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AuD-Degree Holders in Tenure-Track Positions: Survey of Program Chairpersons and AuD-Degree Holders
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: The doctor of audiology (AuD) degree is now the entry-level degree for the profession of audiology. Typically, AuD programs train professionals for clinical careers, while those offering PhDs educate students for university teaching and research positions. Some in the communication sciences and disorders have predicted that there could be a shortage of PhDs in academic institutions over the next decade as senior faculty members with PhDs retire, AuD programs expand, and likely fewer students complete PhD degrees or elect to pursue careers in academia. If a PhD shortage becomes a reality, then one solution might be to include AuDs as candidates for vacant academic tenure-track positions.
Purpose: To survey AuD-degree holders' (AuDs') and program chairpersons' (chairs') views about AuDs in academic tenure-track positions.
Research Design: National Internet survey
Data Collection and Analysis: Two questionnaires were designed for this study. One was e-mailed to 1575 “AuDs in general” (randomly sampled from the American Academy of Audiology Membership Directory) and 132 “AuDs in academia.” The other was e-mailed to 64 chairs from programs offering the AuD. The two surveys included similar questions so that comparisons could be made across groups. Potential respondents were e-mailed an informational letter inviting them to participate by completing a survey on SurveyMonkey within a 2 wk period in March and April 2010. This process resulted in three data sets: (1) AuDs in general, (2) AuDs in academia, and (3) program chairs.
Results: Return rates were 25, 26, and 45% for the three sampling methods for recruiting AuDs in general, AuDs in academia, and program chairs, respectively. Of the respondents, few AuDs held academic tenure-track positions or had achieved rank and tenure success in them. Those AuDs in academia usually had to meet the same or similarly rigorous criteria (with heavier emphasis on teaching than on research) for advancement as did PhD faculty. Overall, AuDs tended to believe that AuDs could be appointed to and succeed at tenure-track positions; chairs reported that such appointments were not permitted in most programs, did not personally believe that AuDs should hold these positions, and felt that AuDs would have more difficulty than PhDs in achieving success in them. Obstacles to AuDs' success in tenure-track positions reported by all three groups included lack of research skills and mentors, biases from faculty within and outside of audiology departments, and poorer pay than could be earned in the private sector.
Conclusions: Considerable variability existed in the types of and titles for faculty positions held by AuDs in academia. Few AuDs were employed in tenure-track positions. Contrary to many of the chairs' responses, most AuDs felt they would be successful in such positions. Many of the AuDs suggested that universities with AuD programs should add more research and mentorship opportunities and tenure tracks for clinicians. Most respondents believed there is a need for both AuDs and PhDs in academic programs. These findings should be of interest to AuDs, chairs, and other stakeholders in academia, and the survey responses identified some areas warranting future investigation.