Doctor of Occupational Therapy
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program is an entry level program designed for bachelor or master-degree holders who want to work as a licensed occupational therapist. The program utilizes a combination of fully online courses, blended (mixed delivery of online content with face-to-face) and fully face-to-face coursework for a dynamic and flexible student experience. Upon successful completion of the program, students will be prepared to take the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
The mission of the University’s OTD program is to graduate a diverse population of practitioners who have the doctoral level skills necessary to analyze human occupation and to implement science-driven and evidence-based interventions that promote quality of life for the clients whom they serve. The graduates will contribute to their profession and to a global society through their competence, ethical standards and professionalism.
- Degree Length: The 117-credit program can be completed in two years and 8 months
- Interprofessional Education: Collaborate in an interprofessional learning environment with students from other health professions.
- Hands On Learning: Work with patients while you earn your degree and complete practicum hours in your own community by working with a faculty mentor.
- Faculty: Learn from faculty who are leaders in their fields, many of whom are currently practicing, presenting original research at major conferences, and publishing books or articles in respected journals.
- Destination Campuses: The OTD program is offered in Austin, TX and San Marcos, CA (San Diego County).
- Start Dates: For your convenience, we offer three start dates per year – Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Why USAHS for Your OTD?
Earning a degree from USAHS, a WSCUC-accredited, educational leader in the health sciences, gives you the skills you need to succeed as an occupational therapist.
- USAHS has a strong reputation for excellence in education and teaching clinical skills focused on health sciences. Its focus on graduate studies in health sciences allows for an intimate, personalized approach that encourages success in students and alumni. Our students and graduates have been recognized by our clinical partners for their high level of professionalism and excellence in health care situations.
- Our students value the unique personalization and attention they receive from their faculty and mentors throughout their educational journey.
What is Occupational Therapy?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that employment for occupational therapists will increase by 27% between the years of 2014-2024, which is well above the national average for all occupations.* This statistic indicates growing demand for occupational therapists who provide services to individuals of all ages with have physical, developmental, emotional, and/or social deficits. Because of these conditions, individuals need specialized assistance in learning functional skills which enable them to live independent, productive and satisfying lives. This degree program utilizes current technology to deliver a student-centered curriculum.
An occupational therapist selects therapeutic procedures that are meaningful to the individual receiving intervention and are designed to achieve improved functional outcomes. For example:
- A premature infant who needs feeding reflexes stimulated
- An 8-year-old child who has trouble coordinating handwriting
- An individual who has had a stroke, has the use of only one hand, and needs help to be independent with daily activities
- The elderly person who wants to remain at home but needs her kitchen adapted so meals can be prepared safely and independently
- Adapting the work environment to help someone maintain his/her job
Occupational therapists practice in public and private schools, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, hand therapy clinics, home health agencies, private practice, and other health care organizations.
The USAHS OTD program emphasizes interprofessional education, enabling students from various health care professions to learn together. With this approach, you will participate in discussions and projects where you contribute your perspective to a health care problem or issue and benefit from the input of other health care professionals such as physical therapists. Studies, including a Cochrane review, have indicated that interprofessional education produces strong, positive outcomes in the organizational culture, patient satisfaction, collaborative team behavior and improved patient safety.
In the workplace multiple disciplines deliver team-based care that strengthens health systems and improves health outcomes. There is consensus that health care professionals must have the competency to work in teams to provide safer, quality care to multiple populations in varied health care settings.
Our interprofessional approach facilitates the development of these skills to allow you to participate in health care teams and shape the future of occupational therapy.
USAHS is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). The entry level OTD program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.
The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
 *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook
 Reeves, S., Perrier, L., Goldman, J., Freeth, D., & Zwarenstein, M. (2013). Interprofessional education: effects on professional practice and health care outcomes (update). Cochrane Database Syst Rev, 3, CD002213. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD002213.pub3
 NLN Board of Governors (2015). Interprofessional Collaboration in Education and Practice.
Thibault, G. (2013). Reforming Health Professions Education Will Require Culture
Change and Closer Ties Between Classroom and Practice. Health Affairs, 32(11), 1928-1932.