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Speech and Hearing Science

Degree: BA

Campus: Columbus

College: Arts and Sciences

Speech and hearing science is the study of normal functioning and disorders of the auditory system, the speech mechanism and language processing. It is a diverse field with connections to a number of other disciplines, including anatomy, physiology, psychology, linguistics, medicine and education. Students pursuing a major in speech and hearing science are introduced both to basic and applied research and to clinical applications. Career paths can include audiology; speech-language pathology; or speech, language or hearing science.

Upon admission to the university, students can declare a major in speech and hearing science within the College of Arts and Sciences.

Students majoring in speech and hearing science will work with an academic advisor to set up a program of study to complete General Education requirements and major course work that best suits their interests and career plans. Prospective majors should include course work in biology, psychology and mathematics (College Algebra is the minimum).

Students take nine core courses in speech and hearing science and an additional two 5000-level courses approved by a speech and hearing science advisor. Students can take the American Sign Language series to fulfill the college requirement that students obtain foreign language proficiency. However, bilingual clinicians fluent in Spanish are also in demand.


For professional certification as a speech-language pathologist a master’s degree is necessary. All states that license professionals require master’s level training. In addition, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association requires both completion of a master’s degree and a year of clinical internship (Clinical Fellowship) for the certificate of clinical competence in speech-language pathology.

Although requirements for licensure vary from state to state, in order to practice audiology all states require a graduate degree and most require a doctoral degree.  American Speech-Language-Hearing Association certification and licensure in the state of Ohio require a doctoral degree (AuD or equivalent).

Study abroad opportunities are available and may be an essential part of gaining language skills needed for bilingual speech-language pathologist graduate programs.

Many Honors students pursuing speech and hearing science complete a senior Honors thesis. Working under the direction of a faculty member, students read extensively from the body of existing research on their particular topic and learn laboratory and/or clinical skills that include interacting with state-of-the-art equipment. Students are introduced to issues of research design and learn to analyze and present the data they collect. They also acquire important writing skills in preparing the thesis document and develop oral presentation skills by defending their research projects in a thesis defense.

Between 10–20% of all graduating seniors elect to complete a senior thesis. Virtually all of these students go on to pursue graduate work in audiology or speech-language pathology. Many students present their work at national meetings of major professional societies in the discipline, including the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Acoustical Society of America, and the American Academy of Audiology. Students often have the opportunity to publish their work in peer-reviewed journals.

Students are encouraged to participate in research, and many speech and hearing science courses offer extra credit for research participation. The student should check with an instructor to determine the extra credit policy for that course.

Undergraduate speech and hearing science majors are encouraged to join the Ohio State chapter of the National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the student organization sponsored by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The Ohio State chapter sponsors a number of activities each semester, including guest speakers, volunteer opportunities and social activities. Learn more on the organization's Facebook page.

The Student Academy of Audiology is a graduate student organization sponsored by the American Academy of Audiology that welcomes undergraduates interested in exploring further study in audiology. It sponsors social, volunteer and fundraising opportunities each semester with the aim of increasing community awareness of the field of audiology, providing education in topics related to audiology and promoting community service among members. Learn more on the organization's Facebook page.

The Acoustical Society of America’s regional chapter at Ohio State is an interdisciplinary, student-run organization that is a great place to meet students from different majors, connect with university faculty and learn about the interdisciplinary field of acoustics from guest speakers. Learn more on the chapter's Facebook page.

Hearing, language and speech scientists are found primarily in universities, research institutions, government agencies and industry.

Speech-language pathologists and audiologists are health professionals who work closely with teachers, physicians, psychologists, social workers, rehabilitation counselors and other members of an interdisciplinary team, but they are autonomous and do not work under direct medical supervision. They provide professional services in a wide range of facilities, including public and private schools, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing care facilities, community and university clinics, private practice offices, state and local health departments, home care, adult day care centers, centers for the developmentally disabled, research laboratories, and industries.

Career opportunities for graduates in speech and hearing science are comparable to those for students with undergraduate degrees in related fields such as psychology, sociology, linguistics or other liberal arts.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for speech-language pathologists is $79,770, and for audiologists it is $80,040. Salaries for speech scientists and hearing scientists are quite variable, depending on the employment setting. Prospective majors are encouraged to consult the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association website for details of salary surveys.