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For whom is the OTD?

The OTD is for those who have already earned a degree in occupational therapy from an entry-level educational program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and have been a pracitcing occupational therapist for at least 2 years.

Who is a good OTD candidate?

The program seeks OT's who desire a professional doctorate to help them expand their knowledge, skills, and experience to enable them to become clinical scholars who will continue to autonomously function as occupational therapists within their scope of practice, contributors to the evidence-based literature that drives practice, and leaders in the profession.

Why would I want an OTD?

There are many personal and professional reasons to want an OTD. The occupational therapy literature has identified some reasons why the OTD is needed:

  1. There is a need for advanced clinicians who can strengthen their theoretical underpinnings and provide evidence-base practice.
  2. There is a need for competent leadership to meet the challenges of a continually evolving healthcare system.
  3. There is a growing expressed need within all of the health professions to produce individuals with advanced degrees.
  4. There is a national shortage of doctorally-prepared faculty to educate future generations of occupational therapy practitioners.
  5. A clinical scholar can then more autonomously operate as a change agent in health care systems.

What is the focus of this degree?

The focus of our OTD is to provide clinicians with a stronger, more up-to-date theoretical base; advance their leadership skills; and provide knowledge and skills in evidence-based research related to their chosen area of emphasis.

Is the post-professional degree accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)?

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education has developed voluntary doctoral degree-level educational standards. In developing this program we used these standards as a guide to develop the program. We plan to apply for accreditation from ACOTE when ACOTE offers such.

Who are the faculty who teach in the OTD curriculum?

All faculty teaching in the program hold doctorates. Courses in the proposed OTD program will be taught by existing faculty or by adjunct faculty who will be sought out for their particular area of expertise and national reputation.

Do I need to have practiced as an occupational therapist?

Our program is designed to build on your skills as an occupational therapist; therefore we require that you have a minimum of two years practice.

Do I need to have passed the NBCOT exam?

Applicants need to have successfully passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

I work full time, is it still possible to earn my OTD?

We anticipate that most of our students will be working professionals with busy lives. We designed the program for OT's who are either place-bound, time-bound, or both, which is why our OTD is offered with state-of-the-art distance education opportunities and can be completed on a part-time or full-time basis. It is recommended that students take no more than 2 classes a semester while working full time. Students may also opt to take only 1 class a semester. A motivated student entering the program with a master's degree can expect to finish in 2 years by taking 2 classes a semester.

Will I need to travel to Utah as part of the program?

No. Our OTD students do not need to come to Utah for any part of the program. However, Utah has a lot to offer, so feel free to plan a vacation and pop in to say hi!

I have a Bachelors in OT. Is this program for me?

Yes, individuals who have a bachelors in OT as their highest level of education are eligible to enroll in the post professional OTD. In fact, it's more important now that there is a push to mandate doctorate education as the entry to the profession. Students entering the OTD with a bachelors degree will be required to complete 45 credits to earn the degree. 

If I have a Master's degree in OT, what will the curriculum entail?

The doctoral level courses will total 36 credits, including foundational courses, core curricular courses, a specialization area of emphasis chosen by the student in collaboration with the faculty, and a capstone project serving as the culminating project demonstrating the student's level of scholarship. See Program Length and Curriculum.

What is the Capstone Project?

The capstone project is the final qualifying component for the OTD degree. This capstone project integrates, synthesizes, and applies the knowledge and skills acquired during doctoral coursework into a scholarly project designed by the student to meet his or her professional goals in an area of clinical practice. The student will design a project in one of the program's areas of specialization that reflects both the purpose of the OTD Program as well as the student's proposed innovation in practice.

What are the emphasis areas?

Because we want this to be a great experience, we have looked at the field of occupational therapy, occupational science, health care, and the strengths of our faculty. Possible areas to choose from include: contemporary trends in practice with children and youth, Autism & developmental disabilities, occupational justice with marginalized populations, excellence in teaching, neuro rehabilitation, strategy development for people with executive dysfunction, self management of people with chronic conditions, families & caregiving, and optimal aging, health & wellness.

What are the outcomes that this OTD expect?

The outcomes for our program align with the doctoral level outcomes developed by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE):

  1. Evidence-Based Practice (EBP)

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to apply, evaluate, and synthesize evidence-based practice to create a specific program and/or intervention to promote efficacious, client-centered, and culturally relevant practice.

  2. Occupational Therapy Theory

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to use knowledge of current theoretical and practice models to articulate and improve service provision, and/or policies in response to society's evolving and changing occupational needs.

  3. Advocacy

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to influence policy, practice, and education by being advocates for occupational therapy for individuals, populations, organization, and for the profession.

  4. Leadership

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will demonstrate leadership skills through the assumption of leadership roles at local, national, and/or international levels within the occupational therapy profession and broader health arenas.

  5. Education

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to develop and implement educational experiences for professional education, specific clients, populations, settings, and/or the general public through the application of learning theory and educational design principles.

  6. Occupational Justice

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to address individual, institutional, and societal issues in health and with marginalized populations in order to promote occupational justice.

  7. Research

    Graduates of the University of Utah OTD program will be able to increase the body of knowledge in occupational therapy practice through the preparation and dissemination of scholarship in the student's chosen area of emphasis and as a part of the practice arena.

  8. Culminating Project

    A critical component of this OTD program will be the student's capstone project which will be evidence of the programmatic outcome of completion of a culminating project that reflects competency in the student's chosen area of emphasis.

Are clinical hours a part of the OTD?

Because students in our program have clinical experience prior to acceptance, the OTD does not require "clinical" hours as a part of the degree but is more focused on the development of the thought processes and experiences needed to develop the critical thinking skills, specialization, and advanced leadership abilities related to practice. However, much of the course work will focus on the clinical aspects of occupational therapy and the development of clinicians so that their practice in the clinical realm will be at a higher, more advanced level.

What does online education really mean?

Because of the varied content and outcomes that are expected, some of the courses will be synchronous, meaning they will be offered at a set time using video and audio feed. Other classes will be asynchronous, and although there may be audio or video interactional components of the class, the majority of the class assignments may be done at the discretion of the student.

How will I get to know my classmates?

There are opportunities to interact with your classmates online through the synchronous learning and exchange of ideas.

When are the classes held?

While most of the classes allow you to work and study independently, occasionally your classes will meet online for discussions. These online meetings are usually held in the evenings in Mountain Time.

Do I need to take the GRE?

NO. Applicants for the post professional OTD are not required to take the GRE.

Are there qualifying exams that I will need to take?

We want to make sure that our graduates get the best experience they can. Prior to taking the Capstone Series (OC TH 7400 and 7450) each student's progress is reviewed by a faculty committee. If the student has made good progress with their coursework, they will be approved to begin the series of classes leading up to completion of all the requirements for graduation.

Do I have to have incredible computer skills to be successful in this program?

Although you will need some computer basic skills, there will also be technical support, and we will help you navigate the systems we will use. Below is a list of minimal hardware and software that will be needed to be able to access the course content.

General System Requirements

  • Mac or PC, desktop or laptop
  • Newest version of Adobe Flash Player•Web Browser - Internet Explorer is NOT supported in Canvas applications. Use Google Chrome (recommended) or Firefox for PC – Firefox or Safari for Mac
  • Broadband connection with 500+ Kbps (DSL or Cable)
  • RAM: 128MB or more
  • Video Card: at least 64MB of video memory
  • Sound Card: at least 16-bit

PC Specific Requirements

  • Platform: Windows 2000 or higher with latest updates installed
  • Processor: 500MHz or faster

Mac Specific Requirements

  • Platform: Mac OS X 10.3 or higher with latest updates installed
  • Processor: 1.83MHz Intel Core Duo or faster

*Requirements subject to change. When in doubt, please consult with us before purchasing new equipment.

Will I have an advisor to guide me in this process?

Existing full-time faculty will be available to advise OTD students. It is anticipated that this will take the form of mentoring rather than the usual advisement that accompanies entry-level education.