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Doctor of Occupational Therapy

College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences

In the entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program, you can become a practitioner scholar and a transformative leader. Occupational therapy is a growing and evolving healthcare profession whose practitioners assist individuals and communities to perform everyday activities (occupations), adapt environments to improve function in home, work or leisure settings, and provide client-centered support for participation in life. As a professional leader equipped with research evidence and global health policy perspectives, you will be broadly positioned to: impact populations with or without disabilities; advance community health outcomes; and influence the development of future occupational therapists as members of collaborative interprofessional practice teams in current healthcare settings and emerging practice areas such as telehealth remote therapy, assistive technologies,or research-based innovations develop by collaborative interprofessional practice teams.

Why Choose Doctor of Occupational Therapy?

As the first occupational therapy program in western Massachusetts to offer an entry-level doctorate—a decade before all academic programs must provide professional education at the doctoral level in order to maintain accreditation (ACOTE, 2017)—we welcome our role as visionaries and embrace our responsibility to establish innovative benchmarks in graduate professional education that others will follow.

What Will You Learn?

Rapidly changing healthcare systems are demanding more of entry-level occupational therapy practitioners. The OTD curriculum is meeting this call by providing academic preparation beyond the generalist level, including advanced graduate knowledge, skills and fieldwork/experiential opportunities. The 109 credit, OTD curriculum is delivered in a three-year program that is completed over 9 consecutive semesters.

The program combines opportunities for classroom learning, the development of performance laboratory skills, and on-site practice experience (i.e. Level I & Level II Fieldwork). The program integrates sequential course content with a series of 5 Level I Fieldwork experiences (Year One and Two), providing a strong foundation for Level II Fieldwork (Semester 6, 7, & 8), and the Doctoral Experiential Residency (Semester 9).

Learn more about our curriculum.

Admissions Requirements and Deadlines

Admissions Requirements and Deadlines

Learn more about applying to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and our admissions process, requirements, and deadlines. To apply for Fall 2018, candidates may submit an application for admission via the OTCAS Application

Requirements and Deadlines
Program Emphasis

Program Emphasis

The OTD program at Western New England University is responding‚ to the national and international call for changing the way healthcare is delivered, and the way healthcare professionals‚ are educated by emphasizing:

  • population health perspectives that focus on community‚ health, wellness and prevention, and health literacy;
  • innovative interprofessional practice models in traditional‚ and community-based health settings that focus on‚ collaborative teams;
  • interprofessional education/practice research applications‚ that permit faculty and students to develop as‚ applied scholars of teaching and practice; and
  • practitioner, leader, and scholar roles and competencies‚ to revolutionize the delivery of inclusive, equitable, client-centered, evidence-based, culturally-competent, and‚ distinctive occupational therapy.
Program Structure

Program Structure

Rapidly changing healthcare systems are demanding more of‚ entry-level practitioners. The OTD curriculum is meeting this call‚ by providing academic preparation beyond a generalist level‚ including advanced graduate knowledge, skills and fieldwork/‚ experiential opportunities. The OTD program is a three-year program completed over 9 consecutive semesters, including summers. The 109 credit curriculum will include:

  • Level I Fieldwork (70-140 hours)
  • Level II Fieldwork (960 hours)
  • Doctoral Experiential Residency (640 hours)

The program combines opportunities for classroom learning, the development of performance laboratory skills, and on-site practice experience (i.e. Level I & Level II Fieldwork). The program integrates sequential course content with a series of 5 Level I Fieldwork experiences (Year One and Two), providing a strong foundation for Level II Fieldwork (Semester 6, 7, & 8), and the Doctoral Experiential Residency (Semester 9).

The curriculum design includes four primary professional themes: Leadership; Scholarship; Clinical Excellence; and Autonomy/Identity. Evolving from these broad themes are the core interwoven threads upon which the curriculum is built. The threads are: Interprofessional Education/Practice; Information/Assistive Technology; Health‚ Literacy, Diversity, and Cultural Competence; and Population/Community‚ Based Health Practices.

The structure and content of the OTD curriculum fosters an‚ understanding of the development of occupations across the lifespan and in a variety of contexts, e.g., environmental, virtual, and spiritual. Woven throughout the curriculum are components of‚ the occupational therapy process, including occupation, research‚ and evidence based practice, client centered practice, ethics, cultural competence, evaluation, treatment, management of OT services, service delivery, and clinical skills. In addition, a series of course sequences are designed to tie the threads into a complete doctoral curriculum. The course sequences include: Adult and Aging Practice 1 through 4; Children and Youth Practice 1 and 2; Population Health and Interprofessional Practice 1 through 4; Research Process/Evidence-Based Practice 1 and 2; Level I fieldwork 1 through 5; Level II Fieldwork 1 and 2; and  Doctoral Residency Development and Mentorship 1 through 4.



Invest now, save later. The Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy is designed for students who will have a bachelor’s degree prior to beginning the program. This is the fast track to entering the field with a doctoral degree.



Our outstanding faculty includes:

Cathy A. Dow-Royer, Ed.D., OTR/L
Professor, Founding Chair, and Program Director

Ellen Berger Rainville, O.T.D., OTR/L
Professor, Assistant Program Director

Joan Sauvigne-Kirsch, Ed.D., OTR/L 
Clinical Associate Professor
Director of Fieldwork/Experiential Education

Minna Levine, Ph.D., OTR/L
Assistant Professor

Brittany Adams, O.T.D., OTR/L
Clinical Assistant Professor

Debra Latour, M.Ed., OTR/L
Assistant Professor of Practice

Susan Rivelli, M.B.A., O.T.D., OTR/L
Assistant Professor

Laura Graves, O.T.D., OTR/L
Clinical Assistant Professor



Instructional Staff:

Justin R. Eck, M.Ed.
Instructional Technologist/Designer

Administrative Staff:

Judy Anderson
Executive Administrative Assistant

David Atsales
Administrative Assistant for Fieldwork/Experiential Education

Accreditation Status

Accreditation Status

The entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program has been granted candidacy status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.

Accreditation Status


Western New England University is pleased to offer campus housing for graduate students in the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program.

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Three newly constructed, spacious laboratories for the OTD program are equipped with academic technology that reflects the focus on technology in health care education and practice. The technology in each laboratory space includes:

  • computer-based course delivery that can be viewed from multiple 80” smart TV screens;
  • voice lecture capture for learners to visually review power point presentations and listen to the faculty lecture;
  • video capture of faculty/learner demonstrations for reviewing in preparation for examinations and laboratory practica;
  • digital document cameras to project hard copies of instructional materials; and
  • Blu-Ray/DVD players to project purchased instructional materials.

The occupational therapy children/youth and adult/aging performance and participation laboratories are specifically designed to provide applied graduate learning opportunities in realistic environments that simulate hospital rooms, pediatric settings, outpatient rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, community-based practice agencies, etc. The laboratories offer graduate learners the opportunity to rehearse evaluations and practice interventions for clients with health conditions and diseases including multiple sclerosis, congestive heart failure, autism, stroke, cerebral palsy, intellectual and learning disabilities, arthritis, neurocognitive disorders, etc. Using client-centered and evidence-based assessment tools, therapy equipment and supplies, graduate learners experience what it is like to:

  • measure and develop interventions to reduce deficits in functional use that result from impairments in posture control, movement, sensations, balance, visual-perception, cognition, mood, etc.;
  • collect data on barriers to life performance and provide strategies to assist in the areas of dressing and hygiene, cooking and home maintenance, work, play and leisure activities, social/cultural participation, etc.
  • monitor and manage post-operative wound care;
  • evaluate the environment and set goals for classroom participation for children in wheelchairs;
  • choose and apply appropriate thermal or electrical modalities;
  • assess feeding/eating and provide parental support for at-risk infants and young children;
  • select and fabricate splints to mobilize the hand/wrist;
  • observe balance and develop planning to support safe community mobility in the well elderly population.

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  • Fieldwork Education: ACOTE Standards & Definitions

    Learn more about Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) Fieldwork Education Standards for entry-level OTD programs, the Doctoral Experiential Residency, and Research and Residency Project.

  • Questions?

    Let's talk.

    You'll find many of your questions answered in our FAQ. For additional information, email the Division of Occupational Therapy at OTD@wne.edu. To speak with an admissions representative, call 413-796-2073 or email OTDadmissions@wne.edu.