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Requirements for the Doctoral Degree, OTD

Type: University Requirements
Effective Date: 2/16/2017

The following general requirements pertain to all students pursuing the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. Additional program and discipline-specific requirements not addressed by this policy may be found in the program/department/school graduate handbook as well as the Academic Catalog

General Degree Requirements – Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy is a practice-scholar model doctoral plan that emphasizes didactic study (lecture, reading, practice skill labs, community experiences), mentored, scholarship of practice apprenticeships fieldwork and an individualized residency. This degree emphasizes the development of competencies in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, interventions, leadership and evidence-based practice including implementing practice-based research. Graduates become not only entry-level clinicians but able to engage in outcome studies and practice leaders as practice-scholars. The OTD degree requires a minimum of 138 units. Prerequisite courses are not included in this total. The degree is designed to be completed in 33 months of full-time study. This plan does not require a dissertation. However, it does include a capstone project and 16-week residency. 

Individuals who wish to enter into the occupational therapy profession must complete this degree, which is known as the “entry-level doctoral degree.” 

To graduate with the OTD degree, the student must meet following requirements: 

Coursework and Academic Requirements

Students must complete all courses in an approved Program of Study (POS) totaling the number of units specified for the program and meet all academic requirements and standards set by the academic unit for the doctoral program. The POS must be approved by the student’s major advisor and other appropriate academic unit administrators designated by the program. Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (on a scale where 4.0 = “A”). 

All graduate students must adhere to the academic requirements and criteria outlined by their program, Graduate College, and NAU. See NAU Policy 100319: Academic Continuation, Probation, Dismissal, and Readmission - Graduate for more detailed information. 

Graduate students must, at a minimum, meet the “Academic Requirements for Continuation in a Graduate Program” found in NAU Policy 100319: Academic Continuation, Probation, Dismissal, and Readmission - Graduate, in order to graduate. To begin the graduation process, please see NAU Policy 100334: Applying for Graduation, Graduate Students.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • Baccalaureate degree with an overall GPA of at least 3.0;
  • Two letters of recommendation, with one letter from a licensed occupational therapist;
  • Medical Terminology and Occupational Therapy competencies;
  • Forty hours observing two different occupational therapists each practicing in a different type of settings with different age-groups (minimum of 20 hours in each setting);
  • Forty hours in at least two different community settings (agencies, programs, camps, etc.) serving vulnerable, disabled or disadvantaged individuals or populations that address health, rehabilitation, disability, quality of life or community issues or sustainability initiatives. 

Before beginning the program, students must have:

  • completed approximately 27 units of undergraduate course requirements in biology, anatomy and physiology, abnormal and developmental psychology, statistics, sociology, and ethics or social justice (some of these requirements may have been part of the student's bachelor's degree);
  • Complete and submit the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) application.
  • Complete and submit the Northern Arizona University Graduate College application. 

Application for and Admission to Candidacy

There is no discrete candidacy stage associated with this degree. 

Time Parameters and Graduation Requirements to Complete Degree

Students who are admitted to the OTD program have six years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. The six-year period starts with the student's first semester of doctoral study at Northern Arizona University. If the student does not complete the degree in six years, the student may petition the Graduate College for one extension of this time limit.

Fees may apply. See Program Fees Policy for current fees.

Transfer Credit:

If accepted as a transfer student, no more than 12 semester units may be applied towards the OTD program from a previous institution.  In order to receive transfer credit, program approval and regulations governing transfer credit for graduate students must be met.

Appeal eligible: Yes

Students can appeal or petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Academic Appeal and University Graduate Committee Hearing Panel  policy is more appropriate. 

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.

Related policies:

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