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Certification Standards for Speech-Language Pathology Frequently Asked Questions: Course Work/Knowledge Areas

How much course work must be completed?

Applicants for certification in speech-language pathology must have completed a program of study—a minimum of 36 semester credit hours at the graduate level—that addresses the knowledge and skills pertinent to the ASHA Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology.

What prerequisite courses are required for certification?

Prerequisite coursework in statistics and in the biological, physical, social/behavioral sciences must have been completed. Program directors must evaluate course descriptions or syllabi to determine if the content provides foundational knowledge in physics or chemistry. Physical science must be met through chemistry or physics only, as a broad understanding of principles in both chemistry and physics is directly applicable to many clinical domains in speech-language pathology. Program directors from programs accredited by the CAA have the authority to accept or reject any previously-completed coursework. Prerequisite coursework cannot be related to communication sciences and disorders unless it fulfills a university requirement or is labeled as a “general education” class and is available to non-majors.

What professional area courses are required in speech-language pathology?

Under the 2020 standards, the emphasis is on the acquisition of knowledge and skills, not on the completion of specific course work. A graduate program is required to periodically assess the student's acquisition of knowledge and skills as listed in Standard IV and V, and the program determines which courses will permit acquisition of the mandated knowledge and skills.

How will the program director know that I have acquired the needed knowledge and skills?

Each academic program determines the specific student learning outcomes and mechanisms they will use to assess students' acquisition of knowledge and skills. The CFCC expects that programs will use a variety of mechanisms (e.g., performance on exams, submitted papers, performance in clinic) and will make these assessments on an on-going basis.

If a student receives a passing grade in a course, won't that indicate that he or she has gained a particular knowledge or skill?

It may, but a grade won't tell the CFCC which knowledge or skill has been mastered. Knowledge may be gained in more than one area through completion of a course. The CFCC is relying on the academic and clinical instructors/supervisors to assess which knowledge and skills have been achieved and how they have been achieved.

Is there a requirement for a certain number of courses or semester hours in speech disorders or language disorders?

No. Beyond the prerequisite courses noted earlier, there are no specific courses in speech-language pathology required for certification; however, graduate programs may have requirements for course work that are above those required for ASHA certification and that is their prerogative. Additionally, individual state licensure boards may have requirements different from ASHA certification requirements and it may be necessary for applicants to provide a breakdown of courses and practicum hours to satisfy those licensure requirements.

In several of the standards there are the phrases "the applicant must have demonstrated knowledge" and "must have demonstrated skills." How will a student demonstrate knowledge?

The individual graduate programs have developed mechanisms for assessing the demonstration of the knowledge and skills outcomes listed in the standards. Their verification, via completion of the "Verification by Program Director" section of the certification application, will be sufficient documentation to the CFCC that the applicant has met the requirements.

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