Site Search

A smiling female student drips a chemical into a vial.A smiling female student drips a chemical into a vial.

Communication Disorders

Master of Science– Credits:  59 (program code:  0303)

Program Description

The Master of Science degree provides specialized training in all areas of communication disorders. Graduates are qualified to provide clinical services to individuals of all ages in a variety of settings, including public and private schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, government agencies, private practice, etc. The University has excellent facilities, including a large clinic and a Learning and Language Center located within the department, along with a technologically advanced Communication Science Laboratory. This academic program can be completed in five consecutive terms.

Program Objectives

  • To recruit and retain a talented, diverse and highly motivated student and faculty base.
  • To offer high-quality graduate academic instruction in the specialized area of communication disorders.
  • To provide clinical field practice opportunities through contractual agreement with many diverse regional facilities in which high-quality speech-language diagnostic and therapeutic services are provided, including hospitals, clinics, home care agencies, long-term care facilities, schools and rehabilitation centers.
  • To help meet the academic, clinical, consultative and employment needs of the region through faculty and successful graduates.

Delivery Mode

Traditional  (face-to-face delivery with some online/distance elements)


The master's program in communication disorders (speech-language pathology) at California University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Blvd., Rockville, MD 20850-3289; phone: 800-498-2071; fax: 301-296-8580;

Admissions Criteria

Minimum 3.00 GPA in a baccalaureate degree verified with official transcripts from an accredited institution

Three letters of recommendation

GRE scores

Three- to five-page personal essay

Graduate School Application plus $25 nonrefundable application fee

Applicants without a degree in communication disorders must have a minimum of 36 undergraduate credits in communication disorders prior to being considered for admission.

Prerequisites: 21 of the 36 credits must cover the following areas of instruction:
· Anatomy and Physiology of Speech Mechanism
· Articulation and Phonology
· Introduction to Audiology or Hearing Science
· Introduction to Communication Disorders
· Phonetics
· Speech and Language Development
· Speech Science

Criteria for Continuing in the Program

Students move through the program as a cohort. Each cohort completes an identical core of required courses that are critical to successful functioning as a speech-language pathologist (SLP). In addition to those courses, each cohort completes a unique combination of additional courses, guaranteeing that there are SLPs throughout the nation to provide the many areas of specialized service needed by very diverse patient populations. Students must maintain a minimum 3.00 GPA while in the program. Students who fail to maintain a 3.00 GPA will not be permitted to complete the candidacy interview or register for an externship placement. Failure to reacquire a 3.00 during the single probationary semester may result in dismissal from the program.


First Term: Fall
CMD 701 Language Disorders in Adults 3
CMD 702 Language Disorders in Children3
CMD 708 Neurology 3
*Clinical Practicum in Various Settings:3
  • CMD 711 Learning and Language Center
  • CMD 712 University Clinic
  • CMD 714 Audiology

Second Term: Spring
CMD 705 Voice Disorders3
CMD 707 Phonology and Articulation3
CMD 765 Dysphagia3
*Clinical Practicum in Various Settings:3
  • CMD 711 Learning and Language Center
  • CMD 712 University Clinic
  • CMD 714 Audiology

Third Term: Summer
Course Credits
CMD 703 Fluency Disorders3
CMD 712 Clinical Practicum in University Clinic3
CMD 713 Speech Diagnostics3
CMD 785 Seminar in Speech Pathology3
Fourth Term: Fall
CMD 600 Research and Professional Practice in SLP3
CMD 718 Advanced Audiology for the SLP3
CMD 715/716 Clinical Externship
(Available to all students in good standing)
Rotating Required Elective3
Fifth Term: Spring
CMD 766 Traumatic Brain Injury3
CMD 772 Augmentative and Alternative Communication3
CMD 715/716 Clinical Externship
(Available to all students in good standing)
RES 829 Research Project2

*A student is required to take a total of 3 credits of clinical practicum each term.

In terms 1, 2 and 3, students participate in extensive "hands-on" clinical experiences in the on-campus clinic and in the Language and Learning Center. In terms 4 and 5, students intern in two of 90 off-campus sites with which the department has contractual relationships. These sites include hospitals, long-term care facilities, outpatient clinics, rehabilitation clinics, and public and private schools.


Students in the communication disorders program receive academic and professional advisement from the program coordinator and program faculty. Each student is assigned to an academic adviser from the time he/she is accepted into the program of study. Advisers work with students to discuss, monitor and provide advisement as it relates to their program of study.

Application Questions

School of Graduate Studies and Research
California University of Pennsylvania
Eberly 202B
250 University Ave.
California, PA 15419

Program Coordinator

Ralph Belsterling, Au.D. (University of Florida), M.S. (Clarion University), M.Ed., B.S. (California University of Pennsylvania), Associate Professor, specializes in audiological assessment, aural rehabilitation, amplification and hearing conservation
Web Page:


Phone: 724-938-4175

Graduate Faculty

Barbara Bonfanti, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), M.Ed. (California University of Pennsylvania), M.S. (St. Francis College of Illinois), B.S. (Indiana University of Pennsylvania), Professor, specializes in adult and child neurogenic communication disorders, fluency, dysphagia and research

Mary Alice Brightwell, Ed.D. (West Virginia University), M.Ed. (California University of Pennsylvania), B.S.Ed. (California University of Pennsylvania), Adjunct Professor, specializes in speech therapy and special education supervision and services for public school populations

Nancy Carlino, M.A. (University of Pittsburgh), B.A. (Duquesne University), Assistant Professor, specializes in neurogenics and articulation, phonology, and traumatic brain injury

Denise Joseph, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), M.S. (Syracuse University), B.S.Ed. (Duquesne University), Assistant Professor, specializes in pediatric language disorders, pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders, and communication disorders in special populations

Samantha Procaccini, CSc.D. (University of Pittsburgh), M.S. (Columbia University), B.S. (University of Rhode Island), Assistant Professor, specializes in evidence-based practice, dysphagia in medically complex populations, and clinical supervision

Robert Skwarecki
, Ph.D., M.S. (University of Pittsburgh), B.S. (Duquesne University), Associate Professor, specializes in vocal pathologies, speech science, assistive technology, anatomy and physiology, and neurogenesis