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Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

Candidacy Manual

I. Introduction and Background

Establishment | Basis for Review | Institutional Conditions for Eligibility | Program Conditions for Eligibility | Program Designation and Candidacy Term | Conditions to Maintain Candidacy Status | Candidacy Fees

Establishment of the Candidacy Program

In 1991, the Council on Professional Standards in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology established the status of Candidate for Accreditation for emerging education programs in audiology and in speech language pathology through the former Educational Standards Board (ESB). This status became necessary because, effective January 1, 1994, a policy was established that linked academic accreditation with an individual's eligibility for ASHA's Certificates of Clinical Competence (CCC). The status of Candidacy for Accreditation allowed students enrolled in newly established education programs to be eligible to apply for the CCC upon graduation without penalizing the first class of students graduating from those programs. In 2000, the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) revised the candidacy process for new programs seeking accreditation into a "stepwise" model. This model expected new programs to come into compliance with the Standards for Accreditation in a logical sequence while being closely monitored by the CAA. Programs could evolve over time and secure necessary resources to administer a quality program.

In 2007, the CAA implemented modifications to its "stepwise" model for the candidacy program and revised its materials to be consistent with compliance expectations of the 2008 Standards for Accreditation.

Key features of the revised model include:

  • limiting eligibility for the candidacy process to new graduate education programs that agree to not enroll students until candidacy is awarded by the CAA
  • requiring a readiness review of a new program's application prior to its official submission
  • the conduct of an on-campus site visit as part of the CAA's decision-making processes

Basis for Review

The CAA will apply the Standards for Accreditation as the basis for review of eligible graduate education programs. The CAA is responsible for evaluating the adequacy of an applicant program's efforts to satisfy each requirement.

Although compliance with all standards is not required at the time of award of candidacy, CAA's decision to award candidacy status is based on the program's submission of a comprehensive development plan (which is presented in the form of the candidacy application) and the program's and institution's demonstrated commitment and ability to implement the program fully. The application must describe for each accreditation standard the program's:

  • anticipated plan for development of the program and its current status in that development,
  • schedule for implementation of various aspects of the program, and
  • evidence of progress made towards compliance with all accreditation standards.

CAA established a Standards Compliance Continuum for developing programs, detailing the expected developmental milestones against which the program will be evaluated related to its progress through the candidacy review. The CAA will consider the mission and goals of the new program and how the development plan demonstrates consistency with the stated mission. Once candidacy is awarded, programs will be monitored for continued development and compliance with the accreditation standards through submission of periodic progress reports.

Institutional Conditions for Candidacy Eligibility

To be eligible for candidacy (preaccreditation) review with the CAA, the institution(s) of higher education that house(s) the applicant program must meet the following criteria:

  1. The institution must offer a graduate degree program that is specifically designed to prepare students for entry into independent professional practice as an audiologist or as a speech-language pathologist. Typically, this goal is accomplished by offering an educational program leading to a master's or clinical doctoral degree offered through graduate or professional schools.
  2. The parent institution(s) of the program and the appropriate state or other governing authority must have granted authorization to the program to offer the graduate degree program for which candidacy is sought. The program must provide with the application materials documented evidence that these approvals have been received.
  3. The institution must conduct a comprehensive self-analysis that demonstrates how the program will meet each of the accreditation standards, and the results of this analysis must be documented in the application for candidacy as its development plan. The parent institution of higher education and the appropriate state authority must have approved this plan and must verify the intent to implement it fully. Candidacy status is awarded to programs that voluntarily apply for this status and provide evidence of an achievable development plan and sustainable institutional and professional support.
  4. The institution of higher education within which the applicant audiology and/or speech-language pathology program is housed must hold regional accreditation from one of the following six regional accrediting bodies:
    • Middle States Commission on Higher Education, Middle States Association of College and Schools
    • Commission on Institutions of Higher Education, New England Association of Schools and Colleges
    • The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
    • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
    • Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
    • Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, Western Association of Schools and Colleges

An institution that holds a preaccreditation or candidacy status with a regional accreditor does not meet the CAA's eligibility criteria. For programs with components located outside the region of the home campus, the program must verify to the CAA that all locations in which its academic components are housed, including official satellite campuses or consortium entities outside of the United States, are regionally accredited.

Program Conditions for Candidacy Eligibility

1. Candidacy is open to applicant programs that:

  • Are newly developed degree programs, including stand-alone programs or those offered through a consortium AND
  • Have no students currently enrolled

Non-accredited programs that have graduate students currently enrolled are not eligible for candidacy, but may apply directly for initial accreditation with the CAA. The candidacy process is not open to CAA-accredited programs that are adding a new component or mode of education delivery to the program (e.g., distance education, satellite campus, etc.) that would qualify for review under the CAA's Policy on Substantive Changes. A description of that process can be accessed in the CAA Accreditation Manual or by sending an inquiry to

2. A signed application must be submitted to CAA at least 18 months in advance of the proposed student enrollment date. Programs should allow adequate time for CAA's review and comment on the applicant program's development plan. Please note that time frames outlined in this manual are estimated and are dependent on the program's ability to demonstrate readiness to offer the graduate program. Therefore, some programs will take longer than others to advance through CAA's candidacy process.

3. The program and the institution agree to not enroll students into the applicant program until such time that candidacy status has been awarded by the CAA. The program will provide evidence upon submission of its candidacy application that it fully understands that failure to comply with this condition shall result in: a) termination of the candidacy review by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology without a final decision being made; and b) ineligibility as a candidate applicant. The program may retain its eligibility for CAA accreditation, but would be afforded opportunity to apply only for initial accreditation with the CAA.

The CAA enacted this policy to protect students who are initiating their program of professional study in good faith that a program holds an accreditation status with the CAA, thereby ensuring students' eligibility for state and national professional credentials.

Program Designation

A program meeting the requirements for candidacy shall be designated as an Accreditation Candidate and be included on all lists of accredited and candidate programs published by the CAA.

Candidacy Term

Candidacy may be held for no longer than 5 years. The term commences on the first day of the month in which the CAA's decision is rendered. Candidacy cannot be renewed or extended.

Conditions to Maintain Candidacy Status

Once candidacy status has been awarded, the program must submit annual progress reports to demonstrate continued and progressive compliance with standards, including appropriate supporting documentation, in accordance with the Standards Compliance Continuum.

In addition, continuation of candidacy is dependent upon timely payment of annual fees, as described below.

Candidacy Fees

A non-refundable application fee must be submitted with the program's application for candidacy status. The application fee affords the program participation in the application readiness (Level I) and submission (Level II) processes, as describe below and within the specified time period.

Programs will be invoiced separately for the site visit fee after the conduct of the candidacy site visit (Level II).

Once candidacy is awarded, programs must submit an annual fee. Continuation of candidacy is dependent upon timely payment of annual fees. Information regarding the current fee schedule is available on ASHA's Web site and from the ASHA Accreditation Office.

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