Cornell University Major for Speech Pathology

Hi everyone, I’m having a tough time choosing which major to apply this fall for Cornell University ED. I have a huge interest in becoming a speech pathologist or speech therapist and was wondering which major/school I should apply to. I was maybe thinking communications (CALS)? human development (Humec)?


So I’m currently a Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) major so hopefully I’ll be able to help here. The most direct path to becoming a Speech Therapist would be to pursue a degree in CSD or Speech and Hearing Sciences. The reason why this may be the preferred path is because if you do not take several CSD pre-reqs as an undergraduate, you will need to add a 3rd year to your Master’s degree plan of study, which would add to your expenses. If you pursue a major outside of CSD and take the pre-reqs for graduate programs, you would not need to add the extra year.

If you are set on pursuing another major, though, some really solid options are Psychology, Linguistics, and probably Human Development. Communications wouldn’t be a bad option so to speak, but the plan of study for a CSD major/future speech therapist is more “scientific” than would be covered as a communications major (anatomy and physiology, neuroscience, cognitive science, etc.)

If you don’t mind me asking, why are you set on applying to/attending Cornell? They don’t have a CSD undergraduate major, and the cost of attendance might be high for a future SLP. Let me know if you have any other questions!

Thank you for the helpful info! The reason for applying to Cornell is they have great research labs such as for early childhood cognition where I believe it would give me insight and help me determine if I want to become a Speech pathologist/therapist or a Special Education teacher for children and the youth. But I will definitely look at other colleges that provide a CSD major. Are there any good programs or colleges you might know of?

No problem! I know of a few solid programs and colleges, which geographic region are you located in?

If you are certain you want to be a speech pathologist you may want to go directly into a program for Communication Sciences and Disorders/Speech Pathology.

However, my D went the indirect route as she did not decide on a career in speech pathology until junior year of college. You can have any major as an undergrad. My D said her class had a number of psychology, neuropsych, linguistics majors but there were also some people who came in after working a few years in other professions (ex. business, teachers etc.).

The indirect route is more challenging. Only a few programs offer master’s degrees for people without undergraduate degrees in the field unless they have taken a required group of prerequisite courses. It did all work out for my D thankfully and she is very happy with her career choice.

I live on the East Coast (New England). I’ve been looking at the Boston area so far

You can major in anything you’re interested in, related or unrelated to speech pathology. Just make sure you’ve taken whichever prerequisites are needed for entry to a master’s program.

If you were my child, I’d encourage you to use your undergrad years to take a broad course of study to become an educated person. Major in history, or music, or philosophy, or chemistry, or French, or government, or psychology. You have to get a mater’s degree anyway, so why not use your undergrad years to broaden your horizons?

@brantley My D did what you suggested, mainly because she did not decide to be a SLP until junior year. She has zero regrets. But having gone that path the OP should be aware that there are potential pitfalls of that route if he/she is confident now that he/she wants to be a Speech Pathologist.

– Yes you need a MS for speech pathology but most MS in Speech programs only accept students who have either a BS in Speech Pathology (communication disorders or whatever different schools call it) OR who have completed an extensive list of prerequisites. Most MS programs require between 6-10 prerequisite courses and (to make it more fun) the required prerequisite courses are different from program to program. These prerequisite courses are very specific to speech pathology and would only be found at colleges that have a SLP program – and even then you would have to see if you could even take them if you are not in that major. If you could take them the prerequisites as an undergrad you would likely eat up all of your electives, thus your wouldn’t “broaden your horizons” nearly as much as expected. Additional you need a laundry list of other liberal arts coursework to be licensed (varies by state).

–There are a few programs that will accept students without a MS in speech pathology (my D did extensive research to seek them out) but they often require a two semester summer program (basically to take the prerequisites) or two additional semesters of grad work. Also the only such programs we found were very competitive in terms of admissions and were at private colleges (so if cost is a factor that should be considered).

Great, there are quite a few great CSD schools in the Northeast/New England area! I’ll include a few rankings if this interests you, although for your undergrad ranking isn’t as important.

Boston University (#10) has a strong CSD program, and while MIT doesn’t have a CSD program, they have a strong cognitive science/neuroscience program that can collaborate with BU. Emerson College (#32) has a good CSD program, but be wary that since the school itself isn’t as STEM focused, there might not be as much room to grow if you want to focus more on the psychological/cognition side of thing.

UPitt (#3) also has a really good CSD program.

UConn (#32) has a really strong CSD and a really strong psychology of language/cognition program. From what I can tell, these departments are very collaborative and have thriving research programs.

NYU (#38) also has a strong CSD program!

Let me know if you have any other questions!