Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is a post-professional degree program that provides graduates with advanced knowledge and skills in one of four leadership concentrations: 1) advanced clinical practice; 2) clinical research; 3) policy and administration; and (4) pedagogy. OTD students graduate from the program with a strong foundation in occupational science as well as in-depth mentored residency experience. The OTD prepares graduates to secure positions as expert clinicians in specialty or emerging practice areas, as contributors to clinical research teams, as administrative leaders within health care organizations, and as non-tenure track faculty in institutions of higher education.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the OTD program are expected to have at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and must be certified or licensed as an occupational therapist or be eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination at time of matriculation. Domestic students not certified upon matriculation must pass the NBCOT examination by the end of the first semester of the program to maintain enrollment. At the discretion of the OTD director, some international students may not be required to obtain NBCOT certification. A minimum GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) and a minimum GRE combined verbal and quantitative score of 1000 are required. Applicants must have earned a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA in the 400- and 500-level required courses. At least three letters of reference, an autobiographical statement of purpose and a current resume are required. Applicants’ leadership potential, previous academic record, clinical experiences and professional accomplishments will also be considered.

International Students

Students educated outside the United States must have graduated from a program approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT). USC maintains additional admissions requirements for international students (see the Admission section of this catalogue), including English language competence as measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.

Application Procedures

Applications are accepted on a continuous basis. For consideration for fall semester admission, applications must be received by November 15 for maximum funding consideration. Applications received after November 15 will be considered on a space-available basis. Application requirements include: 1) USC Online Graduate Application; 2) Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy online supplemental application for graduate admission; 3) three letters of reference; 4) autobiographical statement of purpose; 5) transcripts from all colleges/universities attended; and 6) GRE General Test scores.

Degree Requirements

The degree is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to Requirements for Graduation and Graduate School of this catalogue, for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be accepted by the USC Graduate School.

Course Requirements

Satisfactory completion of 60 units beyond the baccalaureate degree is required.

Required occupational therapy foundation courses (20 units required) Units
OT 451 Neuroscience of Behavior 4
OT 470 Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice 4
OT 504 Health Promotion and Wellness 4
OT 580 Leadership Capstone 2
OT 581 Quantitative Research for the Practicing Clinician 4
OT 585 Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science 2
Required occupational science core courses (8 units required) Units
OT 620 Current Issues in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy 4
OT 621 Occupational Therapy Leadership: Contemporary Issues 4
Elective Courses (8 units required)

Students will complete a minimum of 8 course units at the 500-level or higher. A minimum of 4 of these 8 elective units must be selected from courses outside the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Residency Requirement (24 units required)

Students will complete 24 units of OT 686 residency. The residency ensures that graduates of the OTD program demonstrate competence in one of the following leadership concentrations: 1) advanced clinical practice; 2) clinical research; 3) policy and administration; and 4) pedagogy.

At least 20 units applied toward the OTD must be successfully completed before enrolling in OT 686. Students may complete their residency over three consecutive semesters (6 units, 6 units and 12 units) or over four consecutive semesters. It is highly recommended that one semester of OT 686 be enrolled full-time (12 units without any other simultaneous course enrollment). Full-time residency ensures the opportunity for full immersion in residency. Faculty must approve each student’s residency plan prior to enrollment. OTD residency provides students the opportunity for mentorship by experts in their OTD leadership concentration (e.g., a master clinician, a world-class occupational science researcher, a leader in professional policy or administration, or a faculty member with at least three years of academic experience).

Capstone Requirement

In the final semester of enrollment, each student will submit a portfolio demonstrating competence in his or her chosen leadership concentration. The final portfolio will include documentation of both written and oral presentation skills and expertise as designated in the residency plan.

Clinical Experience Criterion

If the student has less than three years of clinical experience as a registered and/or licensed occupational therapist at time of admission, he or she may be required to complete at least 8 units of clinical occupational therapy courses, which may include:

OT 500abc Clinical Problems in Occupational Therapy 2-4 each
OT 560 Contemporary Issues in School-Based Practice 4
OT 564 Sensory Integration 4
OT 572 Ergonomics 4
OT 574 Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation 4
OT 583 Lifestyle Redesign 4
OT 590 Directed Research 1-12
OT 610 Sensory Integrative Dysfunction 4