Entrance requirements for speech and language therapy graduate programs are only one method academic institutions prepare future speech therapists to meet the rigorous certification standards of ASHA. Most also strive to obtain accreditation from the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), another sub-body of the ASHA. This ensures their offerings and requirements will help students obtain personal certification upon graduation.
The CAA looks at six different components of a graduate program during the accreditation process:
For a current list of components used by CAA as part of the accreditation process, please click here. In order to be accredited, a speech and language therapy graduate program must meet or exceed several standards of excellence in each category. For instance, in evaluating administrative structure and governance, schools must demonstrate the following: accreditation from a regional organization, a mission statement demonstrating alignment with the goals of ASHA, a long-term strategic plan, faculty who have some jurisdiction over decisions affecting the program, a full-time program chair, a policy of nondiscrimination, and program materials (both print and web-based) that are up-to-date.
Curriculum standards are the most complex dimension of ASHA accreditation for graduate programs. The CAA requires specific areas of study to be part of any accredited speech and language therapy program; the requirements are too detailed and too lengthy to be repeated here, but can easily be viewed on the ASHA website. Expectations for the other four components are more general. An evaluation of program resources, for example, simply requires facilities (including classrooms and laboratories), finances, and support staff need to be adequate to support the number of students in the program. Similarly, the requirements for faculty are what most people would expect: they must meet ASHA certification standards, maintain their credentials, and be of a sufficient number to meet instructional needs within the department.
Those interested in a career as a speech pathologist should perform their due diligence to ensure they are familiar with the standards of the American Speech Language Hearing Association. The ASHA governs both individual practitioners and the academic environment; it plays an integral and ongoing role in maintaining the standards for speech therapists and speech and language therapy programs.