The road to becoming an audiologist begins with an undergrad (or bachelor’s) program, which typically takes about four years. If you load up every semester with courses, you can finish in less time than that, but undergrad programs are typically designed to be taken over four years. Taking more courses than you can feasibly handle can often lead to burnout or lower grades, so many college counselors won’t advise people to go this route if they don’t absolutely need to.
Once you complete your undergrad program and earn your bachelor’s degree, there are two options: a master’s degree (which will take about two years) or a Doctor of Audiology (AuD) degree (which will take four). Of course, there are some pretty significant downsides to the master’s program.
If you’re thinking about the shorter option, you should be aware that many states require audiologists to have an AuD degree. This means your options are going to be far more limited with the master’s program.
Another thing to be aware of is that a master’s program won’t end in licensure: you’ll likely have to complete an additional year of training beyond your education to become a licensed audiologist. According to the American Academy of Audiology:
In the master’s model, upon completion of an MA/MS degree program, individuals were required to complete a subsequent fellowship year before becoming eligible for audiology licensure. The AuD model qualifies graduates for licensure after completion of all degree requirements, including the externship experience.
When considering the benefits of a master’s program against those of an AuD program, our opinion is that you should definitely try to get the AuD if possible. We understand that this isn’t going to be feasible for absolutely everyone, but you’re putting yourself into a much better position by having an AuD.
The bottom line: If you’re planning on becoming an audiologist, prepare to spend eight years in school.