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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Entry-Level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

The USC Chan entry-level OTD program is built upon the nation’s No. 1 occupational therapy graduate program as ranked by U.S. News and World Report. This program is designed for students with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than occupational therapy. If you are already a certified or board-eligible occupational therapist, please see information about our Post-Professional OTD degree program.

Our Graduates

Our entry-level OTD curriculum focuses on clinical excellence, therapeutic practices, research, evidence-based practice, technology and innovation, and justice, equity, diversity and inclusion. We expect USC Chan graduates will become leaders in the fields of occupational therapy and occupational science. Our entry-level OTD curriculum has been designed to prepare you to become:

  • An Expert in Occupation: You will understand the power of occupation, its impact on health and well-being, its therapeutic uses and the study of occupational science.
  • A Reflective, Responsive, and Engaged Professional: You will utilize self-reflection and -recognition and other tools to provide compassionate and culturally-responsive care.
  • A Practice Scholar: You will develop clinical reasoning to become an evidence-based practitioner and lifelong learner.
  • A Global Citizen: You will be equipped to participate in addressing needs of increasingly global communities, locally and abroad, and participate in international exchange experiences.
  • A Visionary Shaping Change: You will understand how to navigate complex systems and innovate through new concepts, protocols, frameworks and technologies.

During this three-year program, you will complete four practice immersions in Pediatrics, Mental Health, Adult Physical Rehabilitation, and Productive Aging and Geriatrics, and six fieldwork experiences to build your knowledge and skills for providing entry-level occupational therapy practice. Through USC’s elective course options and the Doctoral Capstone Experience, you will also have opportunities to gain experiences and build expertise in a focused area of your choice.

Our Chan Commitment: Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

The themes of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) are woven throughout the entry-level OTD curriculum. The JEDI theme prepares you to build your reflective capacity; recognize and counteract oppression; collaboratively partner with individuals, communities and organizations; and promote justice, equity and inclusion for diverse populations.

USC Chan recognizes that the composition of occupational therapists nationwide is not sufficiently representative of the diversity of the healthcare consumers whom the profession serves. Consequently, we strive to recruit superior applicants for all of our academic programs from diverse populations, and to provide financial packages that will make it possible for promising students from underserved populations to attend USC Chan.

Read more about diversity, access, and equity at USC Chan and our Minority Mentorship Program.

Doctoral Capstone Experience

The signature element of the entry-level OTD is the Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE), a 14-week, full-time experience in which you are immersed in a real-world context of advanced clinical practice, research, policy and advocacy or pedagogy. Your DCE might be at the USC Occupational Therapy Faculty Practice working with college students utilizing the principles of Lifestyle Redesign®. Your DCE might take you to Rancho Los Amigos Rehabilitation Hospital to hone your clinical skills in adult physical rehabilitation working with people recovering from brain injury. You might join a USC Chan research project studying underserved populations with Autism Spectrum Disorder or Sensory Integration. You might work to assist in developing occupational therapy services abroad in China with a partner institution. You might participate in curriculum development and teaching opportunities, and/or you might learn more about policy and administration working in a local community center or in one of the USC Chan Initiatives. Regardless of setting or context, your DCE experience will involve your faculty mentor and your identified DCE site mentor, both of whom will support and guide you as you implement your approved Doctoral Capstone innovation.

Please note
The USC Chan Division has initiated the process to transition the entry-level master’s degree program to an accredited entry-level doctoral (OTD) program. The entry-level OTD degree program has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education® (ACOTE®) and we are accepting applicants for the 2021 application cycle (program start in fall of 2022). Please review the frequently asked questions for additional information.

Contact Us
For more information about the Entry-Level Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) from USC, contact the USC Chan Admissions Team.