University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Degree

The USC OTD program is a world-class program of study in occupational science and leadership designed to prepare graduates to secure positions as expert clinicians in specialty or emerging practice areas, as contributors to clinical research teams, as administrative leaders within health care organizations and as non-tenure track faculty in institutions of higher education. USC doctors of occupational therapy possess the professional insights and practical skills to drive changes across health and human services organizations, within professional educational programs, on clinical research teams and via public policy initiatives to ultimately benefit society. An interdisciplinary approach allows each student to explore his or her unique needs and interests, while an in-depth mentored residency experience lets students learn alongside outstanding faculty and scholars who are on the vanguard of occupational therapy practice and occupational science research. Students also complete courses in other USC schools and departments as appropriate to their academic focus.

Leadership Concentrations

The OTD program provides the following four leadership concentrations so that each student can ably chart his or her future.

Advanced Clinical Practice

This track resembles the residency model typical in doctoral-level medical professional programs. For example, you might complete your clinical residency in a specialty area such as mental health, hand therapy, cardiac rehabilitation, sensory integration, or Lifestyle Redesign®, while composing a portfolio that includes evidence-based literature, assessments and other content related to the specialty. Your coursework will complement your residency and further develop your clinical expertise within that specialty area.

Clinical Research

This track prepares residents to participate as a member of a research team to implement evidence-based studies in clinical settings and collect clinical outcomes data. You will complete your residency in an ongoing division research program while taking coursework emphasizing occupational science and research methodologies. Unlike the Ph.D. in Occupational Science program, which is designed to prepare individuals as future NIH career scientists, this OTD track prepares occupational therapists to better bridge research projects and clinical implementation.

Policy and Administration

This track is designed to prepare residents as executive decision makers, public policy advocates or administrators. For example, you might complete your residency shadowing a hospital administrator and collaborate in the development of hospital policies. Your coursework will focus on self-presentation, leadership skills and policy and planning in the healthcare arena. This track will prepare you as an agent of positive change, social responsibility and ethical care who can lead the profession forward.


This track equips residents with the teaching expertise and other skills necessary to become outstanding faculty members, particularly in settings such as liberal arts colleges or research-intensive universities with clinical faculty positions. For example, you might complete your residency in an academic role while gaining additional clinical expertise and developing course content or student programming. Your coursework will complement your residency and develop your knowledge and mastery of innovative pedagogical approaches.

For more information about the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree from USC, contact Amber Bennett, Assistant Director of Admissions.