College of Communication & Education

MA in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Program Highlights

Student Highlights

Jose Cervantes, undergraduate, and Karen Vang, graduate, were selected for the 2015 Minority Student Leadership Program through the American Speech Language Hearing Association. As an MSLP participant, they took part in a set of leadership-focused educational programs and activities at the 2015 ASHA Convention in Denver, CO. There were 153 applicants from students in programs throughout the US. Only 40 were selected, two of which from CSU, Chico's CMSD program.

Conferences: CSHA & ASHA

  • In spring 2017, Dr. Von Berg and 8 graduate students presented a 90-minute tutorial at CSHA that featured the radio clips activity utilized with the community-based Brain Injury Coalition.
  • Von Berg and students presented The Impact of Personal Relevance on the Verbal and Written Expression in Individuals with Aphasia, at CSHA in Sacramento March 2018.


  • Outstanding California Speech Language Hearing Association student: Andrea Avina
  • CSHA scholarship: Andrea Avina
  • CSUC 32th Annual Student Research Competition Student research award 2018: Drea Avina, Lizzie Greenman, Natalie Crum and Megan Leever placed 2nd.
    • The students presented results from The Impact of Personal Relevance on the Verbal and Written Expression in Individuals with Aphasia for the Behavioral and Social Sciences: Education, Nutrition and Clinical Sciences session. They competed against 7 other teams and won $150.

Praxis Pass Rates

CMSD Graduate students typically take the PRAXIS examination in the final semester of their program. Pass rates have been consistently at or above the national average over the past 15 years (approximately 84.8% according to most recent ASHA data from 2014-15). First time PRAXIS pass rates for the last three years are:

  • 2015: 24 students taking, 92% passed the first time
  • 2016: 24 students taking, 87.5% passed the first time
  • 2017: 23 students taking, 95% passed the first time

All students passed on the second attempt.

Graduation Rates

The CMSD program is designed to be completed in two years. Occasionally, students request to extend the program to three years generally for various personal reasons. These students are defined as Part Time (PT) below and are placed in this group when they ask to be part time within the first semester of the program. Graduation rates for the past three years are:

Table of graduation rates by year
Year Graduated
(# students)
within 2 years
within 3 years
2015 (24)23/24 = 96%1
2016 (24)24/24 = 100%0
2017 (23)23/24 = 96%1

Employment Rates

Masters program graduates enjoy multiple job offers and are sought across the state. Employment rates within 3 months of graduate for those seeking employment the past 3 years are:

  • 2015: 24/24 students = 100%
  • 2016: 24/24 students = 100%
  • 2017: 23/23 students = 100%

Clinical Education & Community Highlights

  • Specialty clinics have been developed by Dr. Shelley Von Berg and Dr. Susan Steffani, based on their research work. Dr. Von Berg has created community collaborations with the Brain Injury Coalition and the Peg Taylor Center. Graduate student work with members of the Chico's Brain Injury Coalition Thresholds support group to create the Radio Shorts, a series of personalized radio segments that aired on community radio station KZFR. Exit interview scores revealed increases on ASHA's Quality of Communication Life Scale.
  • Graduate students also participate at the Peg Taylor Center, Chico's only adult day health care center. There they lead large group activities, small group speech and language intervention and 1:1 reminiscing activities. Students gain invaluable experience working with a range of older individuals presenting with a range of normal and pathological aging and the PTC clients and staff benefit from the creativity the students infuse into their activities under the supervision of Dr. VB.
  • Susan Steffani created a reading group for the Center for Communication Disorders that stemmed from her research activities on dyslexia. There are 8-10 clients, ranging in age from 7 to 14 and 4 student clinicians.
  • The Speech and Hearing Fair is an annual community service event that provides free screenings of hearing, speech and language for adults and children. Graduate students plan, prepare, and implement the fair, selecting a theme for the day and creating youth-oriented games and activities and offering food for the participants. Approximately 100-150 persons are screened at no charge. The fair is financially supported by student fundraising activities, NSSLHA and clinic donations.