Occupational Therapy Clinical Doctorate

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different paths to the OTD?

The OTD at PhilaU is designed to meet the needs of a range of occupational therapists who want to further their knowledge and careers. OTs who have a master’s degree will typically enter with advanced standing and complete the 30 credit MS-to-OTD track. Therapists educated at the bachelor’s level with no master’s degree will complete the 39 credit BS-to-OTD track.

What is the length of the OTD program?

The OTD can be completed on a full-time or part-time basis. Time for degree completion depends on the route each student chooses. Students with master’s degrees who take two courses per semester can earn the OTD in five semesters. Students with master’s degrees who take one course per semester can complete their degrees in ten semesters. Because students with bachelor’s degrees must complete three more courses than master’s students, the BS-to-OTD track can be completed in eight semesters.

What is the format of the PhilaU OTD program?

The PhilaU OTD program is a low-residency online program where students complete the majority of coursework through distance education technology. This format allows students to maintain their current work roles. Each week students complete course learning activities, upload assignments, and engage in discussions online. The majority of coursework will be delivered asynchronously (i.e., at times convenient to the individual student), though some courses may have synchronous sessions (i.e., opportunities for everyone to be online at the same time through an online chat). 

Students come to campus two times to interact with fellow colleagues and faculty: at the beginning of the program as a component of the first course; and at the end, when students present their capstone projects. Additional optional on campus sessions may be scheduled, depending on students’ interest.

How much time is expected per course?

Students should expect to spend between 6 to 10 hours per week per course. This generally involves completing course readings and assignments, posting in the online discussion board, and responding to classmates’ postings.

How does a post-professional OTD differ from an entry-level OTD?

The post-professional OTD (like the one at PhilaU) is for people who are already occupational therapists, unlike the entry-level OTD that prepares people to become occupational therapists. The post-professional OTD is designed as an advanced degree where each course provides students with opportunities to apply new learning directly to practice, or for moving into new career paths.  Each university that offers a post-professional OTD establishes its own focus. At PhilaU, OTD students complete a 3-course minor and a capstone project that can be applied directly to the student’s practice and career interests (either clinical or academic).

How does a post-professional clinical OTD differ from a PhD degree?

An OTD is a professional practice degree.  The focus of the degree is on advanced practice and preparing graduates to assume higher-level leadership roles within their areas of expertise, as opposed to the major research requirement of research doctorates.