FIRST YEARS > Frequently Asked Questions
Admissions note: FIRST YEARS is not  accepting applications. If you have questions regarding the program, please contact Kathryn Wilson, Program Director,  at
What is FIRST YEARS and why are you offering a certificate?
As more children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing are served in inclusive settings, a growing number of special educators, speech pathologists, and other professionals are being asked to serve these children and their families.  While most are experienced professionals in their respective disciplines, many have limited educational preparation to work with these populations.  FIRST YEARS is a continuing education program for professionals interested in expanding their knowledge and skills related to speech and language intervention with children who are deaf or hard-of hearing.  A certificate of completion will be awarded at the end of the program to document coursework and practicum.
Am I a good candidate for your program?
The FIRST YEARS courses and the mentorship experience were designed, in a convenient distance format, to meet the on-going educational needs of practicing professionals. To determine if distance education is a good fit for you, review our materials at Successful Online Learning
What level of expertise is this program intended for? 
The courses are intended for post-baccalaureate study by professionals who have been working for at least two years with children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. There are graduate credits associated with each course.  The Units of Study page covers the credit designation assigned to the courses. 
Is the coursework introductory -- for "beginners" only?
The FIRST YEARS certificate offers graduate-level content, with graduate-level expectations for assignments.  It is designed to meet the needs of professionals who have been practicing in the field, but feel a need to acquire current information and update their skills.
Will there be online lectures?
FIRST YEARS was designed with working professionals in mind and features asynchronous distance instruction, where you "learn any time, any place."  This means that students are not required to participate in online discussions at required times nor are online lectures a component of the instruction.
Can I take just one course?
No, the courses are offered exclusively as part of the FIRST YEARS certificate.
How long will it take to complete the program?
The certificate can be completed in 2 years if a course is taken each semester, including summer. 
What does the mentorship experience involve? 
FIRST YEARS requires a clinical practicum, beginning in the second semester in the program. The mentorship experience lasts a minimum of 10 days (80 hours) and is divided into two sessions. Documents describing the mentorship "first steps" are here.
Can I earn ASHA CEUs with FIRST YEARS courses? 
Yes. You can submit the hours from your courses towards CCC maintenance requirement with ASHA. (each university credit = 15 clock hours) At the end of the 3-year maintenance cycle, fill out an affidavit of completion of 30 clock hours. In the event that you are audited, you must supply an official transcript, available from the UNC Registrar.  For more information: 
Will FIRST YEARS offer a distance opportunity for professionals to become LSLS certified? 
No, FIRST YEARS is not a direct means of attaining Listening Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS) Certification, although several of our graduates as well as current students have completed the requirements for both the FIRST YEARS certificate as well as the LSLS certification.  For more information on the certification process go to:

AG Bell has a free, 30-minute online course on the requirements for LSLS certification. Its completion awards 0.5 Academy-approved CEUs. Register/learn more here.

Can parents audit these courses? 
No.  While we appreciate the desire of parents to be better informed, current demand for continuing education requires us to limit our courses to professionals.
How much will it cost? 
The current fees are listed on the admission requirements page and vary from year to year.  However, to get a ballpark idea of the total cost, multiply the per-credit-hour fee times 15 (the total credit hours for the certificate). Cost of texts will vary with each course.  Costs of transportation and housing during the mentorship experience will differ depending on where the student lives and to which mentorship site they are assigned.
Do you offer tuition stipends?
We are not currently offering tuition stipends. 
If a group of students from a facility work together, is there a group discount?
No.  Each student must pay the full tuition and fees. 
Are there deadlines for registration?
Yes. These deadline dates appear on the main web site for FIRST YEARS.
Will this course of study lead to a teaching certificate? 
No.  Teaching certification is the purview of each state's department of education/ public instruction.
What do you foresee as the value of this new certificate?
FIRST YEARS is designed to inform professionals of current theories and practice aimed at helping children who are deaf or hard-of-hearing acquire spoken language.  Successful completion of the program will provide professionals with the knowledge and skills needed to provide better intervention and instruction to the children and families they serve.
Is there a way I can contribute to FIRST YEARS?
Yes! You can contribute monetarily and with new ideas to expand and promote our program. Making a monetary gift to FIRST YEARS  is easy and secure at UNC's Medical Foundation. Your gifts are welcome and appreciated! 

FIRST YEARS benefits from student and faculty feedback as well as input from others practicing in the professions we serve. We welcome your suggestions

Bobby WorldWide Approved 508
Alexander Graham Bell Association | UNC-CH Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences

© FIRST YEARS, Last update: June 2012, Maintained by FIRST YEARS Webmaster