University of Alberta's speech-language pathology program receives accreditation as the need for speech therapy continues to grow in Alberta

Canada's largest English speech-language pathology training program re-accredited "based on the demonstrated high quality of curriculum, faculty and students"

Amy Knezevich - 29 March 2017

The Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology (MScSLP) professional program at the University of Alberta's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine was recently re-accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Canadian University Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CACUP-ASLP). The accreditation is effective for the next seven years, until January 2024.

With the growing demand for speech-language pathologists in Alberta and Canada, the accreditation is a celebration and a reminder that according to Speech-Language & Audiology Canada, one in six people has a speech, language or hearing disorder.

"The demand for speech-language pathologists in Alberta and across the country is ongoing, and is expected to increase as SLPs of the "baby boom" generation retire. Also, as the population ages there is an increase in the need for rehabilitation services," said Karen Pollock, chair, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The U of A speech-language pathology (SLP) program is the largest English SLP training program in Canada, and is housed within the only free-standing Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine in North America. Fifty-six students are admitted each year, with a current total of 117 students across the course-based and thesis track programs and the new combined MScSLP/PhD program.

This is the fourth time the program has achieved a form of accreditation. In 1998, it was one of three Canadian programs to receive provisional then full accreditation under an earlier system established by the Canadian Council of University Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders, in consultation with the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (now known as Speech-Language and Audiology Canada). When CACUP-ASLP took over the professional accreditation process, the UAlberta program earned full accreditation again in February 2009.

Pollock and Lu-Anne McFarlane, associate chair of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders were responsible for soliciting broad feedback from stakeholders and producing the self-study report. They relied on input and reflections from faculty members, students and the clinical community.

"We'd like to thank the faculty, students, alumni and community members who participated in the review and who support our program throughout the year," said McFarlane.

"The process of self-study and program review encourages all faculty members to reflect on our program and our individual and collective contributions to student learning and advancing the field of speech-language pathology.

We found the process energizing and enjoyed talking with the site visitors about our program. Feedback from alumni and clinical educators also highlighted the value of meeting with the site review team and sharing their experiences with faculty and students from our program," said Pollock.

The CACUP-ASLP review board noted that full accreditation was granted, "based on the demonstrated high quality of [the] curriculum, faculty and students." They also noted "morale is high in your Department following your recent curriculum renewal, with faculty, clinical educators and students reporting great satisfaction with the learning experiences and environment."

Accreditation is an important component of quality assurance for SLP graduate programs and assures that students graduating throughout Canada meet a specified standard for entry-to-practice," said Pollock. "The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders has a long-standing reputation as a strong clinical training program and we are one of the few programs to have an in-house clinic. We also provide students with a strong research foundation and a range of research experiences, from a capstone project to a master's thesis, and recently added a combined MScSLP/PhD program."

The Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders and its SLP program trains the next generation of rehabilitation professionals, providing the best clinical experience thanks to partnerships with clinics, institutes and hospitals in Alberta.

"Our lab facilities are state of the art and we have excellent relationships with a variety of well-known clinical facilities such as the Institute for Stuttering Treatment and Research (ISTAR), Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine (iRSM) and the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital," said McFarlane.

The accomplished faculty of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders provides students with the knowledge base and critical thinking skills necessary to succeed clinically. Competency focused curricula, practical examinations and collaborative projects challenged me to become an active participant in the learning process. During my practicum experiences, I have become a valuable resource for my clinical educators regarding evidence-based practice.

Jill Frith

MScSLP student

Before an extremely challenging motor speech midterm, Dr. Megan Hodge handed out little cards with this quote from her: '…a career in speech-language pathology challenges you to use your intellect (the talents of your mind) in combination with your humanity (the gifts in your heart) to do meaningful work that feeds your soul… I am proud to be a member of what I consider to be the best profession on earth.' The University of Alberta speech-language pathology program prepared us for exactly what Dr. Hodge described. We not only came away with a wealth of knowledge due to a very academically rigorous program but also the skills and the passion to work with people with communication difficulties in a very client-centred, holistic and caring way. I have been so grateful to have the expertise to be able to be a part of nurturing the incredible growth of young children throughout my career. It truly is the best profession on earth.

Stephanie Jansen, R.SLP

Speech-language pathologist, alumnus and clinical educator

The opportunity to have hands on practice with real clients throughout our learning supplemented my understanding of the material and better prepared me for my external placements. It gave me the confidence to balance theory and practice.

Karla Iannuccilli

MScSLP student

Our program attracts many of the best and brightest students from across Canada who represent a broad range of undergraduate programs and professional disciplines. This diversity fosters a very rich and dynamic teaching-learning environment, which I have greatly enjoyed as an instructor and mentor. The quality of students our program attracts in combination with their passion for discovery has contributed significantly to building our research capacity and knowledge translation both locally and globally. I am proud to say that I am a member of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Alberta.

Dr. Carol Boliek


Since starting my MSc in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Alberta, I have been continually impressed by the quality of instruction and dedication of every single one of our professors and instructors. It has also been wholly refreshing to be taught by a predominantly female faculty, who are not only leaders in their fields of research, but exemplary clinicians and mentors.

Rina Urish

MScSLP student

I found my voice studying speech-language pathology at the University of Alberta and I've been fortunate enough to spend the past 16 years helping people of all ages find theirs. The added privilege of guiding students into the profession is like watching stars appear in the sky. My career is cake with two layers of icing!

Michael Burrows, R.SLP

Speech-language pathologist, alumnus and clinical educator

This program has given me the opportunity to integrate my clinical and research training, and the freedom to explore and pursue my individual interests.

Alesha Reed

MSc/PhD combined program student

For more information on the speech-language pathology program, visit