USD's Distance Program in Speech-Language Pathology is a three-year (10-semester) program designed primarily for working professionals in the state of South Dakota with an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders to obtain their masters degree in speech-language pathology.
One evening course per academic-year semester and two afternoon courses each summer will be offered via webconferencing (e.g., Dakota Digital Network, Collaborate) technology. Clinical experiences, including practicum and internships, will be arranged whenever possible at locations in or near the student's preferred geographic location; one internship site can be at the student's primary place of employment, assuming that appropriate supervision can be obtained.
Students will move through the program together in a cohort model, with the current cohort beginning Summer 2011. This cohort is now full and no additional applications are being accepted at this time.
For more information, view our Program Requirements and Undergraduate Prerequisites.
Note: Courses have been scheduled to preserve program sequences while, at the same time, accommodating professionals working in the public schools. All students are expected to take courses in the semesters and at the days/times in which they are offered. Courses during the academic year will be offered Wednesday evenings, 6-9 p.m. CST. Summer courses will be offered M-Th afternoons (3:00-5:30 p.m. CST) in sessions 2 and 3. Independent studies or other individual alterations to the schedule will not be made for purposes of convenience or speeding program completion.
Summer 1 (2011)
Orientation (late May)
Fall 1 (2011)
DCOM 787 Research Methods
Spring 1 (2012)
DCOM 733 Neuromotor
Summer 2 (2012)
DCOM 730 CAPD (June)
Fall 2 (2012)
DCOM 533 Voice
Spring 2 (2013)
DCOM 537 Adv. Lang. Dis.
Summer 3 (2013)
DCOM 737 Dysphagia (June)
Fall 3 (2013)
DCOM 734 Acquired
Spring 3 (2014)
DCOM 534 AAC
Summer 4 (2014)
DCOM 794 Intern III (medical setting)
*IS: Independent Study
Clinical Practicum and Internship Policies
ASHA certification requirements mandate 400 supervised clock hours, including 25 supervised observation hours and 375 supervised client hours. Hours must be obtained across the life-span, across the range of disorders, and across at least three settings. Up to 50 client hours obtained at the undergraduate level may apply toward the 375 total, if documented and appropriately supervised. Students must only evaluate/treat clients with disorders for which the didactic preparation has been completed or in which the student is concurrently enrolled. Prior to beginning any clinical practicum, students must provide evidence of the 25 documented, supervised observation hours. PRIOR WORK EXPERIENCE DOES NOT COUNT TOWARD THE 400 TOTAL CLOCK HOURS REQUIRED FOR PROGRAM COMPLETION AND ASHA CERTIFICATION. All hours must be supervised by a speech-language pathologist who holds a current Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. All clinical practica and internship placements must be arranged and approved by the appropriate DCOM faculty member (i.e., distance liaison, internship coordinator). As with current policy, all clinical practicum sites will enter into contractual agreements with the USD Department of Communication Disorders to ensure adherence to all supervisory procedures and policies. Clinical practicum and internship supervisors cannot be remunerated individually for their contributions. While all attempts will be made to locate practicum and internship sites in or near the student's geographic location, this cannot be guaranteed as all sites must meet ASHA and departmental supervisory regulations and guidelines.
ASHA guidelines for supervision include:
- A minimum of 25% real-time, direct supervision of assessments/intervention per client with this amount increased upwards based on individual's experience and competency level (i.e., supervision often exceeds 50-75% for beginning clinical practica, especially for those disorders with which the student has had little experience. It then decreases over time with experience). For diagnostic evaluations, a minimum of 50% real-time, direct supervision is required (again, frequently beginning at a higher level unless the student is familiar with the disorder/diagnostic procedure).
- Options for supervision that do not meet the real-time direct supervision requirements, such as video-taping for later review, must be approved by ASHA on an individual basis prior to the initiation of the practicum experience. This remote supervision cannot be relied on exclusively, but may be used to make up supervisory hour shortfalls in specific circumstances. The USD DCOM faculty will oversee this process.
- Supervision in some settings, primarily medical, may need to be 100% to meet State/Federal reimbursement guidelines. This will be particularly important during the required medical internship during the final summer of the program.
Any practicum experience not supervised by current USD faculty will have the following additional requirements:
- A minimum of two phone conferences with the USD DCOM distance liaison.
- Use of USD evaluation forms and grading guidelines.
- Detailed documentation of the supervision to ensure that it meets ASHA guidelines.
- Samples of clinical documentation/paperwork from the experience must be submitted to USD for review.
- On-site visits by the USD DCOM distance liaison may be required.
All clinical hours including observations must be appropriately documented.
(Note: Regardless of professional experience, ALL students must meet all practicum and internship requirements).DCOM 595 Clinical Practice (2 semesters, 3 credit hours each):
- Graduate level accumulation of hours will begin in a clinical practicum experience during the student's second summer in the program.
- All attempts will be made to arrange clinical practica at a site identified by the candidate in her/his geographic region provided that supervision requirements can be guaranteed.
- The student's primary place/role of employment cannot be used for Clinical Practicum (DCOM 595) hours; however, an ancillary site associated with the primary place of employment will be considered. (For example, if the student works in a middle school, clinical hours at the elementary school, birth-to-three program, or other setting under the same umbrella agency may be considered). Placements for Clinic 1 (Summer 2) and Clinic 2 (Summer 3) can be at the same site or different sites, depending on individual circumstances and clock-hour needs.
- The longer internship site that occurs during year three CAN be the primary site/role of employment IF appropriate supervision can be obtained (see internship section below). If an acceptable clinical site in the candidate's geographic vicinity or preferred nearby locale cannot be identified, practicum opportunities will be available at the University of South Dakota Scottish Rite Clinic in Vermillion or the USD Scottish Rite Clinic in Sioux Falls. These typically will consist of 4- to 6-week, onsite practica during summers 2 and 3.
- Students must accumulate a minimum of 75 clock hours prior to being released for internship. These should be completed during the first two clinical practica.
- Remedial or additional clinical experiences may be required based on individual performance (see admission and retention policies, below). The program reserves the right to mandate that these experiences be at the Vermillion or Sioux Falls clinical sites under the supervision of DCOM faculty members.
- During the 3rd academic year and 4th summer, two internships will be completed.
- Prior to the first internship placement, the candidate must have obtained a minimum of 75 documented clinical hours.
- These may be a combination of graduate and undergraduate hours.
- The school internship (Fall 3 and Spring 3) typically will be a part-time placement (6 credit hours each) in the student's primary place of employment provided that appropriate supervision following the above guidelines can be obtained. This may require school district support of release time for the certified speech-language pathologist who is supervising. The final internship (8 credit hours) typically will be a full-time 8-week placement in an adult/medical setting during Summer 4.
It is anticipated that through these experiences the candidate will obtain the required 375 clock hours; however, additional internship enrollments may be required to fulfill the clock-hour requirements (as is true for on-site, residential students). There is no guarantee that clinical practica or internships will be located in the student's immediate geographic area.
Admission and Retention Policies
Admission into and retention in the Distance MA Program in SLP will be commensurate with admission/retention policies of the on-campus, residential graduate programs in speech-language pathology and audiology. Admission to the program is competitive and requires a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework; students who do not meet this requirement may, on an individual basis, be invited to take selected graduate courses to determine academic ability prior to being re-considered for admission. The following retention policy is taken from the Department of Communication Disorders Student Handbook:
For successful retention in and completion of the graduate programs, all students will be required to maintain a 3.0 GPA overall AND receive an A or a B in each semester of enrollment in clinical experiences (practicum, field work, internship, field experience). Students who do not meet both of these requirements will be placed on probation and additional academic and/or clinical remediation experiences may be required. In addition to being placed on probation, a student who earns a grade lower than a B in a clinical experience must repeat that clinical experience, and clock hours earned within that semester will not count toward program completion or ASHA certification. Probationary students who do not subsequently meet the retention requirements within one semester will be dismissed from the program.
Adherence to the USD student code of conduct; ASHA Code of Ethics; clinical conduct codes (including maintenance of confidentiality); and other program, college, institutional, and professional policies and expectations also is required for retention, and violations of these codes may result in disciplinary action, including dismissal from the program, even when academic progress is satisfactory. All decisions regarding satisfactory completion of requirements, need for additional academic or clinical experiences, and dismissal will be at the discretion of the Department Chair in consultation with the faculty. Finally, criminal background checks may be required for current and entering students. The department reserves the right to request such background checks. Graduate students who refuse such checks upon request may be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal from and/or denial of admission into the program.
The program reserves the right to require that distance students who earn a grade lower than a B in any clinical experience be required to undergo their probationary/remedial clinical practicum at the Vermillion or Sioux Falls clinic site under the direct supervision of a DCOM faculty member.