Doctor of Occupational Therapy (entry-level)

The entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree program prepares students with baccalaureate degrees earned in a range of health and behavior disciplines to become a qualified occupational therapist. This innovative blended program replaces the MSOT degree program and includes four on-campus semesters and online courses during the summer months and the experiential components of the program. The curriculum is designed to provide an excellent education for students planning for professional roles as occupational therapy practitioners in traditional settings, as well as in areas of newly identified need. The program requires successful completion of academic courses and integrated fieldwork, a doctoral experiential component, and a capstone doctoral project.

The three-year OTD program includes two years (four semesters) of on-campus academic work, Level I Fieldwork, three summer semesters of online coursework, completion of 24 weeks of internship (Level II Fieldwork), completion of 16 weeks of experiential work in the situation of practice, and a mentored doctoral project. The on-campus component is full time and consists of daytime and weekday classes. Two online courses are completed each summer. Fieldwork experiences are completed after the four semesters of the on-campus academic portion of the program. The doctoral experiential component occurs after Level II Fieldwork is completed. The OTD program begins in the Fall Semester, and courses are sequential. Therefore, we offer no options for spring entrance into the program. The summer courses are online.

Clinical courses make extensive use of case examples, representing the life course. This life course approach differs from the traditional divisions by diagnosis (mental health, physical disabilities) or age group (pediatrics, geriatrics) and guides the introduction of relevant assessment, intervention, and systems issues as they would typically occur in relation to each aspect of the life course.

Each semester, students participate in an Integrative Seminar that links academic course content with concurrent extended Level I Fieldwork (LIFW) in the local Boston community. Students discuss and analyze their LIFW experiences in the seminar and apply learning from other courses to these clinical situations.

Students in the Occupational Therapy Doctoral program study with outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions to occupational therapy practice, scholarship, and research. The BU faculty is known among occupational therapists and the health care community throughout the world and brings a broad and rich perspective to the education of students in the occupational therapy program. They are passionate about the profession, enthusiastic about teaching, and committed to making a positive difference in occupational therapy and health care at the state, national, and international levels.

The OTD program produces leaders who desire to be agents of change through the application of occupational therapy knowledge and expertise to improve the health and well-being of others in a wide variety of settings. This goal requires that students understand the experiences of others; assume responsibility for their own personal and professional development; appreciate the complex systems involved in human occupation and health; and communicate, interact, and collaborate effectively with clients, families, professional colleagues, and the larger community.


Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College’s entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program 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. AOTA’s phone number is 301-652-2682, and their website is The program is now eligible to proceed to Step 2 of the Initial Accreditation Process (the Initial Review), with the submission of the Self-Study Report due on August 1, 2018. The program would then participate in an Onsite Accreditation Team Visit, with the goal to receive formal accreditation before the first cohort of graduates from the program.

Once accreditation of the program has been obtained, 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, most 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.

Students must complete Level II fieldwork and experiential requirements within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.

Institutional Accreditation: Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. The University was most recently granted continuing accreditation in October 2009.

Graduation Rates: The total number of graduates from the Boston University Occupational Therapy master’s degree program during the three-year period of 2014–2016 was 150, with an overall graduation rate of 99%.

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating* Graduation Rate
2014 49/49 100%
2015 44/42 95%
2016 59/59 100%
Total 152/150 99%

*Please note that this data refers to the Boston University MSOT program (the MSOT program will be discontinued as we transition to the entry-level OTD program).

Once the entry-level OTD program receives accreditation status from ACOTE, graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Visit the NBCOT website at for more information. Upon successful completion of the exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states require licensure and/or initial certification to practice. However, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

NBCOT Eligibility: The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) may disqualify students with felony convictions/charges from becoming certified. The Qualifications Review Committee (QRC) will review the qualifications of examination candidates who have been convicted of or charged with a felony to determine if the circumstances appear to relate directly to the safe, proficient, and/or competent practice of occupational therapy. For students entering an OT program, the QRC may give an early determination for approval to take the certification exam. For more information, contact the NBCOT directly.

NBCOT Pass Rate: Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at

Admission Requirements

We use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) for applications. The deadline for completed applications is December 15. All official transcripts, GRE scores (new BU-OTCAS institution code 1891), special essay, and three letters of recommendation should be sent directly to OTCAS and received by December 15:

Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)
P.O. Box 9120
Watertown, MA 02471

The Entry-Level OTD Admissions Committee will review completed applications, once they are verified by the OTCAS system.

Highly qualified candidates are invited to Boston University for an interview. Candidates will meet individually with two members of the OT faculty. On-campus interviews are highly recommended, but Skype interviews are available for applicants unable to travel to Boston.

  1. Official transcript(s) showing evidence of completion of (or intention to complete) a baccalaureate degree. The program does not require a particular undergraduate concentration, and we encourage applicants with a diversity of backgrounds. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in undergraduate coursework is required. Prerequisite courses taken after completion of a baccalaureate degree are not counted toward the GPA.
  2. Scores on the aptitude portion of the GRE General Test. GREs must be taken within the past five years. We recommend the following minimum GRE scores: verbal 153 (500 on the prior 200–800 scale), quantitative 144 (500 on the prior 200–800 scale), and analytical writing 4.5+. Official scores should arrive by December 15 to OTCAS (GRE code for Boston University–OTCAS is 1891). Because our program requires strong critical thinking and writing skills, we use the GREs as one indicator of an applicant’s competency in these areas. If GRE scores are below the minimum in any area, we recommend retaking the exam. There are some excellent study guides available to help students prepare for these exams, and sample test questions are posted on the GRE’s website at There is no limit on the number of times a student is allowed to retake the GREs. We will use the highest score from each section.
  3. One special essay question is required separately from the OTCAS application. Please complete the essay as instructed in the Program Materials section on OTCAS. The essay question is provided below.
    Describe an experience in which you thought change was necessary and how you went about creating change. 
  4. Three letters of reference, to be submitted electronically or in paper form directly to OTCAS. One should be from a person who can address your intellectual and academic abilities. One should be from a supervisor in a professional or other work capacity who can address work performance, service commitment, or other areas of your background that may be pertinent. The third reference may be from any category. It is most important that persons providing references know the applicant well so that they can provide specific examples of the applicant’s strengths and accomplishments.
  5. Official transcripts indicating completion of the six prerequisite courses (described below) at the college level. A minimum grade of B– is required. All transcripts should be sent directly to OTCAS.
    • At the time of application, prerequisites may be in progress or pending (e.g., planning to take in the summer), but must be completed before starting the OTD program in September. In these cases, applicants would be accepted conditionally to Boston University.
    • All prerequisite courses must be completed within seven years of matriculation into the OTD program.
    • Courses taken to fulfill prerequisites may be taken at any accredited university or college (including community colleges) and must have a minimum of 3 credit hours.

If you have questions regarding any of the prerequisites or admission requirements, we encourage you to contact the Boston University OT office in writing ( and include an email attachment of the course description from the appropriate college catalog (please allow at least two business weeks for decision). If a preapproval or waiver is granted by the Entry-Level OTD Admissions Committee, be sure to keep written confirmation for your records.

OTD Admissions Committee
Boston University Sargent College
635 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Fax: 617-353-2926

A. Human Anatomy: One course with a laboratory section. Note: When anatomy and physiology are taken as a combined survey course, a full complete sequence of two semesters (A&P I and II) must be taken to fulfill the two Human Anatomy and Human Physiology prerequisites. This prerequisite should be completed by the end of the Spring Semester prior to matriculation into the OTD program.

B. Human Physiology: One course (lab section optional).

C. Gross Human Anatomy: The summer before matriculation into the OTD program, students are required to complete an online gross anatomy course offered by the BU Sargent College Occupational Therapy Department. Students must demonstrate competency in this course by earning a grade of 75 or better. Detailed information about how to register for this course and course requirements will be sent to students once they have formally accepted admission into the OTD program.

D. Statistics: One course to include descriptive and inferential statistics, correlation, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and introduction to regression analysis. A course in research design is also acceptable if it covers the relevant statistics.

E. Abnormal Psychology: One course. Courses titled Psychopathology or Psychology of Deviance may also be acceptable.

F. Developmental Psychology: One course. Courses titled Lifespan Development, Child Development, or Child Psychology may also be acceptable. Content on child development must be included in the course and the course must address theories of development.

Two entry-level OTD courses are completed online each summer. Boston University’s Distance Education office offers technology assistance to students. Please visit BU Distance Education’s webpage on What to Expect as an Online Student for more information.

  • Technology plays an integral role in online learning—it’s what makes this all possible. To get started in a Boston University online program or course, Distance Education recommends that students have basic computer skills, such as the ability to send email, navigate the internet, and install software. If you’re unsure about your computer skills, Distance Education is happy to help you get up to speed.
  • Curious about what kind of technical components are required for online learning (Blackboard Learn)? You can find out what kind of computer, browser, and operating system you’ll need by visiting our Technical Requirements page.
  • Boston University online students have access to technical support 8 a.m. to midnight (Eastern Standard Time), seven days a week. If you are experiencing any difficulty accessing course materials, or if you have questions, there will always be someone who can help you (, 617-353-HELP, IS&T website).

We encourage applicants (especially those who are unsure if they want to study occupational therapy or what occupational therapy is) to observe or shadow an occupational therapist. Applicants can arrange an observation by contacting the occupational therapy department at a local facility. Observations in a population in which you are interested would be helpful (if you are interested in children, try a school setting). If possible, applicants should chat with the occupational therapist about what they do.

We highly recommend experiences in at least two different service delivery settings (e.g., school, early intervention program, skilled nursing facility, community health center). One experience should be extended (more than several weeks) and one short term. Although health care experiences are not part of the official admissions criteria, they provide additional information about a prospective student’s experience in the field and basis for choosing to pursue occupational therapy. Such experiences will weigh favorably when making admissions decisions.

The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, Department of Occupational Therapy.

Applicants and students for the OTD must have abilities and skills in the areas of cognition/judgment/observation, communication, interpersonal/attitudinal attributes, and physical and sensory motor skills as described below. These technical standards are necessary for full participation in the academic and fieldwork/clinical aspects of the Occupational Therapy Program at Boston University and must be demonstrated on a consistent basis. Applicants and students should review the technical standards for the OTD program carefully and identify if additional supports are needed to meet these standards consistently for any portion (classroom clinical/fieldwork and experiential components) of the OTD program.

Students who have a disability may request reasonable accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students are encouraged to contact the University’s Disability Services office to arrange an individualized consultation to discuss any support services or accommodations they may need.


  1. Problem-solving ability sufficient to organize and complete multiple tasks (such as projects and assignments and interventions relating to client care) from multiple courses and/or fieldwork/clinical accurately and within assigned time frames.
  2. Adherence to safety precautions and ability to use appropriate judgment with clients, family members, and other stakeholders during lectures, application sessions, and clinical/fieldwork experiences (including independent studies and fieldwork/clinical).
  3. Ability to handle possible stress and anxiety of an intensive curricula including the academic (classroom and independent studies) and fieldwork/clinical (Level I and Level II fieldwork/clinical and special programs such as service learning experiences) aspects by demonstrating effective and adequate coping and time-management skills.
  4. Ability to self-reflect and apply feedback to academic and fieldwork/clinical situations in order to develop appropriate strategies for professional growth.
  5. Ability to generalize and apply academic knowledge to fieldwork/clinical situations.
  6. Ability to initiate and attend to a task until completion.
  7. Ability to observe and participate in application sessions and fieldwork/clinical experience settings determined essential by the faculty. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities. Students must be able to observe a patient accurately both at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal as well as verbal signals.


  1. Ability to speak and write the English language intelligibly, hear sufficiently, and observe patients closely to elicit and transmit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communication as well as possess reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements and provide fieldwork/clinical care for clients. Capable of completing appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol, in a thorough and timely manner. Comprehend and use the English language in an understandable manner both verbally and in writing, including grammar and organization in an efficient time frame specific to the task.
  2. Ability to communicate sensitively, effectively, efficiently, and appropriately with peers, faculty, supervisors, other professionals, clients, and their significant others on a one-to-one basis, in a small group, large classroom setting, and large group and to respect the confidentiality of client/patient information.
  3. Ability to initiate and actively participate in classroom and fieldwork/clinical settings.


  1. Ability to use intellectual capacity, exercise good judgment, and promptly respond and adapt to the client’s needs under potentially stressful circumstances. Must be flexible in being able to adapt to changing environments and client factors, and respond in the face of uncertainties inherent in fieldwork/clinical practice.
  2. Ability to work within fieldwork/clinical environments that involve exposure to persons with physical and mental disabilities. Must also be able to appropriately deal with situations involving pain, grief, death, stress, communicable diseases, blood and body fluids, and toxic substances.
  3. Ability and willingness to work with a diverse client population including persons of various ages, disabilities, sexual preferences, ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  4. Ability and willingness to modify behavior/performance in the classroom or the fieldwork/clinical setting after feedback from the instructor or fieldwork/clinical supervisor.

Physical/Sensory Motor

  1. Manual dexterity and motor planning sufficient to manipulate evaluation and intervention equipment.
  2. Hearing and visual acuity and visual field sufficient to respond independently to an emergency situation signaled by a change in an individual’s appearance, pulse, blood pressure, an individual’s verbal, nonverbal, or physical communication of distress, and/or environmental event.
  3. Ability to lift 20 pounds independently and to place objects of this weight at various levels including floor and overhead.
  4. Ability to perform 50 percent of a physical transfer of a patient/client up to 200 pounds with assistance or with assistive devices; i.e., from a wheelchair to toilet or tub while maintaining good body mechanics.
  5. Capacity to attend and actively participate in all lecture and application sessions including real-time tests and fieldwork/clinical situations.

Any student for whom English is not the first language must demonstrate competence in English through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Test of Written English (TWE) or the online version of these tests. Students who are most competitive for admission will have a composite score of at least 90–100 and minimum scores of 20 in each section. International students should also visit the ISSO website for additional requirements.

Degree Requirements

The Boston University Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program prepares students to become occupational therapists who promote health, well-being, and participation in a global society. Our three-year, innovative hybrid program includes four on-campus semesters, online courses during the summer months, six months of Level II fieldwork (LIIFW), and a 16-week “doctoral experiential component.” The curriculum is designed to provide an outstanding education for students to work as occupational therapists in traditional settings, as well as in areas of newly identified need.

Fall Spring Summer
OTD year 1 16 cr on campus 18 cr on campus 8 cr online, 14 weeks
OTD year 2 18 cr on campus 16 cr on campus 8 cr online, 14 weeks
OTD year 3 Level II Fieldwork Level II Fieldwork & 2 cr online, 7 weeks 6 cr online, 16 weeks
Doctoral Experiential Component

Summary of Entry-Level OTD Requirements

The program is designed for full-time study. In the unusual event that a student is approved by faculty for a part-time or extended program due to extenuating circumstances, the student must complete at least one semester of coursework on a full-time basis (minimum of 12 credits).

  • A minimum grade of C+ in all professional courses (students may not repeat more than two courses, and no course may be repeated more than once)
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • A minimum of 92 graduate-level credits from courses numbered 500 or above
  • Successful completion of 24 weeks of supervised Level II Fieldwork (SAR OT 593/594) and 16 weeks of Doctoral Experiential Component (SAR OT 949) within 24 months after finishing didactic work
  • Completion of all requirements within five years of initial matriculation
  • Demonstration of appropriate professional behaviors as described in the Occupational Therapy Student Manual

Doctoral Experiential Component

During the Doctoral Experiential Component, students apply the knowledge and skills developed in courses and clinical fieldwork to the design and implementation of an applied and innovative response to an identified need in the field.

The doctoral experiential component is designed to support advanced skills in the student’s selected area of interest. The experience is a 16-week, full-time, in-depth experience in the situation of practice in one or more of the following student-selected areas:

  • Advanced clinical practice
  • Research
  • Policy and advocacy
  • Education

Students will select a doctoral experiential component area based on a match of interests with an appropriate faculty mentor’s expertise. Together, students and mentors will negotiate and formulate a specific topic and experience. The mentors serve as professional role models and guide students throughout the experiential component.

Throughout the Boston University Entry-Level OTD curriculum, students will be completing competency tasks to prepare for the doctoral experiential component. Each student will be mentored by a faculty mentor, a site mentor (mentor in the situation of practice), and a peer mentor. During the doctoral experiential component, students meet online with their faculty mentor and small groups of students for support, problem-solving, and mentorship.


Students register for 16 on-campus credits for the Fall and Spring Semester of the first year of the program. Students register for 18 on-campus credits for the Fall and Spring Semester of the second year of the program. Students register for 8 online credits for the first and second summer semesters of the program. Each course carries 4 credits unless otherwise noted. Level II Fieldwork (24 weeks full time) is completed from either September or October to March of the third year of the program. Following completion of Level II fieldwork, students will complete a 16-week Doctoral Experiential Component in the situation of practice, along with 8 credits of online mentored supervision. The sequence of courses for the OTD program is fixed. Professional courses are sequential and offered only once a year; courses are 4 credits unless otherwise indicated.

First Year, OTD-1

Fall Semester

  • SAR OT 500 Integrative Seminar I and LIFW (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 513 Analysis and Adaptation of Occupation
  • SAR OT 520 Evidence-Based OT Practice I (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 526 Functional Movement: Analysis and Assessment
  • SAR OT 529 Occupation Across the Life Course
  • SAR OT 589 Orientation to Practice (0 cr)

Spring Semester

  • SAR OT 501 Integrative Seminar II and LIFW (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 524 Introduction to the OT Process
  • SAR OT 538 Assistive Technology (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 556 Neuroscience for Occupational Therapy
  • SAR OT 562 Learning and Behavior Change
  • SAR OT 620 Evidence-Based OT Practice II (2 cr)

Summer Semester

  • SAR OT 940 Social, Economic, and Political Factors that Influence Occupational Performance
  • SAR OT 942 Health and Wellness Promotion
Second Year, OTD-2

Fall Semester

  • SAR OT 502 Integrative Seminar III & LIFW
  • SAR OT 563 Context and Occupational Performance (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 564 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice I
  • SAR OT 568 Occupation-Based Practice for Individuals
  • SAR OT 621 Evidence-Based OT Practice III (4 cr)

Spring Semester

  • SAR OT 530 Occupation-Based Practice with Groups
  • SAR OT 565 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice II
  • SAR OT 586 Professional Service Management
  • SAR OT 590 Level II Field Experience Fee (0 cr)
  • SAR OT 943 Professional Development Seminar

Summer Semester

  • SAR OT 944 Needs Assessment and Program Development
  • SAR OT 945 Clinical Theory Development and Analysis
Third Year, OTD-3

Boston University students do not pay tuition for SAR OT 593/OT 594 Level II Fieldwork. The OT clinical affiliation fee is paid during the OTD-2 Spring Semester (via registration of OT 590 Fieldwork Seminar & Fee), equivalent to the cost of 2 credits, and students maintain status at the University as full-time special students during internships.

Level II Fieldwork (LIIFW): No student may start LIIFW until all required professional courses have been completed with an acceptable grade (C), the minimum cumulative GPA (3.0+) is achieved, and professional behavior and technical standards are met. All students must complete LIIFW within 24 months of finishing their required professional coursework.

Fall Semester

  • SAR OT 593 Level II Field Experience I (0 cr)

Spring Semester

  • SAR OT 594 Level II Field Experience II (0 cr)
  • SAR OT 946 Preparation for Doctoral Experiential Component (2 cr)

Summer Semester

  • SAR OT 949 Doctoral Experiential Component (0 cr)
  • SAR OT 947 Mentored Studies in Doctoral Experiential Component
  • SAR OT 948 Mentored Doctoral Experiential Dissemination (2 cr)

Doctorate in Occupational Therapy awarded

The Entry-Level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) is awarded after completion of Level II Fieldwork and Doctoral Experiential Component requirements and within five years from initial matriculation. A minimum total of 92 graduate-level credits from courses numbered 500+ is required for the Entry-Level OTD degree.