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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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Why the OTD is Right for Me


February 18, 2022
by Alyssa


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Hello! At the time I’m posting this, many of you are likely hearing back from OT schools and deciding where you want to go. If so, congratulations! And welcome to the best career ever.

In the spirit of USC Chan admitting its first-ever class to the new entry-level OTD program, I wanted to share more about why I’m choosing to stay to get my OTD here even though I’m part of the entry-level MA program.

USC was the only entry-level MA program I applied to - the rest were all entry-OTD. Given that I already had a master’s, I figured the next obvious step was to pursue a doctorate, and I didn’t think through the distinction more than that. So when I accepted my offer at USC, I had practically already decided that it was going to be a 3-year commitment.

Now that I am at the end of the MA program here, I’ve done more reflecting on what the OTD means to me and why I think it’s important for my career –

1. Mentorship
My biggest draw to pursuing my OTD is an additional year of mentorship in a clinical setting. Sure, by the end of this year I will have technically completed all of the requirements to start practicing, but I think that the unique structure of an OTD compared to a first year on the job provides more opportunity for guidance and relationship building with your supervisor.

2. Leadership
The OTD also aligns with my interests in leadership roles within the profession. A guest speaker in class mentioned that sometimes a doctorate is required to have a seat at the metaphorical and/or physical decision-making table in some organizations, and I want to be there. 

3. Timing
I feel lucky to be able to continue on to getting my OTD now rather than returning after a few years of work. Right now, my role as a student defines many aspects of my life, and I am feeling progressively more ready to close this chapter. Of course I’ll still be learning every day at work from my future colleagues and clients, but I don’t think starting work then returning for another degree would have worked for me.

As a bonus, staying for the OTD means spending another year in close connection with the wonderful friends and professors I’ve built relationships with here in LA 😊