University of Southern California
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Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (O.T.D.) program prepares occupational therapists for leadership positions in health care, with a focus on applying knowledge developed in occupational science to practice health care policy and health care management. The O.T.D. degree is a professional degree that focuses on the practical application of knowledge about occupation in order to solve real-world health care problems in clinical and community settings.

Graduates are expected to demonstrate a solid understanding of occupational science research findings, to appropriately utilize research regarding occupation to guide therapeutic decision-making, and to integrate knowledge of occupation with information from other disciplines and professions in order to make sound clinical, administrative and policy decisions. In addition, each O.T.D. graduate is expected to acquire advanced skills in one or more of the following areas: development, implementation and evaluation of innovative service programs; public policy formulation and evaluation; or administration of health care systems.

Admission Requirements

Applicants for admission to the O.T.D. program are expected to have at least a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university and must be certified or licensed as an occupational therapist, or be eligible to sit for the examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). A minimum GPA of 3.0 (A = 4.0) and a minimum score of 1000 on the combined verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Examinations are required. At least three letters of reference must be submitted as well as an autobiographical statement of purpose and a current resume. Considerations include evidence of leadership potential based on previous academic work as well as clinical experiences and professional accomplishments.

International Students

Occupational therapists educated outside of the United States must have their credentials evaluated by the Office of Admission before applying to the division. See the Admissions section of this catalogue. International students applying to the division will be considered for admission if they have graduated from an occupational therapy program that is approved by the World Federation of Occupational Therapists and have completed all requirements for practice as an occupational therapist in their country. International students must demonstrate competence in English, as measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.

Degree Requirements

The degree is awarded under the jurisdiction of the Graduate School. Refer to the Requirements for Graduation section and the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be courses accepted by the USC Graduate School.

Course Requirements

Satisfactory completion of 60 units beyond the baccalaureate degree is required.

Required occupational therapy coursesunits
OT 506The Making of a Profession4
OT 507Daily Dilemmas for the Reflective Practitioner4
OT 510Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis of Occupational Data4
OT 550Foundations of Occupational Science4
OT 588Research Methods4

Clinical Experience Criterion
If, at the time of admission, the student has less than three years of clinical experience as a registered or licensed occupational therapist, he or she may be required to complete at least 8 units of clinical occupational therapy courses, such as the following:

OT 500abcClinical Problems in Occupational Therapy2-4 each
OT 560Contemporary Issues in School-Based Practice4
OT 564Sensory Integration4
OT 572Ergonomics4
OT 574Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation4
OT 583Lifestyle Redesign4
OT 590Directed Research1-12
OT 610Sensory Integrative Dysfunction4

Occupational Science Course Requirements
Completion of at least two 600-level courses (8 units) in occupational science is required.

Occupational science courses (8 units required)units
OT 604Temporal Adaptation: Organization and Use of Time4
OT 612Information Processing and Occupation4
OT 650Development of Adaptive Skills4
OT 651Adaptation and Disability4
OT 653Play and Occupation4
OT 655Work and Leisure4

Cognate Requirement
Completion of at least 8 units of graduate-level course work selected from any school at USC that offers 500-level courses is required.

Residency Requirement
Students must complete 24 units of OT 686 Residency. The residency is intended to ensure that students completing the O.T.D. program demonstrate competence in integrating advanced practice, policy and administration skills with knowledge emanating from occupational science. At least 20 units applied toward the O.T.D. must be successfully completed before enrolling in OT 686. One of the semesters of OT 686 must entail a full-time residency, that is, registration for 12 units with no other course work undertaken simultaneously. The purpose is to ensure that students have an opportunity to fully immerse themselves in the application problems presented by their residency site. Faculty must approve the student’s residency plan prior to enrollment. The student must present a portfolio demonstrating competence in program development, administration or policy formulation in the last semester of enrollment in OT 686 as the final step in completing the O.T.D. degree.