Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

December 9, 2023

CSD department strives to develop master’s program

Augustana’s communication sciences and disorders program (CSD) is the only undergraduate program in the state of Illinois that offers clinical experience for the students majoring and is trying to undergo accreditation for the future for a master’s program for the speech language pathology path.

According to the Augustana website, the CSD path “prepares students for careers in audiology, speech -language pathology, speech science, hearing science, healthcare, education, sales in clinical and health-related material.”

CSD is a pre-professional program, with a master’s required for speech pathology and a clinical doctorate, called an  audiology doctorate (AUD), is required for audiology. As a way to prepare the students for the program, there is an on-campus clinic, located in the Betsey Brodahl bBuilding, which most undergraduate programs are not accustomed to having at this level, said Associate Professor for the communication sciences and disorders department Allison Haskill.

The students do a full three-term rotation in the clinic and have opportunities to help out in summer services, outside of their internships.

“Our clinic is large; we have a census that hovers around 85 patients per trimester, and our center has been in existence for over 70 years now,” said Haskill.

Students are prepared for the major in a three pronged approach, where they have the clinical aspect that gives them hands-on experience in the field, as well as an academic program, with the last prong being the service component. Currently there are around 100 speech pathology majors, with six aspiring to go into audiology.

The CSD path is very competitive within its own field, said Haskill, as there are an abundance of jobs with very few seats available. She says it is not uncommon to have half of the students get into a graduate program. Like many majors on campus, the program has a grade point average requirement that lets students know ahead of time if they can get into a graduate school.

Sophomores Deja Hartsfield and Gloria Pagan explain how they came across the CSD program.

“Personally I came in undecided to Augustana, but as I was talking to people they kept mentioning CSD, so I looked it up. it interested me because it seemed like it was something I wanted to do…I knew I wanted to help people but I didn’t know how,” said Hartsfield. Hartsfield said that she was attracted to the program because of the fact that she would be able to work in any type of setting, including in hospitals.

Pagan came to Augustana specifically because of the CSD program. “I always wanted to work with kids. I met a speech pathologist from one of my dad’s friends, and she was telling me about her job, and I just fell in love with it,” said Pagan.

Both Hartsfield and Pagan understand how competitive the major is, especially with going into graduate school to keep the profession, but feel as though the preparations they are undergoing now will lead them into more success in graduate school.

“We are in a multi-year process of developing a masters program, and this year we are starting to do preliminary curriculum mapping, with plans for next year to be doing detailed reports needed to be accredited nationally,” said Haskill. There is also a need to hire more faculty and expand the current building for more clinic space needed for the master’s program, which is still being thought up as plans are moving forward.

The master’s program would only be offered for speech-language pathology and would be different from traditional master’s program, where there will be a group of 20 students identified when they first come into Augustana.

There is no set date for when all of the planning will be finished, as it depends on the funding for the building and the accrediting process, but the goal is to have everything done in the next five years, according to Haskill.

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CSD department strives to develop master’s program