Written by current M.Sc.A. students in our program. On this page:
Language Of Instruction
Do I need to be bilingual to complete the program?
No. All the classes, clinical practica, and internships are in English so don’t worry if you don’t speak a word of French. However, if you are confident enough in French you can request placements in French or bilingual settings. Many practicum setting, especially adult ones, are bilingual. Students who only speak English will receive the practicum experiences they require in order to graduate but they may not have access to as wide a variety of settings as bilingual students. If you are francophone you are also allowed to write coursework and exams in French.
Structure And Workload
What is the general structure of the program? What is the weekly schedule?
McGill University has a 2-year Speech-Language Pathology program consisting of two semesters each year running from September to December and January to April. Although it may vary from year to year, speech-pathology students at McGill take 5 class work courses and a 6th practical course each semester. In the last few years, students had 3 days of classes and 2 days reserved for practica each week. (Note, you may not be assigned a practicum both days each week). Between the first and second year, each student completes a May Practicum. After the final semester, students complete a 3-month internship.
What's the workload like?
The number of hours spent studying is obviously up to you, but there are usually two or three days of class per week. Stephanie: “The course load in the first semester is fairly intense. It's comparable to a full course load of an undergraduate program, with about the same amount of class time and readings. However, there are also hours dedicated to practica and observations. All in all it is a full, but manageable schedule.”
What's So Great About McGill's S-LP Program
It’s a shorter program than some others (2 years). There are no summer classes in the first year so you can have a well earned (and needed!) 3-month break, but you still have enough hours of practical experience in order to meet SAC’s requirements for national certification as a S-LP.
The SCSD is relatively small, which means that, no matter how cliché this sounds, there really is a cozy “community” feeling. You get to know your classmates (who come from all over the world, great for future international friend/S-LP links!) and meet many of the Ph.D. students in no time. The profs are generally very approachable if you have questions, and are quite reasonable regarding deadlines and coursework. They know the program has a high workload and often try and make life easier where possible. Many of them are S-LPs themselves and so understand the need to make the theory as relevant to clinical practice as possible. In addition, as the second years told us on day one, “grades don’t matter.” You’ve made it this far, once you’re in the program, as long as you go to class and do the work, you shouldn’t have any major problems. This takes some of the pressure off straight away and rather than competing with your classmates, you’ll be able to work together and make some lifelong friends. Social nights are also arranged by the Student Council Social Committee so you can mix with the second years and other members of the department – you’ll welcome the distraction by the end of the semester!
First, there’s absolutely no pressure to undertake a research project if you don’t want to. If research is your thing, the level of research at McGill is extremely high. The department has some of the most renowned researchers in the field and enjoys extensive links with some of the top institutions in Canada (see research page for details).
Access to Materials and Information
Students have access to a large library of therapy materials. This is useful for planning therapy sessions, but also gives you great ideas for future reference. There is also access to a number of nearby libraries for theoretical references (particularly for more medical aspects you may need to look into). Students are often informed about ongoing research data before it's even published. In addition, the professors are all open to former students e-mailing them with questions long after they are in clinical practice...so you will always have access to those same individuals!
There’s a yearly review of the courses offered as part of the M.Sc.A. and input from students is welcomed. Examples of recent changes that have been made as a result include:
- Increasing the coordination of classes (more/less overlap where necessary)
- Increasing the number of course options, including two new additions: Emerging Technologies and Working with French/Bilingual Populations.
Working with a wide variety of cultural and linguistic populations
By studying at McGill, you can work anywhere in North America. Living and studying here allows you to make professional contacts and learn the language to be able to work in Quebec, be it after graduation or sometime in the future.
What are the program's disadvantages?
It depends on how you look at it. The MS.c.A. does have a focus on research and theory BUT you do get a fair amount of clinical experience, and classes get more and more clinically oriented as you gain confidence and knowledge. Having a strong background in theory really will help you as a clinician; for example, it allows you to critically analyze new "fads" that continually pop up, and gives you a better understanding of why you do certain things. S-LP is all about evidence based practice, after all, and any S-LP will tell you that you learn more about practice and application of what you know when you get your first job than you do in a program…but of course, you have to have the knowledge to begin with to be able to apply it!
Does the program focus on a particular population?
We don't focus on a particular population although because of the environment (both academic and social) there is a special interest in bilingualism and in neurogenic disorders.
How do the clinical practica/internships work?
In first year you undertake a number of practica on Tuesdays and Fridays in both the Fall and Winter terms. These may include activities such as hearing screenings and phonological awareness screenings/intervention in school-aged children (don't worry if some of these terms are unfamiliar right now, they won't be soon!) and audiology placements with adults in a hospital. At the end of this time you have a four week unpaid “May Practicum,” usually with a paediatric population. Sometimes opportunities to volunteer to go to additional placements come up, if you are keen to have extra clinical experience.
Second year students are assigned one practicum of twelve days with adults or children in the Fall, and one practicum with the other population in the Winter. Before graduating there is a final, full-time unpaid internship of 12 weeks in May, June and July. Students provide assessment and intervention services to the clients on their caseload with decreasing hands-on guidance over the course of the practicum. They also get involved in more indirect work, such as note keeping, report writing, attending case conferences, etc.
Some of the advantages of the practica at McGill include:
- Placements right from the first semester in multicultural community settings. You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to get hands on experience.
- The chance to work only in English, use some French or work completely in French according to the level you’re at.
Can you give me an example of the practicum experiences? How long are they?
Remember, practical experiences may vary each year; however, here is an example: In 2007-2008, first year speech-pathology students participated in a 6-day preschool language development observation, a half-day speech-language pathology observation of the paediatric population, an audiology placement in a hospital, a 2-day hearing screening activity at an elementary school, and a 6-day phonological awareness screening and/or intervention program. In second year, students receive a 12 day placement each semester, one day per week, in either the paediatric or adult population (they have a chance to work with both populations). Of course, students also receive a variety of experiences in their May practica and final 3-month internships. To read about some of the wide range of clinical opportunities and experiences offered by the program, visit the clinical experiences page.
What can I do during the summer months between the first and second year?
Many students complete their May practicum and enjoy their final summer months off as a student. Other students prefer to engage in research. McGill University offers a bursary program for students to complete a mini research project for two summer months.
Where will I complete my May Practicum and final internship?
Placements depend on availability of speech-language pathologists and institutions. Many students find themselves in new parts of Canada. Please be advised that students may incur additional expenses for travel and accommodation during these placements. Please refer to the official McGill policy stated below: “The School assumes responsibility for providing students with clinical experience within the constraints imposed by the number of students and the availability of clinical settings and voluntary supervisors; we may be unable to accommodate student's preferences for a practicum in a particular geographic location or with a particular population. This may sometimes entail additional travel and living expenses; all such costs are borne by the students concerned.” (see Handbook for more details)
How else can I get involved during McGill’s S-LP program?
The Buddy Program
All students going into their second year are partnered with newly accepted students to help ease the transition into Montreal, S-LP and McGill.
Workshops on professional ethics and inter-professional relationships are held periodically. These involve all students in the Faculty of Medicine. This gives you an opportunity to meet students in other programs such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, OT and PT.
The MITABI Interprofessional Health Initiative
A mainly student-run organization which has a variety of interesting health-related activities, from discussions and presentations to fun quizzes.
Speaking of Language
Every six months, students can contribute to our newsletter which is then distributed throughout the community.
The Student Council
Run by second years to facilitate communication at all levels of S-LP, from students to professors and the community. First years can also get involved in some positions.
Living In Montreal
Montreal is a beautiful city (and relatively cheap compared to other big cities!) with lots to do. SCSD is downtown and so is close to all the fun. If you like to work out, for example, it is only $25/semester for a membership at the McGill gym.
There is much more to life than just "work" and it would be pretty hard to find a city that can give you more than Montreal. If you like music, you are sure to find live music any night of the week. There's also theatre, shopping and little coffee shops on every corner where you can get great hot drinks and delicious pastries!
For more details about the city, festivities and activities, see our Montreal - Quality of Life video.
Life After Graduation
Can I practice as an S-LP in Quebec after graduation?
Yes. However, you will need to pass a French test given by l'Office québécois de la langue française OQLF. The examination is mandatory for anyone belonging to a professional Order in Quebec (including speech-language pathology; you must be a member of l’Ordre des orthophonistes et audiologistes du Québec, OOAQ to practice in the province). The only exceptions to taking the test are:
- if you studied full time in French at the secondary or post-secondary level for at least three years;
- if you have passed “les examens de français langue maternelle de la quatrième ou de la cinquième année du cours secondaire.”
Official details of the exam are given on the website of the OQLF. For a second year’s perspective on the exam read: Taking the French exam to Practice S-LP in Quebec.
When looking for a job in Quebec being bilingual (French/English) is a definite advantage!
Can I practice elsewhere?
After you have completed the M.Sc.A. you will be eligible to work in any province/territory in Canada (although Quebec has an additional language requirement, as detailed above). Each province has different licensing regulations: details can be found on the SAC website.
There is also an International Mutual Recognition Agreement for Canadian S-LPs wanting to work in the US, UK and Australia, International Careers
Is there a way to keep in touch with the SCSD?
The department always enjoys hearing from former students if you would like to keep us up-to-date about what you’re doing. We have an Alumni section for you to keep us updated. In order to maintain a professional and personal connection, we are also currently making plans to distribute our newsletter Speaking of Language to McGill S-LP alumni.