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

Section 2 - Developing a Proposal for a New Program

Preparing and Submitting the Formal Proposal

The formal proposal is submitted to the appropriate administrator with greater detail than was presented in the letter of intent.

Detailed Program Description

This is the most important part of the formal proposal and should be given considerable attention and detail. The proposed program will yield graduates that meet the highest requirements to practice (i.e., Certificate of Clinical Competence [CCC], state licensure, teacher certification). The following components typically are expected in the formal proposal:

  • Full description of the program, including program purpose, structure, content, and prospective descriptions of each course for the catalog. When determining the number of credits for the program, be mindful of "credit creep." Developing a new program is an opportunity to be creative in the way the program is offered rather than using the traditional course-by-course model. Remember that speech-language pathology (SLP) graduate programs are now competency based, and documentation of mastery of student learning outcomes is just as important as credits. Consider what courses may exist in other departments/programs at your institution that could lend themselves to interdisciplinary collaboration (e.g., research methods, neuroscience, psycholinguistics). Include program admission and degree completion requirements, including whether a thesis will be required.
  • A list of the proposed sequence of courses that prospective students will be required to take as well as any electives by academic term (semester/quarter). This sequence will demonstrate the time needed to complete the program and will reflect any necessary faculty resources.
  • Description of significant resources, including on-campus clinics, laboratories and off-campus internship sites, and other resources.
  • Description of how the students will meet requirements for teacher certification and/or licensure in the state as well national clinical certification.
  • The proposed faculty-to-student ratio, the number of existing faculty, and the need for additional faculty and staff. This information should include academic and clinical faculty, administrative staff, and any need for graduate assistants employed by the university. The faculty needs should include consideration of the responsibilities for scholarship, teaching, and service as expected by the institution and as specified in the mission of the proposed department.


Identify the availability of sufficient faculty to conduct the program. It may not be necessary to have the full complement of faculty at the beginning of the program. However, if the program does not have sufficient faculty to offer the program, a detailed plan should be presented to show when the faculty will be needed and the plan for bringing the faculty to the desired level. The following components typically are expected in the formal proposal:

  • Indication of who will be the program coordinator or department chair.
  • Vitae of all current faculty who will implement the program, including their responsibilities for the program.
  • Indication of changes anticipated in the existing faculty in the next 3-5 years, including new appointments and anticipated retirements, promotions, and tenure decisions.
  • An outline of the qualifications of additional faculty who will be recruited to the program, including the particular course or supervisory responsibilities and a timetable for their recruitment and hiring. Include the availability of part-time faculty to provide specialized coursework and/or clinical supervision.


Identify the availability of prospective students, and ensure that you have developed the recruitment and admissions processes. The following components typically are expected in the formal proposal:

  • Description of the criteria and procedures for admission. Include any prerequisite courses as well as the anticipated grade-point average (GPA) and Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score requirements consistent with the unit where the program will be administratively housed and other graduate programs in the institution (e.g., the graduate school or School of Education).
  • Description of the type of students to be recruited. Include a reference to the enrollment plans and mission of the institution. Of particular interest may be special efforts to enroll students from a particular geographic region, racial/ethnic minority groups, students of a particular gender, international students, students with disabilities, or other particular groups of interest to the institution and where there is need in the profession.
  • Describe any special financial support that may be available for the students, such as graduate assistantships or financial aid.

Facilities and Equipment

Describe the facilities, equipment, and resources that are currently available and those that will be necessary for the program. If capital expenditure is necessary, it may be difficult to justify the cost. You should make every attempt to use existing resources within the institution. Describe needed resources and equipment for the proposed program consistent with the mission of the university, the goals of the program, and the mode of delivery. Indicate where the program will be located, and ensure that you have garnered support for these additional facilities and equipment from the campus administrators in charge of space and facilities. Additional space is commonly requested and is often in short supply on many campuses, so you will have to negotiate this need carefully with the administration as part of the formal proposal. Specifically, the description should include

  • general and special library holdings and additional acquisitions necessary for the program;
  • the need for computers and special software;
  • research and laboratory equipment;
  • access to additional materials and resources available in the community (e.g., augmentative alternative communication (AAC) equipment at a cooperating agency, opportunity for collaboration with other units or departments to share resources);
  • the need for faculty offices, classrooms, administrative offices, student work space, and clinical space (Be certain that the facility needs are consistent with the requirements for accreditation and are consistent with the facilities of other graduate programs at the institution).

Program Costs

When preparing the formal proposal for your program, give careful consideration to determining realistic income/expense projections. This important step helps you to determine your anticipated return on investment. Sections of the formal proposal include a Revenues section (with line items for tuition and fees) and an Expenses section (with line items for personnel, space and infrastructure needs, equipment and supplies, start-up costs, accreditation costs, insurance for student clinicians, professional memberships, and professional development).

Academic Quality Assurance

It will be important to show how program quality will be monitored and maintained. This may include a site visit by an external independent evaluator prior to submission of the formal proposal. Consult with the provost or dean to determine the usual expectation for academic programs in the institution. Costs associated with conducting the external review are the responsibility of the institution.

In the formal proposal, indicate whether the program will seek accreditation, such as through the CAA (see accreditation), including the timetable and costs for completing the accreditation process. Depending on the mission of the program or institution, specific types of external reviews may be recommended or required.

Final Proposal Submission

Prior to submission of the final proposal, be sure to address all comments and concerns that the external evaluator noted from the site visit. In an annotated report, indicate which of the evaluator's concerns have been or will be adopted and why others cannot be adopted at this time. Hold any final discussions with the provost and other appropriate administrators to clarify any concerns in the final proposal prior to submission to the appropriate administrative body.

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