NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Stephen F. Austin State University’s speech-language pathology graduate program was named one of the 25 Best Master's in Speech Pathology Schools 2020 by

The rankings were based on tuition, median salaries and median debt as reported by the U.S. Department of Education for students who completed a degree in the indicated field of study.

SFA faculty and staff work hard to ensure student success, said Dr. Lydia Richardson, assistant professor and director of SFA’s speech-language pathology program.

“This ranking reflects our collective mission to reduce the debt of our students and ensure meaningful and sufficiently compensated employment of our graduates,” Richardson said.

SFA’s speech-language pathology master’s program is part of the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership in the James I. Perkins College of Education. It is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. In addition, all faculty members are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and are licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists in Texas.

The program is launching a pilot distance education class this summer for speech-language pathology assistants who want to return to school and earn a Master of Science in speech-language pathology while continuing to work.

“This will provide those who would not usually return to a master’s program due to financial obligations to their family a chance to continue their education,” Richardson said. “Our goal is to have an enrollment of 25 in the distance education cohort for the 2021-2022 academic year.”

Dr. Robbie Steward, chair of the Department of Human Services and Educational Leadership, is proud of both the program’s faculty members and students.

“Because of their ever-increasing international visibility as scholars and their strong local reputation as consummate practitioners and clinical supervisors, I am honored to be affiliated with this group of faculty members and academically competitive students,” Steward said. “Dr. Richardson’s stated mission should serve as a model for all.”

The master’s degree plan requires two years of academic and clinical preparation, typically beginning the summer before the student’s first fall semester and continuing for two full years with graduation in May. Around 150 people apply to the graduate program each year, and 25 are accepted.

The employment outlook for speech-language pathologists continues to be strong. According to 2019 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the field of speech-language pathology is projected to increase by 18% between 2016 and 2026. Speech-language pathology majors can choose from positions in schools, hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, rehabilitation settings and private practices with an annual starting salary of $48,000 to $92,000 after being awarded a Master of Science.

For more information on SFA’s speech-language pathology graduate program, email Richardson at