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Laws & Regulations Relating to the Use of Degrees & Designators

Laws & Regulations Relating to the Use of Degrees & Designators

The American Academy of Audiology Board of Directors requested a review of state statutes to determine the legal requirements for representation of professional credentials. Although the review presented below is as thorough and complete as possible, the citations are provided for information of our members only, and should not be used without advice from legal counsel.

Under various states' licensure laws and deceptive trade laws, a person practicing in the area of audiology may not lawfully use a designator or any other kind of fide, certificate or professional credential unless that person has been appropriately licensed to practice and has received a degree from an accredited institution. The question, however, pertains to the use of titles, certificates, designators, or other professional credentials which are identical, in name or letters, to an earned degree but which have not been awarded by an accredited institution.

This report reviews information compiled from the laws of the 50 states on the issue of the use of unearned designators. Three areas of law seem to deal with this question: (1) current state licensure laws, (2) laws regulating the issuance of degrees, and (3) unfair and deceptive acts or practices laws.

At this time, 46 states and the District of Columbia require audiologists to be licensed or registered before they can lawfully practice or hold themselves out as being able to practice. As noted in the following listing by state, the requirements for licensure in all states are similar. The requirements include a minimum of a master's degree from an accredited educational institution, completion of an approved clinical practicum, a Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA, or that the applicant pass an examination. These requirements generally are in place to protect the public from being misted by incompetent, unscrupulous and unauthorized persons.

A prohibition against using unearned designators is found in many states' education laws. These laws prohibit the use of any designation, mark, appellation, series of letters or words ... which signifies, purports, or is generally taken to signify satisfactory completion of the requirements of an academic, educational, technological or professional program of study ---- if, in fact, such course of study has not been undertaken nor completed, or if such achievement has not been attained from an accredited educational institution. Under these laws, the use of a designator that is identical to an earned degree, when such a degree is not earned, is unlawful. Furthermore, these laws prohibit an association from conferring any academic designation or any title that is generally taken to signify an academic designation upon an individual unless the association is chartered to do so from the state.

The third area of prohibition against the use of unearned designators is the Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) laws. In 37 of our states and the District of Columbia, these UDAP laws contain a "laundry list" of prohibitions. A violation of any one of the enumerated prohibitions constitutes a per se unfair and deceptive act. The typical law states that a person engages in a deceptive trade practice when, in the course of his business, vocation or occupation, he causes the likelihood of confusion or of misunderstanding as to the source, sponsorship, approval, or certification of goods or services. By this description, the use of an unearned degree or degree designator would be a per se violation of the UDAP laws.

ALABAMA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, have professional experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

ALASKA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology and have a CCC from ASHA.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

ARIZONA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, have professional experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to make a false or misleading -statement in advertising.
Use of Degree Laws: Unlawful to grant or offer a degree if the grantor is not licensed with the state and the program is not accredited by the U.S. Dept. of Education.

ARKANSAS

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, have professional experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

CALIIFORNIA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum of up to 300 hours, have nine months of professional experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.
Use of Degree Laws: Unlawful to use any degree unless the scholastic achievement or course of study has been achieved.

COLORADO

Registration Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, pass an exam conducted by ASHA, or its equivalent, and obtain a CCC.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to claim possession of a degree not received from an accredited institution; unlawful to use "Dr." without a doctoral degree.
Use of Degree Laws: Unlawful for an individual to grant a degree if that individual is not authorized by the board of education.

CONNECTICUT

Licensure Law: Must have at least a master's degree in audiology, pass an exam, have a CCC, and have 36 weeks of professional work experience.

DELAWARE

Licensure Law: Must have qualifications determined by the board, which are not to exceed the qualifications under ASHA.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology and meet the requirements for a CCC from ASHA. Licensure may be denied or revoked if the applicant has used the term "doctor" or "clinical audiologist and is not legally qualified.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

FLORIDA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, pass an exam, complete 300 hours of clinical practice, and complete nine months of professional employment.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unfair or deceptive acts are unlawful.

GEORGIA

Licensure Law: Must have at least a baccalaureate degree in audiology, complete 300 hours of clinical practicum, have nine months of professional employment, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

HAWAII

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, meet ASHA’s CCC requirements, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

IDAHO

Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

ILLINOIS

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, pass an exam, and complete nine months of professional work experience.
Deceptive Trade Law: Fraud, misrepresentation and concealment are unlawful.
Use of Degree Laws: A degree may be awarded only by a "degree granting institution' approved by the state.

INDIANA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 300 hours of clinical experience, and pass a written exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

IOWA

Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to use a title or abbreviation that is recognized with a profession with a person's name unless that person is licensed to practice that profession.
Use of Degree Laws: Only an audiologist with a doctoral degree can use the suffix "PhD" after the name or the word "doctor” or "Dr." before the name.

KANSAS

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, complete professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

KENTUCKY

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, have professional work experience, and pass an exam approved by ASHA.

LOUISIANA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, pass an exam, and complete nine months of professional employment.

MAINE

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 275 hours of clinical work, have nine months of professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

MARYLAND

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete course work and clinical training required by the board, and pass an exam. Applicant may not misrepresent himself by using the term "Dr." or other symbol if it's not accurate.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

MASSACHUSETTS

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete supervised practice, and pass an exam.

MICHIGAN

Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

MINNESOTA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 375 hours of clinical practicum, complete nine months of professional work, and pass the National Examination in Speech- Language Pathology or Audiology (NESPA).
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services. Also unlawful to use the terms "audiologist'" "A," or "AuD" without being licensed.

MISSISSIPPI

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete the educational, clinical and professional experience based on national standards, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

MISSOURI

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete course work and clinical practicum required by ASHA, complete professional experience, and pass an exam.
Use of Degree Laws: Licensure board may deny or revoke a license if the applicant misrepresents himself by using the term "Dr." or any other term if it is not accurate or if the degree was not obtained from an accredited institution.

MONTANA

Licensure Law: Must meet the current academic, supervised clinical practicum, and post-classroom sponsored employment requirements of the ASHA and pass an exam.

NEBRASKA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete nine months of professional work, and pass an exam. Requirements can be waived with certification from a nationwide accrediting organization approved by the board.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion. or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

NEVADA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 300 hours of clinical experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

NEW JERSEY

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical internship, pass an exam, and satisfy any other requirements that are consistent with nationally recognized professional standards.

NEW MEXICO

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, hold a CCC from a nationally recognized accrediting organization, complete clinical practicum and professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

NEW YORK

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, experience satisfactory to the board, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to use the title "Dr." to induce the purchase of services unless the person earned a degree from an accredited institution.
Use of Degree Laws: No person shall append to his name any letters signifying a degree unless the degree is received from an approved college or university.

NORTH CAROLINA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 300 hours of clinical experience, have nine months of professional work experience, and pass an exam.

NORTH DAKOTA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, satisfy the requirements of the board, and pass an exam.

OHIO

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete supervised clinical and professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.
Use of Degree Laws: Licensure board may take disciplinary action against those who falsely use the term "Dr." or any other term if it is not accurate or earned from an accredited institution.

OKLAHOMA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 275 hours of clinical practicum, have nine months of professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

OREGON

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 275 hours of supervised clinical experience, have nine months of professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

PENNSYLVANIA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology and complete one year of supervised professional experience. Requirements may be waived if the applicant holds a current CCC from ASHA.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

RHODE ISLAND

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology and course work that satisfy the minimum requirements of a CCC, complete a clinical practicum, have nine months of professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.
Use of Degree Laws: License may be revoked if the holder uses the term "Dr." or any other term if it is not accurate or the degree was not obtained from an accredited institution.

SOUTH CAROLINA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a program of study approved by a national accrediting organization, and pass an exam.

SOUTH DAKOTA

Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent any material fact in connection with a sale of merchandise.

TENNESSEE

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, pass an exam, and meet the educational, clinical, and professional work requirements of the board.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

TEXAS

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete supervised clinical experience and professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.
Use of Degree Laws: Unlawful to award a degree unless the association has been issued a certificate of authority from the board of education of the state.

UTAH

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, have one year of professional experience, pass exam required for the CCC, and comply with the code of ethics for the profession.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

VERMONT

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete 300 hours of clinical training, and be eligible for the CCC from ASHA.

VIRGINIA

Licensure Law: Must have a valid license.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

WASHINGTON

Licensure Law: Must meet the commonly accepted standards for the profession of audiology and have graduated from a board-approved program, and pass an exam.
Use of Degree Laws: Unethical conduct includes using the word "doctor" or "clinic" or any other term when such term is inaccurate.

WEST VIRGINIA

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete clinical practicum and professional work experience, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to cause confusion or misunderstanding as to the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

WISCONSIN

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete a clinical practicum, and pass the exam required for certification with ASHA.

WYOMING

Licensure Law: Must have at least an MA in audiology, complete the educational, clinical and professional employment requirements of the board, and pass an exam.
Deceptive Trade Law: Unlawful to misrepresent the sponsorship, approval or certification of services.

Originally published in Audiology Today, Vol. 9:5, 1997