Graduate School, Graduate School Applications

Applying to SLP Graduate School: Where Do I Start?


As I said in one of my first blog posts ever, applying to graduate school was one of the most stressful periods of my life. And I’m still saying that after a year and half of graduate school itself!

I was convinced I wasn’t going to get in anywhere, so I was an absolute freak throughout the application process. So, to help those of you who may be in the middle of that process, I’ve attempted to compile some advice & resources that may help you through!

(1) First, check out my original post on tips for applying to graduate school here. While an ugly post (don’t judge, it was one of my first!!) so many of my tips are valid.

(2) Go to SLP_Echo’s site, scroll down a bit and look in the right column. There, you’ll find a section for YOU (aka people applying to grad school). Her posts are great!

Now you’re ready to begin.


 Pick out the schools you want to apply to! While this may seem easy, if you do this like I did, it involves A TON of work and research.

Screen Shot 2013-11-26 at 10.41.53 PM

I used this ASHA search engine. Just click “Masters” and then “Speech-Language Pathology” and start searching. You can also search by state, which is what I did (and ended up halfway across the country). Many of the schools in this search engine provide stats from their students including average GPA, areas of research, program size, and average GRE scores. LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS. If you have a 3.2 and the average GPA is a 3.9, please take that into consideration (read the section below). Same with GRE scores. If you are noticing a trend that your GRE scores are below average for most schools, consider retaking them!

Because I’m a freak (seriously…) I made an Excel spreadsheet of the schools I was considering and their average stats. I ended up applying to 9 schools: 3 in a competitive tier, 3 in a comfortable tier, and 3 “safety” schools. Note: There is no such thing as a “safety” school I learned. (The only school I got rejected from, not waitlisted, was a “safety” school.)

When picking schools from my mega-spreadsheet, I considered the following factors to be the most important:

1) Average Admission Statistics
2) Cost
3) Location
4) Professor/Research Areas (when these line up with your interests, it makes writing an essay A TON easier)

Your factors may be different, but figure out what you’re looking for and pick away!

But, how competitive of an applicant am I?!

This is what drove me crazy when I applied. I had good experience, but a less than stellar GPA. I had a good GRE score, but maybe some only decent professor letter of recs. Where did I stand?

After getting into grad school, I stumbled upon how my school makes admission decisions. THIS IS NOT A SECRET. It is a formula. Yes that’s right… all of the heart you put into your application gets translated to a number. So if you want to know how you stand, rank yourself on a scale of 1-5 in the following areas:

1-5   :   GPA – When ranking yourself for GPA (and GRE scores), consider the school you’re applying to. For example, if you have a 3.5 and the average GPA for the school you are applying to is a 3.3, I’d say  you have a 4-5 point GPA. But, if the average is a 3.8, you might have a 2-3 point GPA.

1-5    :    GRE – Again, compare your GRE scores to the school you are applying to!

1-5   :    Personal Essay – This one should really be a 4-5. No excuses here! To make it great, get creative, reflect on your life, and have tons of people edit it. I took mine to the writing center at my school, that provided free feedback. It was very helpful!

1-5    :    Letters of Rec – If you have 3 letters of rec needed for a school, average how good you think they’ll be. Honestly, I didn’t know my professors that well during undergrad so I kind of assumed theirs would only be mediocre. Take that into consideration!

1-5    :    Work Experience/Resume – Even if a school doesn’t directly ask for this, tie it into your personal essay. This stuff counts!

While you won’t be able to compare your compiled score to other students, doing this may help you figure out your weak areas and make up for them in other areas (or directly improving them!!).


Get organized, and start compiling needed information for each school. Again, because I’m crazy, I made a “cover sheet” for each school I applied to. This sheet listed all of the important dates/deadlines and important information (e.g. who was writing my letters of rec). I put checkmarks next to each to keep track of when I had finished each item for each school!

Consider not only when the application is due, but how. Many schools have online applications. Some are partially online and partially through the mail. Know these!

Print a blank monthly calendar online and use it for ONLY graduate school application dates.


Get to work! Ask the people who will be writing your letters of recs ASAP. Request your transcripts as soon as your fall grades are available (for most schools this will work, but it’s not worth it to get the fall grades if you are cutting it extremely close deadline-wise). Write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, and rewrite your personal essay. Did I mention rewriting it?

{let’s review}

 {first}: Pick out your schools. But, do so smartly! Research and do not simply apply to schools you’ve heard of or that your friends are applying to! Figure out how competitive of an application you have, and work hard to improve your weak areas. There is no excuse for a poorly written essay!

{second}: Get organized. Make a binder, and/or have a folder for EACH school including a cover letter with all the basic information.

{third}: Get to work! Contact your letter of rec peeps ASAP. Treat the application process like a job, and devote time to it each day/week.


What else do you want to know about? Feel free to shoot me an email at with any other questions! Or simply comment below!

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17 Comment

  1. Reply
    November 27, 2013 at 10:10 PM

    Loved this post – we are at the same points in grad school, and I agree, applying was the most stressful thing I’ve ever experienced. I had spreadsheets too!! Not only did I make them to organize the ASHA stats, but I also made one to organize due dates, number of letters of rec, app fee, etc AND to check off and date (because I trust no one) when each item was mailed/submitted. I hung these on my wall by my bedroom door so I’d see them all the time and stay on top of everything.

    Another tip I’d give to anyone doing this is GO VISIT any and all schools you possibly can. Email people in the program and find out if they allow interviews (most don’t) or if there is an open house or meet and greet. The only school I didn’t get into (as in flat out rejected) was also the only school I was unable to visit. These visits give you a chance to shine in person and give them a face to put with your application. It can really make a huge difference!

    1. Reply
      November 27, 2013 at 10:16 PM

      Yes yes and yes!! Thanks for your wonderful comment. I do agree about visiting if it is at all possible! Great advice, Katy!

  2. Reply
    September 4, 2014 at 11:46 AM

    THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!! I am only a junior in my undergrad and already starting to freak out over graduate school. Your post has definitely shined some light and is being added to my bookmarks!

  3. Reply
    September 20, 2014 at 9:21 PM

    This post is great, and thank you for it. You don’t address applying as a career changer though. I’m 32 and wanting to switch from an ESL teaching career and broaden my horizons. Applied to my in-state schools three times and got rejected from programs who say they are only looking to take 25 students a year. So frustrating!

  4. Reply
    October 23, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Hi! I just found your site through Pinterest and this post was AWESOME! I’m currently in the process of applying to grad school for SLP and this help solidify what I knew I needed to do. Organization is key which thank goodness is a great trait of ours! I look forward to referring back to your site often 🙂

  5. Reply
    September 20, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    Thank you for this encouraging post!!! It is very helpful – Thank you for keeping it up for others to read.



  6. Reply
    November 29, 2015 at 12:02 AM

    You are the bomb, Shannon. I found this post super informative and motivating. Thanks!

    1. Reply
      December 5, 2015 at 8:18 PM

      No problem! Thanks for reading 🙂

  7. Reply
    June 15, 2016 at 8:20 AM

    AMAZING article!! I’m applying for Fall 2017 and your post really hit home as to the seriousness of this situation. I need to get my butt organized and bang these applications out! Thank you!!

    1. Reply
      June 16, 2016 at 6:56 PM

      Glad it was helpful!! Good luck!

  8. Reply
    June 30, 2016 at 3:26 PM

    I just wanted to say, you’re awesome and thank you so much for this post!! I was feeling a little overwhelmed about the whole thing but after reading your post, I have a MUCH better idea about how I should organize this crazy process and how to stay on top of things.

  9. Reply
    August 26, 2016 at 4:09 PM

    I am currently a Cognitive Sciences major (my school doesn’t offer the CSD major unfortunately), and I was wondering what happens after I graduate? My major is heavily related to CSD, but it doesn’t delve deep into the different communication disorders and clinical treatment possibilities. With that said, can I apply to SLP programs right after graduation or do I have to complete some post-bacc requirements before doing so? Thanks!

    1. Reply
      August 26, 2016 at 4:10 PM

      Thanks for your question! I’m not 100% certain, but it’s likely you will have to apply to a program with a leveling program built in. Your degree will likely take 3 years instead of 2. Several schools do offer this though so look around!

  10. Reply
    Pushpa Pandey
    October 27, 2016 at 9:43 PM

    Can you share what school you applied to and which ones you got into? Are you done with grad school?

    1. Reply
      November 3, 2016 at 5:39 PM

      Yes I am done with graduate school and have been an SLP for 2.5 years now! I eventually went to Radford University! Feel free to email me if you have any other questions! 🙂

  11. Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    Hi Shannon, I am just starting the process of pursuing an SLP master’s as a non-CSD undergraduate major. Do you know how I can find out if students are more likely to be accepted into a master’s program with a 2nd degree in CSD or by completing a postbac? I can find no information on whether one is better than the other, or not! Also I do nogg know if an online program would be less competitive than an in-person degree. Please help 🙂

    1. Reply
      January 8, 2018 at 10:06 AM

      Hi Caitlin! I’m not sure if one is more competitive than the other, but I know there are many programs that accept students with non-CSD backgrounds. From what I’ve heard, many online programs are more competitive than in person programs because there are fewer of them and they can appeal to people from all over. Hope that helps a bit! Good luck!

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