The Doctor of Audiology degree, or AudD, is a clinical doctorate degree awarded to students who have completed an audiology graduate program and intend to go into clinical work in the United States. This degree is now the basic degree for clinical work for new U.S.-based audiologists. Those audiologists who received master’s degrees before the AudD was created can still work, or they can take classes to obtain a Doctor of Audiology degree if they desire. Getting a Doctor of Audiology degree depends on your current level of education and your ability to find a program that meets the standards necessary for accreditation by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. Note that a program in the United States still might offer a master’s degree concentrating in audiology, but it will not be geared toward preparing students to actually practice as audiologists.
Most AudD programs take four years to complete and are meant for students who do not already have a master’s degree in audiology. A couple of programs are only three years long, but check that these programs are accredited to ensure the degree they issue will be accepted by licensing and certifying agencies. Programs generally consist of three years of classwork and in-school clinic work, and one year of outside clinical experience. Coursework consists of basic audiology and hearing anatomy, basic speech pathology, hearing aid fitting and troubleshooting, hearing and speech science, electrical circuits and systems, auditory rehabilitation, assistive listening devices, pediatric issues, medical issues and other related subfields. Also note that the official names of the programs don’t always include the word “audiology,” instead using variations of “communication disorders,” “speech and hearing sciences” or “communication sciences and disorders.”
Preparation for graduate work in audiology typically involves having an undergraduate degree in communication sciences and disorders or a similarly named field that is specifically meant to provide the background needed to start taking graduate-level courses one you enter a Doctor of Audiology program. Many schools offer students who have different undergraduate degrees the opportunity to spend time at the beginning of the program taking prerequisite courses to catch up before beginning the actual graduate curriculum. Regardless of your undergraduate degree, taking courses in fields such as linguistics and anatomy could help you fulfill part of the prerequisites, though this will of course vary by program and school.
The Doctor of Audiology degree is not a research degree like a PhD. It is not meant to lead into academic research but instead to everyday clinical work in a private practice, hospital, hearing aid dispensary or other medical setting that requires an audiologist. Program requirements regarding research and writing vary by school. Note that getting the degree itself does not automatically grant you a license to work or award you the Certificate of Clinical Competency from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. You will still have to apply for licensure in the state in which you plan to work and take a standardized exam.
Those who already hold a master’s degree and a Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology can upgrade their education and complete additional courses and clinical work to obtain the AudD, but many AudD programs are not set up to bridge the gap from a master’s to a doctorate. Instead, those wishing to update their degree need to find a program specifically designed for that level of education and experience. These programs are often offered through distance-learning courses that allow students to keep their jobs while they obtain the new degree.
The Doctor of Audiology degree is a U.S.-only requirement. Other countries such as Canada and the United Kingdom still use the bachelor’s or master’s degrees as the qualifying degree. American schools that have satellite locations in other countries might offer the AudD for those planning to seek work in the United States.