Graduate students

Requirements for Doctoral Degree: OTD

Policy Number: 100815

Current Policy

Category: Academic » University Requirements

Fees may apply. See Registrar for current fees.



The following section describes the general requirements for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program. Students can find more specific information about this academic plan through Degree Search or by contacting the Occupational Therapy department.

OTD Plan

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy is a practice-scholar model doctoral plan that emphasizes didactic study (lecture, reading, and observation), fieldwork and residency experience. This degree emphasizes the development of competencies in examination, evaluation, diagnosis, applying interventions, and evidence-based practice.

Individuals who wish to enter into the occupational therapy profession must complete this degree, which is known as the “entry-level doctoral degree.”

The degree requires at least 141 units. Prerequisite courses are not included in this total.

The degree is designed to be completed in 33 months of full-time study.

This plan does not require a dissertation. It does include a capstone project and 16-week residency.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  • baccalaureate degree with an overall GPA of at least 3.0
  • quantitative Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score of at least 146 (550)
  • verbal GRE score of at least 149 (440)
  • analytical Writing GRE score of at least 3.5
  • two letters of recommendation, with at least one letter from a licensed occupational therapist
  • Medical Terminology and Occupational Therapy competencies
  • Forty hours observing two different occupational therapists each practicing in a different type of settings with different age-groups (minimum of 20 hours in each setting).
  • Forty 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.

Before beginning the program, students must have completed approximately 33 units of undergraduate course requirements in biology, anatomy and physiology, physics, abnormal and developmental psychology, statistics, sociology, and ethics or social justice. Some of these requirements may have been part of the student's bachelor's degree.

Complete and submit the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) application.

Complete and submit the Northern Arizona University Graduate College application.

Application for and Admission to Candidacy

There is no discrete candidacy stage associated with this degree.

Time Parameters and Graduation Requirements to Complete Degree

Students who are admitted to the OTD program with an earned bachelor’s or master's degree have six years to complete all requirements for the doctoral degree. The six year period starts with the student's first semester of doctoral study at Northern Arizona University. If the student does not complete the degree in six years, the student may petition the Graduate College for one extension of this time limit.

Students can petition for exception

Students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation, in writing, to the associate dean of the Graduate College. The student’s letter of petition should be endorsed by her/his advisor and department chair.

Graduation Requirements

  • Students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (on a scale where 4.0 = A)
  • Students may not have more than 11 semester units with a grade of “C”.
  • If accepted as a transfer student, no more than 12 semester units may be applied towards the OTD program from a previous institution.  In order to receive transfer credit, regulations governing transfer credit for graduate students will apply. 


Special Circumstances

Students can appeal or petition for exception

Graduate students may petition for an exception to any academic, non-grade-related, graduate regulation for which no specific appeal or petition process exists. Petitions should be submitted, in writing, to the Associate Dean of the Graduate College. When applicable, the student’s advisor and department chair may endorse the petition letter. In some specific instances, utilizing the Graduate Academic Appeal Policy is more appropriate.

Students should contact the Associate Dean of the Graduate College for clarification on which process to initiate.

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