School of Communication

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Prospective Students

For Parents

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes which manifests itself as a significant discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in one or more of the following areas:

  • Oral expression
  • Listening comprehension
  • Written expression
  • Basic reading skill
  • Reading comprehension
  • Mathematics calculation
  • Mathematics reasoning
  • Nonverbal functioning

A child may not be identified as having a specific learning disability if the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the result of:

  • A visual, hearing, or motor impairment
  • Mental retardation
  • Emotional disturbance
  • Environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage

How do I have my child assessed at the Northwestern Learning Clinic?

Contact the Learning Clinic at 847-467-1198 to discuss your concerns and receive more detailed information regarding our clinic procedures and the current diagnostic timetable.

Can my child receive remediation services at Northwestern if he/she has not been tested by Northwestern's diagnostic clinic?

In order to begin remediation services at Northwestern, a child must have been assessed at the Diagnostic Clinic.

Where can I get additional information on learning disabilities and related disorders?


For Prospective Graduate Students

What career paths are available to graduates of the Learning Disabilities Program?

Graduates of the Masters program currently work as Learning Specialists in public schools, private schools, and private practice. They provide diagnostic and remedial services for children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities.

Graduates of the Doctoral program have positions in hospitals, private clinics, and major universities. They teach at the university level, conduct research, and provide clinical services in a variety of settings.

How much clinical experience is included in a typical Master's program?

Each student participates in one quarter of Diagnostic Clinic, as well as two quarters of Remediation Clinic. Diagnostic Teaching Clinic can sometimes be substituted for one quarter of Remediation Clinic.

How many students apply and are accepted each year?

Our program is small; the number of students matriculating in each of the past several years has been approximately 10-12. Each year we average about 25-30 applications for the program.

What is the length of the Master's Program?

The program requires four quarters of full-time study. Full-time status is defined as 3 or 4 courses during the academic year but only 3 courses during the summer.

What are the average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for students admitted to the program?

The average GRE score for master's students admitted in recent years is approximately 1100 (sum of verbal and quantitative sections). Applicants with lower GRE scores typically need to have a strong cumulative GPA (approx. 3.5 or higher) to be admitted.

What is the average grade point average for students admitted to the program?

The average cumulative undergraduate GPA of applicants admitted to the MA program in Learning Disabilities for the past several years has been approximately 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale). A student's GPA during the most recent 2 years of school is also considered, which averages approximately 3.65 for successful applicants. Generally students with cumulative GPAs lower than about 3.4 are admitted only if they have particularly strong GRE scores and/or other significant credentials. Grades in individual courses, especially the sciences, may also be weighted more heavily in assessing a student's overall academic performance.

Are factors other than GRE scores and GPA important in admissions decisions?

In addition to GPA and GRE scores, letters of recommendation and one's personal statement are considered in making admissions decisions. Letters of recommendation preferably should be from individuals who can assess a candidate's ability to be successful in graduate studies.

What kind of financial aid is available to Master's students?

Partial tuition scholarships are the only source of departmental funding available for MA students. Decisions concerning scholarships are made primarily on the basis of previous academic performance and scores from the Graduate Record Examination. Research assistantships and teaching assistantships are available to doctoral students only.

What are my chances of getting a scholarship or fellowship?

About 30-40% of Master's students admitted to the program are awarded a scholarship, which typically covers10-30% of the cost of tuition. Stipends are not available to master's students. To be competitive for a partial tuition scholarship, MA applicants must generally have GRE scores and a cumulative GPA higher than the averages for admission. Most master's students also obtain federally-supported student loans (which are arranged through the Graduate School Financial Aid Office) to pay for their educational and living expenses.

If I am accepted to the program in Learning Disabilities, is it possible for me to attend part-time?

Part-time study is possible, but must be approved by the Learning Disabilities faculty.

Can one be admitted to the MA program without an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders?

Yes. While many of our MA students do have undergraduate backgrounds in communication sciences and disorders, psychology, or education, others enter the program following course work in other disciplines, including the humanities, law, and engineering, among others. Those entering the program from other disciplines can still complete their MA course work in one year, although they may need some additional courses to fulfill state teacher certification requirements.

Is it possible to begin my graduate studies in a quarter other than Fall?

The curriculum is designed so that a full-time student will begin taking courses in the Fall Quarter and complete all course requirements by the following Summer Quarter. However, it is possible to start at other times under certain conditions.

The content is repeated below for printing purposes.

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents and Prospective Students

For Parents

What is a learning disability?

A learning disability is a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes which manifests itself as a significant discrepancy between achievement and intellectual ability in one or more of the following areas:

A child may not be identified as having a specific learning disability if the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement is primarily the result of:

How do I have my child assessed at the Northwestern Learning Clinic?

Contact the Learning Clinic at 847-467-1198 to discuss your concerns and receive more detailed information regarding our clinic procedures and the current diagnostic timetable.

Can my child receive remediation services at Northwestern if he/she has not been tested by Northwestern's diagnostic clinic?

In order to begin remediation services at Northwestern, a child must have been assessed at the Diagnostic Clinic.

Where can I get additional information on learning disabilities and related disorders?


For Prospective Graduate Students

What career paths are available to graduates of the Learning Disabilities Program?

Graduates of the Masters program currently work as Learning Specialists in public schools, private schools, and private practice. They provide diagnostic and remedial services for children, adolescents, and adults with learning disabilities.

Graduates of the Doctoral program have positions in hospitals, private clinics, and major universities. They teach at the university level, conduct research, and provide clinical services in a variety of settings.

How much clinical experience is included in a typical Master's program?

Each student participates in one quarter of Diagnostic Clinic, as well as two quarters of Remediation Clinic. Diagnostic Teaching Clinic can sometimes be substituted for one quarter of Remediation Clinic.

How many students apply and are accepted each year?

Our program is small; the number of students matriculating in each of the past several years has been approximately 10-12. Each year we average about 25-30 applications for the program.

What is the length of the Master's Program?

The program requires four quarters of full-time study. Full-time status is defined as 3 or 4 courses during the academic year but only 3 courses during the summer.

What are the average Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores for students admitted to the program?

The average GRE score for master's students admitted in recent years is approximately 1100 (sum of verbal and quantitative sections). Applicants with lower GRE scores typically need to have a strong cumulative GPA (approx. 3.5 or higher) to be admitted.

What is the average grade point average for students admitted to the program?

The average cumulative undergraduate GPA of applicants admitted to the MA program in Learning Disabilities for the past several years has been approximately 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale). A student's GPA during the most recent 2 years of school is also considered, which averages approximately 3.65 for successful applicants. Generally students with cumulative GPAs lower than about 3.4 are admitted only if they have particularly strong GRE scores and/or other significant credentials. Grades in individual courses, especially the sciences, may also be weighted more heavily in assessing a student's overall academic performance.

Are factors other than GRE scores and GPA important in admissions decisions?

In addition to GPA and GRE scores, letters of recommendation and one's personal statement are considered in making admissions decisions. Letters of recommendation preferably should be from individuals who can assess a candidate's ability to be successful in graduate studies.

What kind of financial aid is available to Master's students?

Partial tuition scholarships are the only source of departmental funding available for MA students. Decisions concerning scholarships are made primarily on the basis of previous academic performance and scores from the Graduate Record Examination. Research assistantships and teaching assistantships are available to doctoral students only.

What are my chances of getting a scholarship or fellowship?

About 30-40% of Master's students admitted to the program are awarded a scholarship, which typically covers10-30% of the cost of tuition. Stipends are not available to master's students. To be competitive for a partial tuition scholarship, MA applicants must generally have GRE scores and a cumulative GPA higher than the averages for admission. Most master's students also obtain federally-supported student loans (which are arranged through the Graduate School Financial Aid Office) to pay for their educational and living expenses.

If I am accepted to the program in Learning Disabilities, is it possible for me to attend part-time?

Part-time study is possible, but must be approved by the Learning Disabilities faculty.

Can one be admitted to the MA program without an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders?

Yes. While many of our MA students do have undergraduate backgrounds in communication sciences and disorders, psychology, or education, others enter the program following course work in other disciplines, including the humanities, law, and engineering, among others. Those entering the program from other disciplines can still complete their MA course work in one year, although they may need some additional courses to fulfill state teacher certification requirements.

Is it possible to begin my graduate studies in a quarter other than Fall?

The curriculum is designed so that a full-time student will begin taking courses in the Fall Quarter and complete all course requirements by the following Summer Quarter. However, it is possible to start at other times under certain conditions.