What is the difference between accreditation and certification?
Simply put, accreditation is about programs, and certification is about individuals.
The focus of accreditation, which is operated by the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA), is to ensure the educational quality of academic programs. Through its Standards for Accreditation, its policies, and its procedures, the CAA evaluates and monitors graduate degree programs in the United States that prepare entry-level practitioners in the professions of audiology and in speech-language pathology. The CAA publishes the list of graduate education programs that meet CAA’s Standards for Accreditation, including accredited and candidate (pre-accredited) degree programs to help inform and protect students and the public.
The focus of certification, operated by the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC), is to promote excellence in the practice of the professions of audiology and speech-language pathology. It accomplishes this through developing and implementing standards, awarding the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) to individuals who meet those standards, and protecting and informing the public by recognizing individuals who meet the certification standards. The CCC designation demonstrates clinical skills and knowledge for independent practice as a speech-language pathologist (CCC-SLP) or as an audiologist (CCC-A) in all primary employment settings, including schools, hospitals, clinics, and private practice. The certification program is developed for practitioners throughout the United States.
At times, people get confused between (a) what the CAA expects in its standards and (b) what is expected of CAA program graduates who choose to seek certification (i.e., CCC-A, CCC-SLP). Although the CAA and CFCC use some of the same foundational documents to develop curricular expectations as well as knowledge and skills (e.g., Practice and Curriculum Analysis), the activities of these two councils are independent of one another.
The following chart provides an example of some standards requirements that are specific to either the CAA or specific to the CFCC. Academic program faculty and graduates who choose to apply for certification have a responsibility to understand the CAA and CFCC standards as well as additional state credentialing requirements. For further assistance, see the links below.
|Examples of Standards Content||CAA Accreditation1||CFCC Certification2|
|Includes curriculum (academic and clinical) requirements|
|Includes knowledge and skills expectations|
|Requires applicants to complete a statistics course|
|Requires applicants to complete prerequisite courses|
|Requires clinical educators/supervisors/preceptors to have CCC|
|Requires academic and clinical educators to have appropriate degree and qualifications|
|Requires direct supervision of at least 25% of the speech-language pathology student's total contact with each client/patient|
|Requires the program to track student progress in a format determined by the program|
Since 1994, graduation from a CAA-accredited or candidate program in the United States has been required of applicants for the CCC-A or CCC-SLP.
 Date of last major standards revision (accreditation): August 2017.
 Dates of last major standards revisions (certification): 2012 (audiology), 2014 (speech-language pathology), 2020 Pending (audiology, speech-language pathology).