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Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD)

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OTD Program Information


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The Occupational Therapy Department has received approval from the Middle States Association and has received approval from the Pennsylvania Department of Education for the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy Program.

The OTD program is focused on academic growth in clinical practice areas of occupational therapy, and promotes intellectual discourse through both program content and format. Evidence based practice, a strong component of the curriculum, requires advanced critical thinking and a thorough understanding of research. The inclusion of clinical practice, analysis of evidence, and the skills to develop and lead programs that serve others results in both enhanced professional expertise and valuable services to our communities.

The Occupational Therapy Department at Misericordia University is recognized as an educational leader in the occupational therapy professional community. As one of the first academic institutions to offer an Entry Level Masters degree the Department also offers innovative post professional pediatric programs and a Weekend College program. The OTD degree continues this future oriented perspective integral to our new University status. The degree is designed to provide occupational therapists with advanced clinical, practice management, teaching, and administrative skills. The program emphasizes integration of theory and practice, professional and clinical skills, critical self-assessment, clinical reasoning and decision-making skills, advocacy and health policy. The post professional program is designed to enhance the knowledge and skills that practitioners bring from clinical practice and life experiences. Program graduates should qualify for upper level management positions in a diverse range of practice environments and will be poised to become leaders in the profession.


Why a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy?


OTD graduates are agents of positive change, social responsibility, and ethical care who are prepared for major career advancements. With a doctorate in Occupational Therapy, you can choose from a variety of available career paths such as:

  • Influence public policy with knowledge of how occupation impacts health
  • Start your own business or private practice
  • Develop programs that will enable occupational therapists to be responsive to public health concerns of the 21st century


Why Misericordia?


Relevant: Course work is focused on clinical practice concerns with choice of Pediatric or Adult/Geriatric specialization. Content immediately applicable to clinical practice.

Innovative: Up to six (6) credits from the Post Professional Pediatric Certificate are transferable. Courses are on-line with on campus time limited to 2 days per semester.

Excellent Faculty: Courses are taught by full-time nationally respected doctorally prepared faculty as well as clinical faculty specialists.

Great Value: Convenient location 2 hours from Philadelphia and NYC in a safe, comfortable setting. Small class size with personalized attention, reasonable fees and class schedules designed for working therapists to allow for continued full-time employment.


Curricular Synopsis


The OTD curriculum is composed of 21 credits of “core” courses that address the competencies required of leaders and advocates in the profession. These courses address advanced theory, advanced research, program development and evaluation, occupational science, and public policy and advocacy. Capstone coursework requires the integration of these content areas into a clinical project, which is formally evaluated and presented through professional presentation and/or publication. Each student also completes 9-12 credits in either a pediatric or geriatric specialization, for a total of 33-36 credits for the doctoral coursework.

Program Delivery:

  • A combination delivery model of face-to-face and distance learning is used. Classes meet on campus one weekend day at the beginning and end of each semester.
  • The program is designed to be completed part-time (2 classes per semester) over a two year tri-semester period.  

The OTD program goals are focused in areas of research, advanced practice, leadership and administration. Graduates will:

  • be proficient in critically appraising, applying and contributing to evidence that supports occupation-based practice.
  • synthesize and apply advanced theoretical concepts and clinical skills in selected areas of practice.
  • enhance their leadership and advocacy skills to promote occupational participation in light of human dynamics and private & public policy influences.
  • design and administer effective, fiscally responsible client-centered programs.

Routes of Entry

Applicants with either an ELM degree in OT or a post professional Masters degree in another field will complete the following course sequence (33 credits). Applicants must have the equivalent of OT 520 (Research Methods) as a prerequisite.

Applicants to the OTD Program, if admitted, are expected to enroll in the OTD core courses as identified in the Program Sequence. If an applicant is considering the OTD, but wishes to request a revision to this curricular sequence (ie: one course per semester), they must indicate this in their application materials. Priority will be given to applicants who can commit to progressing through the program in the recommended Program Sequence. Those applicants that wish to be considered for a revised curricular sequence may be admitted to the program, but will be enrolled in courses each semester on a space available basis, which may significantly lengthen the curriculum sequence. The OTD Program is committed to meeting the individual needs of students whenever possible.

Fall Spring Summer
Year 1 Year 1 Year 1
OTD 642 Advanced Research
Course begins online 8/26/12. On-campus session 12/2/12 9:00-5:00.
OTD 643 Education, Presentation & Publication
On-campus session 1/20/13
OTD 641 Supporting Practice through Public Policy and Advocacy
Specialization Course OTD 644 Occupational Science
On-campus session 1/20/13
Specialization Course
Year 2 Year 2 Year 2
OTD 620 Advanced Application of Theory Specialization Course OTD 650 Capstone
OTD 625 Providing Evidence for Best Practices OTD 640 Designing,Implementing and Evaluating Quality Programs  

*OTD 650 Capstone may be taken during Summer Year 1 or Fall, Spring Year 2. All courses are 3 credits.

Students with a bachelor's degree should apply for the Post-Professional MS degree.

Admission Criteria


  • Minimum of a Master's degree in Occupational Therapy or a BS in OT and an MS in another field.
  • Minimum of 1 year practicing as a licensed Occupational Therapist
  • Completed application including official transcripts, 3 references, statement of professional goals
  • Minimum GPA of 3.0 in prior studies
  • Interview

The preferred deadlines for application and supporting documentation are as follows:

  • 1st round application review deadline March 1.
  • Second round application review deadline May 1.

Pending space availability, interviews will be scheduled during April and May. Upon acceptance, students will be required to submit a $200 deposit, non-refundable, and applied to first semester tuiton.

To apply for admission, students must submit the following:

  • $60 application fee
  • Application statement of purpose and practice goals
  • Current ResumeOfficial transcripts for occupational therapy education
  • Copy of NBCOT certification
  • Copy of current state license/certification in a US jurisdiction
  • Official Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score with a minimum of 550 (213 if computer generated)
  • Three letters of recommendation (one recommendation must be from a licensed occupational therapist)



OTD 620-Advanced Theory
Course Description:
This course will examine the current and classic literature as it pertains to theory development and analysis and its relationship to macro and micro models, and comparative analysis of frames of reference for practice and research. There will be consideration of both basic and applied knowledge as it pertains to the study of occupational therapy as an applied science and the science of occupation as an academic discipline. This course will be offered in a combination on-campus launch and distance online learning format. Fall semester

OTD 625-Supporting Practice through Public Policy and Advocacy
Course Description:
Students will analyze current state and federal public policy issues and the impact on the delivery of occupational therapy services. Students will develop knowledge related to public policy formation and acquire advanced skills in advocacy. This course will be offered in a combination of on-campus meetings and distance online learning. Spring semester

OTD 640-Designing, Implementing and Evaluating Quality Programs
Course Description:
Through didactic and problem based learning, students will explore program assessment tools and complete needs assessments. Students will learn the value of developing a program mission, strategic plan, and operational tactics in the development of a successful allied health based program. Students will gain knowledge about budgeting, marketing, and revenue sources in order to ensure their developed program is underscored with financial responsibility. This course will be offered in a combination of on campus meetings and distance online learning. Fall semester

OTD 641-Evidence Based Practice
Course Description:
Students will demonstrate knowledge of evidence-based practice and complete an in-depth evidence-based project related to occupational therapy practice. Students will develop a clinical question (relevant and applicable to their area of practice or specialization), gather current published evidence, complete a critical review of the evidence, summarize and present the results of the critical appraisal process. This course will be offered in a combination on-campus launch and distance online learning format. Fall semester

OTD 642-Advanced Research
Course Description:
The doctorally trained clinician in occupational therapy must have a solid understanding of not only research basics, but how to use that knowledge to solve problems in their clinical practice. This course will provide educational experiences that foster advanced knowledge and application of research principles in both the quantitative and qualitative paradigms to the clinician’s practice areas. Summer semester

OTD 643-Education, Presentation and Publication
Course Description:
Students will develop professional skills related to providing well constructed educational sessions, promoting occupational therapy through. Spring semester

  1. Research: Graduates will be proficient in critically appraising, applying and contributing to evidence that supports occupation-based practice.
  2. Advanced Practice/Specialization: Graduates will synthesize and apply advanced theoretical concepts and clinical skills in selected areas of practice.
  3. Leadership: Graduates will enhance their leadership and advocacy skills to promote occupational participation in light of human dynamics and private & public policy influences.
  4. Administration: Graduates will design and administer effective, fiscally responsible client-centered programs.

OTD 644-Occupational Science
Course Description:
Occupational science, also known as occupationology, is the study of occupation. Occupation is “all ‘doing’ that has intrinsic and extrinsic meaning.” (Wilcock, p. 257) The occupational therapy profession is becoming increasingly reliant on occupational science as a cornerstone of research and knowledge which justifies the use of occupation in therapeutic intervention. The purpose of this course is to provide knowledge of the history, evolution, and current state of the occupational science discipline, and how occupational science can be used as a framework for occupational therapy assessment and intervention. Spring semester

OTD 650-Capstone Course
Course Description:
This course design engages doctoral students to advance their clinical reasoning and competence in a pre-identified, specialized area of practice. Through participation in this course, students will be able to identify the most relevant issues impacting the role of occupational therapy in their designated specialty area. They will complete readings in relevant literature, engage in communication exchanges with a professional leader in their identified area, and conclude their capstone project with a product reflecting the extent of their learning. Students will be assigned a faculty capstone advisor and participate in mandatory online modules embedded throughout the course to help guide the student during their capstone experience. Summer semester.