Entry-Level OTD Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When does the entry-level OTD program begin?

Boston University’s entry-level OTD program begins in the Fall semester only (September).  For exact dates, please visit the Registrar’s academic calendar.


Q: Is the program full-time?

Yes, the program is a three-year, full-time program (on-campus and on-line). It is designed for full-time study.


Q: What is the average class size of the program?

We aim for a total class size of 45 students.


Q: What are the similarities and differences between an entry-level MS and entry-level OTD?

An entry level-MS and entry-level OTD program both prepare students for entry-level practice as an occupational therapist. Both programs require Level I and Level II Fieldwork. Currently, either degree level is a route of entry to the profession.

An entry-level OTD program includes additional course work and prepares students to develop both entry-level skills and advanced practice leadership skills in the areas of clinical practice, clinical research, policy and advocacy or education.  Students in an OTD program complete a mentored 14-week Doctoral Capstone and a culminating project.


Q: What is the added value of the entry-level OTD as compared to the entry-level MS degree?

Both the entry-level MS and OTD programs provide students with the skills to work as an occupational therapist in diverse practice environments (e.g., hospitals, schools, community centers, homes) with a range of clients (individuals, groups, populations).

In addition to achieving excellence in clinical practice, the BU entry-level OTD program prepares students for leadership roles in teaching, clinical research, management, or advocacy.


Q: What is the difference between an OTD and a PhD?

An entry-level doctoral program (OTD program) prepares students to sit for the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam and work as a registered occupational therapist.

A PhD prepares students for academic careers in research and teaching. The PhD program is not designed to prepare students to become certified occupational therapists.  Some students may choose a research-based PhD after completing a clinical doctoral program.


Q. What is the difference between an entry-level doctoral program and a post-professional doctoral program?

An entry-level doctoral program is for those students who have a baccalaureate degree in any area of study and want to pursue further education to become an occupational therapist. A post-professional doctoral program is for occupational therapists who want to advance their skills. Boston University offers both types of programs.

The Occupational Therapy department offers a 6-year combined Doctor of Occupational Therapy/PhD in Rehabilitation Sciences (OTD/PhD) Program for students with exceptional academic promise and strong motivation for a career in research. To learn more, visit our combined OTD/Phd website.


Q: What is unique about Boston University’s entry-level OTD program?

Boston University’s entry-level OTD program has many unique features. They include:

  • World-renowned faculty have extensive clinical and research experiences and are passionate about engaging students in these professional activities
  • Large network of community-based clinical sites
  • Situated within a stimulating, urban research university
  • Weekly fieldwork experiences which occur throughout each on-campus semester and provide a broad exposure to clinical settings and client populations
  • Coursework and Doctoral Capstone components are integrated into a curriculum that’s organized from a life-course perspective
  • Curriculum includes on-campus and on-line courses
  • Emphasis on occupation-based approach to evaluation and intervention
  • Specific courses to develop habits of evidence-based reasoning that are applied throughout the curriculum
  • Hands-on practical learning

Q: What is the Doctoral Capstone?

The Doctoral Capstone is an in-depth experience (14 full-time weeks) in one or more of the following student-selected areas: advanced clinical practice, research, policy and advocacy, or education.  Please visit our Doctoral Capstone page for more information.