Applications submitted prior to the January 15 deadline will be reviewed and receive an admissions decision within six weeks. The UVM Communication Sciences and Disorders Department considers several factors when reviewing an application to the graduate program. There are several components to this fairly complicated equation. Specifically, and not in any order of importance, the Department is interested in undergraduate/pre-professional grades; Graduate Record Examination scores; letters of recommendation; statement of purpose (essay)*.
There is a distinction between "undergraduate" and "pre-professional" grades, since some people have completed an undergraduate degree in another field and have had to complete a series of prerequisite courses in addition to the undergraduate degree. Of course, your Grade Point Average (GPA) is important. It amounts to your "track record" as a student and is a primary indicator of what you are able to do in the classroom. However, we do not look only at your overall GPA. It is not uncommon for students to have a difficult freshman year, or to find themselves in undergraduate majors that really are not a "good fit" for them. Therefore, we tend to look more closely at grades during your last two years of undergraduate school. For those applicants who have an undergraduate major in Speech/Language Pathology, we look closely at the GPA for your major. For others, we look at the grades in coursework related to our field. For those who have come back to school after some delay, the grades in the pre-requisite courses, usually taken as a "non-degree student," become very important.
Graduate Record Examination Scores
Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores are commonly taken as one predictor of graduate school performance and success. GRE scores are required as a part of the application procedure for this department. These scores are given the same weight as your academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and Statement of Purpose. The GRE yields three scores: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. Scores on the verbal and quantitative sections range from 130-170 (mean 150) and scores on the analytical writing section range from 0 – 6 (mean 4.0). Although there is no minimum score below which you will not be considered for acceptance into this program, competitive scores for the verbal and quantitative subtests of the GRE are generally around 155 whereas competitive scores for the analytical writing section are generally around 4.5. For reference, mean GRE scores and GPAs for students accepted into our graduate program over the last few years are as follows:
The only advice regarding the GRE is the usual: do as well as you can. If you think that you could improve your score by a second try, do so; it is the higher score that we consider.
Letters of Recommendation
Applicants are required to provide three letters of recommendation to support their application for graduate study in this department. These letters are important because they often provide admissions committees with information that is not found elsewhere in your application. Put some thought into who to ask to write a letter of recommendation. Letters from academic faculty who know you well and can speak to your strong academic performance should definitely be included. You may also consider professional contacts and employers if you have worked with them in ways relevant to communication sciences. Particularly good choices are people who can speak positively about your fitness for graduate study in the field. These people should be able to make a prediction of how well you might do in graduate school based upon experience with you. They might also speak about your maturity, work habits, or interest in the field. Ideally, letters should cover your academic and scholastic skills, research abilities and experiences, and your applied experiences (e.g., clinical experience, internships, or related work experience). Often, no one person can speak to all of these in which case a good strategy might be to aim for a set of letters that cover a range of skills. A good way to ensure that your letters cover these bases is to provide your referees with all of the necessary information. Be prepared to provide artifacts that speak to your skills or experience. For instance, if you plan to ask an instructor to write a letter for you based on your good performance in his or her course, you may want to share the papers, exams, or presentation materials that were products of that course. Here are some additional tips: When approaching potential writers, ask “Can you write a letter of recommendation that will help me?” or “Do you feel that you know me well enough to write a positive and meaningful letter?”
- Avoid letters from family or friends detailing your personal characteristics as these suggest you have insufficient sources to speak to more relevant qualities.
- Give your writers plenty of time (three to four weeks minimum). This includes your instructors so do not wait until finals week to ask for a letter of recommendation. It is important that you be mindful of your instructor’s schedule.
- Provide potential writers a file that details relevant background information (e.g., transcript, resume or vita, statement of purpose).
- Consider waiving your right to view the recommendation. Confidential letters tend to carry more weight with admissions committees and some references will not write a letter unless it is confidential.
Statement of Purpose (Essay)
The Statement of Purpose is a very important part of your application. In fact, at UVM it is given the same weight as your academic transcript, graduate record exam (GRE) scores, and letters of recommendation. Furthermore, the Statement of Purpose demonstrates how well you express yourself using the written word. As such, you should plan to spend a lot of time developing your Statement of Purpose. An effective Statement of Purpose is a 1 – 2 page essay that typically:
- describes your motivations for pursuing a career in speech-language pathology at the University of Vermont. That is, why do you want to be a speech-language pathologist and why do you think the graduate program offered here is a good fit for you?
- tells us why you think you will be a successful candidate. We are interested in knowing how you have prepared for graduate study, what this preparation demonstrates about your fitness for study in the field, and what you consider to be your strengths and challenges. When identifying challenges, also please describe how you have dealt with these in your academic career to date.
If applicable, please feel free to discuss how any of the following may have personally impacted you, your decision to apply to graduate school in Speech-Language Pathology, and/or your academic and professional aspirations.
- Experience as a non-native speaker of English/bilingualism
- Experience being from a traditionally underrepresented background (e.g., racial, ethnic, sexual orientation)
- Experience as first-generation college student
- Experience being from a background with economic and social challenges
- Experience with disability
Of course, writing an effective Statement of Purpose can be difficult and there is no single best approach. Indeed, we hope that your statement will reflect your individuality and creativity. Nonetheless, one excellent strategy is to begin early. Revisit your Statement of Purpose frequently and write, rewrite, and ponder until you feel that your Statement is a true reflection of what and how you wish to communicate. You may also find it helpful to have others preview your Statement of Purpose to gather useful feedback.
Course and Observation Requirements for Admission
A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution and satisfactory performance on the general Graduate Record Examination are required for admission. Applicants must have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or greater in their undergraduate studies and complete all prerequisite courses or their equivalents with a GPA of 3.0 or greater before entering the program. UVM Continuing Education offers many of the prerequisites through the Master of Science in Communication Sciences Prerequisite Track. Prerequisite courses or equivalents include:
These courses are offered online through UVM Continuing and Distance Education.
The American Speech-Language and Hearing Association Standard III-A for certification requires evidence of previous coursework in the biological sciences, physical sciences (physics or chemistry), mathematics, and the social/behavioral sciences.View Certification requirements of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) >>
Observation Hours Requirement
Students must complete 25 observation hours according to guidelines provided by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association before beginning graduate study. You may document your observation hours on the forms below. Observation forms from other CSD programs are also accepted.