Master of Science Program

Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)

The mission of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders is the preparation of professionals qualified to provide independent professional diagnostic and therapy services to a diverse population with a wide range of communication needs.

The master's (MS) education program in speech-language pathology at the University of Central Arkansas is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. Graduates from the program earn a Master of Science degree and meet academic and clinical practicum standards for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Speech-Language Pathology granted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Speech-Language Pathology license issued by the Arkansas Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Graduates also meet the requirements for the Speech-Language Pathology credential from the Arkansas State Department of Education.


CSD Graduate Program Open House
Friday, September 28th, 2018    1:00-3:00 pm
Friday, October 26th, 2018    1:00-3:00 pm
Join us at one of our Open House events to learn more about our program. Prospective graduate students will have the opportunity to:
  • Meet with faculty, staff, and current students
  • Tour our department and clinical facilities
  • Learn about current faculty research
  • Ask questions about our admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships
Space is limited and registration is required. Please register by sending your name, current university, and the date of the open house you wish to attend, via email to Dr. Natalie Benafield at at least one week prior to event. You will receive an email confirmation of your registration.


Program Admission

Admission to the M.S. Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders is competitive, selective, and limited.  A Bachelor's Degree is required prior to enrolling but can be in related fields.   Admission is granted without regard to gender, race or color, ethnicity, religion, spiritual beliefs, national origin, age, familial status, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation, disability, political beliefs, intellectual perspective, genetic information, military status, or other factors irrelevant to participation in this program (Board Policy 502). Applicants must demonstrate proficiency in oral and written communication prior to admission to practicum courses. Criteria considered for admission include but are not limited to:

  • Undergraduate grade point average:  The UCA Graduate School requires 2.7 overall for admission; higher GPAs are typical of students admitted to the CSD master’s program. (Priority is given to students demonstrating outstanding academic achievement.) The typically-admitted CSD student has an overall GPA of 3.2 or above.
  • Graduate grade point average:  Grade point average for graduate courses must be at least 3.0. Credit hours may be transferred from another master’s program, subject to the approval of the Graduate Advisor.
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (Quantitative, Verbal and Writing):  The typically admitted student has a score of 149 or higher on both the Qualitative and Quantitative sections and a score of 4.0 or higher on the Writing assessment.



Centralized Application to the Graduate Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Applications to the M.S.Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders are administered through the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders Centralized Application Service for Clinical Education in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology.  This is a state-of-the-art, web-based application that offers applicants a convenient way to apply to any number of participating clinical education programs in either Audiology or Speech Language Pathology by completing a single application.  The online application was specifically designed to be easy and convenient.  With far less paperwork, streamlined processing, and ongoing communication with applicants, CSDCAS offers individuals the ability to apply to multiple programs across the country.  The Applicant Portal will not open until August 2nd.

Prior to beginning the CSDCAS application, please carefully read all Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and Instructions to better understand how the process works and what to expect.  If you are reapplying, please review these again as this information has been updated.

In order to apply for the master's degree program in Communication Sciences and Disorders, prospective applicants should go to   This link will allow you to make application to the program and monitor your application.  As part of this process you will need to provide the following to CSDCAS:

  1. An official transcript from EACH college from which you have received course credit even if past course work appears on a later transcript.  Provide copies of the CSDCAS transcript request form to each school's registrar.  This form can be downloaded from your CSDCAS Application on-line.  Just click the orange button to the left of each university you list that  you've attended on the CSDCAS Application.  Please send all transcripts for the program application to the following address:  CSDCAS Verification Department, P. O. Box 9113, Watertown,  MA  02471. DO NOT SEND TRANSCRIPT DIRECTLY TO UCA PRIOR TO ADMISSION. COMPLETE STEP 1 AS SOON AS POSSIBLE as a delay in verifying transcripts can affect your admissions status.
  2. Letters of recommendation:  minimum of three.  At least two of these recommendations should be from academic faculty members who know your work.
  3. GRE scores.  You must give ETS  the following code when taking the GRE:  UCA CSDCAS: 0738.   If you do not do this, you will be charged additional fees from ETS to have your scores sent to UCA CSDCAS.  Do not send GRE scores to UCA. Only send GRE scores to UCA CSDCAS: 0738.

Applicants must e-submit their CSDCAS Application by 11:59 p.m. EST on January 15.  Applicants will no longer be able to apply to the program if they fail to submit the online application on or prior to this deadline.  The application must be verified by CSDCAS by February 15th. 

It is the applicant's responsibility to meet the deadline requirements for the program.  Incomplete applications will not be considered in the admissions process.

CSDCAS Customer Service is available Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST.  Phone: 617-612-2030 (FREE); Email: UCA is not able to answer questions for students who are experiencing difficulty using CSDCAS. Please contact CSDCAS for assistance.


Application to UCA Graduate School

Only students who are offered admission to the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders Master's Program are required to apply to the UCA Graduate School. If you are accepted to the graduate program, you will be required to send official transcripts and GRE scores to the UCA Graduate School.

If you are admitted to the program, please notify the admissions committee (Natalie Benafield, Committee Chair, of your acceptance by April 15. Our department abides by the following resolution from the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders which states in part that students have until that date to consider offers from other institutions; however, acceptances in force after that date are considered binding. A student may certainly withdraw an acceptance by writing a letter of resignation of the appointment to the institution anytime through April 15. An offer by an institution after that date is conditional on presentation by the student of the written release from any previously accepted offer. If you would like to view the resolution in its entirety, please see the following website: and follow the link to the PDF version of the resolution.


Degree Requirements

Each fall a new group of students start the UCA graduate program. Completion of the Master's degree requires six consecutive semesters of full time enrollment. Students must complete a minimum of 54 semester credit hours of academic and clinical courses including 40 hours of academic study and 14 hours of practicum. See link CSD Master's Program Course Sequence.   Students should be advised that having a job requiring more than 10 hours a week will make degree completion considerably harder.  Faculty strongly recommend not working if possible.

After successful completion of the Master’s degree students will be eligible for ASHA certification. Being "certified" means holding the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), a nationally recognized professional credential that represents a level of excellence in the field of Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP).

Those who have achieved the CCC—ASHA certification—have voluntarily met rigorous academic and professional standards, typically going beyond the minimum requirements for state licensure. They have the knowledge, skills, and expertise to provide high quality clinical services, and they actively engage in ongoing professional development to keep their certification current.

The standards for certification speech-language pathology  are established by members of ASHA's Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC).

After the student is admitted into the UCA graduate program, the graduate advisor will review the student's undergraduate transcript(s) to ensure that s/he will meet the pre-requisite requirements for ASHA Certification.  In addition to the required graduate courses, students must have complete at least one undergraduate level course in each of the following areas with a grade of "C" or better:

  • Biological Science
  • Physical Science
  • Statistics
  • Behavioral/Social Science

Additionally, students must complete courses in basic human communication processes and the nature of speech, language, swallowing and hearing disorders as well as courses in the following areas: phonetics, normal speech and language development, anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism, speech and hearing science, clinical methods, audiology, research, cognition and cultural diversity.

After transcript review, undergraduate deficiencies are identified and the student is notified. It  is recommended that students complete all deficiencies related to the biological sciences, physical sciences, statistics, and the social/behavioral sciences before entering the program.

A maximum of 9 credit hours may be transferred from another CAA approved Master of Science program, subject to the approval of the Graduate Advisor.  Verification of any transfer work (official transcript) must be submitted by the student and is placed in the academic advising file.


M.S. Thesis Option

Students who choose to complete a thesis enroll in 6 hours of thesis credit (6336 Thesis). The thesis option does not require the student to take more than the 54 required credit hours. If you are interested in completing a thesis, you should make an appointment with your advisor. Selection of a thesis topic is the responsibility of the student. All members of the thesis committee must be approved and appointed by the department chair. The thesis committee shall be composed of a minimum of three members who hold graduate faculty status: the major professor, a second faculty member in the department, and a third member from outside the department.

The Thesis and Dissertation Preparation Guide is published by the Graduate School. After the thesis has been read and approved and before the student is recommended to the Graduate Dean for graduation, the thesis committee meets with the student for an oral examination. The oral exam focuses on a defense of the thesis but may include other questions. A majority of the student's committee must approve the thesis and its defense. If approval is denied, the student will not be recommended for graduation. However, the student may be re-examined at a later period no sooner than three months after the initial examination.


Clinical Practicum (14 credit hours)

Students enroll in Clinical Practicum each semester.  This supervised practicum will include experiences with patient/client populations across the life span and from culturally/linguistically diverse backgrounds. A total of 400 clinical practicum hours must be accrued with a minimum of 325 at the graduate level. Practicum experiences will be completed at the UCA Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic and off-campus sites. The UCA Clinic serves approximately 60-70 clients per semester. Additionally, students enjoy a variety of clinical experiences in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, public schools, and early intervention programs throughout the state and sometimes in other states.


Complaint Process

Students may file complaints according to the policies and procedures outlined in the UCA Student Handbook. These include policies for academic complaints, sexual harassment, and standards of student conduct. Processes for complaints/appeals vary depending on the category. Students may consult with the department chair regarding appropriate procedures as outlined in the UCA Student Handbook.

Complaints related to graduate education should be submitted to the Chair of the Council on Academic Accreditation. Procedures for submitting complaints have been posted in the department and can be found at the following website:

Complaint Procedures



Once admitted, a student's progress in the Communication Sciences and Disorders  program is reviewed each semester. To remain in good standing:

  • The student must maintain a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0. A student whose cumulative GPA is less than 3.0 is on academic probation. In the next semester of attendance, the student must achieve a cumulative GPA of 3.0. If the cumulative 3.0 is not met, the student is ineligible to continue graduate studies at UCA. A GPA of 3.0 or above is required for graduation. Up to 6 hours beyond the degree requirements can be used to meet this GPA, but these hours must be approved by the student's advisor.
  • The student is expected to have acquired the knowledge and skills delineated by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) that are necessary for the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC). See document Professional Dispositions and Essential Functions CSD Essential Functions (student document) and CSD Essential Functions (departmental policy).
  • Students are evaluated with both formative and summative assessments to ensure they are achieving the skills required for certification and licensure.

Assessment of students’ compliance with non-academic requirements involves the professional judgment of faculty and administrators who have the responsibility for insuring that appropriate speech and language services are provided to the public. It is the University's responsibility to protect both students and the clients they serve. To ensure student compliance, faculty review student progress on a regular basis. Potential problems are raised as soon as possible with the student and when appropriate, remediation procedures are suggested. Students are given time to respond and a fair opportunity to succeed. However, on rare occasions, it is necessary to counsel students out of the program for non-academic reasons.


Post-Baccalaureate Students

Applicants who hold a bachelor's degree in a field other than Communication Sciences and Disorders can nonetheless be admitted to the master's program in CSD, if they meet admission requirements for the Graduate College and CSD department; however, before being considered for admission, they will need to complete the listed undergraduate courses in CSD, as well as a statistics course (must be a stand-alone class with statistics in the title--for example, Research Methods would not count for statistics) and any gen ed courses they have not had.  See document CSD Post-Baccalaureate Students.


Course Documents and Links:

CSD Master's Program Course Sequence

Complaint Procedures

CSD Essential Functions (student document)

CSD Essential Functions (departmental policy)

CSD Post-Baccalaureate Students


Interested in the Master's Program at UCA?