Doctor of Occupational Therapy (entry-level)
The entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program prepares students with baccalaureate degrees earned in a range of disciplines to become qualified occupational therapists. This innovative blended program replaces the MSOT program. It includes four on-campus semesters, online courses during the summer months, fieldwork, and capstone components. 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 three-year OTD program includes two years (four semesters) of on-campus academic work, Level I Fieldwork integrated into all semesters of on-campus courses, three summer semesters of online coursework, completion of 24 weeks of internship (Level II Fieldwork), completion of 14 weeks of practicum work in a site related to the capstone, and a mentored doctoral capstone project. The on-campus component is full time and consists of daytime and weekday classes. Two online courses are completed each summer. Level II Fieldwork experiences are completed after the first two years of the program, and the doctoral practicum and capstone begin 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 or for part-time study.
Clinical courses make extensive use of case examples that are presented from a life course perspective. 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 factors as they would typically occur in relation to each part 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 are known among occupational therapists and the health care community throughout the world and bring 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 Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences’ entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. AOTA’s phone number is 301-652-2682, and their website is acoteonline.org.
Graduates of the program 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). 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.
Students must complete Level II Fieldwork and doctoral capstone and practicum requirements within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program.
Institutional Accreditation: Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE). The University was most recently granted continuing accreditation in 2020.
Graduation Rates: The total number of graduates from the Boston University Occupational Therapy doctoral degree program in 2022 was 35*, with an overall graduation rate of 94.6%.
*Two students took leaves of absence and graduated in January 2023.
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 www.nbcot.org 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 https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.
Applicants should refer to the program website for the most up-to-date admission requirements and application deadlines.
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org, 617-353-HELP, IS&T website).
The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Boston University Sargent College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Ability to self-reflect and apply feedback to academic and fieldwork/clinical situations in order to develop appropriate strategies for professional growth.
- Ability to generalize and apply academic knowledge to fieldwork/clinical situations.
- Ability to initiate and attend to a task until completion.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ability to initiate and actively participate in classroom and fieldwork/clinical settings.
- 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.
- 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.
- Ability and willingness to work with a diverse client population including persons of various ages, disabilities, sexual preferences, ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
- Ability and willingness to modify behavior/performance in the classroom or the fieldwork/clinical setting after feedback from the instructor or fieldwork/clinical supervisor.
- Manual dexterity and motor planning sufficient to manipulate evaluation and intervention equipment.
- 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.
- Ability to lift 20 pounds independently and to place objects of this weight at various levels including floor and overhead.
- 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.
- Capacity to attend and actively participate in all lecture and application sessions including real-time tests and fieldwork/clinical situations.
The graduate will:
- Achieve competence for entry-level occupational therapy practice by consistently providing client-centered, theory-driven, evidence and occupation-based assessment and intervention for all clients (individuals, groups, and populations).
- Demonstrate exemplary professionalism.
- Demonstrate advanced knowledge in a selected area of focus (advanced clinical practice, research, program and policy development, advocacy, education).
- Be an agent of change in the delivery models and systems used in current and emerging occupational therapy practice areas.
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 14-week “doctoral practicum and capstone.” 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.
|OTD year 1||16 cr on campus||18 cr on campus||8 cr online, 12 weeks|
|OTD year 2||18 cr on campus||16 cr on campus||8 cr online, 12 weeks|
|OTD year 3||Level II Fieldwork||Level II Fieldwork & 2 cr online, 7 weeks||6 cr online, 14 weeks
Doctoral Practicum and Capstone
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 14 weeks of Doctoral Practicum and Capstone (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 Practicum and Capstone
During the practicum and capstone, 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 practicum and capstone is designed to support advanced skills in the student’s selected area of interest. The experience is a 14-week, full-time, in-depth experience in the situation of practice in one or more of the following student-selected areas:
- Advanced clinical practice
- Policy and advocacy
Students will select a doctoral capstone 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 capstone experience.
Throughout the Boston University Entry-Level OTD curriculum, students will be completing competency tasks to prepare for the doctoral practicum and capstone. 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 practicum, 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 14-week Doctoral Practicum 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
- 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)
- 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)
- SAR OT 940 Social, Economic, and Political Factors that Influence Occupational Performance
- SAR OT 942 Health and Wellness Promotion
Second Year, OTD-2
- 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)
- 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
- 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.
- SAR OT 593 Level II Field Experience I (0 cr)
- SAR OT 594 Level II Field Experience II (0 cr)
- SAR OT 946 Preparation for Doctoral Capstone (2 cr)
- SAR OT 949 Doctoral Practicum (0 cr)
- SAR OT 947 Mentored Studies in Doctoral Capstone (4 cr)
- SAR OT 948 Mentored Doctoral Capstone 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 Practicum and Capstone 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.