Academic Program Capacity Building in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology

Information and Resources That May Facilitate Increases in Enrollment Capacity

This resource addresses student enrollment, only one of the multiple challenges inherent in successfully building and maintaining sufficient capacity to meet current and projected demand for the professions. It was developed primarily to support academic programs in their efforts to build graduate education enrollment for the professional pipeline and features both current trends and successful strategies for capacity building.

Table of Contents


Efforts to develop this resource were undertaken as part of ASHA's Strategic Pathway to Excellence Strategic Objective 4: Increase the Number, Diversity, and Cultural Competence of the Membership; and Strategic Initiative 2: Develop and Disseminate Information and Resources to Academic Programs That May Facilitate Increases in Enrollment Capacity.

Team Members

  • Loretta Nunez, Director of Academic Affairs (team leader)
  • Eileen Crowe, Director, State Association Relations
  • Tess Kirsch, Associate Director of Accreditation for Policy & Education
  • Silvia Quevedo, Associate Director of Academic Affairs
  • Neil Snyder, Director of Federal Advocacy

Framing the Issue

Building capacity for the long term in audiology and speech-language pathology (SLP) requires a comprehensive approach involving multiple stakeholders such as academic programs, employers, practitioners willing to mentor others, credentialing bodies, and state associations. A multifaceted approach is required because of the diversity of factors thought to contribute to personnel shortages in the professions.

Reasons that have been cited for persistent personnel shortages in health care and educational settings (both school-based and higher education settings) include the following:

  • A shortage of PhD level faculty, which limits the number of students who can be admitted into the requisite graduate level degree programs for entry into the professions. 4 7 8 10
  • Not enough clinical placement sites along with too few practitioners skilled in clinical education or precepting who are available to provide practicum experiences for students. 4 9
  • Perceived restrictions within accreditation standards thought to limit the development of innovative and flexible education models in communication sciences and disorders. 4 9
  • Reported low salary levels or working conditions that may have a negative impact on recruitment and retention of qualified personnel. 1 2 3 4 6
  • A lack of mentoring and professional development in the workplace that serves to foster retention and career development for audiologists and speech-language pathologists. 1 2 3 6

ASHA, academic programs, state associations and others have been working to address many of the issues cited above through a variety of means. This resource, however, specifically focuses on the strategies and successes associated with academic program capacity building and the resources in place to support academic programs in such endeavors.


Team members used these ASHA sources for reference.

Existing Academic Program Capacity Data

Data regarding academic program capacity should be considered in the context of a continuum for personnel preparation. A gap or bottleneck in any part of this continuum can result in a shortage of individuals entering the profession to eventually meet the workforce recruitment demands. Major points along the personnel preparation continuum are:

  • Size of the undergraduate student pool majoring in communication sciences and disorders or related fields
  • Total number of students applying to graduate programs in the professions
  • Total number of qualified students offered admission versus the number of qualified students denied admission
  • Total number of students enrolled in a graduate program
  • Total time to degree completion
  • Total number of graduates
  • First employment setting

As academic programs continue to provide data about capacity for new admissions along with other important data about enrollment, graduation, and first employment, trends can be identified to inform successful strategies for personnel preparation that meet workforce demands.

Reported Capacity Data for Entry Level Programs

Academic programs completing the CSD Education Survey for academic year 2013–2014 were asked to provide data on capacity for new admissions as well as the number of students enrolled in the academic program. Calculations were made to determine capacity by comparing number of available openings reported ("capacity for new admissions") and the actual number of students enrolled in the program. The intent of the questions is to gauge capacity for new students entering the program, but not to determine possible causes of not meeting or exceeding capacity for new admissions at the entry level degree program.

Speech-Language Pathology Program Capacity

Data collected from 243 of the 260 institutions offering speech-language pathology (SLP) programs (93%) via the CSD Education Survey showed in aggregate:

  • academic programs were enrolling at 101% of capacity
  • mean of capacity for admissions was 32
  • median capacity for admissions was 28

Audiology Program Capacity

Data collected from 70 of 75 institutions offering audiology clinical entry-level degree programs (93%) via the CSD Education Survey indicated in aggregate:

  • academic programs were enrolling at 97% of capacity for admissions
  • mean capacity for admissions was 11
  • median capacity for admissions was 10

Reported Graduation for Entry Level Programs

Additional data from the CSD Education Survey report for academic year 2013–2014 includes number of graduates and data on primary first employment setting for SLP and audiology entry level programs. These additional data serve to further inform the supply of clinicians.

  • 7,237 graduate degrees granted among the 243 SLP master's programs reporting data
  • 568 clinical entry-level audiology degrees (e.g., AuD) granted among the 70 audiology entry-level degree programs reporting data

Access the full report of data from the CSD Education Survey.

Featured Examples of Successful Capacity Building

Academic programs, in collaboration with other stakeholders, have been attempting to increase capacity for a number of years. The approaches that have been undertaken to achieve greater capacity can be classified within the following six categories:

  • Combined degree programs (e.g., BA/MA, BA/PhD, AuD/PhD)
  • Consortium (e.g., degree programs offered as a result of institutional partnerships)
  • Distance education
  • Partnerships across programs (e.g., collaborations across disciplines)
  • Partnerships with local education agencies (LEAs)
  • Funding to support personnel preparation

Specific examples of approaches successfully implemented by academic programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) are highlighted below, and are provided to serve as models.

Building Academic Program Capacity with Innovative Clinical Education Models [PDF]
This 2010 ASHA presentation features innovative clinical education models at Kent State University, James Madison University and University of South Carolina.

University of Cincinnati, University of Washington, Vanderbilt University: Successful Models of Academic Program Capacity Building in Audiology & Speech-Language Pathology [PDF]
A presentation highlighting three programs and their successful models of capacity building from the 2010 Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CAPCSD) conference proceedings.

University of Cincinnati's Innovative Approach to PhD Education
The University of Cincinnati received a grant through an ASHA-sponsored competition for innovative academic programs to recruit and educate doctoral students who will enter academia.

Capacity Building Resources for Academic Programs

The following resources are available to academic programs to support their efforts toward expanding academic program capacity for graduate student enrollment.

Other ASHA Resources and Initiatives Addressing Personnel Shortages

ASHA has also engaged in initiatives to address other contributing factors impacting capacity for the professions across work settings.


American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (n.d.). Barriers/challenges to successful recruitment and retention. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2015). Supply and demand resource list for speech-language pathologists resource list. Retrieved March 27, 2015, from [PDF]

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2006b). Personnel issues in education: Recruitment and retention of qualified speech-language pathologists in the public schools. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2007). Speech-Language Pathology Education Summit proceedings. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from [PDF].

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2008). Academic Capacity: Focus Group Report. (Available from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, 2200 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD 20850).

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders. (n.d.). PhD program survey results: 2002-executive summary. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Council of Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders. (2008). Report of the 2008 Joint Ad Hoc Committee on PhD Shortages in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Retrieved May 14, 2009, from [PDF].

Audiology Education Summit II: Strengthening partnerships in clinical education-conference report. (2006). Retrieved May 14, 2009, from

Forum on Strategizing Solutions to Personnel Shortages in Speech-Language Pathology. (September, 2006). Retrieved May 14, 2009 from

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