On-Campus Grad Programs … Not Your Only Option

Applying to grad school can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. Mix in being mid-career, part of a military family, and living hours away from not only a large city, but a Target (!), and you have one stressed out applicant. That was me!

Seizing Opportunities

Right now, I’m an online SLP grad student at James Madison University; but my journey to get here took about 7 years.

In 2011, I graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology-Exercise Science and skipped into the real world to start my career. But a couple of years into it, I knew I didn’t see myself in that industry forever. It didn’t fulfill me.

It’s a hard decision to go back to school after you’ve been out for a while. But after my then-fiancé told me we had to move to the-middle-of-no-where California, I knew this was my chance to go back to school for what I was really passionate about—speech-language pathology.

My now-husband is in the military. We move every 2 years or so, and he’s gone most of the time. This, combined with the California-location of his current duty station, made finding a grad program that met our family’s needs difficult. Needless to say, options were limited.

Pros of Online Grad School

I started researching grad programs and quickly realized that an online program was the best option for me. Here’s why it works for me, and why it might work for you too:

  1. The ability to log in at all times of the day or night and listen to lectures or work on assignments is convenient … and a huge plus for my schedule. Some programs require set online class time, but it’s usually only once per week.
  2. Living in a rural area, I don’t have to worry about a long commute to class every day.
  3. My peers. Most of the students in my cohort are at about the same stage of life as me. This is a 2nd career for most of us. Many have been raising a family for years or are just about to start growing their families. Either way, the population of my online program is a bit different than it would be on campus.
  4. Peace of mind. Knowing that my husband’s orders have the potential to change at any given time can be stressful to think about. However, knowing my online program will move with me if that does happen gives me piece of mind. I don’t have to stop going to school because of a change that’s out of my control.
  5. The ability to balance school with the craziness we call life can be a challenge. However, with my online program I’m able to modify my schedule on a daily basis if I need to—making sure my school, work, family, and social life is balanced.

Not everyone can apply to every grad program they find. The population of students who apply to online grad programs are a melting pot of already-in-the-real-world-adults who want to pursue their dreams of becoming an SLP, but need to do it in a more convenient way than traditional on-campus programs. Online and distance learning programs are a wonderful option to help make all of our dreams come true!


  1. Avatar Alex July 9, 2018 at 7:35 am

    Thank for the reassurance. However, I thought this post would offer a list of online grad program options. I’m a little disappointed!

  2. Sara Mischo Sara Mischo July 9, 2018 at 10:34 am

    Hi Alex! I’m sorry you were disappointed. Information about specific CSD programs is not something National NSSLHA is able to provide, but you can search for grad programs on ASHA’s EdFind site: https://www.asha.org/edfind/. Unfortunately, “distance learning” is not a search filter option, but when you do review specific programs, you’ll see whether or not they offer distance learning. I hope this helps!

  3. Avatar Priscilla Cabezas August 12, 2018 at 10:15 pm

    Hello Sara,

    Thanks for your post. A couple of questions for you here. Firstly, I’m wondering if you pay ‘out of state’ tuition? Secondly, how do you do clinicals?


    1. Chelsea Woodard Chelsea Woodard September 15, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Priscilla,

      I do have to pay ‘out of state’ tuition, however that is something that is true for all online programs that I researched and applied to. I did not come across any schools where that was the case, however that is not to say that there may not be an option out there for you. In regards to clinicals, programs help to place you in the town/city were you live. For example, my first clinical rotation is with the school district in the town where I am currently living.

      I hope this answers your questions.

      Chelsea Woodard

  4. Avatar Priscilla Cabezas September 16, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for getting back to me Chelsea! You have been very helpful. I appreciate it.

    Priscilla Cabezas


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