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 Language and Learning Center located within the department, along with a technologically advanced Communication Science Laboratory. Applicants without a degree in communication disorders will need to complete 36 credits of undergraduate prerequisite coursework prior to applying for admission to our graduate program. 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 physical rehabilitation centers.
  • To help meet the academic, clinical, consultative and employment needs of the region through faculty and successful graduates.

Delivery Mode

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


The master's program in speech-language pathology at California University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Council of 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;  http://www.asha.org

Admissions Criteria

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

Three letters of recommendation

GRE scores

Three-to-five page personal essay

Graduate Application for Admission plus $25 nonrefundable application fee

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 crs.
CMD 702 Language Disorders in Children 3 crs.
CMD 708 Neurology 3 crs.
*CMD 711, CMD 713 or CMD 714 3 crs.
Clinical Practicum in Various Settings or 1-3 crs.
*CMD 712 Clinical Practicum in University Clinic 1-3 crs.

Second Term: Spring
CMD 705 Voice Disorders 3 crs.
CMD 707 Phonology and Articulation 3 crs.
CMD 765 Dysphagia 3 crs.
*CMD 711, CMD 713 or CMD 714 3 crs.
Clinical Practicum in Various Settings 1-3 crs.
*CMD 712 Clinical Practicum in University Clinic 1-2 crs.

Third Term: Summer
CMD 703 Fluency Disorders 3 crs.
CMD 732 Counseling the Communicatively Disabled 3 crs.
CMD 785 Seminar in Speech Pathology 3 crs.
*CMD 711, CMD 713 or CMD 714 3 crs.
Clinical Practicum in Various Settings 1-3 crs.
*CMD 712 Clinical Practicum in University Clinic 1-3 crs.
CMD 715/716 Clinical Practicum at Externship Site
(716 Available to advanced students only) 
1-2 crs.

Fourth Term: Fall
CMD 600 Research and Professional Practice in SLP 3 crs.
CMD 718 Advanced Audiology for the SLP 3 crs.
CMD 715/716 Clinical Externship
(Available to all students in good standing) 
3 crs.

Fifth Term: Spring
CMD 766 Traumatic Brain Injury 3 crs.
CMD 772 Augmentative and Alternative 3 crs.
CMD 715/716 Clinical Externship
(Available to all students in good standing) 
3 crs.
RES 829 Research Project 2 crs.

*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, AuD (University of Florida), M.S. (Clarion University), M.S., M.Ed., B.S. (California University of Pennsylvania), Associate Professor

Web Page:  http://www.calu.edu/academics/faculty/ralph-belsterling.aspx

E-mail:  belsterling@calu.edu

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 Univesity of Pennsylvania), Professor, specializes in adult and child neurogenic communication disorders, fluency, dysphagia and research

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

Nancy Heard Hepting, Ph.D. (University of Pittsburgh), M.S. (California University of Pennsylvania), B.S. (Clarion University of Pennsylvania), Associate Professor, specializes in early intervention-birth to 3 years and 3 years to 5 years, behavior management and natural environment-based treatments

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

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