The Western Carolina University Communication Sciences and Disorders Program prepares students for a wide range of careers, from clinicians to scholars. Students study the nature and development of communication competence and the nature of management of disorders of communication. The program’s curriculum is taught in classroom and clinical settings by experienced, knowledgeable faculty members, many of whom have been or still are professional clinicians. These faculty members are also dedicated researchers who conduct their studies in order to better understand communication sciences and disorders, and to expand knowledge in the field.
The rigorous curriculum combines academic courses and clinical education from which students gain valuable pre-professional experience and the courses required for graduate study. The core curriculum includes courses such as Introduction to Communication Disorders, Acoustics and Speech Science, Introduction to Audiology, and Speech-Language Disorders in Children. In addition to the core, all students are required to complete a concentration or minor, elective and liberal studies courses, and supervised observations in the Speech and Hearing Clinic, which serves approximately 75 clients a week. Outside the classroom, students may also choose to get involved in WCU’s National Student Speech-Language Hearing Association Chapter to further their studies and understanding of the field.
Program graduates are employed throughout the region and nation. Many have gone on to pursue their master’s degree in order to become a professional speech-language pathologist. Employment can be focused in the research and administration areas of communication sciences and disorders, or in the growing field of assistive technology. Employers for graduates can include hospitals, private practices, public clinics, nursing homes, rehabilitation companies and home health agencies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, health care practitioners and technical occupations in general are projected to increase 21.5 percent by 2022. Speech-language pathologist occupations are projected for a 19.4 percent increase in the same time period, while audiologist occupations are projected for an increase of 33.6 percent.