Mary becomes first and only Cardinal Newman Society-recommended university to offer both graduate and undergraduate SLP programs

BISMARCK, ND — The Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) awarded University of Mary’s Speech-Language Pathology master’s program a five-year accreditation candidacy that allows the school to begin accepting students into the program immediately for the upcoming 2018 fall semester and continue to document compliance with accreditation standards for the duration of the candidacy cycle.

“The speech-language pathology (SLP) field is one of the hottest careers out there at this moment and the University of Mary is happy and blessed to once again be in a position to fulfill a huge need in this region and across the United States and offer this at a graduate level—one of only a select few in North Dakota,” said Jessica Smith, chair and assistant professor for the Department of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Mary. “We’ve seen the growing demand through our relatively new but very popular Communication Sciences Disorders undergrad program.”

There are only 10 universities in the four-state-region offering this graduate program. Smith says there is a shortage of SLPs in public schools and health care settings across the United States, including North Dakota and the surrounding area. American Staffing Association identified speech-language pathologists as being in the top 10 for occupations difficult to fill. U.S. News and World Report magazine ranked the speech language pathologist as No. 20 in their “Best Health Care Jobs” category for 2017. That data is reflected in the average salaries: the 2017 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average wage of $74,680 nationally, and $62,970 in North Dakota.

“Becoming a speech-language pathologist is lucrative as there is an abundance of job openings across the nation,” added Smith. “Further, students who choose this career path have a strong sense of helping others and improving the quality of life of their patients. SLPs are able to work in diverse work environments from school systems, hospitals, private practices, university settings and outpatient clinics, home health, etc.”

At the undergraduate level, there are 40 SLP students currently enrolled. This new graduate program requires a 3.0 cumulative grade point average and will accept 20 students to study five consecutive semesters: one is in the summer, four semesters are on-site and their final semester is an off-site externship. For more information about enrolling, accreditation and a comprehensive description of SLP requirements, visit Mary’s website at

The University of Mary holds true to its Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values through its core curriculum and practices of the health sciences. Of the 28 recommended universities within the Cardinal Newman Society, which the University of Mary is a proud member, it is the first and only to offer SLP programs at both the undergraduate and graduate level.

Coming in January 2019, students will have even more hands-on experiential opportunities with patients when a new pro bono clinic opens for service. The clinic will be supervised by licensed American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA) speech-language pathologists and run by University of Mary graduate SLP students. Anyone interested in clinical services can contact the Speech-Language Department at (701) 355-8041.

The University of Mary can hold candidacy for up to five years and can apply for full accreditation after the graduation of its first cohort.