5 Tips for Deciding Which Graduate Program to Attend

You got accepted to more than one university for your graduate program—way to go! But weighing the pros and cons about which program to attend can be overwhelming.

There are a number of variables to consider, but keep in mind these 5 tips as you decide on the best option for you—from members of the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA).

1. Know Your Boundaries In Terms of Geography and Budget

This is important! Understanding what’s realistic for you in terms of program location and affordability (program cost, scholarship availability, loan implications, etc.) ensures that you don’t set your sights on a program that isn’t ultimately the best choice for your lifestyle.   

2. Envision What You’ll Be Doing as a Certified AuD or SLP

During your graduate program, you’ll have opportunities to learn about and work with a variety of clinical populations and age groups in different practice settings.

  • Do you have an affinity for working with certain ages or in certain communities? You may need to delve a little deeper into the programs’ information to see if they match your goals.
  • Look at the areas of expertise of the faculty. This will make a difference in terms of research and clinic opportunities. If you’re really passionate about a certain population or area of practice, pick a program with a faculty member who has expertise in that area.
  • Consider the clinical aspects of the program. Is there an “on campus” clinic with core clinical faculty to guide you in your clinical growth? Does the program rely on experienced volunteers in the community to supervise? Consider the clinical placement opportunities the program may offer to serve the clinical populations that are in your areas of interest.
  • Be sure to check out each program’s website and the information that they’ve provided on ASHA’s EdFind.

3. Research How Courses Will Be Offered and Expectations For Being On-Campus

Understanding your optimal environment for learning is a key consideration. Programs offer on-campus courses with face-to-face instruction, may be online with synchronous or asynchronous format, or a hybrid of on-campus and online instruction and engagement. Even if a program is offered as an online program, you may still be required to be on campus periodically.

4. Verify Accreditation Status, Including “Candidates for Accreditation” Programs

The CAA accredits graduate programs that prepare students to enter the professions. With 80 audiology programs and more than 290 SLP programs to choose from across the U.S., it’s critical to verify the accreditation status of the programs you are considering.

Students who enroll in a program while it’s in candidacy still earn a graduate degree and are still eligible to apply for the ASHA Certificate for Clinical Competence (CCC) and state credentials—even if the program has not yet achieved accreditation at the time the student graduates. Graduates would need to complete all of the requirements to earn those credentials, such as passing the Praxis exam, in addition to earning the degree. You should consult with ASHA’s certification team if you have questions about the application process for the CCC.

Additionally, review the licensure or teacher certification requirements for the state(s) you expect to work in to ensure understanding of their processes for applying for credentials once you complete the degree. There are links to state licensure and teacher certification information on the ASHA website for reference. 

5. Reflect On the Statement:
“I Can See Myself Here—In This Community, On This Campus, In This Clinic.”

Get a sense of the program and campus community. Meet every faculty member possible—virtually, by email, or in person. Ask specific questions that weren’t addressed on their website and tour their facilities. Begin to get a sense of departmental culture, faculty responsiveness, and support for and interest in students to get a feeling about how you’ll realize your goals as part of this program.

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