Undergraduate majors or post-baccalauareate students planning to pursue clinical careers in speech-language pathology are strongly encouraged to complete and document a minimum of 25 observation hours in the delivery of clinical services, while working toward their bachelor’s degree. These clinical observations will occur in the UW Speech and Hearing Clinic and some select community sites.

It is recommended that students begin clinical observations early in their program of study. Survey results indicate that students find observations to be useful in better understanding coursework, identifying specific interests within the field of speech and hearing sciences, and deciding whether or not to pursue a professional/clinical career in speech-language pathology or audiology.

These observations serve as an important preparatory experience to participating in graduate level clinical work, and most speech-language pathology graduate programs in the U.S. require students to complete these observations prior to enrolling in a graduate program.

Enrolled students should visit the department Intranet for observation policies, procedures and forms.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) 25 Observation Hour Requirement

ASHA is the professional, scientific, and credentialing association for speech-language pathologists, audiologists, and speech, language and hearing scientists. ASHA accredits graduate speech and hearing programs in the U.S. and sets the professional standards for speech-language pathologists and audiologists.

ASHA requires a minimum of 25 documented hours of clinical observation as a prerequisite to graduate level clinical work and receipt of the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology (CCC-SLP). This means students must complete the 25 observation hours before beginning any direct patient/client contact at the graduate level. Students may still be in the process of completing observation hours when submitting applications to graduate school, but graduate programs will require these hours to be completed before starting the degree program.

Important information about the observation hour requirement:

  1. The 25 hours of observationis not a requirement of the University of Washington for obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences. All students completing the degree requirements for the SPHSC major receive a B.S. degree regardless of whether 25 observation hours are completed. That being said, most SPHSC students will complete some observation hours during their degree program and as part of course requirements.
  2. The 25 hours of clinical observation is only a requirement for certification in speech-language pathology. Any undergraduate student planning to apply to graduate school to pursue a clinical career in speech-language pathologyis required to complete a minimum of 25 hours of observation in speech-language pathology in order to complete the graduate program and be eligible for clinical certification. Students planning to apply to graduate school to pursue clinical careers in audiology are not required to complete 25 hours of observation. However, we strongly encourage all students preparing for careers as audiologists to complete observations in order to better understand clinical practice and enhance the competitiveness of their graduate applications.
  3. ASHA has very specific guidelines and requirements pertaining to speech-language pathology observations.
    1. The 25 clinical observation hours must:
      • Fall within the scope of practice of speech-language pathology
      • Be under the direction of a qualified clinical supervisor who holds current ASHA certification in speech-language pathology. Such direction may occur simultaneously with the student's observation or may be through review and approval of written reports or summaries submitted by the student.
      • Be approved in writing by a qualified clinical supervisor who holds current ASHA certification in speech-language pathology
    2. The 25 clinical observations can:
      • Be conducted in a variety of service delivery settings (e.g., hospital, clinic, school, private practice, etc.)
      • Be conducted across several types of clinical service (e.g., evaluation or treatment, children or adults, speech, language, cognitive-communication or swallowing disorder). Students are encouraged to distribute their 25 hours over various types of clinical services and sessions.
      • Be conducted in person or via video. Students can observe “live” clinical sessions or they can observe the delivery of client services through video recordings, as long as the recordings are done as part of a class or given to the student by a clinical supervisor. All of these hours are acceptable as long as the live or videotaped services are directed by a certified SLP and documentation of time spent in supervised observation is verified by that professional in writing.
  4. Observation hours are not the same as volunteer hours

    The observation hour requirement is separate from volunteering, which students may complete in addition to observing if they so choose. With clinical observation, students shadow or observe a speech-language pathology or audiology professional providing clinical services. With volunteering, students provide hands-on support to professionals, which can take on a variety of forms (e.g., clerical work, administrative support, computer support, etc.). There is no requirement to volunteer, although volunteering experience in Speech and Hearing Sciences or a related field can be included on graduate school applications.