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 135 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 135
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Fieldwork Experience/Internship Fieldwork Experience/Internship is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Additional Fees/Program Fees Required
Some online/blended coursework Required
Residency Required Required

This program may lead to licensure.

Purpose Statement

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) is one of two entry points that is a required degree in the U.S. to practice as an occupational therapist. Occupational therapy (OT) is a health care profession focused on supporting individuals, groups and populations engage in activities (occupations) that they need or want to do. Occupational therapists work with a wide range of populations in diverse settings across the lifespan. In addition, a focus is on prevention of functional limitations and disability, and promoting health and wellness. Occupational therapists must be knowledgeable about the U. S. healthcare system and should participate in the development of health policy as advocates for their profession.
The NAU OT program offers a first-rate doctoral degrees that focuses on building clinical and professional reasoning skills, service learning, practice scholar and fieldwork rotations that culminate in an individualized semester long capstone experience to develop entry-level occupational therapists. Through the 33 month curriculum, students will learn 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.
The OTD program provides didactic and clinical coursework to prepare students to work in the profession of occupational therapy. 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 curriculum threads include:

1. Occupational Performance Perspectives
The core professional knowledge, philosophies and theories supporting the occupational therapy profession and its practice.

2. Body Functions Supporting Occupational Performance  The fundamental human scientific and medical knowledge supporting the occupational therapy practice.

3. Occupational Therapy Toolkit
The fundamental therapeutic skills and strategies underlying the delivery of occupational therapy across contexts.

4. Occupational Therapy Process Specific interventional approaches and associated efficacy evidence that support person-environment ‘fit’ using occupational performance outcomes and related preparatory practice methods.

5. Scholarship of Practice
The use and creationof data, including translation to inform practice through embedded scholarship of practice activities that includes outcome studies and various other measurements of practice effectiveness.  The capstone will be dissemination of a practice-based study.

6. Practice-Scholar Leadership
The development of the transformative practice-scholar roles across a variety of contexts: educator, fieldwork educator, coach, researcher, entrepreneur, consultant and advocate.  The capstone will be a program outcome plan that reflects the curriculum outcomes through a guided, individually-focused transformative capstone experience in advanced practice, systems leadership and/or self-proposed application of occupational therapy approaches.

7. Practice Competence
A series of progressively more complex integrated learning expectations tying together all prior learning, including integrated professional competency testing at the end of each on-campus semester or through level I and level II fieldwork education.  Activities at the end of a regular semester are to promote clinical reasoning and master competency across all prior coursework to facilitate higher order integrated learning. The final stage will be the successful completion of a practice competency examination at the end of all fieldwork to ensure readiness for the capstone experience.

8. Capstone An individually-mentored, self-directed capstone experience and a related scholarly project in completed as the culminating activity of the doctoral program with experience in one or more of the following: clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, or theory development. The capstone is designed to demonstrate integration of advanced knowledge as transformational practice scholars in the scholarship of practice, professional education competencies, health care leadership and self-direction of one’s career through a semester long experience.
Future opportunities:
The OTD is a clinical doctorate that prepares students to take the national licensing examination required to practice OT in the U.S. Students are prepared as generalists with the skills necessary to enter clinical practice in diverse settings, including outpatient clinics, hospitals, schools, nursing homes, community based mental health agencies, integrated care clinics and home health agencies. From 2016-2026, there is a projected 24% employment growth in the field of OT.
Population best suited:
Students entering the OTD Program must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college and completed the necessary prerequisite courses. It is a rigorous full-time program that requires strengths in science, psychology, communication, and teamwork. Professional and ethical behavior is essential.

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
      • 2 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 enter 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 NAU entry-level doctorate degree program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education® (ACOTE). ACOTE c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.®, 6116 Executive Board Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929, (301) 652-6611 x2914, acoteonline.org

    Professional program graduates are eligible to apply for certification by National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.® (NBCOT), nbcot.org. Program results from the NBCOT can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.
    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.