Communication Disorders masters degree goes digital


There are three admission cycles for the new online degree beginning in September, January, and May.

By Flora Li

The college launched its first online master degree program in communication disorders this September.

The online program maintains the same curriculum, cost, and instructors as the on-campus equivalent. Both the online and on-campus program requires 400 hours of clinical practicum experience in schools, clinics, hospitals, private practices, or other facilities to become a speech-language pathologist. The master degree is available on the Speech@Emerson website.

Other online certificate programs exist, but the new speech-pathology degree marks the college’s first venture into online graduate studies, according to a review of the college’s website.

US News & World Report ranked the college’s on-campus graduate program in Communication Disorders in the top 20 nationally. Because of the ranking, 2U, a company specialized in providing online learning platforms, reached out to partner with Emerson for the online program to make it accessible to students all over the United States.

“Ultimately, we will have hundreds of students enrolled in this program in five to 10 years,” Joanne Lasker, chair of communication sciences and disorder, said. “There will be more speech-language pathologists with a master degree from Emerson.”  

Director of Program Administration Phedra Hamilton-Reyna called the new degree more of an opportunity than a challenge.

“It is a different format, it is in a different methodology,” Reyna said. “It is a different way of educating our students and having them learn … so I think that presents itself to be an opportunity.”

The college and 2u prepared for the launch of the new online degree over the past year. 2U also works with other institutions around the nation, such as Northwestern and New York University.

“It is a process where we were bringing out the components of this program over time,” Lasker said. “We are working with a curriculum that we were already doing, and just delivering it in a different way.”

Before classes begin, students must attend a two weekend-long orientation at the Boston campus. From there, the 42 student September cohort participates in live weekly classes. Both 2U and Emerson help students locate clinics or facilities with Emerson contracts in their communities to practice in-person treatment.

There are three admission cycles for the new online degree beginning in September, January, and May. The January cohort already contains 35 students. The program offers two enrollment options—full-time and part-time. A full-time student can graduate in 20 months, while a part-time student can graduate in 36 months.