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Sacred Heart to Offer New Undergraduate Major in Communication Disorders

Program will be available beginning in the fall

SLP Professor Ellen Massucci, center, observes therapy during an articulation camp at the Center for Healthcare Education.

By Jamie Cassata

A new undergraduate major in communication disorders will be available to incoming students at Sacred Heart University beginning in the fall. The new program offers a pathway for students aiming to earn graduate degrees in speech-language pathology or audiology .

Certified professionals in speech-language pathology and audiology are in high demand. Employment for speech-language pathologists—professionals who help children and adults with issues related to communication and swallowing—is projected to grow at a rate of 18 percent over the next decade. That’s much faster than the average for all jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. Employment for audiologists—who help those hearing problems—is projected to grow 21percent in the coming decade.

SHU’s program includes a fast-track, 3+2 option, which involves three years of undergraduate work and two years for work on the master’s degree in speech-language pathology, with some coursework completed between the academic years. Those wishing to become audiologists will need to pursue a professional doctorate, not currently offered at SHU, after graduating.

“Sacred Heart University is the only university in Connecticut that has the three rehabilitation professions—Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Speech-Language Pathology—all in one place,” said Rhea Paul, chair of the communication disorders program. “There will be opportunities for the students to observe other professionals doing what they do and to work together.”

Paul expressed anticipation that the new program will increase students’ awareness of these fields and give them opportunities to make a difference in the lives of children and adults with autism, strokes, cancer or other conditions that affect speech or hearing. “There are diverse paths to rewarding work that has an impact on their clients’ lives,” she said.

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