What Is the ASHA Clinical Fellowship?

Offered by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the ASHA Clinical Fellowship (CF) is a mentored professional experience for aspiring speech-language pathologists. The purpose of a CF is to integrate and apply the knowledge acquired during schooling, while under the direct supervision of a licensed practitioner. In addition to refining their skills, clinical fellows can use this experience to get a feel for what setting they’d be best suited to serve in or what population they’d like to work with.

Through a speech language pathology clinical fellowship, you can advance from a supervised practitioner to an independent one. Learn about more topics related to the ASHA Clinical Fellowship.

All information included on this page was collected from ASHA.

About the Speech Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship

As a speech language pathology (SLP) student, you’re working toward joining a group of highly trained professionals in the field. These professionals work to evaluate and treat children and adults who have speech or language impairments. SLP students and graduates focus on communication sciences and disorders. While in school, they learn how to assess, prevent, diagnose and treat speech and cognitive difficulties. 

After you have completed your academic coursework and clinical practicum, you can begin the ASHA Clinical Fellowship. You may start preparing for it before that by researching clinical sites or talking to previous fellows. ASHA grants the CCC-SLP certification upon successful completion of the speech pathology fellowship, and that certification is a sign to others that you possess the relevant skills, knowledge and expertise to provide high-quality speech pathology clinical services. CCC-SLP stands for Certificate of Clinical Competence for Speech-Language Pathologists.

When you apply for your CCC-SLP certification from ASHA, you must pay your application fee and submit the following materials:

  • Praxis exam scores. The Praxis exam is a national exam that tests aspiring speech language pathologists on what they have learned in the classroom. It is an important component in determining an individual’s preparedness to practice as an SLP. 
  • Official graduate transcripts. The transcript must verify the date and degree awarded.
  • Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship (SLPCF) Report and Rating Form. This detailed form contains basic information about your clinical site and mentor. But most importantly, it is used to assess your mastery of 21 core skills for SLPs.    
  • Disclosure forms or legal documents. These may be required if you answer “yes” to one of a few questions about criminal history on the CCC-SLP application.

Qualifying for the ASHA Clinical Fellowship

To qualify for the ASHA Clinical Fellowship, all academic coursework and supervised clinical practicum must be completed. Academic coursework includes prerequisite and core classes.

It is important to note that any professional experiences that took place prior to the completion of all academic coursework and your practicum may not be applied toward your clinical fellowship experience, which should be a minimum of 1,260 hours

Once you have earned your master’s in speech pathology and completed your speech language pathology clinical practicum, you can begin the fellowship application process

How Long Is the Speech Pathology Clinical Fellowship?

How long does it take to complete the ASHA Clinical Fellowship? Full-time clinical fellows should complete the fellowship in no less than 36 weeks. Part-time students may take longer than the 36 weeks to fulfill the required clinical hours. As a clinical fellow, you must complete your clinical fellowship experience within four years (48 months) or less from the date you begin your CF. 

Required Clinical Hours and Number of Weeks 

As previously mentioned, the time it takes to complete the clinical fellowship depends on if you work with your clinical fellowship mentor on a full-time or part-time basis. Whichever option you choose—full-time clinical fellowship or part-time fellowship—the minimum required for the CF is 1,260 hours. In the full-time CF, fellows complete 35 hours per week for 36 weeks, while the part-time fellows must fulfill at least five hours per week to be counted toward the 1,260-hour minimum requirement.

Many students complete the full-time experience with one mentor in one location, but there are also those who may choose to complete their CF at multiple locations and with multiple mentors. This option may be suitable for individuals seeking flexibility within their schedules. If a student requires multiple mentors and multiple locations, it may take longer than 36 weeks to meet all of the required minimum hours. 

Can You Work More Than 35 Hours Per Week? 

While you can work more than 35 hours per week, it is not necessary. According to ASHA, your clinical fellowship needs to span at least 36 weeks, and you must work at least 1,260 hours. There is no speeding up this process. 

What Happens During Your Clinical Fellowship Year (CFY)?  

During the CF experience, a CF SLP demonstrates their ability to:

  • Apply theoretical knowledge in the field.
  • Evaluate their strengths.
  • Apply the ASHA Code of Ethics to their professional practice.

They also have the opportunity to identify their limitations and refine their clinical skills. After a student shelves their books and heads out into the field, they have to spend at least 36 weeks—or even up to four years—meeting all of the requirements for their ASHA certification. While students are generally required to perform direct clinical work as part of their graduate program in communication sciences and disorders, those hours do not count toward their clinical fellowship year hours.

Eighty percent of a CF fellow’s workweek must be spent in direct contact with clients. This direct clinical contact must fit within the ASHA Scope of Practice in order for it to be counted as hours worked. The other 20% of the week must be spent on other activities such as attending in-services or providing training and presentations for peers or patients.

All work completed must be done under the mentorship of a CCC-SLP certified mentor, and any travel, vacations, leaves of absence or other forms of paid or unpaid time off cannot be counted in the number of hours worked per week. 

Your ASHA Clinical Fellowship Mentor

Once you have identified the location of your clinical fellowship, finding your clinical fellowship mentor is the next step.

Choosing a CF mentor can often be a challenging decision. You may want to target a mentor whose work aligns with your career goals or one you admire and feel comfortable working with. To help you find a suitable mentor in your area, you can reach out to past teachers or peers and ask for their advice. You can also conduct research of your own. Once you do find your mentor, you’ll want to make sure they meet ASHA’s requirements for CF mentors

  • They hold a current CCC-SLP certification throughout the entire fellowship.
  • They are not related to you in any way.
  • They have nine months of full-time experience (or the part-time equivalent) working as a speech language pathologist after being awarded the CCC-SLP.
  • They have completed two hours of professional development in the area of supervision at least once in their career after being awarded the CCC-SLP. 

What Are the ASHA Clinical Fellow Responsibilities?

Clinical fellowship responsibilities must be complete to make a successful transition from student to practitioner. These responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring your CF mentor(s) meet the required qualifications to mentor. Your CF mentor(s) should provide a minimum of six hours of direct supervision and six hours of indirect supervision per segment. 
  • Verifying that the chosen CF setting provides the full range of services and opportunities to demonstrate and refine each skill as outlined in the Clinical Fellowship Skills Inventory (CFSI).
  • Contacting your state’s regulatory agency or licensing board for licensure requirements. Some states may grant CFs temporary or provisional licensure.
  • Confirming that at least 80% of your CF time will be spent on activities that are related to the management and care of people with speech and language disorders.
  • Verifying your new role within the company you work for. Clinical fellows can be full staff members or interns. 
  • Submitting a written request to the Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CFCC) if you need alternative supervision methods. Your CF mentor will assist you in drafting the request and you must have the request approved before starting your CF. 
  • Confirming that each individual setting (if you are working in multiple) can provide you with at least five hours per week.
  • Submitting a separate form for each CF setting/change. This is only necessary if you need to change any of your settings, mentors or the number of hours you work after the CF has begun.   

Direct Clinical Contact During Your Clinical Fellowship Experience

The scope of a speech language pathologist position can be broad. Depending on the trajectory of their career in speech therapy, an SLP can work collaboratively in a variety of SLP career settings—from hospitals to schools. Since SLPs fill positions within a wide range of settings, their speech pathology clinical hours may reflect the range of positions and services they can offer. 

Per the Speech-Language Pathology Clinical Fellowship (SLPCF) Report and Rating Form [PDF, 96 KB], fellows will be exposed to the following skills, among others:

  • Screening. 
  • Assessment and diagnostic evaluations.
  • Treatment.
  • Writing reports.
  • Family and client consultation. 
  • In-service training.

Mentors will work with each CF and rate them based on their progress. They need to achieve a score of “2” or higher on each of the 21 core skills on the Clinical Fellowship Skills Inventory [PDF, 427 KB], in the final segment of the fellowship. 

1. Assessment Skills

SLPs use screening procedures to diagnose communication and swallowing disorders. Assessing patients involves interpreting the results of the screening procedure and making the necessary referrals and recommendations for the client. The assessment process can include collecting and obtaining additional information from various sources and records, such as comprehensive case history information. SLPs will integrate the information from all sources to identify contributing factors and/or causes of the patient’s diagnosis. 

During the CF process, the fellow must be able to select and implement assessment procedures for every client they work with. The assessment involves determining eligibility criteria for the start of treatment and for a client’s discharge. The fellow must also be able to clearly communicate assessment results to relevant individuals and make relevant necessary referrals. 

2. Treatment Skills

SLP services are designed to help individuals improve their quality of life through their ability to communicate and swallow. Part of an SLP’s main goal is developing and implementing treatment plans that address symptoms or concerns around communication, swallowing or any related functional issues. Treatment plans identify the problem and establish a way an SLP can help the patient restore an impaired skill or ability. 

During the CF, a fellow must design and document evidence-based, client-centered treatment plans. The fellow will select and implement evidence-based treatment plans that address the client’s treatment goals. The treatment process must be adapted for each individual client, including meeting the needs of culturally and linguistically diverse clients. The fellow must also demonstrate the ability to determine criteria to initiate, modify and terminate treatment, and be able to clearly communicate treatment outcomes to relevant individuals. 

3. Professional Practice Skills

SLPs must adhere to professional guidelines and regulations, including ASHA and state codes of ethics, and federal, state and local laws related to client information. In accordance with regulations, the SLP will need to schedule and prioritize direct and indirect service activities for clients as well as manage and document client records. SLPs are expected to determine eligibility and complete billing requirements for client reimbursement.

During the CF, a fellow must demonstrate the ability to follow professional regulations and adapt treatment to the individualized needs of each person they work with, including clients from culturally and linguistically diverse populations. 

4. Interpersonal Skills

SLPs counsel their patients by providing support, education and guidance. Interpersonal skills are an important part of the profession and may help an SLP build a strong rapport with their patients during the treatment process. An SLP must convey the ability to adapt their communication style to meet the needs of each individual they work with. 

During the CF, each fellow should be able to independently counsel and educate clients and other relevant individuals, such as family members and loved ones. This includes actively listening to clients and responding accordingly, engaging clients in problem-solving and encouraging client self-advocacy. During the consultation and counseling, the fellow should always use terminology and phrasing that can be understood by the audience, but is also accurate and informative. 

Does the ASHA Clinical Fellowship Differ From State Requirements?

By definition, state licensure is a designation that is intended to protect the public from harm. By contrast, certification is documentation to assure the public that an individual has voluntarily met rigorous standards endorsed by a national professional body.

When it comes to certification, requirements for speech language pathologists vary by state. Before you begin the process to become a certified clinical SLP in your state, find out if you require a provisional or temporary license as a clinical fellow. Some states do not require this type of license and you may be okay to continue with the clinical speech pathologist fellowship under the guidance of your mentor. 

Aside from a potential temporary certification for the CF, most states require a clinical fellowship of at least 36 weeks and 400 hours of supervised clinical practicum. Some states may require the speech language pathologist certification to include a CCC-SLP or similar educational standards, such as passing the Praxis exam. Once you meet all of your state’s requirements, you can obtain a speech pathology license.

However, before you begin the process to become certified, make sure you check all of the state requirements for speech language pathologists. You may need to take additional steps to become a certified SLP in your state. Researching before you begin your ASHA CF application process may help you make the most of the experience. 

Last updated April 2022.