Independent Study

Individualize your learning experience through independent study. Create a learning experience that meets your professional needs and earn ASHA CEUs!

What is an Independent Study?

It is an educational experience to enhance your skills and knowledge in an area relevant to the field of communication sciences and disorders.

You develop an educational plan, fill out an Independent Study Participant Worksheet [PDF] and submit it to an ASHA Approved Independent Study Provider who is responsible for reviewing, monitoring, and registering your plan with ASHA CE. You must be eligible to earn ASHA CEUs. 

Independent study (IS) plans could include the following educational experiences: course design/instruction, research/publication or literature review. There are many types of independent study. However, all independent study activities must adhere to the same ASHA Continuing Education Board principles for developing professional courses.

Namely, the learner should:

  • Base his/her learning activity on an identified need (e.g., I need to perform a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing [FEES] at my job and don't know how to do one).
  • Develop individualized learning outcomes (e.g., As a result of my independent study activity, I will be able to identify the instrumentation necessary to perform a FEES, list the risk factors involved in conducting a FEES, assess a patient's candidacy for use of FEES as a diagnostic tool, and perform a FEES with 100% accuracy).
  • Have a mechanism to determine satisfactory completion of the learning activity (i.e. demonstration of new skill, tests, activity logs, certificate of completion.)
  • Evaluate the program upon completion (e.g., what would you do differently? what would you repeat?)

Independent study plans are limited to twenty hours or 2.0 ASHA CEUs per plan. However, ASHA Independent Study Providers can file an unlimited number of IS plans with the ASHA CE Registry on a learner's behalf. For example, your IS plan involves both research for and development of a new graduate level course and the time devoted to completing this plan exceeds 20 hours. In order to get full credit, you could split the learning activities into two or more IS plans.  

Steps for Developing and Filing an Independent Study Plan

  1. Complete the Independent Study Participant Worksheet [PDF] provided on the website. This form will assist you in developing your Independent Study Course Plan and prepare you to meet with the ASHA Approved Independent Study Provider. Independent Study plans must be completed by December 31st of the year they were started. If your Independent Study plan runs into another calendar year, you will need to work with the ASHA Approved Independent Study Provider to develop a separate plan for the next year.

  2. Contact an ASHA Approved Independent Study Provider to see if they would be available to oversee and register your IS plan. The provider can be chosen from any state or country. You must contact the ASHA Continuing Education (CE) Administrator for the Approved Independent Study Provider and have the plan approved before beginning your IS plan. ASHA continuing education units (CEUs) cannot be awarded retroactively. 

  3. Provider agrees to monitor your Independent Study. After a discussion and review of your Independent Study Participant Worksheet [PDF], the ASHA CE Administrator will indicate whether he/she will assist in the learning experience. Independent Study Providers may charge participants a fee to monitor the Independent Study activity. Be sure to inquire about the Provider's specific procedures and policies related to Independent Study, including fees and the refund policies.

    Please Note: Some Independent Study Providers limit the number of plans that they will monitor each year. Others accept plans only for members/staff in their organization. Providers have the right to refuse to accept an Independent Study. They cannot accept an Independent Study plan that does not meet Continuing Education Board (CEB) requirements or one that is currently underway or completed. 

  4. Complete steps on the Independent Study Participant Worksheet [PDF] to plan the Independent Study. Your learning experience must be related to the sciences as they pertain to audiology; speech-language pathology; speech, language, and hearing sciences; and/or the contemporary practice of audiology and speech-language pathology. The content and instructional level must be beyond that required for initial certification by ASHA in the professions and must contribute to the acquisition of new skills and knowledge.

  5. Finalize and sign the plan. Once you have agreed on a plan with the guidance of the Independent Study Provider, you and the ASHA CE Administrator should document your agreement by signing and dating the Independent Study Participant Worksheet. Each party should keep a copy of the signed form for his/her records. 

  6. Create a time log [PDF] of your IS activities. Keeping an accurate record of the time spent on your independent study is critical for determining the number of CEUs to award for your coursework. (You may earn up to 2.0 [20 hours] ASHA CEUs for an Independent Study plan. Coursework must be completed within the same calendar year) Provide the log to the ASHA CE Administrator when verifying your completion of the Independent Study plan.

  7. Complete Independent Study experience. Immediately following the completion of the experience, submit to the Independent Study Provider all documentation verifying satisfactory completion and related information. The ASHA CE Administrator for the  Independent Study Provider verifies satisfactory completion and, if all requirements are met, approves the Independent Study activity.

    Note: As outlined in the plan, it is the participant’s responsibility to contact the Provider upon successful completion of the activity. 

  8. Independent Study Provider forwards completed plan to the ASHA CE Registry. The ASHA CE Administrator for the Independent Study Provider completes the Online Course and Offering Registration System, attaches your Independent Study Participant Worksheet, your time log, and sends the plan to the ASHA CE Registry. The plan must reach the Registry no more than 45 days after the end date of the Independent Study. 

  9. Pay the annual ASHA CE Registry fee. To earn ASHA CEUs for your Independent Study, you must pay the annual ASHA CE Registry fee for the year in which your Independent Study was completed. The ASHA CEUs earned for the Independent Study will be posted on your transcript for the year in which it was completed. You are entitled to one free transcript each time you pay the annual ASHA CE Registry fee. 

  10. ASHA CE Staff reviews the Independent Study plan and determines if the plan meets CEB requirements. Additional information from you and/or the ASHA CE Administrator may be requested. The Independent Study plan cannot be registered for CEUs until CEB requirements are met.

  11. Once the ASHA CE Staff registers the Independent Study Course for ASHA CEUs, your Independent Study Provider receives confirmation and it will be recorded on your transcript. If you wish to order a transcript, go to the Transcript Request Form for next steps. Your transcript will reflect the title of your Independent Study, description, Independent Study Provider, course completion date, and number of CEUs earned.

  12. If you have questions that the Independent Study Provider cannot answer, please contact ASHA CE staff or call 301-296-8591.

Types of Independent Study Activities

Activities That Are Suitable for Independent Study

Examples of Independent Study activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

Traditional Independent Study (IS). Develop an IS plan encompassing a variety of activities, all contributing to achieving the desired learning outcomes under the direction of an ASHA Approved Independent Study Provider (e.g. reading journal articles, observing a master clinician, reviewing case files, an internship/hands-on experience). These experiences might culminate with the learner writing a critical review of the experience, including how participant will incorporate newly acquired skills and knowledge into practice.

Continuing education (CE) activities offered by an organization that is not an ASHA Approved CE Provider. Attend activity offered by an organization that is not an ASHA Approved CE Provider and write a critical review of the experience including ways in which newly acquired skills and knowledge will be incorporated into practice.

Course design and instruction. Develop and present information of clinical significance to a group of peers, allied professionals, and/or laypersons (speech, course, presentation).

Research and publication. Design, implement, and report a study relevant to human communication and disorders.

Journal and/or study groups. Meet with one or more persons at specified times to discuss pre-assigned relevant materials.

Audiotape and/or videotape instruction. Review tapes and write a critical review including ways the newly acquired skills/knowledge will be incorporated into practice. Some ASHA Approved CE Providers offer pre-packaged audio and video offerings (self-studies) for ASHA CEUs. However, if a pre-packaged self-study pertinent to the professions is not offered for ASHA CEUs, the learner can use those materials and along with an ASHA Approved IS Provider develop an IS plan around the use and successful completion of those materials.

Clinical case studies/record review. Select individuals from clinical service files to analyze and produce a final report to be reviewed by the ASHA Approved CE Provider and/or a group of peers that offers a critique of the assessment, recommendations, intervention plan, counseling, and follow-up procedures. The report could include documentation and/or justification from the literature.

Literature review. Review literature on a specified topic and submit a written summary. Consider including critical comments and a plan for incorporating the acquired information into practice.

Professional visitation. Identify experts or master clinicians, and arrange to visit and observe them in their clinical setting. Develop a written report summarizing the experience and describe how the information will impact the delivery of clinical services in the work setting.

Internship. Commit to a period of time working with colleagues who have special skills that would benefit the learner in his/her employment setting.

Other. Devise and implement an Independent Study plan that does not fit any of the above categories under the direction of an ASHA Approved IS Provider.

Activities Unsuitable for Independent Study

Independent Study may not be used in the following situations:

Provider-initiated activities. Independent Study cannot be used to offer participants CEUs for a group activity offered by an ASHA Approved CE Provider. If a Provider fails to file an activity within the 7-day pre-activity filing deadline, Independent Study cannot be used as a substitute to offer ASHA CEUs to participants in the activity.

Cooperative CE offerings. ASHA Approved CE Providers should not offer Independent Study services for activities that should have been conducted as cooperative CE offerings or as Provider-initiated activities. Independent Study should not be used to offer CEUs to groups of participants in activities. Organizations that are not ASHA Approved CE Providers but want to offer ASHA CEUs to participants in their continuing education activities should (a) seek a Provider with whom to conduct a cooperative CE offering or (b) apply to be an ASHA Approved CE Provider.

Activities initiated by ASHA CE administrator through ASHA Approved CE Provider. The ASHA CE administrator of the ASHA Approved CE Provider has oversight and is responsible for planning, monitoring, and approving Independent Studies, it would represent a conflict of interest for the ASHA CE administrator to both offer and earn ASHA CEUs for his/her Independent Study. ASHA CE administrators may participate in Independent Study, but they must do so through another ASHA Approved CE Provider and ASHA CE administrator.

By groups. It is inappropriate to use Independent Study to offer ASHA CEUs for a group of learners. Independent Study is intended for an individual's specific learning needs. Even if several participants engage in similar Independent Study endeavors, each participant must have a separate original plan with learning outcomes specific to what that participant will be able to demonstrate as a result of the experience. The CEB will reject plans that appear to be created for groups of learners or that are duplicates. Group activities should be filed as a cooperative CE offering or as a Provider-initiated activity.

For other activities not appropriate for ASHA CEUs. The Independent Study activity must relate to the science or practice of speech-language pathology and/or audiology. For additional information, see Activities for Which ASHA CEUs are Not Intended.

Independent Study vs. Self-Study

Self-study and independent study, two ways for individuals to continue their professional education, are gaining widespread popularity. Outlined below are their similarities and differences.

Self-Study Independent Study
Self-study materials offered for ASHA CEUs are: Independent study plans that qualify for ASHA CEUs are:
Prepackaged continuing education products that have been planned and evaluated by an ASHA Approved CE Provider.  Planned and initiated by the learner with the assistance and approval of an ASHA CE Provider designated as an Independent Study Provider.
Intended for use by an individual learner, but developed for, and marketed to, a large audience of potential users. Are intended for the individual learner who plans and undertakes a unique learning experience to meet personal learning needs.
Typically in a fixed format (e.g., tapes, videos, journals). Made up of materials and learning formats of the learner's choice (subject to approval by the Independent Study Provider).
Offered by the ASHA CE Provider for a fixed period of time (e.g., 12 months, 3 years), to be completed by the learner according to his/her own schedule. The instructions for earning ASHA CEUs should specify the date by which documentation regarding course completion (e.g., exam, coursework) is due back to the Provider and the date by which the learner can expect his/her ASHA CE Registry record to reflect participation in the self-study course. Scheduled by the learner and Independent Study Provider. Must be completed in the same calendar year and should not exceed 12 consecutive months. The Independent Study Provider files the Independent Study plan no more than 45 days after the learner has completed the learning activity.
Subject to a pre-assigned ASHA CEU limit that reflects the average time a sample group of learners took to complete the self-study. Users of the self-study materials typically may not deviate from the self-study format and can earn only the amount of ASHA CEUs assigned that self-study. Limited to 2.0 ASHA CEUs per Independent Study plan. However, there is no limit to the number of plans that can be submitted to the ASHA CE Registry on a learner's behalf. The number of ASHA CEUs that will be awarded for the Independent Study activity is subject to negotiation between the learner and the Independent Study Provider.

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