Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Department of Occupational Therapy

College of Health and Human Services

The NAU OTD is designed to produce transformative, competent, entry-level practice scholars who innovatively and skillfully use meaningful occupation as the mediator and facilitator of participation between the person and environment. Graduates will meet specific learning outcomes stated as professional competencies in three major content areas: transformative service delivery; practice-scholar inquiry and servant leadership.

This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

University Requirements
  • To receive a Doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree (OTD) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, consisting of 138 units of graduate-level courses, depending upon the student's initial degree and transcript.

    The full policy can be viewed here.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 138
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Required
Research Individualized research is required.
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required
Some online/blended coursework Required
Residency Required Required

Purpose Statement

The NAU OT program offers first-rate educational, service learning, practice scholar and fieldwork experiences culminating in an individualized 16-week residency to develop occupational therapists. Presenting transformative skills, beyond the generalist level, practice-scholar competencies in the areas of practice, research, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, and theory predominate. As transformative practice scholars, our NAU OT graduates demonstrate the requisite skills and habits to use and create evidence to support practice, to facilitate change through leadership as well as to think critically and creatively as practice innovators.

The NAU OTD curriculum design reflects the essential concepts of the profession’s and contains ‘threads’ enacting the curriculum’s mission, vision and enabling belief’s about learning. The design will result in specific student outcomes that reflect both the generalist and post-generalist learning that needs to be included.

The program's curriculum design:

  • Identifies major content areas (e.g., "threads" or themes).
  • Discusses content themes consistent with the program's mission.
  • Reflects content themes regarding the essential concepts of the profession's practice   philosophy and educational standards
  • Integrates the curriculum philosophy and curriculum design content to provide the rationale for courses offered, sequencing of courses, and evaluation strategies.
  • States student learning outcomes (goals) for the curriculum content themes.

As a result, the curriculum design shows the scope (depth and breadth) of the program offered.

Student Learning Outcomes

In addition to the NAU Occupational Therapy Learning Outcomes below, the Doctorate program’s curriculum also achieves all competency standards set forth by their ACOTE accrediting agency.

NAU-specific Occupational Therapy Learning Outcomes
Occupational Therapy Core Philosophy Integration:

  • Employ occupation, adaptation and life span human development as organizers of human behavior and responses.
  • Promote health and engagement through the interaction between the individual and environmental demands according to the profession’s standards of practice.
  • Commit to selecting the best evidence to support critical thinking and intervention planning.
  • Prioritize client-centered engagement using ecologically-valid, meaningful activities and occupational engagement.
  • Promote quality of life across self-care, productivity/work, play/leisure and rest/sleep activities.
  • Influence individual and community, diversity, inclusion and sustainability through their practice
  • Engage best practices related to communities of practice and practice research though implementation science to expand the profession’s knowledge and authority.
  • Lead the use of applied scholarship approaches to engage in continuous practice-scholarship through embedding meaningful studies in the everyday practice context.
  • Pursue life-long self-improvement through thoughtfully-selected professional development activities.
  • Engage ethical reasoning and behavior that reflects the profession’s Code of Ethics.
  • Lead powerfully through facilitating sustainable change and knowledge sharing to promote the practice of occupational therapy.
Transformative Service Delivery:
  • Demonstrate and use their broad knowledge of the therapeutic application of occupation to facilitate health, well-being, quality of life, and sustainability.
  • Demonstrate entry-level professional skills in intervention evaluation, planning and implementation as well as outcome measures.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of pathophysiology and impairment, and analyze their impact on occupational performance throughout the life-span.
  • Utilize current evidence and technologies to provide knowledge-based, innovative, sustainable, highest quality services which address occupational health needs.
  • Use culturally responsive therapeutic interactions to address the diverse needs of underserved individuals, communities and populations.
  • Collaborate with individuals, other professionals, and organizations to advocate for accessible participation and full productivity for persons who may experience limitations in ability or major life activity as well as promote environmental and community development reflecting sustainable resilience and quality of life.
  • Educate, motivate and collaborate with individuals, with and without occupational performance limitations to empower their participation in health promotion and disease prevention activities in order to participate fully in meaningful, productive occupational roles, tasks, and activities.
  • Practice as educated, moral, ethical citizens and professionals who promote their own state of health and the health of individuals and communities through lifestyle application of occupational therapy’s core philosophy and values.
  • Promote one’s continuing competence as an occupational therapist by engaging in sustained, reflective, goal-directed professional development, inter-professional collaboration, advocacy, as well as system leadership and servant leadership for the community and profession.
Practice-Scholar Inquiry
  • Conduct applied practice research regarding the scholarly contribution of occupational therapy to intervention efficacy expectations and program outcomes.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the research process and how evidence is developed, critiqued and applied in occupational therapy practice using implementation science.
  • Select specific practice scholarship designs that can meaningfully be embedded in one’s everyday practice context to expand knowledge regarding applied practice outcomes and inform stakeholders.
  • Engage in dynamic clinical reasoning to reflectively transform information gathered through evidence analysis and practice observations to ensure best practices including interprofessional collaboration considerations.
  • Promote the integration of the findings from the scholarship of practice into health care policy and practice leadership to promote sustainable adoption of evidence-based interventions reflecting implementation science approaches.
Servant Leadership
  • Articulate the interaction between physical, psychological, spiritual, social, moral, and ethical issues to guide health care choices, delivery systems, and professional behaviors.
  • Cooperate and collaborate productively as a leading practice-scholar in healthcare, educational or community systems through participating on role-relevant communities of practice.
  • Demonstrate leadership roles as inter-professional practitioners, managers, consultants, educators, advocates and scholars at the local, state, national and international levels within the profession and in the communities served.
  • Influence system access to ensure healthy interdependence, adaptation, service access and sustainable solutions for consumers, while decreasing the impact of disability, disease and disadvantages in quality of life.
  • Practice the highest professional ethics and a true commitment to professionalism and occupational therapy.
The summarized standards/ outcomes are below.  See the full list of learning outcomes.


Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

    • NAU Graduate Online application is required (www.nau.edu/graduateapply) for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.
    • Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
    • Transcripts.
    For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy.
    • Must also complete OTCAS application
    • Two letters of recommendation
    • Prerequisites (completed prior to enrolling in the program)
      • Laboratory and lecture- based biology courses
      • One semester of statistics, abnormal psychology, and liberal arts & humanities
      • Two semesters of life span human development and sociology (beyond introductory level)
    • 40 hours observing two different occupational therapists each practicing in a different type of setting with different age-groups (minimum of 20 hours in each setting).
    • 40 hours in at least two different community settings (agencies, programs, camps, etc.) serving vulnerable, disabled or disadvantaged individuals or populations that address health, rehabilitation , disability, quality of life or community issues or sustainability initiatives.
    • Demonstrate competencies in medical terminology and general occupational therapy knowledge.
  • Before students receive final admission for the first semester, the following pre-requisite requirements must be met:

    • Evidence that a bachelor’s or master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution has been awarded
    • Successful completion of 
      • All pre-requisite coursework with a grade of C or better
      • The departmental on-line matriculation competency
      • Health requirements verifications
      • Basic Life Support certification
      • Fingerprint clearance card from the Arizona Department of Public Safety
Doctoral Requirements
  • Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

  • Program fees are established by the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR). A program fee of $11000 per year has been approved for this program.

  • Additional Information
  • The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education granted the university permission to accept its first class in fall 2014.  At its April 9-10, 2016 meeting, ACOTE reviewed the Report of On-Site Evaluation (ROSE) regarding the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program at Northern Arizona University.  All Standards were found to be compliant and ACOTE voted to Grant a Status of Accreditation for a period of 7 years (though 2022/2023).  Information regarding the program accreditation process and NAU’s current Candidacy Status can be obtained by contacting ACOTE  c/o AOTA at (301) 652-AOTA or online at www.acoteonline.org.  ACOTE is located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449.
    Information regarding the program accreditation process and NAU’s current Candidacy Status can be obtained by contacting ACOTE  c/o AOTA at (301) 652-AOTA or online at www.acoteonline.org.  ACOTE is located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449.
    With ACOTE accreditation, NAU graduates are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The student must make application with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy to sit for the national certification examination after graduation (nbcot.org).  A fee must be paid for the examination process which, when successfully completed, permits the entry-level practitioner to use the ‘OTR’ credentials.
    State Licensure: Students must apply for and pay a fee to be licensed in the state in which they desire to practice. To obtain a license, the graduate will need to:

    • Apply for and pass the NBCOT® Certification Examination.
    • Complete state licensure application requirements

    Information on state regulatory agencies and processes for occupational therapy can be found through the state government or the American Occupational Therapy Association’s, “How to Get a License’ site.