Speech-Language Pathology SLP

| 7 July 2022

The data in this blog is for general informational purposes only and information presented was accurate as of the publication date.

Speech-Language Pathologist vs. Speech Therapist


Are you curious about the difference between job descriptions for speech therapists and speech-language pathologists? Whether you’re considering speech-related careers or researching what kind of rehabilitation practitioner could help you or a loved one with a communications disorder, you’re not alone.

Speech therapists and speech-language pathologists are the same—there are no educational or qualification differences between a speech-language pathologist vs. a speech therapist. The terms are interchangeable.1

Providers may say they perform speech therapy vs. speech pathology based on how they envision treatment styles or job roles. But the choice to refer to themselves as a “speech-language pathologist” or “speech therapist” does not reflect their educational level, qualifications or specialties. 

What Do Speech-Language Pathologists and Therapists Do?

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) are licensed communication experts.2 They identify and treat a variety of speech, hearing and feeding difficulties across a the lifespan. 

Some of their common treatment areas include:

  • Speech sounds – SLPs can help patients improve one (or more) specific sounds in their speech patterns, correcting issues like lisps.
  • Fluency – Not to be confused with literacy, fluency describes how smoothly people can speak without stumbling or stuttering. 
  • Social communication – SLPs can help people who don’t readily understand social cues and other communication behaviors learn how to better engage and connect with others.
  • Language – Language describes the extent to which we understand what we hear and speak. Aphasia is one example of a language disorder that SLPs can assist with.
  • Voice and vocal hygiene – SLPs can help people who quickly grow hoarse or lose their voices improve their speaking techniques to prevent future injuries.
  • Feeding and swallowing – SLPs treat dysphagia, which includes problems with chewing, swallowing and sucking that can lead to malnutrition and other illnesses. 
  • Literacy – SLPs often diagnose disorders among people who are having trouble speaking, reading or writing in their native language. 

Communication disorders can overlap, which makes diagnosis and treatment complex. The SLP brings their knowledge of anatomy, diagnostic skills and clinical knowledge to working with the patient and their care team. 

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Whom Do Speech-Language Pathologists and Therapists Treat?

Speech-language pathologists treat patients of all ages across a variety of settings.3 Let’s explore some scenarios in which SLPs can improve a patient’s quality of life.

Elder Care

Seniors often experience speech- or feeding-related conditions as comorbidities with other disorders. For instance, aphasia—a disorder where patients have trouble interpreting their thoughts into speech or processing others’ speech—can be caused by stroke, head trauma, brain tumors or dementia. 

Elderly aphasia patients often present with both speech-related symptoms and memory loss.4 Those who have experienced stroke may develop related swallowing disorders. 

A speech-language pathologist can provide seniors and their caretakers with tools, exercises and treatments to improve their speech, hearing, feeding, cognitive function and practical communication.

Adult Life

Adults may experience a variety of communication difficulties related to:

  • Social cues – Adults with special needs may not understand social cues, acceptable topics or proper physical distance from conversation partners. Through exercises and role-plays, SLPs can work with them to develop social communication skills. 
  • Vocal damage – Adults in professions that require shouting or singing may experience vocal damage. SLPs can offer tips for vocal hygiene (such as warming up the voice, drinking more water and less coffee, and modulating volume) to help them prevent future injuries.
  • Brain injury – Adults with traumatic brain injuries may need advanced speech therapies to regain their abilities to speak, swallow, understand, read and write. 
Children and Infants

SLPs often undertake early interventions to assess and treat communication and feeding disorders in young children and infants. Specifically, SLPs may:

  • Assist nursing mothers with their child’s latching and sucking
  • Help children with autism spectrum disorder learn to identify social cues and use appropriate language
  • Address fluency disorders such as stuttering or issues with speech sounds

However, anyone at any age could experience the speech difficulties described above. Therefore, SLPs treat patients of all ages in a variety of settings, such as:5

  • Hospitals
  • Schools
  • Private practice
  • Pediatrics
  • Colleges and universities
  • Rehabilitation centers

What Qualifications Do Speech-Language Pathologists and Therapists Need?

How do you become an SLP? Future SLPs must:6

Some SLPs go all the way and earn their PhD so they can: 

  • Teach at the college/university level
  • Create SLP curricula for public school systems
  • Lead SLP research projects

Become a Speech-Language Pathologist: Earn your MS in Speech-Language Pathology

Speech-language pathologists and speech therapists are the same—they hold a Master of Science or higher in speech-language pathology and are licensed to treat a variety of communication disorders among people of all ages. 

If you’re considering a speech-language pathology career, explore the Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology program at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. Prepare for your interview with sample SLP interview questions to get you started in your career journey.


The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences (USAHS) offers a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MS-SLP) program. Designed for working students, the MS-SLP is an online program with four required on-campus residencies on either the USAHS Austin or Dallas campus. The program offers two intakes per year, in January and September. Join a collaborative cohort of peers who learn under the mentorship of expert faculty-practitioners. Prepare to make a difference in the lives of clients across the lifespan with a meaningful career in speech therapy!

For students with a bachelor’s degree in a field other than communications sciences and disorders (CSD) or SLP and for students with a CSD or SLP degree whose undergraduate program did not include the required leveling coursework, we offer SLP leveling courses for completing the necessary prerequisites to enter the graduate program.

The Master of Science (M.S.) education program in Speech-Language Pathology {distance education} at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is a Candidate for Accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, #310, Rockville, MD 20850, 800-498-2071 or 301-296-5700. Candidacy is a “pre-accreditation” status with the CAA, awarded to developing or emerging programs for a maximum period of 5 years.


  1. Adrienne Santos-Longhurst, “What Is Speech Therapy?,” Healthline, 2019: https://www.healthline.com/health/speech-therapy
  2. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “Who Are Speech-Language Pathologists, and What Do They Do?,” n.d.: https://www.asha.org/public/who-are-speech-language-pathologists/
  3. ASHA, “Speech-Language Pathologists,” n.d.: https://www.asha.org/students/speech-language-pathologists/
  4. Mayo Clinic, “Primary Progressive Aphasia,” Dec. 27, 2018: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/primary-progressive-aphasia/symptoms-causes/syc-20350499
  5. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), “Who Are Speech-Language Pathologists, and What Do They Do?,” n.d.: https://www.asha.org/public/who-are-speech-language-pathologists/
  6. ASHA, “Speech-Language Pathologists,” n.d.: https://www.asha.org/students/speech-language-pathologists/


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