Question: Are There Online Speech-Language Pathology (SLP) Programs That Are Accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)?
Answer: Yes, there are online speech-language pathology (SLP) programs that are accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) through its Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA). The CAA accredits qualifying master’s in SLP programs, including programs that are offered online. Graduates from CAA-accredited online master’s in SLP programs may then be eligible for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP) professional credential administered by ASHA.
ASHA is a professional organization of speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and other types of speech, language, and hearing scientists that provides a range of services and resources, including professional credentialing for speech-language pathologists. The CAA is the organization tasked by ASHA with formulating accreditation standards for master’s in SLP and audiology doctorate programs, evaluating programs that voluntarily apply for accreditation, and granting formal accreditation to qualifying programs. Among the factors the CAA assesses are a program’s academic integrity, administrative governance, and curricular content. Online master’s in SLP programs are eligible for accreditation from the CAA and there are numerous online SLP programs that have received CAA accreditation.
Programmatic Accreditation for Online Master’s in SLP Programs
The CAA is formally recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and the US Department of Education as an accreditation agency for SLP and audiology programs. The two types of programs currently eligible to apply for CAA accreditation are master’s in SLP programs and doctoral programs in audiology. Programmatic accreditation of the type provided by the CAA is designed to assure students and other interested parties (e.g., potential clients and employers) that a program meets or exceeds minimum standards for professional training in that field. It is different from institutional accreditation, which is granted to colleges and universities that meet general standards for institutional integrity and is administered regionally by six agencies:
- The Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- The New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- The Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
In order to be eligible for CAA accreditation, a program must be offered by an institutionally accredited college or university. Programs then undergo an assessment process that focuses on areas such as: administrative structure and governance; academic resources; faculty composition; and curriculum (academic and clinical education). In its Standards for Accreditation of Graduate Education Programs in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, the CAA delineates specific assessment criteria for master’s in SLP programs, including curricular guidelines that fall into the following categories:
- Professional Practice Competencies
- Foundations of Speech-Language Pathology Practice
- Identification and Prevention of Speech, Language, and Swallowing Disorders and Differences
- Evaluation of Speech, Language, and Swallowing Disorders and Differences
- Intervention to Minimize the Effects of Changes in the Speech, Language, and Swallowing Mechanisms
- General Knowledge and Skills Applicable to Professional Practice
In addition, the CAA requires accredited master’s in SLP programs to provide students with the opportunity to successfully complete a minimum of 400 supervised clinical practice hours in speech-language pathology. Thus, while CAA-accredited online master’s in SLP programs can provide all or most of their didactic instruction online, students in these programs must complete in-person, on-site clinical hours under the supervision of a speech language pathologist at a site approved by the program.
The Benefits of CAA Accreditation
In addition to providing students, future employers, and potential clients with assurance that graduates from a master’s in SLP program have received professional training in the practice of speech-language pathology, CAA accreditation has several other benefits. One of the stated goals of accreditation by the CAA is to ensure that a program provides students with opportunities to qualify for state licensure and national credentials that may be required for entry-level professional practice. While licensure requirements vary by state, completing a master’s program with a CAA-approved curriculum that includes a minimum of 400 hours of supervised clinical practice aligns with the academic training requirements for licensure eligibility in most states.
Graduates from a CAA-accredited master’s in SLP program may also pursue the CCC-SLP professional credential administered by CAA’s parent organization, ASHA. Candidates for ASHA certification in speech-language pathology must hold a master’s degree from a CAA-accredited program, complete a clinical fellowship consisting of 36 weeks of full-time professional experience or its part-time equivalent, and pass the Praxis Examination in Speech-Language Pathology. While ASHA certification is not required for licensure, ASHA’s certification requirements meet or exceed the licensure requirements for speech-language pathologists in most states.
ASHA maintains an online guide to state licensure requirements for speech-language pathologists and audiologists at ASHA State-by-State. Detailed information on CCC-SLP certification is available through ASHA’s 2020 Standards and Implementation Procedures for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology.
How to Find a CAA Accredited Online Master’s in SLP Program
As part of its ASHA charter, the CAA maintains a registry of accredited programs. The CAA Accredited Program Listing provides a state-by-state list of accredited colleges and universities that offer CAA-accredited masters in SLP and audiology doctoral programs, and ASHA maintains a searchable Council on Academic Accreditation Program List. However, these resources do not indicate whether a program is offered online or in a campus-based format. Potential applicants to online master’s in SLP programs can typically determine a program’s accreditation status by contacting a program representative.
For further information regarding online SLP programs, refer our Online Master’s in Speech-Language Pathology Degree Programs page.
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