Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
in Occupational Science
The USC CAS application system is open and available to accept applications for the PhD program each year beginning July 15th until December 1. The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for applications to the Chan PhD program. The Personal Statement is a critical component of the application—refer to the prompt and formatting requirements below. If you have questions, please contact the Admissions Team.
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.
Joy Agner PhD, OTR/L
Amber Angell PhD, OTR/L
Lisa Aziz-Zadeh PhD
Grace Baranek PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Alison Cogan PhD, OTR/L
Leah Stein Duker PhD, OTR/L
Mary Lawlor ScD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Sook-Lei Liew PhD, OTR/L
Bobbi Pineda PhD, OTR/L
Beth Pyatak PhD, OTR/L, CDCES
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.
Currently, students selected for admission to the PhD program are awarded fellowships or assistantships which cover 12 units of tuition support each semester, an annual stipend of $42,000, and student health and dental benefits.
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.
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 early 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:
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 alignment with our PhD program.
The 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, and limit your response to four pages. Include your full name in the header of the document. The personal statement should be uploaded in the Supporting Documents section of the USC CAS application.
Prompt: 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.
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 English proficiency examination scores. 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 total of 7 with no less than 6 on each band score; or
- A PTE Academic score of 68 or above, with 53 or above on each band.
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. For additional details about English proficiency requirements by country, please review the Graduate Admissions website.
If you have questions about English proficiency requirements, please contact our Admissions Team.
All USC Chan students and alumni are eligible to waive the application fee for the PhD. Please read the USC Office of Graduate Admissions’ information about graduate application fee waivers carefully as you will have to follow these step-by-step instructions in order to get your application fee waived. Please allow graduate admissions up to a week for your fee waiver to be granted, and contact graduate admissions directly with any questions related to the fee waiver.
If you have additional questions, there are a number of ways in which you can contact us for more information.
If you complete our form to request program information, we will be happy to provide access to a brochure about our programs.
We also provide information sessions, both in-person and virtual, for prospective students interested in our degree programs.
The USC Chan Admissions Team will be delighted to answer any questions you may have and further explore your interest in our program.
For general inquiries, you can also call us at +1 (323) 442-2850, or (866) 385-4250 (toll free within the US).