As discussed in last week’s Hearing International, most audiologists in the United States have taken advantage of the new Doctor of Audiology (Au.D.) programs. While in the early 1990s only about 3% of audiologists were at the Doctoral level, today the majority of audiologists have a doctorate. While most residential audiology programs in the US have modified their curriculum and the degree offered to the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) and many accept international students, residential programs require the student’s actual presence on campus to attend classes and to conduct clinical practicum. However, there are still three distance learning programs where audiologists who already hold a master’s degree can earn an Au.D. degree without being in residence on campus. These programs are Nova South Eastern University in Fort Lauderdale, FL; the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, and the AT Still University at the Arizona School of Health Sciences, Mesa, Arizona. In these programs, technology for delivery of courses abounds. The use of digital technologies to support the education of adult learners extends educational opportunities to reach new groups of students, including students in other countries. The thoughtful integration of digital technologies into the traditional scheme of audiology education and their use in developing new learning techniques ensures that doctoral level students have the tools to thrive in a complex and rapidly changing technological profession. Digital technologies for learning, such as self-paced learning modules, multimedia case studies, simulations, video tutorials, and communications and assessment tools, can increase the choice of eucational opportunities for adult students and their professors. The faculty available to students in these three online distance learning programs include some of the world’s top audiology clinicians and researchers.
The specific requirements for admission to these international distance learning programs vary from one program to another, but they all require students to have a Master’s Degree in audiology and be able to prove they are practicing audiologists in the country where they reside. For example, AT Still University requires applicants to their distance learning program to have at least four years of clinical experience on top of a master’s degree in audiology. The University of Florida’s transitional program for international students requires a master’s degree in Audiology, Audiology licensure or certification (US State, ASHA, ABA or its international equivalent), and one full year of post-master’s work experience. Nova Southeastern primarily offers their program in the UK, and their admission requirements are an official transcript indicating conferral of a master’s degree in audiology by a regionally accredited institution, a vita documenting professional experiences and continuing education activities, professional affiliations, publications, and/or presentations. Certification and licensure requirements vary from one country to another so it is best to contact the particular school of interest before applying for admission. For example, in the U.K. you are required to hold a four-year bachelor of science (BSc) in audiology although masters of science (MSc) courses are also offered for those who hold a BSc in another field. To become certified to practice in Canada or Australia, an MSc in audiology is required.
English Competency Requirements
Since the programs are offered in English, they are more easily available in English speaking countries such as, Canada, Australia, India, UK, South Africa, and others. Students may know English and reside in a non-English speaking country. These audiologists are often welcomed into these programs, but they may have to provide Tofel
(or equivalent) scores to show that they can understand English well enough to be admitted and participate effectively in the program.
Certification Upon Completion of the Program
When the program is completed it can usually certify that the student has achieved an academic credential. While most of
the international Au.D. students are practicing in their respective countries, the program cannot verify their clinical competence. At the University of Florida, for example, this is disclosed during the application process in the statement: The University of Florida Doctor of Audiology Distance Learning Program provides an academic credential to transition masters-level audiologists to doctoral-level audiologists. Students admitted to the program are practicing audiologists in their country of residence. As such, students entering the program have obtained their clinical skills in audiology through masters-level practicum experiences and a year of post-masters work experience. The program director of the University of Florida Distance Learning program can attest to the satisfactory completion of academic coursework received during enrollment in the University of Florida Distance Learning Doctor of Audiology program. The program director cannot attest to the satisfactory completion of clinical practicum skills received during a student’s master’s degree program and will not verify or approve clinical credentials during any licensure or certification application in any country.
Thus, for international students most of the programs are unable to certify clinical competence so these students need to check with their various certification agencies, either US or international, as to their requirements.