Sac State audiology student with patient
Story Degrees

Now Hear This: CSU to Add Doctoral Programs in Audiology

Angie Marcos

More senior citizens across the U.S. means a need for more healthcare professionals and researchers who can help Americans hear better.

Sac State audiology student with patient

The need for healthcare professionals in audiology is growing rapidly, largely due to the increase in the number of older Americans. Here, a Sacramento State student works with a patient in the campus' Language, Speech and Hearing Center. Photo courtesy of Sacramento State


Did you know that one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experience hearing loss? That number rises to one in two adults after age 75.

About 20 percent of Americans report some degree of hearing loss — the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease. And that number will only grow as the aging population in the U.S. continues to grow

The San Diego State University Audiology Clinic offers diagnostic hearing evaluations for a wide age range. Photo courtesy of SDSU
"There is this big rising interest in hearing loss," says Carol Mackerise, Ph.D., professor and director of audiology at San Diego State University. "It's coming from the aging population, from their families, from health professionals and even the general public."

"Hearing loss is inevitable," adds Dr. Mackerise. "We will all experience hearing loss as we get older."

And that means older Californians will need healthcare professionals to help them hear as well as they can. So as part of its ongoing efforts to meet California's workforce needs, the California State University is strengthening existing audiology degree programs as well as introducing new doctoral degree programs in the field.

"We are very happy that the CSU is taking the lead to expand more of its professional doctorate programs so that we can meet the needs of the state and beyond," says Ching-Hua Wang, M.D., Ph.D., provost and vice president for academic affairs at California State University, Sacramento.

The campus is developing an audiology doctoral program to be implemented within the next two years. California State University, Los Angeles recently finished developing their audiology doctoral program and is currently accepting applications.

Listening to a Need

A doctoral program in audiology isn't new to the CSU; in 2003, San Diego State University, in collaboration with UC San Diego, became the first institution in the state to offer the four-year clinical doctoral degree.

We are very happy that the csu is taking the lead to expand more of its professional doctorate programs so that we can meet the needs of the state and beyond."- Dr. Ching-hua wang, sac state provost

SDSU also offers an on-campus audiology clinic for the local community.

With the aging population expected to double by 2050, there will be a drastic increase in the number of individuals living with hearing loss and associated issues, such as trouble with balance, Mackerise explains.

That translates to an expected 21 percent increase in audiology-related jobs through 2026, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics — a growth rate that's much greater than many careers.

What Does An Audiologist Do?

Audiologists — all of whom are doctors and must be licensed in every state — assist individuals with hearing-related difficulties, working to diagnose, treat and prevent hearing loss. They work in hospitals; physicians' offices; speech, language and hearing clinics; outpatient facilities; and school districts. Audiologists' patients can range from newborns to the elderly.

And while it's a growing field, there are still fewer than 75 universities in the U.S. that offer an Au.D. program.

"When we first brought this to San Diego State, it was important for us to understand not only how we wanted to build this program on our campus, but what this profession wanted and needed from our students," Mackerise says, adding that over the past 15 years the program has attracted students from across the nation.  

That's something Fred D. Baldini, Ph.D., dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Sac State, is also looking to do as he and his team work to introduce the doctoral program to Sac State: "We are being responsive to the needs of our community. We have already demonstrated that we can produce outstanding graduates that can meet the needs of the community, and that's what we will continue to do with all of our future programs. 

"We are filling a need in the workforce not just in the state, but the entire nation … Our professional doctorate programs change the landscape in the healthcare field by bringing diversity to healthcare professions."

4 ​​​CSU Campuses Where You Can Study Audiology 

  • CSU Chico – Speech Pathology and Audiology, B.A. and M.A. 

  • CSU East Bay – Speech Pathology and Audiology, B.S. 

  • Fresno State – Communicative Disorders, Audiology Option, B.A.

  • CSU Northridge – Communication Disorders and Sciences, B.A. with an option in Audiology