Faculty/Staff Resources Student Resources
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 OTD

The Chan Division has initiated the process to transition the entry-level master’s to an accredited entry-level doctoral (OTD) program. This process requires review and approval by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education® (ACOTE®) and the transition could occur as early as the 2021 application cycle (program start in 2022). Beginning in Spring 2021, USC Chan will offer admissions information sessions for the proposed entry-level OTD program, but please note that because this program is still in review, only limited information can be provided. Please review the frequently asked questions below for additional information. Our website will provide the latest updates throughout the transition process as they become available.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is USC Chan transitioning to the entry-level OTD?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the general landscape of healthcare professions is moving toward advanced degrees, and at USC Chan we believe that there are significant advantages to starting your career in occupational therapy with a doctoral degree. Many graduates who have a doctoral-level degree are positioned for leadership and management roles earlier in their career, with opportunities to earn higher career-long compensation. The USC Chan entry-level OTD will equip occupational therapy graduates with specialized knowledge and skills in clinical, educational, research and/or administrative leadership to ultimately advance the profession of occupational therapy. Additionally, we have seen tremendous growth in enrollment in our post-professional OTD program since it began nearly 20 years ago. A majority of our post-professional OTD students now come directly from our master’s program.

What are the similarities and differences between an entry-level master’s degree and an entry-level OTD degree?
Both entry-level master’s and entry-level OTD programs prepare students for entry-level practice as a newly certified and licensed occupational therapist. Both programs also include Level I and Level II fieldwork experiences.

A key difference between the entry-level master’s and entry-level OTD programs is your opportunity to work closely with our world-class faculty to gain the knowledge, skills and experience to apply evidence to a specialty practice area, develop new and sustainable programs, and thrive as an effective leader. One of the most enriching aspects of the entry-level OTD program is the Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE) following the completion of core courses and Level II fieldwork experiences. The DCE is a pathway to developing individualized learning experiences in clinical practice, research, policy and advocacy, administration or pedagogy. These signature elements are key anticipated differences between the entry-level master’s and the entry-level OTD degree programs. To achieve these goals, earning the entry-level OTD degree is anticipated to require 36 months.

What is the difference between an entry-level OTD and a post-professional OTD?
Students in an entry-level OTD program come from a variety of educational experiences and have not previously graduated from an accredited occupational therapy program. Students in a post-professional OTD program are current occupational therapists pursuing an advanced degree. USC Chan plans to offer both programs. If you previously obtained a bachelor’s or master’s degree in occupational therapy, you would pursue the post-professional OTD, which allows for much more flexibility between advanced academic coursework and continuing to practice as an occupational therapist.

I am a current USC Chan student; how will the Division’s transition to an entry-level OTD program impact me?

  • Bachelor’s-to-Master’s Degree Students: You will need to apply to and complete the OTD in order to be eligible to apply to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.
  • Entry-Level Master’s Degree Students: You will complete the master’s program as outlined in the USC Catalogue, and upon completion, have the option to pursue the post-professional OTD degree. The entry-level master’s program is slated to admit its last class in June 2021.
  • Post-Professional Master’s Degree Students: The post-professional master’s degree program will continue to be offered. Upon completion of the master’s program, you will have the option to pursue the post-professional OTD degree.

Will more scholarships be provided to offset the costs of an additional year of study?
USC Chan recognizes the rising costs of higher education, and we are committed to ensure the highest quality preparation of our students in alignment with this financial investment. We are currently working to increase availability of scholarships and will support students in navigating financial aid. Our website will provide the latest updates as they become available.

Contact Us

Thank you very much for your interest in our program. Dr. Arameh Anvarizadeh, Director of Admissions and member of our Admissions Team, would be delighted to answer any questions you may have beginning in late February. Please note that because we are reviewing applications and responding to applicants in our current admissions cycle, we will not be able to address questions about next year’s process before then. Thank you for your patience and understanding. You can reach Dr. Anvarizadeh toll free at (866) 385-4250, or by email at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).