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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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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
in Occupational Science

The PhD in Occupational Science degree program prepares you to become a career scientist engaged in the study of human occupation — the purposeful activities that constitute our life experiences. Occupational scientists examine the function and structure of occupation, the impact of occupation on individuals and communities, and the interrelationships among the complex array of factors associated with human occupation. We emphasize the development of research skills, and encourage you to organize and synthesize knowledge to contribute to occupational science theory and interdisciplinary understandings of occupation, health, and social participation.

A career scientist conducts independent and or collaborative scientific discovery as part of an identifiable and distinct program of research, engages in effective knowledge mobilization, and is often supported by extramural funding. Within the discipline of occupational science, career scientists engage in these activities across a variety of academic, clinical, community, and industry contexts, and often serve as content experts within collaborative research teams.

USC Chan PhD graduates have:

  • Received prestigious post-doctoral research fellowships.
  • Obtained tenure-track faculty appointments at R1 designated universities (Doctoral Universities-Highest Research Activity).
  • Secured external grant funding from competitive governmental agencies.
  • Launched new lines of inquiry through systematic research programs.
  • Disseminated their work in peer-reviewed publications and at national and international conference presentations.
  • Contributed to theory development in occupational science.
  • Informed occupational therapy and related practices through intervention development and basic and translational science research discoveries.

Full Financial Support

Curriculum and Requirements

Course Sequence

Research Immersion Experiences

A Global Community and Interdisciplinary Partnerships

Diversity, Access, and Equity

Consideration for International Students

A Day in the Life of an Occupational Science PhD Student

Dominique, a student in the Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Science degree program, shares about daily life as a PhD student studying occupational science at the University of Southern California.