Job opportunities for audiologists will grow at a faster rate than most occupations through 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Audiologists diagnose and ameliorate hearing and balance difficulties, often in conjunction with speech-language pathologists. An audiology degree, or Au.D., is a professional doctorate that includes demanding course work and experience.
Since the Au.D. is a professional degree, applicants for programs must possess a background in audiology. Applicants must usually obtain a master's degree in audiology or certification from a state or national board such as the American Board of Audiology, sometimes both. Many programs demand work experience. For instance, A.T. Still University requires four years of work experience beyond the master's degree. Transcripts, personal statements and letters of recommendation round out required materials, and they should emphasize the applicant's ability to succeed not only in the doctoral-level work but in an online program that typically has less direct supervision and more computer use.
Course Work Needed
The time needed to complete an online audiology degree varies, but students typically finish between 18 and 30 months after starting the program. Classes include evaluation and treatment concepts with titles like Principles of Public Health, Audiologic Assessment in a Medical Setting, Balance Disorders: Evaluation and Treatment, Infection Control and Cochlear Implants. The emotional and psychological aspects of patient care are addressed in classes such as Counseling Individuals with Hearing Losses and Audiological Counseling. Other concepts cover the business end, such as Business and Professional Issues in Hearing Health Care, Legal Aspects of Practice and Ethics. Students learn material through Internet, chat, video and virtual clinic work.
Some online audiology programs include no residency requirements. For instance, the University of Florida's program utilizes a network of regional experts and professional organizations to oversee students outside Florida. However, UF students do take courses at proctored locations. ATSU, on the other hand, offers tests and all courses online, but students must attend the graduation ceremony upon completion of the program. Even though students may never set foot on the campus, the degrees awarded have the same accreditation, credential and backing as a traditional Au.D.
Adding the professional Au.D. degree opens more occupational opportunities for better pay. States may soon require audiologists to obtain a doctoral degree instead of the master's currently needed in some areas. UF emphasizes their program costs less than many other programs, resulting in a clear monetary gain for online students. These online programs allow students to take part in discussions with colleagues and experts, view lectures at their leisure, gain individualized educational experience and create networking opportunities.
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