Technical Standards for Graduate Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology

The University of Washington Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Master of Science degree programs in speech-language pathology are responsible for ensuring that holders of the M.S. degree have been educated to competently implement a broad spectrum of speech-language pathology care across a variety of practice settings and clinical situations, to apply for licensure in the state of Washington, and to apply for certification through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

As an accredited speech and hearing sciences program, the University of Washington curriculum for the M.S. program adheres to the standards and guidelines of the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology. The education of speech-language pathologists requires the assimilation of knowledge, acquisition of skills, and development of critical thinking and judgment through patient/client care experiences in preparation for an entry-level, independent and semi-autonomous practice. The practice of speech-langauge pathology emphasizes collaboration with the patient/client, their families and caregivers, and other healthcare and educational professionals. 

The curriculum leading to the M.S. in speech-language pathology requires students to engage in diverse, complex, and specific experiences essential to the acquisition and practice of essential speech-language pathology skills and functions.  Students must possess and meet certain technical standards to successfully complete both the academic and clinical components of the curriculum with or without reasonable accommodations for disabilities.  Unique combinations of abilities in these six areas are required to satisfactorily perform these functions:  1) motor, 2) sensory, 3) intellectual/cognitive, 4) communication, 5) interpersonal and 6) cultural responsiveness. In addition to being essential to the successful completion of the M.S. requirements, these functions are necessary to ensure the health and safety of patients/families, fellow students, faculty, and other professions with whom we interact.

The six areas necessary to acquire or demonstrate competence in a discipline as complex as speech-language pathology, and needed for successful admission and continuance by candidates for the M.S. at the University of Washington in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, are outlined in the Department’s "Technical Standards for Graduate Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology: Admission, Retention, Promotion and Graduations” document. These technical standards must be met in addition to the standards of behavior and academic conduct set forth in the UW Student Conduct Code and the MS Satisfactory Progress Policy.

The purpose of the Department’s Technical Standards document is to clearly outline for prospective candidates the standards and requirements for the M.S. degree program and profession of speech-language pathology. These technical standards exist in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which prohibits discrimination against qualified candidates with a disability who can meet the essential requirements of a program with reasonable modifications of policies, practices and services. Accepted students are required to acknowledge and sign the Department’s Technical Standards document prior to entering the program. Thus, all applicants should carefully review these essential abilities before completing the admissions materials. If there are questions, please reach out to our graduate advisors right away and/or the UW Disability Resources for Students Office.

M.S. Satisfactory Progress 

All Master of Science (MS) students in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences (SPHSC) are required to review and understand the University of Washington Graduate School Policy 3.7: Academic Performance and Progress, which outlines the academic performance and progress requirements for all graduate students and includes guidance on the appropriate process for instances where student academic performance does not meet program expectations. In addition, students are required to review and understand the complete MS Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy for Continuation, Promotion & Graduation, as well as section “IV. Academic Progress” in their MS Program Plan. Any questions regarding this information can be directed to the department’s Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) or MS Program Director.

Per the MS Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy, the three primary criteria for maintaining satisfactory progress while enrolled in the Master of Science Speech-Language Pathology degree program are summarized below. Students in all programs are reviewed quarterly by the speech-language pathology faculty and Student Progress Committee. Any student not maintaining satisfactory progress will be contacted by the Department’s Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) and representatives of the master of science faculty.

1) Students must maintain satisfactory scholarship:

  • a cumulative AND quarterly GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Any student falling below a GPA of 3.0 will be identified by the Graduate School as a student with “low scholarship” which could result in a change in status action by the Graduate School.

2) Students must maintain satisfactory progress toward degree completion.

  • In required didactic courses students must earn a grade of at least 2.7.
  • In required clinical practicum courses students must earn a grade of “credit”.
    • Students who earn a non-passing grade in any didactic or clinical course will be placed on “probation” by the Graduate School and must retake any courses in which a non-passing grade is earned. Students will have only one opportunity to retake a course to earn a passing grade and failure to pass on the retake will result in dismissal.
    • Students who receive a non-passing grade in more than two courses will be automatically dismissed from the program. Thus, when a third non-passing grade of any type is received (didactic, clinical or a combination) the student will be dropped from the program. No retake is offered for the third failed course.
  • Students will consistently attend classes and participate in course activities, including collaborative efforts as applicable.
  • Students will demonstrate in their written, oral and clinical work the ability to analyze and conceptualize clear and concise ideas and synthesize, organize, apply and evaluate information.
  • Students will demonstrate expected clinical growth by incrementally building toward independence in the planning and implementation of evaluation and treatment services. Students will demonstrate independence not only in mastering and autonomously performing requisite skills and competencies, but in managing a full-time caseload by the conclusion of the program.
  • Students will demonstrate academic and professional integrity at all times.

3) Students must satisfactorily demonstrate the technical standards required for a speech and hearing science education.

  • Students are required to demonstrate and abide by the Speech and Hearing Sciences specifications for essential behaviors and abilities outlined in the document entitled "Technical Standards for Graduate Clinical Education in Speech-Language Pathology: Admission, Retention, Promotion and Graduations”. Students are advised of these standards in admission materials, during program orientation, and via the department’s website, and each student signs the Technical Standards document upon entry into the program.
  • Per the policy, students must demonstrate behaviors and abilities across the following areas:
    • Motor 
    • Sensory
    • Intellectual / Cognitive 
    • Communication 
    • Interpersonal
    • Cultural Responsiveness

MS Academic Progress Concerns / Changes in Graduate Status

Student progress is reviewed quarterly by the speech-language pathology faculty and Student Progress Committee. During the review process, students will receive either a satisfactory (“1”) or unsatisfactory (“0”) progress point. The review of students is designed to allow faculty the opportunity to discuss how individual students are progressing through the program. This review is meant to go beyond a discussion of grades. The intent is to provide an early warning to students who may be having difficulty completing the program. In no sense should the review be construed as punitive nor is it intended as a reward mechanism.  Students who earn non-passing grades in their coursework OR whose cumulative or quarterly grade point average falls below a 3.0 are automatically reviewed by the Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC), the M.S. Program Director, and the Student Progress Committee. Students who fail to demonstrate the essential behaviors for the master’s degree will also be reviewed upon faculty request.

Students who are not making satisfactory progress (i.e., receive a 0 progress point), will be notified in writing by the Graduate Program Coordinator, on behalf of the faculty. As applicable, faculty will develop a plan of improvement for the student to remediate the concern(s). Any students who receive an unsatisfactory evaluation (i.e., 0 progress point) will work closely with the Master of Science faculty to remediate identified issues in a timely manner.  Action, if warranted, will be taken on an individual basis and a change in Graduate School status may or may not be recommended. If action is recommended because of unsatisfactory grades or academic performance concerns, the student will be informed in writing by the GPC of faculty expectations and the timetable for correction of deficiencies. The department will recommend one of five actions in cases of academic progress issues, using criteria adopted by Graduate School Policy 3.7 (Academic Performance and Progress).

1. No Action
Recommended for those students whose cumulative GPA is above 3.0 but whose most recent quarter's work is below 3.0, if the review has determined that this condition is not cause for immediate concern.

2. Warn
This status is initiated and documented by the graduate program, but is not reported to the Graduate School and does not appear on the student's transcript. The graduate program is expected to notify each student in writing and place any documentation in the student's file.

  • Recommended for students whose cumulative GPA has dropped slightly below 3.0 (i.e. 2.99-2.95).
  • Recommended for students who have failed to meet expectations for performance and progress as determined by the graduate program.

3. Probation
A graduate program may recommend numerous quarters of probation for a student, but the Graduate School recommends no more than three consecutive quarters (each quarter must be recommended separately). All students must be informed of the graduate program's policy regarding the length of probationary periods.

  • Recommended for students who have not corrected the deficiency which caused the warn action within the time limit specified by the graduate program.
  • Recommended for students who depart suddenly and substantially from scholarly achievement (e.g., failure of a course or practicum) as defined by the graduate program. A previous warn recommendation is not necessary.

4. Final Probation
After at least one quarter of probation, a graduate program may recommend final probation. Final probation may only be recommended for one quarter, though the Graduate School will consider one additional quarter in extenuating circumstances. A graduate program must recommend one quarter of final probation before recommending a student be dropped from the program. Exceptions to this policy will be considered by the Graduate School in extenuating circumstances.

  • Recommended for students who have not corrected the condition(s) that caused the probation recommendation within the time limit specified by the graduate program.
  • Recommended for students who may have corrected previous probation conditions but failed additional performance requirements and did not progress toward completion of the graduate program.

5. Drop
A graduate program may recommend a student be dropped from their program after one quarter of final probation. Exceptions to this policy will be considered by the Graduate School only in extenuating circumstances. If the Graduate School accepts a drop recommendation, the Registrar is notified by the Graduate School and the student is immediately removed from the graduate program.

  • This is the final action to be recommended for students who have not corrected the condition(s) that caused the final probation recommendation within the time limit specified by the graduate program.

Students may appeal these recommendations directly to the department’s Graduate Program Coordinator and Chair. Appeals beyond this point must follow the process outlined in Graduate School Policy 3.8 (Academic Grievance Procedure).

Please note: Because of the sequential nature of the curriculum, students who fail one or more courses in a given quarter may not be eligible to enroll in a subsequent quarter, until the failed courses can be retaken and passed. Most courses are only offered once a year, so students may need to step out of the program (take graduate leave) until the course is offered again. All of the didactic and clinical course requirements in the first year of the program are prerequisites for year two.