PhD in Occupational Science
Preparing to Apply
It is strongly recommended that you review information about the PhD in Occupational Science program prior to preparing your application materials. In addition, be sure to review active research projects and PhD faculty who are available as primary mentors for the PhD immersion experiences listed below. You should use all of this information to determine how your interests align with occupational science and potential mentors.
Amber Angell PhD, OTR/L
Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD
Grace Baranek PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Sharon Cermak EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Mary Lawlor ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L
Bobbi Pineda PhD, OTR/L, CNT
Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDCES, FAOTA
Shawn Roll PhD, OTR/L, RMSKS, FAOTA, FAIUM
If you have an interest in our PhD in Occupational Science program, please complete our PhD interest form — even if you are in the very early stages of the process. This will allow us to keep in touch with you, and invite you to any events relevant to the program.
Holistic Admission Criteria
Holistic review evaluates applicants based on cognitive and non-cognitive traits, which ensures that more than one factor contributes to admission decisions. Our holistic review evaluates applications across the following primary criteria: articulation of research interests and knowledge of occupational science; academic preparation and aptitude for completing a PhD; professional and scholarly writing; and available faculty mentorship for personal research interests.
The following components are included in USC Chan’s holistic review:
Phase I (USC CAS Application)
- Letters of Recommendation
- Curriculum Vitae/Résumé
- Personal Statement
- English Proficiency (as indicated)
Phase II (Invitation Only)
Selected applicants will be invited to interview with PhD program faculty. Details regarding phase II will be provided at a later time to the selected applicants.
How to Apply
You may apply online at any time through USC Graduate Admissions. Please apply at least three weeks before the Division’s application deadline to allow adequate time for processing. You will find the “Occupational Science (PhD)” program under “Independent Health Professions.” You must complete the supplemental portion that relates to occupational therapy and upload the additional documents as described below. You should arrange to have transcripts and English Proficiency test scores (if applicable) sent to USC Graduate Admissions in time to meet the application deadline.
Application Deadline: December 1st
Note: Applications received after this date are welcome and will be processed on a space-available basis. However, all application materials must be received not later than mid-January for full consideration.
Three letters of recommendation are required and should be uploaded to the USC CAS application. A minimum of two letters must be submitted by academic references. One letter of recommendation can be submitted by any other professional who is familiar with your capabilities and achievements. If you are unable to upload to the CAS application, letters may also be sent directly to the Division at the following address:
Admissions Committee: Kristin Nxumalo
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
1540 Alcazar Street, CHP 133
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9003
A curriculum vitae (CV) or résumé must be uploaded. This document should detail previous academic preparation, professional expertise, and research experiences. The CV/résumé should show evidence of your potential to succeed and overall fit with our PhD program.
The USC Chan PhD in Occupational Science program aims to develop career scientists. Please describe your current research interests and how completing a PhD will support achieving broader scholarly goals. In your statement, be sure to include reflections on past experiences that have influenced these interests and goals. Additionally, discuss how Occupational Science supports your vision and indicate which faculty or research projects in the Chan Division would provide a robust immersive experience to assist you in becoming a career scientist.
This personal statement will be reviewed as a professional writing sample. As such, this statement should represent your own individual work and be grammatically correct, clear, and concise. Please use 11-point Arial font with double-spacing and 1-inch margins. Include your full name in the header of the document. Limit your response to four pages. The personal statement should be uploaded in the Supporting Documents section of the USC CAS application.
Applicants must have completed at least a baccalaureate degree with a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 from an accredited college or university. For applicants who have completed a graduate degree, the holistic review process will give primary consideration to graduate GPA(s) over undergraduate GPA.
Transcripts should be submitted directly to USC Graduate Admissions.
If your bachelor’s degree was earned in a non-English-speaking country and you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, you need to submit scores from an official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Please note that even if you are from an English-speaking country, you may still need to submit scores. We require that you have verification of the following scores within two years of your intended enrollment:
- An Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 100 with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or
- An IELTS of 7 with no less than 6 on each band score. If your native language is English and/or you have a bachelor’s degree from a US college or university, you are exempted from this examination.
You can read more about the English Proficiency requirements on the Graduate Admissions webpage.
Currently, students selected for admission to the PhD program are awarded fellowships or assistantships which cover 12 units of tuition support in fall, spring and summer, an annual stipend of $40,000, and student health and dental benefits.
If you would like to know more, please use our Request Program Information Form, and we will be happy to send you a brochure about any of our programs.