degree program only.  Students interested in pursuing a Ph.D. or Ed.D. in Communication Sciences and Disorders must first complete a Masters degree and then apply directly for those programs.

Is it possible to do research instead of practicum?

No.  This is a clinical program, not a research program.

How big is the incoming class?

The incoming class is typically 50-60 students.  This includes students with and without backgrounds.

Can I take a tour of the on-campus clinic?

Tours of our on-campus clinic, the Edward D. Mysak Clinic for Communication Disorders (EDMCCD), will be offered during Admitted Students Day.  Unfortunately, due to HIPPAA and FERPA regulations, we cannot offer tours on alternative days/times.  If you are interested in a tour of campus on alternate days, you should contact the Office of Admissions.


Funding and Scholarship Information

Are there scholarships available? How do I apply?

For more information about scholarships, please visit the Financial Aid website. If, on your application for admission, you clicked "yes" when asked if you were interested in scholarships, you will automatically be considered for many scholarships.  However, there are some scholarships that require an additional application.  Visit the Financial Aid website to determine if you are eligible and to apply.  In addition, the NYC Department of Education offers a scholarship for graduate students interested in pursuing a career in an NYC public school after graduation.  Click here for more information about the Department of Education (DOE) scholarship.

I am applying for the Department of Education (DOE) scholarship. Who completes the College Acceptance form?

The NYC Department of Education Graduate Scholarship Program requires a signed College Acceptance Form to be completed by an authorized college/university representative as part of the application.  We are happy to complete this form for you.  You can bring it to our Admitted Student Day event on April 11, 2014.  Alternatively, you can email Yvonne Wallace at ywallace@tc.edu for assistance.  Please complete the top portion of the form with your name and social security number before sending.  Keep in mind that the Scholarship Program requires supporting documents to be submitted within 10 business days from the date the application was filed.  Please wait until AFTER we have returned your completed College Acceptance Form to submit your application, in order to avoid undue time demands on our staff.

Are work-study and graduate assistantships available?

If a work-study position is available in the clinic, we will announce this to students via email.  Available work-study and graduate assistantship positions in other offices at TC are posted on the Human Resources website. For more information about student employment, visit the Financial Aid website.


Academic Coursework Information

When will I be assigned an academic advisor? When will I register for classes?

Students who enroll in the program will be assigned an academic advisor in late May.  Once this assignment is made, your advisor will contact you directly by email.  Your academic advisor will help you determine courses for you first semester registration and will help you get started on your Program Plan, an important document that will guide your course of study.  Advising sessions will occur during the summer as well as during new student orientation. 

I am coming in without a background in speech pathology. How will this impact my program?

Students entering our program without a background in communication sciences and disorders typically complete the Masters degree in 2.5 years (7 semesters, including summers).  Foundational prerequisite coursework, such as Introduction to Communication Disorders, Audiology, Anatomy and Physiology, etc., will be integrated into the graduate program.

All of our course requirements can be found in the student handbook. Please note that ASHA requires that you show competency in the following subjects in addition to your graduate coursework: statistics, social sciences, physical sciences, and biological sciences.

Will I have to repeat previous coursework? How do I know which prerequisite courses will be accepted?

Prerequisite courses completed at an accredited college prior to entering the program do not need to be repeated at TC.  Assessment of previous coursework should be done with your academic advisor.  For any course that is not a direct equivalent, you must provide a syllabus from the completed course for comparison.


What does a typical day look like in terms of class times? How many times a week do classes meet?

As a general rule, most 2- and 3-credit classes meet once a week for about 2 hours.  Class meeting times may be Monday – Friday and may be during the day or in the evening.  Evening time slots are 5-7PM and 7-9PM.  However, some classes will have alternative schedules—for example, a course may have longer sessions but meet fewer times during the semester.  Days and times of class meetings will be advertised on the semester course schedule during registration.


How many credits will I take each semester?

Credits taken each semester will vary.  Typically students take a larger academic course load in their first several semesters, and take fewer classes once they begin their clinical externships.  In the first two semesters, you will most likely take between 12-17 credits.

What if I am taking less than 12 credits in one semester, how will I qualify for financial aid?

This does sometimes happen in later semesters; however, it is during those semesters that you are typically registered for practicum and have an off-campus placement.  Off campus placements qualify for full time “equivalency.”  There is a form that you can file with the registrar to be considered a full-time student.

Do students have classes in the summer? Are a full 12-credits required?

Yes, all students will have clinical obligations in the summer semester, and most also take academic coursework.  A 12-credit course load is not required; depending on the coursework you elect to take, you may be registered for fewer than 12 credits.  However, if you are working at an external placement, you will still be considered full-time.  See “What if I’m taking less than 12 credits in one semester?” for additional information.

There is a one-week break between semesters.  See the academic calendar for details: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/academics/resources/ .


Clinical Placement / Externship Information

What types of placements will I have?

We have relationships with over 200 placement sites in NY, NJ and CT, including schools, hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and private practices.  We do our very best to make sure that our students are matched with placement sites that meet their needs and interests, and provide them with diverse clinical experiences.

When do clinical placements begin?

Students will complete a minimum of 1 full semester (fall or spring) in our on-campus clinic before transitioning to their first external placement.  Generally students entering with a background will have their first client in the clinic in their first spring semester and will have an off-campus placement in their first summer.  Students entering without a background will transition to the clinic in their first summer, continue in the clinic in their second fall, and have their first off-campus placement in their second spring semester.

How are placements assigned?

Placement matches are coordinated by our dedicated Placement Coordinator.  Completed coursework, previous clinical experience, location, course schedule and student preferences are all considered during the matching process.  We make every effort to assign you to a placement that is easily accessible (i.e. you will not be assigned to a site that is not accessible by public transportation if you do not have a car) but please remember that in NYC, commuting is a way of life.  Generally, up to a 1-hour commute is considered a reasonable assignment.

How many placements will I have?

Every student must complete 3 external placements.  Work in the on-campus clinic does NOT count as a placement.  With few exceptions, you will only have one placement each semester.  However, depending on your schedule, you may also be assigned a client in the on-campus clinic during a semester in which you have a placement.

Can I apply previous observation and clinical hours to my TC requirements?

ASHA requires a minimum of 400 clinical hours for certification.  A maximum of 25 hours of clinical observation may be counted towards this total.  If you have completed observation hours prior to entering the program, please make sure they are properly documented and signed by the appropriate supervisor from your observation site or undergraduate program.  You may count previously acquired observation hours towards your 25 hours of observation, however all students in our program will complete at least one semester of observation hours in our on-campus clinic.

Clinical therapy hours completed before entering the program may also be counted towards your 400 hour total, provided they are properly documented.  However, the number of therapy hours accrued prior to entering the program will not significantly impact the number of hours you will be expected to complete in the clinic or at off-campus placements.


Bilingual Extension Information

What is the BEA and when do I take it?

The Bilingual Education Assessment (BEA) is a state exam which tests proficiency in a foreign language.  One portion of the exam also includes questions about theory, research and policy in bilingual education.  A passing score on the BEA is required for the bilingual extension.  Most students take the BEA once they have completed the program.

Does the bilingual program extend the length of the program?

No.  Because most of the information is integrated into the required coursework for the master’s of science program in speech-language pathology, students only need to take one additional three-credit course to meet the requirements of bilingual/bicultural program.

How do I acquire bilingual clinical hours?

You may begin accruing bilingual hours as soon as you start your clinical hours.  If we have a bilingual client to pair you with in the on-campus clinic, we will.  If not, we can assign you to a placement where you will get bilingual hours.  A minimum of 50 bilingual hours is required for the bilingual extension; however, students often complete more than 50 bilingual hours, depending on their placement.  These hours are part of the ASHA required minimum of 400 clinical hours and are not completed in addition to your required hours.


Licensure and Certification Information

What is the TSSLD certification? How do I get it?

If you are interested in working in the schools as a speech and language pathologist, you need a teaching certificate for Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD).  Most of our students obtain this certification.  In our program, most of the required content is infused into the curriculum—students seeking the TSSLD certificate must complete only one additional two-credit course, plus a school-based practicum experience.  Additional TSSLD requirements include at least one course in each of the following areas: Math, Science, History, English, Foreign Language.  Most students fulfill these requirements with undergraduate coursework or AP credit.  Fulfillment of the requirements must be verified through transcript review at the Office of Teacher Certification.

Does the TSSLD allow me to work as an SLP in schools outside of NY?

The TSSLD teaching certification in NY is for NY only.  If you go to another state, you will need to apply for teaching certification in that state.  Typically, if you are certified in one state, moving to another is just a matter of paperwork.


Does the TSSLD allow me to teach?

No.  The TSSLD teacher certification is specific to speech-language pathology, and only allows you to practice as an SLP in a school setting.  To work as a substitute or classroom teacher, you would need a regular teacher certification.

If I already have a teaching certification, will my program be shorter?

No.  Since the TSSLD-specific coursework is limited to one class, the length of the program will not change.