Distance-Learning Options for Audiologists
It is the position of the American Academy of Audiology that obtaining the Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree through distance learning mechanisms is appropriate for a transitional period for experienced practitioners who wish to upgrade their credentials to evolving standards. However, the practice of initiating first-professional training in a Master's degree program with the intent of completing AuD and licensing requirements through a second institution's distance learning mechanism is inappropriate and potentially harmful to the profession and the persons served by audiologists. Accreditation bodies and licensing boards should be vigilant about restricting this practice.
The transition from the Master's degree to the AuD degree as the "first-professional degree" in audiology is rooted in the conviction that the educational models adopted approximately 40 years ago are inadequate to support the needs of individuals served by audiologists. Licensed audiologists and other health care professions that are transitioning to doctoral credentials have been able to take advantage of distance learning programs that enable practitioners to upgrade their professional credentials while continuing to practice. This is an excellent mechanism for experienced professionals and should be encouraged for such individuals.
However, the practice of completing residential training under an obsolete educational model and then pursuing an AuD degree through distance learning for inexperienced entry-level personnel threatens the integrity of the emerging AuD credential. The award of an AuD credential to someone lacking critical elements of either the academic preparation or clinical experience will undermine the evolution of the profession of Audiology to autonomy.