Students Preparing for Academic-Research Careers (SPARC) Award: Application Instructions

Application Instructions

  1. Access the online application system.
  2. Complete the online application form, uploading all required materials as PDF documents.
  3. Submit the entire application package by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time, April 30, 2024.
  4. Add to your contacts list to ensure that you receive communications regarding your application.

Application Components

The required application package includes the following components:

1. Mentored Teaching and Research Plan (see Sample Goals and Activities)

  • The plan must be composed of mentored activities, including:
    • Minimum of two teaching goals
    • Minimum of two research goals
    • At least one activity for each goal
    • The type and frequency of interaction with your mentor(s)
  • You must have at least one mentor, but you may have up to three. Your mentoring team should be composed of a primary mentor and up to two additional mentors.
    • The primary mentor must be a member of the communication sciences and disorders (CSD) teaching and research faculty at the institution that you will be attending during the 15-month SPARC program period.
    • As part of your Mentored Teaching and Research Plan, list your mentor’s qualifications that will help you reach your goals.
  • The timeline of the plan should be from September 1, 2024, through November 30, 2025.

2. 500-Word Narrative
Respond to this question: "How will the SPARC award help you explore a career as a faculty-researcher in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders (CSD)?" Be sure to include the following:

  • How the SPARC award will support your pursuit of a PhD
  • A brief description of the research topic(s) you plan to explore

3. Recommendation Letter
Submit a letter of recommendation from your primary SPARC mentor, who is a member of the CSD teaching and research faculty at the institution you will be attending during the program period.

4. Mentor Commitment Statement
Submit the commitment statement [PDF], signed by your primary mentor.

5. Budget Proposal for the 15-Month Funding Period

Submit a proposed budget demonstrating how you will use the $1,000 award to achieve your identified teaching and research goals.

  • The timeline of the plan should be from September 1, 2024, through November 30, 2025.
  • The 15-month time frame includes the academic year (September–May), plus additional time for achievement of goals (June–November). This enables paper submission and/or attendance at the annual ASHA Convention in November or completion of other delineated goals.

Examples of appropriate expenses include the following:

  • Purchase of necessary supplies for the applicant's teaching and research plan (e.g., books and software)
  • Purchase of electronic devices if they will be specifically used for research tasks and will remain in the mentor’s lab after the completion of the award cycle
  • Payments to research participants
  • Participation in professional development and learning opportunities (e.g., training courses on a topic related to the plan, ASHA Learning Pass, etc.)
  • Registration and/or travel fees to attend the ASHA Convention and/or other relevant conventions, meetings, or conferences
  • Registration and/or travel fees associated with visiting an off-campus site that provides research and/or learning opportunities (e.g., research lab and research seminar)

Funds may not be used for the following:

  • Purchase of personal electronic devices (e.g., laptops, notebooks, computers, cell phones)
  • Payment of an awardee’s salary, stipend, or other form of direct compensation to the awardee
  • Payment of tuition and fees for credit-bearing courses in the awardee's program
  • NSSLHA dues, ASHA dues, or SIG affiliation fees

Selection Process

SPARC applications are reviewed and rated by CSD faculty-researchers who volunteer with ASHA's Academic Affairs and Research Education (AARE) team. Three reviewers evaluate each application and assess the components of the application package. Applications are rated on many variables, such as the following:

  • Feasibility of the plan in light of one's goals and activities
  • Applicant's potential for completing identified goals and activities
  • Applicant's potential for pursuing a faculty-researcher career
  • Content and mechanics (i.e., spelling, grammar, and organization) of the 500-word narrative
  • Details and justification of the proposed budget

Applicants will be notified of their award status in July.

For additional questions, contact ASHA's AARE team at

ASHA Corporate Partners