Capstone certificate program opens new possibilities

Clinical training programs depend on undergraduate programs to establish the knowledge base on which graduate speech-language pathology or Au.D. training can be built. Many SLP and Au.D. graduate students come to us with an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders, but we have always trained graduate students whose undergraduate degrees were in other fields.

Not so long ago, we admitted such students with outstanding undergraduate credentials in fields such as psychology, linguistics, English literature, and physiology (to name a few) to our graduate, clinical training programs with the understanding that their first year as a graduate student would involve no clinical training, but rather a sequence of courses from our undergraduate major curriculum. Many of these students finished their “make-up” year with flying academic colors, and over the next two years flourished in the graduate training program.

A little more recently, we stopped admitting these students to our graduate training programs until they obtained the relevant undergraduate coursework. Students were encouraged to demonstrate their facility with our undergraduate requirements and include their course credentials as part of their application materials.

Beginning in 2011, we developed and proposed a formal program for people with undergraduate degrees in fields other than communication sciences and disorders, and who wanted to pursue clinical training in SLP or Au.D. The capstone program includes 24 credits from our undergraduate course sequence and, when successfully completed, grants a certificate that attests to the student’s readiness for graduate, clinical training in our field.

There are a few online programs available from universities around the country, offering the same kind of course sequence for this cohort of post-baccalaureate students. We believe, though, that our on-site program offers a superior alternative to online courses. Why? One reason is our capstone students get to know — in person — our faculty who teach these courses. When these students demonstrate first-rate academic performance, they place themselves in good position to request letters of recommendation, which are an integral component of the application to graduate school. Another reason is students taught in the classroom can learn a lot from the “live” give-and-take of classroom talk; our instructors encourage questions, and encourage students to work through “live” classroom problems quickly and thoughtfully.

If you know someone who has a bachelor’s degree but is considering a career path in communication sciences and disorders, have them check out our capstone certificate program!