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Guidelines for the Clinical Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology

About this Document

This document is an official policy of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and was prepared by the Ad Hoc Committee on Guidelines for the Clinical Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology (GCD-SLP). This document was approved by the Board of Directors in August 2015.

The Guidelines were developed to provide counsel to academic programs offering or planning to offer a post-entry level clinical doctoral degree program in speech-language pathology and to provide guidance to students who will consider pursuing this degree.

The clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology is an advanced clinical practice degree that is distinct from the entry-level master's degree in speech-language pathology as well as the research PhD. This degree is intended to prepare speech-language pathologists to assume advanced professional roles—such as master clinician, clinical educator, clinical administrator, or leader in a clinical setting or area of specialization—or to serve as collaborators and supporters of clinical research. Students entering a post-entry-level clinical doctoral program are expected to have earned the master's degree and hold or qualify for the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP), awarded by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) of ASHA.

View the Guidelines for the Clinical Doctorate in Speech-Language Pathology policy document.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is ASHA developing these Guidelines?

Interest in advanced clinical practice degrees has been increasing. Program directors requested that ASHA provide guidance to academic programs interested in developing post-entry level clinical doctoral programs in speech-language pathology.

Will these post entry level clinical doctoral programs in speech-language pathology be eligible for accreditation?

The Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) currently accredits only entry level graduate programs in speech-language pathology (i.e., master's degree programs).

How is this degree distinct from the entry level master's degree?

In contrast to the broad-based education in entry-level programs, this is a doctoral degree that supports advanced clinical practice and opportunities for specialization.

How is this degree distinct from a PhD?

The clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology is intended to prepare speech-language pathologists to assume advanced clinical roles. The PhD degree prepares individuals for a career in research and teaching.

How is this degree distinct from clinical specialty certification?

The clinical doctorate in speech-language pathology is an advanced clinical degree offered by an academic institution. Clinical specialty certification is a credential to recognize experience and expertise in a specific clinical specialty area and enables the individual to be identified by colleagues, employers, referral and payer sources, and the general public as a Board Certified Specialist (BCS) in a specific area of clinical practice.

Will this degree allow me to be eligible to obtain the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP)?

No. The guidelines indicate that students entering the programs should already hold or qualify for the CCC-SLP.

Can this program be designed to be offered and completed solely online?

The guidelines indicate that the curriculum may be delivered via multiple modalities (e.g., residential, synchronous and asynchronous distance) to reflect the program's mission and goals, faculty expertise, and areas of clinical specialization. Regardless of the mode of education delivery, these guidelines reflect the expectation that the program faculty maintain oversight and mentoring responsibilities.

Do the Guidelines recommend the use of a specific degree designator?

The degree designator typically is determined by institutional and/or state licensing bodies. It is recommended that, where possible, the designator Doctor of Speech-Language Pathology (SLPD) be used. Identifying one primary degree designator should help to promote consistency across programs and reduce confusion for both the public and potential students. In addition, the SLPD designator also serves to highlight that this is specifically a speech-language pathology degree and not a more broadly based clinical or science degree. This recommendation is not intended to devalue existing degrees that use an alternative designator (e.g., CScD, DSLP).

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