Entry Level OTD Program

The Department of Occupational Therapy is proud to announce its new entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree program.

The VCU OTD program resulted from a response to:

  • Recognition of a substantially expanded knowledge and evidence base within the profession of occupational therapy, indicative of a need for an advanced level of education
  • Environmental needs, that included increased demands on the profession for leadership in clinical practice, academics, and administration
  • The need for equal recognition as an inter-professional collaborator in influencing healthcare policies and procedures
  • Growing interest in the entry level OTD for entry level training within the profession
  • Interests expressed by applicants and current students
  • Awareness of and commitment to VCUs role as a leader in OT education within the state of Virginia and nationally

Emphasis will remain on training to provide direct service in all occupational therapy practice settings. In addition, the OTD degree will prepare graduates to employ evidence-based practice, be consumers and assistants in research, and contribute to program development in traditional and emerging areas of practice. With practice it is anticipated that graduates will have greater opportunity for administrative and supervisory positions, should this be of interest, and with time and well-developed skills may be qualified for academic positions in occupational therapy programs at many universities and in occupational therapy assistant programs.

VCU takes pride in its US News and World Report ranking of #17 among OT graduate programs in the country. VCU and its predecessor, the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) have offered OT education since 1942. When the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrates the Centennial of the founding of the profession in 2017, VCU OT celebrates its Diamond Anniversary - 75 years of OT education at this institution. The VCU Department of OT has offered an Entry-Level Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy since 1964 and has offered graduate-level OT education since 2000, seven years before post-baccalaureate education became the requirement for OT education. In a similar way VCU is among top programs in the country choosing to take the lead in transitioning from the entry level masters degree for OT education to the entry level doctorate degree.

The Entry Level OTD program is a nine semester, three year program. It is a full time, face-to-face program, with classes generally scheduled from 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Some courses include online components. Classes begin in the summer. See the Curriculum. Each year of the three years is made up of three semesters - summer, fall and spring. Students complete their required clinical education of two 12-week fieldwork placements (480 hours) from May-December of their third year and then complete a Doctoral Practicum during the final Spring semester. All students participate in the the University Commencement Ceremony and the College of Health Professions Recognition and Awards Ceremony in May of the graduating year.

At the following links you will find information on: the Admissions Process, Admissions Timeline, Monthly Information Sessions, Admission Requirements, Prerequisite Courses, the Early Decision Option, the OTCAS Application, the VCU Graduate Admissions Application, Student Learning Objectives, the Curriculum, Essential Requirements, Demographics, Tuition, Application FAQs, a Campus Map, and Contact Information.

Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure

In 2012, the entry level masters program in Occupational Therapy at VCU received a 10-year accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). This program is now closed for further admission but will continue until all qualified enrolled students receive the masters degree.

In agreement with ACOTE recommendations, the Department is informing all new entry level OTD applicants that we are in the process of applying for accreditation. There are risks associated with attending a program that has not completed the accreditation process.

Application for accreditation is underway. In December, 2015, ACOTE granted candidacy status to the entry-level OTD program, allowing VCU OT to admit students and proceed to the initial accreditation step of the application process. Throughout the 2017 academic year, the program will undergo a self-study in preparation for further evaluation leading to accreditation in April 2018. This is a rigorous process that the Department takes quite seriously.

Contact information for ACOTE is:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE ) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
4720 Montgomery Ln Ste 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Phone: 301-652-AOTA
Fax: 240-762-5140

Assuming accreditation of the VCU entry level OTD program, graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc (NBCOT). Students generally take the Certification Exam during the summer or fall following graduation. A graduate of an accredited occupational therapy educational program may practice with the designated title of "Occupational Therapist, License Applicant" or "O.T.L.-Applicant" for up to six months from the date of graduation until he or she has taken and received the results of the licensure examination from NBCOT, whichever occurs sooner.

If a candidate does not pass the exam he/she is not permitted to work as an OT until retaking and passing the exam. Typically, VCU graduates perform well on the exam and meet or exceed the national mean score. After successful completion of the exam, the individual is permitted to use the trademarked credentials, OTR, to indicate status as a registered occupational therapist. All states require licensure to practice, and most state licensing boards require the student to successfully pass the NBCOT Certification Examination to become a practicing occupational therapist. All occupational therapy students are required to complete Level II fieldwork within 24 months of completing academic courses. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.