The School of Rehabilitation Science is pleased to announce the launch of a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program. This program is built on McMaster's international reputation in innovative rehabilitation sciences curricula, which focuses on problem-based, small group and self-directed learning. The MSc(SLP) program will consist of five units of full-time study over 24 months.
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are rehabilitation health professionals with specialized knowledge, skills, and clinical training in the prevention, screening, identification, assessment, and management of congenital and acquired communication and swallowing disorders (1). SLPs serve individuals of all ages in a variety of health care, education, and private settings.
The MSc(SLP) program is a course-based, full-time program that is 24-months in duration. The program consists of 5 units of study of required courses with no electives. Clinical placements follow each academic unit and vary in length from 2 weeks following Unit I to 10 weeks following Unit 5. Throughout the program, there will be a total of 29 full-time clinical practicum weeks.
Unit 1: Fundamentals of Clinical Practice I: Principles, Knowledge, and Skills for Clinical Practice
The aim of this unit is to provide students with foundational knowledge related to communication and communication disorders across the lifespan as well as basic skills in clinical practice. Principles include professional ethics, models of disability, interprofessional practice, and evidence-based practice. Knowledge outcomes include anatomy and physiology; psychology and linguistics in the context of communication across the lifespan; and basic constructs in articulation, phonology, and language development. Students develop a framework and basic skills for assessment, intervention, and professional conduct. Within Unit 1, students will complete simulated clinical practicum experiences and a 2-week off-site clinical practicum focused on observation.
Unit 2: Fundamentals of Clinical Practice II: Roles and Practice Settings Across the Lifespan
The aim of this unit is to further develop students’ foundational knowledge and skills and to introduce them to varied contexts of speech-language pathology practice. Knowledge and skill outcomes address professional performance as a direct service provider, consultant, collaborator and team member, manager and supervisor, and advocate. Settings include children’s treatment centers, early childhood centers, schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, home healthcare, long-term care facilities, and private community based practice. Within Unit 2, students will continue to learn via simulated clinical experiences. Then, following the academic portion of Unit 2, students will complete a 5-week off-site clinical practicum focused on evidence-based practice. Knowledge outcomes include fundamentals of counseling, speech perception and acoustics, and instrumentation.
In Unit 2, students will obtain the first 10 of their 20 required clinical hours in Audiology, with the goal of gaining an appreciation of audiology and aural rehabilitation. Hours will be obtained in part through development and implementation of free hearing screenings in the community, under the supervision of a licensed Audiologist. This experience will introduce students to hearing assessment and referral, and communication strategies for individuals with hearing loss and their communication partners. Knowledge outcomes include assessment and intervention related to hearing disorders, as well as strategies for prevention of hearing loss.
Unit 3: Clinical Practice with Children, Youth, & Young Adults
The aim of this unit is to introduce students to developmental communication disorders. Knowledge outcomes relate to developmental articulation, phonological, and language disorders; speech and language impairments associated with cognitive disabilities, and voice and fluency disorders. Students also will build on knowledge outcomes related to hearing disorders, this time in the context of young children, and will explore genetic influences on communication. Key themes of Unit 3 are family-centered service, service delivery models for children, and transition to adulthood. Following Unit 3, students will complete a 6-week off-site clinical practicum that may be in a school, community, hospital, rehabilitation, or role-emerging setting.
Unit 4: Clinical Practice with Adults and Older Adults
This unit emphasizes assessment and treatment of individuals with acquired communication disorders, with a special emphasis on problems of older adults. Knowledge outcomes relate to acquired speech, language, and cognitive disorders, with a focus on neurologically based communication disorders; dysphagia in adults; normal aging of speech, hearing, and language. Students will build further on knowledge outcomes related to hearing disorders and aural rehabilitation, this time in contexts relevant to older adults. Following Unit 4, students will complete a 6-week off-site clinical practicum that may be in a community, hospital, rehabilitation, or role-emerging setting.
Unit 5: Complex Practice and Professional Transition
The aim of this unit is to prepare students for the transition to professional practice. This advanced unit provides students with knowledge and skills to assume current and emergent health care roles in the community, with an emphasis on complex conditions across the lifespan. With respect to children, knowledge outcomes relate to populations with multiple or complex disabilities, advanced hearing technology (e.g., cochlear implants) and aural rehabilitation, augmentative and alternative communication, and pediatric dysphagia. With respect to adults, key themes of Unit 5 are client-centered service, end-of-life decisions, chronic health conditions and aging with a communication disorder, and communication partner training. Medical intervention and pharmacology will be considered for both children and adults. Following Unit 5, students will complete a 10-week off-site clinical practicum that may be in a community, hospital, rehabilitation, or role-emerging setting.
Course Listings – coming soon
Each Academic Unit includes:
Year 1 - Foundations of SLP Practice course will incorporate online learning modules for self-directed study to provide foundational knowledge in speech, language, and hearing. Modules will provide a means for students with diverse preparation to learn basic concepts, terminology, and methods that will be used throughout the curriculum, and will serve as an ongoing resource for students.
Year 2 – will include a full course on evidence-based practice and clinical research.
Upon successful completion of the MSc(SLP) program, graduates will have achieved the following program learning outcomes:
Throughout the MSc(SLP) program, students will complete 29 full-time clinical practicum weeks. Clinical placements will follow each academic unit and vary in length from 2 weeks following Unit I to 10 weeks following Unit 5. Clinical education courses take place in a variety of facilities, including teaching hospitals, community hospitals, health care agencies, specialized centres, private clinics, home care, schools, and other community facilities. During clinical placements, students practice under the supervision of clinical preceptors, who are primarily registered SLPs, but may also include other health care providers.
Self-Directed Learning. Self-Directed Learning. The philosophy of self-directed learning recognizes that with some guidance, adult learners should be able to take responsibility for their own learning. The more active students are in determining their own needs and learning goals, the more effective their learning is likely to be. Within broad guidelines, MSc SLP students are expected to determine: 1) their own learning needs; 2) how they will best set and achieve objectives to address those needs; 3) how to select learning resources; and 4) whether their learning needs have been met.
An overall goal of self-directed learning is to exercise the student’s capacity to think and discover during the process of gaining knowledge. The MSc (SLP) Program is designed to guide, stimulate, and challenge students in order to produce professionals who will make a difference in practice.
Although the MSc (SLP) Program emphasizes the importance of SDL, it is not a selfpaced program. Attendance and participation in tutorials, clinical laboratories, and other courses is required. It is expected that MSc (SLP) students demonstrate that satisfactory progress has been achieved via self, peer, and faculty evaluation. While the MSc (SLP) Program is student-centred, it is the mutual role and responsibility of faculty and students to create an effective learning environment, to select appropriate learning resources, to effectively facilitate and support learning, and to evaluate the learning process.
Problem-based learning (PBL)* Learning based on problems represents an alternative to lecture-based, didactic instruction. In problem-based learning, students focus on a problem (or situation) that they or the tutorial group has selected. Students bring to the examination of the problem all of their previous knowledge and experience as well as their ability to think rationally and critically.
As the student begins to ask questions, certain issues become well defined and require a search for additional information. After assembling the appropriate information, students synthesize a solution that includes a re-evaluation of the hypothesis (or hypotheses) that has been formed, to confirm or refute it. The student learns how wrestling with any one problem opens up many other questions. Problem-based learning contributes to the student’s motivation; enhances transfer, integration, and retention of information; and encourages curiosity and systematic thinking. Consistent with the PBL philosophy, we select students not only on academic qualifications but also on personal characteristics and abilities, such as problem-solving ability, self-appraisal ability, the ability to relate to others, motivation to study speech-language pathology, and learning styles that are suited for learning at McMaster.
The educational system at McMaster is not ideal for everyone. Some individuals may enjoy working in tutorials, with self-directed and problem-based learning. Others may need or enjoy a more structured environment, and thus prefer a more traditional lecture-based learning environment.
* Adapted from McMaster University School of Medicine
Small-Group Learning. Small-group learning is a natural extension of problem-based learning. To maximize small-group learning, we believe it is important to bring students from various educational and work experience backgrounds together so that the heterogeneity of the group itself becomes a valuable learning resource. Transfer of knowledge is enhanced through the use of problems that encourage students to not only learn content, but also to develop strategies to recognize the ‘analogy' or ‘principle' that can then be transferred to new problems and contexts.
As a new program offering within McMaster’s School of Rehabilitation Science, the MSc (SLP) program will undergo accreditation review by the Council for Accreditation of Canadian University Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology in the first 2 years of activity.
Regulation of Practice:
All SLPs in Canada must be registered with the appropriate provincial regulatory body to practice in that province. Each regulatory body has a separate and distinct registration process; however, in all circumstances, a degree in Speech-Language Pathology is required.
Please visit the College of Audiologists and Speech-Language Pathologists of Ontario for further information.
For general information about the SLP program, please contact: