Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Graduate Certificate

Program Description

The purpose of the "Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC)" certificate is to provide training to pre-service and in-service [practicing] SLPs and teachers on supporting the language development of children with significant language disabilities. The certificate requires a firm background in typical language development as well as language disorders and then moves on to applying this knowledge to the specialized area of AAC. Once these prerequisites are complete, the certificate allows for an elective in a related field.  The majority of the courses in the AAC certificate program are only available on campus at the University of Memphis and the certificate cannot be completed online at this time.

According to the 2016 Schools Survey data from ASHA, 55.1% of practicing SLPs have students who have complex communication needs and require AAC on their caseloads. And yet, according to a 2012 survey by Anderson and colleagues, 85% of SLPs don't feel they have the knowledge of AAC to meet the needs of their caseload. This certificate offers these clinicians the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and experience working with individuals with complex communication needs and apply this information to their daily work demands.

Admission Requirements

To be eligible for the Graduate Certificate Program in Augmentative and Alternative Communication:

  1. Applicants must enroll as a graduate student at the University of Memphis or have a completed Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology or a related field with a GPA of at least 3.00.
  2. Applicants who do not speak English as their primary language are required to meet the University's minimum TOEFL score.
  3. To apply, current students in the MA SLP program at the University of Memphis must complete a program update form and submit a one-page letter of intent to the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. Letters of intent should describe reasons for pursuing the certificate, relevant background and experiences, and/or professional goals or plans.
  4. Individuals not currently affiliated with the University of Memphis must complete the application materials in UniCAS for the AAC Certificate. Admission to this certificate program does not imply acceptance into any graduate program at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders or within the university.

Program Requirements

Students are required to take the 3 required courses listed below along with one 3-hour elective. If the student has two years of experience working as a speech-language pathologist, AUSP 7006/8006 and AUSP 7300/8300 can be waived, and these students would be required to complete a total of 9 instead of 12 credits. These credits will include AUSP 7308/8308 (required), one elective related to Autism, and any other elective from the list below:

    Required Courses (9 credit hours):
    • AUSP 7006/8006 Language and Speech Development*
    • AUSP 7300/8300 Language Disorders in Children
    • AUSP 7308/8308 Augmentative and Alternative Communication

* A course substitution may be considered on the basis of alternative graduate level coursework such as Language Learning Disabilities or Language Disorders in Adults.

    Electives (3 credit hours):
    • AUSP 6205 American Sign Language for Speech Pathologists, Audiologists, and Educators
    • AUSP 6300 Autism: Communication & Socialization
    • AUSP 7212 Autism Spectrum Disorder/Related Disabilities
    • AUSP 7302 & 7303 Language Disorders in Adults
    • PSYC 7802-8802 Child Disability and Family
    • SPED 6111 Introduction to Applied Behavioral Analysis

Retention/Graduation Requirements

  1. Students must complete all three of the required courses (9 credits) and one elective (3 credits) for a total of 12 credits with a minimum grade of B (GPA = 3.00) in each course.
  2. In the semester of graduation, the student must submit an Intent to Graduate form to the Graduate School and a Graduate Certificate Candidacy form to the Director of Graduate Studies by the deadline specified by the Graduate School.

For additional information contact

Vicki Haddix, MS, CCC-SLP

Additional References

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2016). 2016 Schools Survey report: SLP caseload characteristics. Available from www.asha.org/research/memberdata/schoolssurvey/.
Anderson, A. (2012). ATIA Survey Data. Presented at the annual convention of the Assistive Technology Industry Association; January 26 –28; Orlando, FL.