Speech, language and hearing sciences is the study of human communication and its various disorders. At CU Boulder, the focus is on building a firm foundation to understand the sciences of human communication, audiology and speech-language pathology, resulting in careers related to the fields of disabilities, healthcare and education.

In addition to learning in the classroom about normal and disordered communication, students will observe graduate students and professionals engaged in clinical work with individuals exhibiting speech, language, learning and hearing problems. 

Speech, Language & Hearing Science at CU Boulder ignited my passion for working with clinical populations with hearing loss. In addition, the degree opened my eyes to many unanswered problems in the field. Together, these experiences have prepared me for an exiting career as a dually trained clinical audiologist (AuD) and cognitive neuroscientist (PhD). My future is bright, with many career opportunities in industry, academia, consulting and private practice."

— Hannah Glick, PhD candidate and manager of the Brain and Behavior Laboratory

Speech, language and hearing sciences majors acquire a background in human communication that includes the production and understanding of speech and language. They also gain real-world experience from healthcare professionals.

The major also provides a strong foundation in science while allowing students to develop analytical and interpretive skills, become an effective communicator, work effectively in a team, and understand human nature and culture. These skills are springboards to a wide variety of careers and will prepare students for a lifetime of continuous learning.

The undergraduate major in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder includes coursework in three general areas:

  1. Characteristics, causes, and treatment of disorders that impact speech, language, and/or hearing (e.g., stuttering, head injury, deafness, autism, learning disabilities, etc.);
  2. The science behind human communication (e.g., the anatomy and physiology of the speech and hearing mechanisms, acoustics of sound, etc.); and 
  3. Language, specifically the typical development of language in children and language disorders caused by atypical development, head injury and stroke.

As well, the Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences consistently ranks well nationally, with their work in Speech-Language Pathology ranking in the top 25 programs, and Audiology ranking #17, in the most recent US News and World Report rankings.

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences is nationally recognized in several areas of research, including audiology and hearing sciences, communication development, speech-language pathology and communication interventions. 

For the undergraduate students pursuing a degree in speech, language and hearing sciences, there are a number of research opportunities beyond just class work:

  • The Speech, Language and Hearing Center at the University of Colorado at Boulder serves as a laboratory for student training. The center also provides specialized services to the community, including speech and language evaluation and therapy

  • The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) offers students a chance to work alongside a faculty sponsor on original research. Learn to write proposals, conduct research, pursue creative work, analyze data, and present the results. For more information, call UROP at 303-492-2596 or visit the UROP website.

  • Majors with successful research projects and strong academic records are eligible to graduate with honors in speech, language and hearing sciences. A candidate for honors must prepare a thesis based on the research project, present the work to an honors committee, and pass an oral examination on the work. It is important to identify a faculty mentor and initiate the research sufficiently early so that results suitable for an honors thesis can be achieved prior to graduation.

  • The experience of studying abroad can prove invaluable for enhancing your undergraduate education. The university offers more than 100 programs throughout the world that offer credit that counts as if you had taken the credit here. In some cases these credits also fulfill major and core requirements. You may spend a few weeks to a full academic year abroad, depending on the program you select. Prior language study or other prerequisites are necessary for some programs, so early planning for study abroad is essential. Further information about study abroad is available from Education Abroad, 303-492-7741 or on the education abroad website.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences is an excellent major for students interested in obtaining future employment in agencies that serve people who have a disability. Additionally, it provides the appropriate undergraduate background for students interested in continuing onto graduate school in speech pathology, audiology, and/or special education.

Careers relevant to Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences that typically require a B.A. degree include:

  • Speech-language pathology assistant
  • Audiology assistant
  • Hearing specialist
  • Pre-school teacher
  • Service coordinator (case manager) for children birth to 3 with a disability
  • Tutor
  • Para-professional (teacher's aide) in public schools
  • Teacher of English as a second language in other countries

Work settings with a variety of different positions relevant to the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences B.A.:

  • Service dog centers 
  • Adaptive sport facilities
  • Developmental disability centers
  • Recreational programs for people with disabilities through Parks and Recreation
  • Non-profit and private organizations that offer summer camps to people with disabilities (e.g., Easter Seals, Adam’s Camp, etc.)
  • Public and private schools
  • Nursing homes and assisted living facilities

Careers relevant to Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences that require a graduate degree or other further training:

  • Speech pathologist
  • Audiologist
  • Early childhood specialist
  • Teacher of deaf/hard-of-hearing students
  • Teacher of students with learning disabilities
  • Teacher of students with autism or severe special needs
  • Literacy specialist
  • Sign language interpreter
  • Social worker
  • School psychologist

Career Services offers free services for all CU Boulder degree-seeking students, and alumni up to one year after graduation, to help students discover who they are, what they want to do, and how to get there. They are the bridge between academics and the world of work by discussing major and career exploration, internship or job searching, and graduate school preparation. 

According to the 2017-18 College Salary Report by PayScale Human Capital:

  • the median salary for someone with a bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology and 0-5 years of experience is $38,700; and
  • the median salary for 10-plus years of experience, $69,700.

Estimated Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Salary Info

At CU Boulder, Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences graduates earn less than the nationwide average of comparable majors as reported by PayScale. CU Boulder alumni in this discipline earn an estimated annual salary of $63,768 based on a pool of 272 alumni who graduated between 1989 and 2018. This amount is also lower than the average for all CU Boulder graduates with a bachelor's degree, according to a survey by Esmi Alumni Insight of 25,000 alumni who graduated during that same stretch.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that 2016-2026 job growth for speech-language pathologists with a master’s degree will be 18 percent, compared to the 7 percent average for all jobs; job growth for audiologists with a doctoral or professional degree in audiology will be 20 percent.