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Communication Disorders

Master of Science: Communication Disorders – 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.

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;

Admission Criteria

Admission Requirements (Regular)

  • Bachelor’s degree with a GPA of 3.25 or higher
  • Official transcripts from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Three letters of recommendation from someone who can attest to your ability in the field (waived for Cal U CMD undergraduates)
  • GRE Scores
  • 2-3 page personal essay regarding your decision to pursue a master’s degree in Communication Disorders
  • For International Applicants.

Conditional Admission Requirements

Conditional Admission may be granted with the following modifications of the Regular Admissions Requirements. Those admitted conditionally based on missing document/s have up to a maximum of one term to satisfy these requirements:

  • Unofficial transcripts
  • Deficiencies in pre/co requisite courses (up to two maximum terms to satisfy foundation course requirements)

Pre/Co Requisite Courses

Applicants may remove deficiencies in the following foundation courses at Cal U or another accredited institution prior to regular admission or after conditional admission:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Articulation/Phonology
  • Introduction to Audiology
  • Introduction to Communication Disorders
  • Phonetics
  • Speech and Language Development
  • Speech Science

Applicants without a degree in communication disorders will need to complete a minimum of 36 undergraduate credits in communication disorders prior to being considered for graduate admission; 21 of these pre/co requisite credits must cover the areas listed above.

Admission Deposit

Admission to this program is highly competitive. Students admitted to the program are required to submit a non-refundable $250 deposit. The deposit is due to the university within two weeks of the student accepting the University's offer of admission. If the deposit is not received by the due date, the offer of admission will be withdrawn and offered to another applicant.

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
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
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
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
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
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.

How to Apply

  • Complete the Graduate School Application online
  • Submit the non-refundable $25 Application Fee
  • Mail official transcript to:
    • School of Graduate Studies and Research
      California University of Pennsylvania
      Box 91, 250 University Ave.
      California, PA 15419
  • Submit unofficial transcripts and other documents by mail (using the address above, email (, or fax (724-938-5712)

Application Questions

Phone: 724-938-4187

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

Program 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

For faculty bios, visit: