Goal-Setting for SLP Grad Students

As an SLP grad student, setting goals can be an invaluable way to help you stay focused and motivated throughout your graduate program.

Clinical experiences and coursework quickly add up, and can become overwhelming if we feel disorganized and disconnected from our long-term goals.

The good news is that setting both long- and short-term goals can help you keep your eye on the prize: That MS-SLP degree that will allow you to practice in your dream career as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)!

Here are some tips on how to set goals as an SLP graduate student:

1. Set short-term and long-term goals

Short-term goals are goals that you want to achieve within a few weeks or months, while long-term goals are goals that you want to achieve over the course of your graduate studies.

Setting both short-term and long-term goals can help you stay both (a) motivated/excited and (b) focused on the tasks ahead.

2. Make sure your goals are specific

Instead of setting a vague goal such as “I want to do well in grad school,” think about making your goal measurable and specific to things that are the most important to you.

For example, you can set a goal of:

“I will get an A in my Anatomy & Physiology of the Speech and Hearing Mechanism class.”

This could be your long-term goal for a specific class and specific semester, and you can then work backward to identify short-term goals that will help you get there. Which leads me to…

3. Break down your goals into smaller, achievable steps

Once you have set your long-term goals, break them down into smaller, achievable steps that you can take to reach those goals.


“I will study my Anatomy & Physiology notes for 30 minutes after each class period (2x/week) to review difficult material, and attend office hours to ask my professor any questions about content I don’t understand prior to quizzes/exams/projects.”

See how this short-term goal supports your long-term goal while giving you actionable, timely tasks to complete along the way?

Now that you have an idea of how to outline your goals, it’s important to make sure they work!

4. Track your progress

As you work towards achieving your goals, it can be helpful to track your progress to make sure you’ve identified goals that you can and will actually achieve.

Keep a log of the tasks you complete that help you meet each goal, and then track the goals you have achieved as you reach them so that you can look back and see how far you have come at the end of each semester.

If you find yourself off-track at any point in the process, try to identify what went wrong: Were your short-term goals too broad? Were your long-term goals out of touch after getting into a busy semester?

After identifying problems with your goals, ask yourself how you can adjust, remove, or add goals to improve your success moving forward.

Assess your goals at least once per semester, plus any time you notice something going wrong. This will help you keep your goals in mind during difficult times, and help keep you on track to reach those goals!

So how many goals should I set as an SLP grad student?

Broadly, I recommend setting 1-2 long-term goals for the entirety of your graduate program.

For example, SLPs have to complete a clinical fellowship when we graduate, so once you know your desired setting you want to work in or population you want to work with, a long-term goal could be to attain clinical and externship experiences during your graduate program that align with your goal to attain a clinical fellowship working with XYZ population or in XYZ setting.

This is a long-term goal because not all programs allow for clinical rotations to begin immediately upon entering the program (e.g., they might have you wait until semester 2 before you can request specific clinical experiences), and you will be working toward the goal consistently for the duration of your program - not just a single semester.

You can also have 3-5 long-term goals per semester, and 1-3 short-term goals that help you take action toward each long-term goal.

In conclusion, by setting goals as a speech-language pathology graduate student, you can stay focused on the important tasks in the short-term while making progress toward achieving your longer-term goals. With the right planning and dedication, you can reach your goals each and every semester!

Not sure how to set realistic goals for yourself each semester? Sign up for a coaching call, and we will get you on the right track!

As always, contact me with any questions you may have about grad school applications, grad school itself, or becoming a speech-language pathologist. I am so happy to help! You can reach out on instagram at @speechlyss_slp or email me at hello@speechlyss.com.

Have a wonderful day!