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Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award


The Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award aims to cultivate student interest in pursuing

  • a research doctorate (PhD) in communication sciences and disorders (CSD) and
  • a career as a faculty-researcher in CSD.

Up to two awards will be dedicated to students attending master’s and baccalaureate universities. In support of ASHA's strategic objectives, preference will be given to those applications that focus the mentored teaching and/or research (including the scholarship of teaching and learning) component on the following.

  • Clinical Practice Research. Clinical practice research in CSD is distinct from research aimed primarily at understanding the mechanisms underlying normal or disordered processing. Rather, it refers to research that focuses on the prevention, diagnostics, treatment, implementation, and outcomes measurement of communication, swallowing, and balance disorders. Clinical practice research, due to its applied nature, has the potential to impact clinical practice in the near term.
  • Diversity/Equity/Inclusion (DEI). DEI topics include bilingualism, multiculturalism, gender identity/sexual orientation, non-mainstream dialects, identifying and addressing racism, and cultural competence, among other topics that promote diversity and cultural competence in the discipline.
  • Implementation Science. "Implementation science is the scientific study of variables and conditions that impact changes at practice, organization, and systems levels; changes that are required to promote the systematic uptake, sustainability and effective use of evidence-based programs and practices in typical service and social settings.” (Blasé & Fixsen, 2010, National Implementation Research Network)
  • Interprofessional Education and Interprofessional Practice (IPE/IPP). ASHA has adapted the World Health Organization's (WHO) definitions of IPE/IPP as follows:
    • IPE occurs when two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve outcomes for individuals and families whom we serve.
    • IPP occurs when multiple service providers from different professional backgrounds provide comprehensive healthcare or educational services by working with individuals and their families, caregivers, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.

Program Benefits and Offerings

The SPARC Award provides unique opportunities by offering the following:

  1. Financial resources ($1,000) to pursue individualized mentored teaching and research activities that are associated with your teaching and research goals.
  2. Structured networking opportunities at the ASHA Convention (e.g., meeting fellow SPARC awardees, attending a reception with participants of ASHA's other research education programs).
  3. Formal recognition on the ASHA website.

Eligibility Requirements

Because the SPARC Award is intended to foster student interest in pursuing a PhD, only those students who have been enrolled in or accepted into the following degree program types are eligible:

  • Undergraduate CSD programs (current juniors and seniors only)
  • Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA)-accredited master’s degree programs in speech-language pathology (accepted students or current 1st year students only)
    • Students admitted to, or enrolled in, master's degree programs in speech-language pathology are eligible to apply as long as they expect to be enrolled for at least 1 full academic year after disbursement of SPARC program funds. For example, students who are in their second year of a 3-year program, after spending their first year taking prerequisite/leveling classes, would be eligible to apply for SPARC.
  • CAA-accredited entry-level clinical doctor of audiology (e.g., AuD) programs (accepted students or current 1st or 2nd year students only)

You are not eligible for the SPARC award if you meet the following exclusionary criteria:

  • Students who have been admitted to, are enrolled in, or have graduated from a doctor of philosophy (PhD) program, including dual-degree programs (e.g., AuD/PhD combined program)
  • Students admitted to or enrolled in a clinical doctoral degree program in speech-language pathology (e.g., SLPD, CScD) 

Participant Requirements

Awardees must be  

  • enrolled in the respective CSD program, full time or part time, for the entire 2021–2022 academic year and
  • National NSSLHA members (at time of disbursement of funds).

Award requirements are as follows:  

  • Awardees are required to report your progress toward the goals specified in the Mentored Teaching and Research Plan through interim and final progress reports.
  • Awardees are also required to request approval (in writing) for any changes to their mentoring plan or budget.
  • Awardees are required to provide updates on scholarly achievements in the years following participation in this program, when requested. These data are critical for future program planning.
  • The award is considered taxable income by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and awardees are required to complete a W-9 form before the award is disbursed. An awardee’s amount will be reported to the IRS on Form 1099, and a copy of the form will be sent to you. ASHA does not provide tax advice. For information about tax information and forms, go to the IRS website.

View current and former SPARC Award recipients.

How to Apply

Applicants must do the following:

  • Complete an online application,
  • Upload required PDF documents,
  • Submit the entire application package by the deadline. 

The 2021 SPARC Award application period opens on February 15, 2021 and closes on April 30, 2021. See the application instructions for details on the required documents and to access the online application system. ASHA will notify applicants in July and will disburse funding to awardees no later than mid-September, 2021.

Applications are reviewed by individuals holding a PhD and who are at the rank of assistant professor or above. Additional requirements may apply.

If you have questions about applying or are interested in serving as a reviewer, contact the Academic Affairs and Research Education team at

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