Speech-language pathology and audiology are disciplines that have developed out of a concern for people with communication disorders. Speech-language pathologists work in a variety of settings with children and adults to prevent, assess, diagnose, and treat speech, language, communication and swallowing disorders. Audiologists are healthcare professionals who identify, diagnose, and provide evidence-based treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders. Preparation leading to an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders includes a wide range of courses and a variety of clinical practicum opportunities working with the infant through geriatric populations.
Students who intend to seek employment as a speech-language pathologist or audiologist, whether in a public school, clinic, rehabilitation center, or hospital setting, are advised that a master’s degree in speech-language pathology or a clinical doctorate in audiology and certification/licensure at the state and/or national levels are required. Out-of-state students should recognize that other requirements may exist for employment in their locales.
For students who do not wish to continue with a graduate degree in speech-language pathology or audiology, an undergraduate degree in CSD provides excellent preparation for other professions and fields of study. Some students with a CSD degree go on to attend graduate programs in deaf education, rehabilitation counseling, early childhood or elementary education, adult and higher education, or special education. Students not wishing to seek a graduate degree can work in the schools as an educational assistant, or pursue certification as a speech-language pathology assistant, behavioral specialists, a reading specialist or reading coach, sign-language interpreters, a hearing aid dispenser, or an audiology technician. Some students pursue national or international teaching and service opportunities with organizations such as Teach for America, Americorps, or the Peace Corps.
Degree Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) offers a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders, a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology, and a Clinical Doctorate in Audiology. The Bachelor of Arts degree in CSD is a pre-professional degree with an emphasis on the liberal arts and sciences that prepares the student for pursuing graduate studies in either audiology or speech-language pathology. For the bachelor’s degree in CSD at Western, a minor area of study is required and must be approved by the student’s academic advisor. Suggested minor areas include audiology (in moratorium), linguistics, English, biology, physics, business, education, psychology, and sociology. Individually designed minors are permissible with faculty advisor approval.
The Master of Arts and Clinical Doctorate degrees are professional degrees and partially fulfill certification requirements at both the state and national levels.
A post-baccalaureate program is offered for those with an undergraduate degree in a field other than communication sciences and disorders and for those who hold a CSD degree that was completed five or more years ago. This program is designed to prepare such students for graduate-level study in speech-language pathology or audiology. The four-quarter lockstep program begins fall quarter. The post-baccalaureate program is self-supporting and has a tuition rate that differs from that of regularly enrolled undergraduate students.
Students interested in the post-baccalaureate program need to complete the Extension Undergraduate Application. Extension admission and registration information is available from Outreach and Continuing Education, 360-650-7780.
NOTE: Enrollment in the post-baccalaureate program does not guarantee a place in the graduate program.
The master’s degree (MA) education program in speech-language pathology at Western Washington University is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard #310, Rockville, Maryland 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700 (TTY). The department also is accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The Clinical Doctorate in Audiology (AuD) at Western Washington University is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Certification/Licensure in Speech-Language Pathology/Audiology
There are three types of professional certification/licensure in the field: state licensure from the Washington State Department of Health; certification as an educational staff associate from the Washington state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; and the Certificate of Clinical Competence, a national certification, from ASHA. Consult the department for additional information.
DOUGLAS P. SLADEN (2017) Chair and Associate Professor. BA, MA, Western Washington University; PhD, Vanderbilt University. Program director, AuD (audiology).
ANNA C. DIEDESCH (2017) Associate Professor. BA, Washington State University; AuD, Wichita State University; PhD, Vanderbilt University; AuD graduate advisor (audiology).
DAVID L. EVANS (2014) Associate Professor. BA, University of Colorado-Boulder; MA, University of Maine; PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; undergraduate advisor (speech-language pathology).
KELLI J. EVANS (2014) Associate Professor. BA, MA, University of Maine; PhD, University of Nebraska-Lincoln; SLP graduate advisor (speech-language pathology).
HEATHER MOORE (2019) Assistant Professor. BA, James Madison University; MA, University of Georgia; PhD, Arizona State University; undergraduate advisor (speech-language pathology).
KIMBERLY A. PETERS (2002) Professor. BA, Trinity College; MA, PhD, University of Connecticut. Undergraduate advisor; director, aural rehabilitation clinics & undergraduate advisor (audiology).
STERLING SHEFFIELD (2023) Associate Professor. BS, Brigham Young University; MA, University of Iowa; PhD, Vanderbilt University.
JENNIFER THISTLE (2017) Associate Professor. Alfred University; MEd, Fitchburg State College; MS, Emerson College; PhD, Pennsylvania State University; post-baccalaureate advisor (speech-language pathology).
MEGAN BENNETT (2017) AuD Internship coordinator; BS, University of Nevada, Reno; MA, Western Washington University; AuD, A.T. Still University (audiology).
MELINDA BRYAN (2022) BA, MA, Western Washington University (audiology).
DAWN BURGESS (2018) SLP Internship coordinator; BA, MS, MS University of Southern Mississippi (education of the deaf & speech-language pathology).
JENNIFER GRUENERT (2008) BA, MS, University of Washington (speech-language pathology).
YARROW POSPISIL (2001) BS, University of Nebraska; MA, Western Washington University (speech-language pathology).
ANDREA REED (2018) BA, University of South Florida; AuD, University of Washington (audiology).
JASMINE RUBERT (2014) BA, MA, Western Washington University (speech-language pathology).
MAGGIE SAVAGE (2020) BS, University of Washington; MA, Western Washington University (speech-language pathology).
ASHLEY SOBCHUCK-HUDSON (2022) Director, BS, Portland State University; AuD, Pacific University (audiology).
LESLEY STEPHENS (2006) Director, BA, MA, University of Kansas. (speech-language pathology).
Students wishing to declare a major in Communication Sciences and Disorders must have:
- Completed at least 75 credits;
- Successfully completed or be currently enrolled in CSD 251;
- Achieved a Western GPA (based on at least 12 credits) of 2.70 or higher. A grade of at least B- (2.70) in each of the core courses (CSD 251, 352, 354, and 356) may be substituted for the overall 2.70 GPA.
- Send a Major Declaration and Change form to CSD@wwu.edu.
As stated in the section regarding general university academic policies, “any grade below a C- is unacceptable in the student’s major or minor.” In the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department students also are required to complete each prerequisite course with a grade of C- or better before enrolling in the courses for which that serves as a prerequisite.
Other Departmental Information
Essential Functions/Technical Standards of Degree Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders Admission, Retention and Graduation Standards
The graduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders is recognized as a broad degree requiring the acquisition of general knowledge and basic skills in all applicable domains of speech and hearing sciences. The education of speech-language pathologists and audiologists requires assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of skills and development of judgment through academic and clinical experience in preparation for independent and appropriate decisions required in practice. The current practices of speech-language pathology and audiology emphasizes collaboration among speech-language pathologists, audiologists, other health care and education professionals, the patient/client, and the patient/client’s family.
The accredited graduate program in speech-language pathology of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Western Washington University adheres to the standards and guidelines of the Council of Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Within these guidelines, the CSD program has the freedom and ultimate responsibility for: the selection of students; the design, implementation, and evaluation of the curriculum; the evaluation of student progress; and, the determination of who should be awarded a degree. Admission and retention decisions are based not only on satisfactory academic achievement, but also on other academic factors that serve to ensure that the candidate can complete the essential functions of the program required for graduation.
The Department has a responsibility to the public that its graduates can become fully competent and caring speech-language pathologists and audiologists, capable of doing benefit and not harm. Thus, it is important that persons admitted possess the intelligence, integrity, compassion, humanitarian concern, and physical and emotional capacity necessary to practice speech-language pathology and/or audiology.
The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, as part of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Western Washington University is committed to the principle of equal opportunity. The University, College, and Department do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, disability, age, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital status, pregnancy, parenting status or genetic information. The University, College, and Department are committed to providing access, equal opportunity, and reasonable accommodation in its services, programs, activities, education, and employment for individuals with disabilities.
When requested, the University will provide reasonable accommodation to otherwise qualified students with properly certified disabilities. Students with disabilities requesting accommodations utilize the Disability Access Center, firstname.lastname@example.org. More information can be found at: disability.wwu.edu.
The CSD Department’s faculty and professional staff have responsibility for the welfare of students in the Department. In order to fulfill this responsibility, the Department has established academic standards and minimum essential requirements that must be met with or without reasonable accommodations in order to participate in the program and graduate.
In order to acquire the knowledge and skills requisite to the practice of speech-language pathology to function in a broad variety of clinical situations, and to render a wide spectrum of patient care, individuals must have skills and attributes in five areas: communication, motor, intellectual-cognitive sensory-observational, and behavioral-social. These skills enable a student to meet graduate and professional requirements as measured by state licensure and national certification. Many of these skills can be learned and developed during the course of the graduate program through coursework and clinical experience. The starred items (*), however, are skills that are more inherent and should be present when a student begins the program.
A student must possess adequate communication skills to:
- Communicate proficiently in both oral and written English language.
- (Language to be determined by program.)*
- Possess reading and writing skills sufficient to meet curricular and clinical demands.*
- Perceive and demonstrate appropriate non-verbal communication for culture and context.*
- Modify communication style to meet the communication needs of clients, caregivers, and other persons served. *
- Communicate professionally and intelligibly with patients, colleagues, other healthcare professionals, and community or professional groups.
- Communicate professionally, effectively, and legibly on patient documentation, reports, and scholarly papers required as a part of course work and professional practice.
- Convey information accurately with relevance and cultural sensitivity.
A student must possess adequate motor skills to:
- Sustain necessary physical activity level in required classroom and clinical activities.*
- Respond quickly to provide a safe environment for clients in emergency situations including fire, choking, etc.*
- Access transportation to clinical and academic placements.*
- Participate in classroom and clinical activities for the defined workday.*
- Efficiently manipulate testing and treatment environment and materials without violation of testing protocol and with best therapeutic practice.
- Manipulate patient-utilized equipment (e.g. durable medical equipment to include AAC devices, hearing aids, etc.) in a safe manner.
- Access technology for clinical management (i.e. billing, charting, therapy programs, etc.)
A student must possess adequate intellectual and cognitive skills to:
- Comprehend, retain, integrate, synthesize, infer, evaluate and apply written and verbal information sufficient to meet curricular and clinical demands.*
- Identify significant findings from history, evaluation, and data to formulate a diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
- Solve problems, reason, and make sound clinical judgments in patient assessment, diagnostic and therapeutic plan and implementation.
- Self-evaluate, identify, and communicate limits of one’s own knowledge and skill to appropriate professional level and be able to identify and utilize resources in order to increase knowledge.
- Utilize detailed written and verbal instruction in order to make unique and dependent decisions.
A student must possess adequate sensory skills of vision, hearing, tactile, and smell to:
- Visually and auditorily identify normal and disordered (fluency, articulation, voice, resonance, respiration characteristics, oral and written language in the areas of semantics, pragmatics, syntax, morphology and phonology, hearing and balance disorders, swallowing cognition, social interaction related to communication).
- Identify the need for alternative modalities of communication.
- Visualize and identify anatomic structures.
- Visualize and discriminate imaging findings.
- Identify and discriminate findings on imaging studies.
- Discriminate text, numbers, tables, and graphs associated with diagnostic instruments and tests.
- Recognize when a client’s family does or does not understand the clinician’s written and or verbal communication.
A student must possess adequate behavioral and social attributes to:
- Display mature empathetic and effective professional relationships by exhibiting compassion, integrity, and concern for others.*
- Recognize and show respect for individuals with disabilities and for individuals of different ages, genders, race, religions, sexual orientation, and cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.*
- Conduct oneself in an ethical and legal manner, upholding the ASHA Code of Ethics and university and federal privacy policies.*
- Maintain general good physical and mental health and self-care in order not to jeopardize the health and safety of self and others in the academic and clinical setting.*
- Adapt to changing and demanding environments (which includes maintaining both professional demeanor and emotional health).
- Manage the use of time effectively to complete professional and technical tasks within realistic time constraints.
- Accept appropriate suggestions and constructive criticism and respond by modification of behaviors.
- Dress appropriately and professionally.
Council of Academic Programs in Communicative Sciences and Disorders (2007). Eligibility Requirements and Essential Functions. Prepared by Schwartz et al., and retrieved from www.capcsd.org/proceedings/2007/talks/EFchecklist.pdf on 08.17.15.
Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (01-24-03). Essential Functions of Candidates for Program Admission and Continuance. Western Washington University. Prepared by Dr. Rieko Darling, Dr. Michael Seilo, and Dr. Lina Zeine.
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences (2009). Essential Functions of Speech and Hearing Sciences Education. University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, and retrieved from catalyst.uw.edu/workspace/sphscfw/39520/278617 on 08.17.15.
Committee on Essential Functions (2008). Essential Functions in Speech-Language Pathology, CAPCSD (2008). Prepared by Jackson, et al., and retrieved fromhttp://capcsd.org/proceedings/2008/talks/Presentation-Essential_Functions.pdf on 08.17.15.
Writing Proficiency Guidelines
Majors in Communication Sciences and Disorders must complete a minimum of three writing proficiency points in approved upper-division writing proficiency courses at WWU with a minimum grade of C-. Students must meet with an undergraduate advisor no later than the fourth week of winter quarter of the junior year to file a plan of study. The plan of study will include signing up for specific writing proficiency courses and labs.
For a concentration leading to the Master of Arts degree or the Clinical Doctorate degree in Audiology, see the Graduate School section of this catalog.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduate
CoursesCommunication Sciences & Disorders
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies section of this catalog.