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Guide to Starting an Academic Program in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD)

Section 1 - Deciding to Establish a New Program

Creating a Team

Although the responsibility to investigate the viability for a new degree program often is assigned to one person, it is recommended that the university identify several core people who will serve as a team throughout the entire proposal and implementation process. The team would be responsible for establishing parameters for and conducting a feasibility study; designing the program and developing the curriculum; aligning the proposed program with expected state, regional, and national accreditation and approval standards; and developing a program proposal, if warranted. Securing a CSD consultant is highly recommended. This consultant will play an integral role in guiding the team through establishment of the feasibility study, development of the curriculum and program, and review of institutional, state, regional, and national accreditation and approval standards.

The core team members will work with a variety of professionals, internally and externally, throughout the process; these professionals will prove to be valuable resources. CSD professionals likely will serve as the core team, but the team should be expanded to capitalize on the expertise of various professionals in the university and in the CSD community. As a team, you should consider how various offices or specific people can contribute to the project, when, and how often. The following list provides a suggested list of key internal and external contacts and their roles.

Internal Contacts

  • Faculty with experience in developing new programs—to help you understand the "politics" of new program development and approval at your institution
  • Faculty responsible for education policy approval—to help you understand university policy and procedures regarding curriculum and program approval
  • Deans and associate deans of the college/school where the program likely is to be housed—to help you understand issues associated with adding programs in that college/school, including space, admissions, and how the proposed program supports the institution's mission and strategic planning
  • Administration officials responsible for securing regional accreditation and, if pursued, specialized or professional accreditation—to help you understand the information needed to secure accreditation of a new program and determine the impact on existing accreditation status
  • Individuals with survey design expertise—to help you collect the information you need
  • Finance and budget office personnel—to help you project tuition revenue
  • Facility personnel—to help you identify costs associated with running an onsite clinic
  • Individuals with business planning expertise—to help you plan clinical operations, especially revenue and expense
  • Assessment office personnel—to help you obtain information on university demographics and integrate CSD assessment needs into the university assessment system
  • Human resources personnel—to help you identify recruiting costs and procedures
  • Development office/foundation personnel—to help you identify donors that may support creation of the new program

These internal constituents will be valuable resources to the CSD professionals as the team navigates university protocols in development of the program. Raising awareness that a new graduate program is being considered and involving relevant offices will ease the transition to implementation once the program is approved. A well-formed team will consider unique issues related to re-establishing a program versus developing a new program.

External Contacts

  • CSD academic and clinical colleagues at other universities—to share curriculum, academic, and clinical policies and procedures
    Central administrators from other universities (e.g., deans, provosts)—to identify key resources and opportunities if considering a consortium
  • State higher education agency personnel who review new academic programs for the governing board—to help you understand approval requirements and procedures
  • State K-12 education agency personnel who review and approve programs that lead to teacher licensure/certification—to help you understand the requirements of operating a program that will enable graduates to work in the schools
  • State licensing board personnel—to help you understand the academic, clinical, and other requirements of practicing in the state
  • ASHA Certification personnel—to help you understand the academic, clinical, and other requirements of achieving a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC), contact
  • ASHA Academic Accreditation personnel—to help you understand the standards, requirements, and processes of the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), contact
  • ASHA's Academic Affairs and Research Education staff—to provide you with relevant data from the Communication Sciences & Disorders (CSD) Education Survey National Aggregate Data Report and other resources, contact

It is useful to network with CSD academic and clinical faculty from other universities. These faculty could include representatives from recently created and approved graduate programs; programs within the same state; programs with similar student demographics; and public, private, or religious universities, based on the characteristics of the university that is starting the program.

Colleges and universities may be considering the value of participation in a consortium with other CSD programs in the state or region. Participation in a consortium may decrease costs through the economies of scale associated with the involvement of multiple universities. When considering this option, your first step should be to meet with personnel in the state higher education agency or university governing board to determine the requirements for consortia. These requirements may include approval by multiple university governing boards. The feasibility of obtaining such approval in a timely fashion would be a key consideration in moving forward with planning a consortium. Additional issues to consider are aligning the curriculum across multiple institutions, including how credit hours are calculated, and the universities' requirements for graduate faculty.

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