Program top in IL

By Chris Lind

NIU’s Communicative Disorders Department ranks first among eight Illinois public university programs in seven of eight categories, according to a new report by the Illinois Board of Higher Education.

Acting Chairman of the Communicative Disorders Department, William Shearer, said some of the things measured were credit hours taught, enrollments, number of degrees granted and efficiency of cost per credit hour for both undergraduate and graduate degree programs at Illinois universities.

NIU was first in all categories but undergraduate enrollment, in which Illinois State University in Normal placed the highest, Shearer said.

Shearer said NIU’s Communicative Disorders Department offers undergraduate degrees in speech pathology, audiology and deafness rehabilitation counseling. Graduate degrees are offered in speech and language pathology, audiology and deafness rehabilitation counseling.

Assistant Professor Howard Schwartz said, “Speech pathology students are training to evaluate and treat children and adults with speech problems. Audiology students are being trained to measure and evaulate hearing. Deafness counseling students learn various aspects of counseling.”

Shearer said to practice as a speech pathologist, audiologist or deafness rehabilitation councilor, students need a bachelor’s and a master’s degree. After receiving the degrees, students are certified by the American Speech and Hearing Association and licensed by the state to practice in Illinois.

He said the number of out-of-state applications for NIU’s master’s program in communicative disorders are almost as high as those from within the state.

“The department is interested in having a doctorate program in communicative disorders, particularly in speech pathology and audiology,” Schwartz said. The program would allow students to learn and do research that could be applied to professional practices at NIU’s Speech and Hearing Clinic, he said.

Shearer said, “We’re interested in offering a doctorate degree. We have been talking to the Illinois Board of Higher Education about it.” The report and the categorical high ranking of NIU’s program will help show the quality of the program to the IBHE, he said.

NIU’s Speech and Hearing Clinic is designed to provide experience primarily for graduate students in their area of study. The clinic offers services regarding speech and hearing problems for students, faculty and local residents.