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What is an Audiology Degree?
If you’ve ever needed to have your hearing tested, then you’ve probably had the pleasure of meeting an audiologist. Audio’ refers to ‘hear’ and ‘logy’ to ‘the study of’. Audiology is the study of hearing - in medical terms it is the branch of science dedicated to the study of hearing, balance and any associated disorders. Audiologists are specialized doctors that are trained to measure hearing ability and function, and to provide rehabilitation to improve their patient’s quality of life.
Since 2012, all new audiologists need to have a Doctor of Audiology Degree (Au.D) and state licensing in order to work in the field and to establish a private practice.
The academic curriculum for Audiologists is extensive, and includes classes such as:
- Hearing Disorders
- Genetics and Hearing Loss
- Psychoacoustics and Theories of Hearing
- Hearing Conservation
- Speech Science and Perception
- Pediatric Audiology
- Geriatric Audiology
- Forensic Audiology
- Hearing Aids
- Electro-Acoustics, Instrumentation & Calibration
- Rehabilitative Audiology and Counseling
- Vestibular Systems and Disorders
- Cochlear Implants and Hearing Assistance Technologies
- Central Auditory Processing
- Embryology and Genetics
- Clinical Pharmacology
- Anatomy and Physiology of the Hearing and Vestibular Mechanisms
- Pharmacology for Audiology
- Business Audiology
- Medical Imaging
Becoming an audiologist requires both undergraduate and advanced degrees. A doctoral degree in audiology is required of all individuals who want to become audiologists.
Bachelor’s Degree in Audiology - Four Year Duration
- Audiology doctoral programs require that undergraduate courses be taken in english, biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, anatomy, communications, psychology, and physiology
- No specific undergraduate major is required, however it would be preferable for it to be in a medically-related field
- There are a few colleges that do offer undergraduate communication science programs for careers in audiology
Master’s Degree in Audiology - Two Year Duration
- Audiologists are required to complete a two-year master’s degree in audiology
- Admissions prerequisites include getting a high Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score
- Master’s degree coursework includes: physiology, anatomy, genetics, physics, normal and abnormal communication development, balance, auditory, neural systems assessment and treatment, pharmacology, diagnosis, treatment, and ethics
Doctoral Degree in Audiology - Four to Eight Year Duration
- A doctoral program is required that has been accredited by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) - there are over 70 accredited Au.D. programs in the United States
- Completion of a doctoral degree in audiology is at least four years. However, because it involves a research component, PhD programs could last as long as five to six years
- The curriculum typically includes: genetics, anatomy, physiology, communication development, pharmacology and diagnosis courses. Most audiology programs include an internship or another type of clinical practice opportunity.
- Some audiology programs, like the one at the University of Washington, offer specializations in an area of interest, such as: pediatric, geriatric, or educational audiology
- Audiologists can either earn the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A), offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), or through the American Board of Audiology.
- To become ASHA certified, candidates must complete a minimum of 1,820 hours of supervised clinical practice.
- All states now require licensing for audiologists in addition to a doctorate. Most also require continuing education to renew a license.
Degrees Similar to Audiology
Becoming a speech pathologist is an option for those who’d like to work with individuals who have speech, language, and swallowing disorders as a result of stroke, brain injury, hearing impairment, autism, developmental delay, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, cleft palate, stuttering, or any other condition.
There is no specific four-year undergraduate degree that is required for speech-language pathologists, however it’s recommended to select a major that enable students to begin working with individuals with disabilities, such as: communication sciences and disorders, psychology, linguistics, social work, special education, or language development. Next steps are receiving a master’s degree in speech-language pathology or speech therapy and getting licensure (licensing requirements vary by state).
An otolaryngologist (also known as an Ear, Nose and Throat doctor or, ENT) is a physician that can diagnose, treat, and manage diseases and medical conditions associated with the ears, nose and throat. Examples of conditions that this type of doctor can treat are: sinus issues, cancers, infections, diseases, or malformations of any of these areas.
Otolaryngologists often work with audiologists and speech-language pathologists, as their medical field also has an effect on communication, speech, and hearing. Educational requirements are: four years college or university, four years medical school, five years residency training, optional two-year fellowship training, and board certification.
Doctor of Philosophy in Audiology & Speech Sciences
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Audiology & Speech Sciences is offered for students interested in basic or applied research in the areas of hearing, speech or language science. The PhD degree program prepares students to work in research or teaching positions in university, clinical, or industrial settings. Students typically enter the program with a solid background in Speech and Hearing Sciences, and are able to complete their PhD degree in four years.
Skills You’ll Learn
Audiologists use technology, creative problem solving, and social skills on a daily basis. They focus on researching, investigating, and increasing their understanding of their profession. They also focus on assisting, serving, counseling, and teaching other people. Through education and experience, audiologists learn the following specific qualities:
Critical Thinking & Problem-Solving
When testing a patient’s hearing, audiologists must be able to concentrate and analyze each patient’s situation in order to figure out the cause of the problem and to offer the best treatment available.
Audiologists learn early on that effectively communicating to patients is crucial in their line of work. Patients need to clearly understand their situation and what their options are. Other healthcare professionals also need to be communicated to by audiologists in regards to test results, diagnoses, treatments, and patient care.
Compassion & Excellent Bedside Manner
Working with people who are having problems with hearing or balance means working with patients who, at times, may be frustrated or emotional because of their hearing loss and all the changes happening in their life. Audiologists are taught to be respectful and empathetic to their patient’s situation so that a level of trust and support can be created.
Along with compassion comes patience. Audiologists work with patients who require a lot of time and special attention due to their hearing issues. Often, words need to be repeated or spoken quite loudly. Sometimes words have to be written down to be understood. Regardless of the situation, patience and a caring attitude is definitely a learned virtue in this profession.
What Can You Do with an Audiology Degree?
With a strong set of soft and hard skills, audiology graduates are able to pursue career paths in various areas and industries where audiologists are needed. Here are just a few of the most common:
- Rehabilitation Centres
- Independent Private Practice
- Otolaryngologist Based Practice
- Medical Clinic
- Public Hospital Audiology Clinics
- Private Audiology Clinics
- State Funded Facility for the Hearing Impaired
- Educational Audiology – Public and Private Schools
- Hearing Manufacturing Industry
- Academic University Research Based
- Universities Audiology Programmes and Clinics
- Deaf and Hearing Impaired Education Centres
- Cochlear Implant Programmes
- Hearing Aid Manufacturers
- Hospital Administration
- Government Policy
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