Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)


The mission of the University of Central Arkansas Occupational Therapy Program in implementing a clinical doctorate in occupational therapy (OTD) is to develop leaders, advocates, researchers, and skilled practitioners competent in providing OT services to individuals and populations who are limited by physical or psychosocial situations that compromise independence and wellness. Graduates are prepared to practice in a variety of service delivery models, and to develop productive interpersonal and therapeutic relationships with clients, families, communities, populations, organizations, and other health and human services professionals.

The program is committed to promoting student awareness and appreciation of different cultural and social value systems. Student sensitivity is cultivated through the improved awareness of self and appreciation of diversity among client populations. The program seeks to instill in students a sense of self direction, discernment, and a desire to assume active responsibility for leadership, advocacy, clinical research, advanced clinical skills, and education.

In addition to educating competent practitioners, leaders, and advocates, the program strives to have a strong positive influence on the profession throughout the state and region, by assisting in the development of new knowledge in the science of occupation and in conducting and disseminating clinical research that establishes the efficacy of OT services.

Occupational therapy (OT) education prepares occupational therapy practitioners to address the occupational needs of individuals, groups, communities, and populations. The education process includes both academic and fieldwork components. The philosophy of occupational therapy education parallels the philosophy of occupational therapy, yet remains distinctly concerned with beliefs about knowledge, learning and teaching.

Fundamental Beliefs of Occupational Therapy Education:
Students are viewed as occupational beings, in dynamic transaction with the learning context and the teaching-learning process. The learning context includes the curriculum and pedagogy and conveys a perspective and belief system that includes a view of humans as occupational beings, occupation as a health determinant, and participation as a fundamental right. Education promotes clinical reasoning and the integration of professional values, theories, evidence, ethics and skills. This will prepare practitioners to collaborate with clients to achieve health, well-being, and participation in life through engagement in occupation (AOTA, 2014). Occupational therapy education is the process by which practitioners acquire their professional identity.

Values within Occupational Therapy Education:
Enacting the above beliefs to facilitate the development of a sound reasoning process that is client – centered, occupation-based, theory-driven, while encouraging the use of best evidence and outcomes data to inform the teaching-learning experience may include supporting:
a) active and diverse learning within and beyond the classroom environment, b) a collaborative process that builds on prior knowledge and experience, c) continuous professional judgment, evaluation and self-reflection, and d) lifelong learning.

The curriculum leading to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy requires prior completion of a baccalaureate degree from a USDE- recognized regionally accredited college or university. Moreover, completion of 25 hours of prerequisite course work (grade C or better) is required. Prerequisite courses may be completed at UCA or at another regionally accredited college or university. Students who plan to complete prerequisites at another university are strongly urged to contact the Occupational Therapy Program Advisor to assure course equivalency.

Students are admitted to the program via a competitive admission process. Students who are admitted will complete 112 graduate credit hours, scheduled across a 36 month period. Within the course of study, the students are engaged in both classroom and fieldwork experiences at facilities in Arkansas and across the US. The first level of fieldwork assignments occur in concert with on-campus course work. Advanced levels of fieldwork assignments involve full time placement at two different fieldwork sites across a 6 month period. At this level, students may again be placed at facilities in Arkansas or across the US.  In addition, a 560 hour doctoral capstone program will serve as an integral part of the program’s curriculum and will include in-depth experiences in clinical skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, and/or theory development.

Students are responsible for their own transportation and living expenses throughout the program, including fieldwork assignments and doctoral capstone.

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Upon successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an occupational therapist, registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure to practice as an occupational therapist. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensures. For further information, the address and phone number for NBCOT are:

One Bank Street, Suite 300
Gaithersburg, MD 20878
Phone: (301) 990-7979

Updated 4.13.18