Doctor of Occupational Therapy
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 developed 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 we welcome our role as visionaries and embrace our responsibility to establish innovative benchmarks in graduate professional education that others will follow. Here are the Top 5 Reasons to earn your Doctor of Occupational Therapy at Western New England University.
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 Project. (Semester 9).
Learn more about our curriculum.
Admissions Requirements and Deadlines
Learn more about applying to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and our admissions process, requirements, and deadlines. To apply, candidates may submit an application for admission via the OTCAS Application.
Students need only have a bachelor’s degree to begin in the program. The comprehensive learner-centered educational program fosters critical thinking skills; embraces professionalism; and instills a commitment to lifelong learning, community service, and leadership.
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.
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 (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 (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 Experiential Development and Mentorship 1 through 4.
Eligibility for the Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree requires that students remain in good standing in the academic program by maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0, meeting didactic course grade requirements (B- minimum), and passing Level I and Level II fieldwork courses and the doctoral experiential residency courses (pass/fail). In addition, students must satisfactorily complete Level II fieldwork (OTD 675 & 775) and doctoral experiential implementation courses (OTD 780 & 785) within 18 months following the completion of the last didactic courses in the curriculum. Furthermore, students must meet the COPHS standard for being of “good moral character,” and must fulfill her/his university obligations for payment of tuition, fees, and other costs.
The inaugural OTD Program Cohort of 28 students (Class of 2020), graduated on August 15, 2020 , October 15, 2020  and February 15, 2021 , respectively. The need for an additional two degree conferral dates was necessitated by the negative impact of the COVID pandemic on the ability of 3 students to complete Level II Fieldwork and the Doctoral Experiential Project during established timeframes.
See below for the Graduation rate for the Class of 2020:
Total Number of Program Graduates:
- August 15, 2020 – 25
- October 15, 2020 – 2
- February 15, 2021 – 1
- Current Graduation Rate = 97%
See below for the Pass/Fail Rate for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy Examination (NBCOT):
- Total Number of NG Testing = 22
- Total Number of NG Passing = 22 (100%)
Total Number of NG Failing = 0 (0%)
CERTIFICATION & LICENSURE
Graduates of the OTD program will be eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be an occupational therapist, registered (OTR). In addition, most states have licensure laws requiring OTs and OTAs to be licensed in order to practice (a few have certification or registration by state agencies). However, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification Examination or attain state licensure.
While the laws and procedures are similar in each state, they are not identical. The process for obtaining a license in the state or states in which an individual may wish to work can be found through the state occupational therapy regulatory agency. The AOTA website has a link to the state boards at http://state.aota.org/reglist.aspx. In order to obtain a license, individuals must:
- Graduate from an accredited educational program
- Complete the required fieldwork
- Apply for and pass the NBCOT exam
- Apply for a state license and pay a fee for each state/jurisdiction in which the individual wishes to practice or be licensed
As a professional leader equipped with research evidence and global policy perspective, you will be broadly positioned to work in medical, educational, and community-based settings. You will assume managerial and leadership roles in current healthcare settings and emerging practice areas such as telehealth remote therapy, assistive technologies, or research-based innovations developed by collaborative interprofessional practice teams.
The OTD program employs an administrative and faculty team who hold doctoral degrees. Our experienced clinicians in occupational therapy practice are scholars who are adding to the growing body of disciplinary knowledge. Faculty at Western New England University is renowned for its commitment to individualized student learning and faculty availability to support the learning process.
At its meeting on December 6-8, 2019, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) reviewed the Report of On-Site Evaluation (ROSE) regarding the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program (OTD) at Western New England University, Springfield, Massachusetts, and the letter of comment submitted by the program. All Standards were found to be compliant and ACOTE voted to Grant a Status of Accreditation for a period of 7 years.
The entry-level OTD Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
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.
Doctoral Experiential (DEX)
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapists (ACOTE) requires entry-level Occupational Therapy programs culminate in a Doctoral Capstone. At WNE, the Doctoral Capstone is referred to as the Doctoral Experiential (DEx). Each OTD student works with a faculty mentor and a community partner (site mentor) to create a multi-faceted individualized capstone project. Each DEx is planned over a two year period and conducted during the final 14 weeks of the OTD program. The purpose of the Doctoral Experiential is for students to apply the knowledge and skills gained during their OTD academic courses and their Level I and II fieldwork experiences in ways that challenge and perhaps transform the delivery of health, educational, and social services. Learn more about Doctoral Experiential (DEx) here.