Important message regarding admission requirements:  Because of the restrictions and precautions that occurred at OT-related experience and observation sites during COVID-19, we continue to provide additional options for prospective students to strengthen their application. Click here to learn more about these opportunities.

Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy

The Clinical Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) prepares graduates beyond the master's degree with in-depth knowledge in a specific area such as practice, advocacy, policy, education, research and program development.

Doctoral students actively engage in leadership experiences to develop capacity as a change agent in professional practice and develop in-depth knowledge in their practice areas. They learn to analyze the role of occupational therapy across the service delivery continuum for individuals, groups and populations and design an occupational therapy model for a specific client population.

In the second year of study, doctoral students start developing their advanced practice skillset and the ability to participate in scholarly work. They may choose from multiple concentrations such as productive aging, social participation and the environment, children and youth, work and industry, neurorehabilitation and rehabilitation science. Click here to view the OTD curriculum grid.

Graduates enter careers in clinical practice, teaching, research, consultation, clinical services, and management and policy with the following competencies to:

  • Use evidence to inform occupational therapy assessment and intervention across the continuum of care
  • Develop community programming
  • Exercise sound, professional judgement and clinical reasoning
  • Value and encourage interprofessional collaboration
  • Promote an inclusive culture of humility and sensitivity
  • Use current technologies and informatics
  • Lead change in practice
  • Participate in scholarly work to advance practice
  • Create a model of assessment and intervention for a specific population


In addition to six months of full-time fieldwork supervised by experienced clinicians, OTD students focus on their specialty area and complete the 14-week doctoral capstone for a total of 106 credit hours over a three-year period. The OTD degree program is a 36-month, full-time program.

To become a registered occupational therapist (OTR) and practice occupational therapy, students must pass the NBCOT (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy) exam. Many states also require licensure to practice; however, you should review the requirements for the state you wish to practice in.

Graduates of the Program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist, administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be an occupational therapist, registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure to practice; 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.

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at


Photo of doctoral students in a study group

Important message regarding admission requirements:  Due to COVID-19 restrictions and precautions at OT-related experience and observation sites, we are providing alternate options for prospective students to fulfill requirements. Click here to learn more about these opportunities.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must possess personal qualities of character, integrity and motivation, as well as the capacity to perform essential functions suitable for a career in occupational therapy. All applicants must successfully pass a drug screening, criminal background check, and family and child services review. The admissions committee takes the following factors into consideration:

1. Undergraduate education

A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college/university or enrollment in an affiliated 3-2 program (becomes a 3-3 with an OTD) and satisfactory completion of all prerequisite coursework. Prerequisite courses can be taken online or outside of the degree-granting school, as long as they are from an accredited institution. Advanced placement (AP) courses and test scores do not count for prerequisites. The following six prerequisite courses (3 semester hours each or equivalent if on quarter system) must be completed with grades of B or better and at least four of the six courses must be complete at time of application:

  • Abnormal Psychology
    • An abnormal psychology or a psychopathology course fulfills this requirement.
  • Developmental Psychology
    • You may choose a child development or a lifespan course that includes learning principles and motor, language, cognitive, emotional and social development.
  • Life Science
    • Must be 200 level or above; no lab is required. Suggested courses include but are not limited to human anatomy, neuroanatomy, comparative anatomy, pathophysiology, zoology, genetics, botany, ecology and cognitive neuroscience.
  • Physiology
    • Must cover the organization of cells into tissues, organs and organ systems in humans. A course titled “Anatomy and Physiology” is acceptable; however, if the course is part of a two-part sequence, both courses must be completed to be able to fulfill prerequisites. One part can fulfill the life science prerequisite, with the second part for the physiology prerequisite.
  • Social Science
    • Suggested courses include, but are not limited to, other psychology courses, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, public health, epidemiology, gerontology and urban studies.
  • Statistics
    • You may choose behavioral, educational, psychological or mathematical statistics. Business statistics does not fulfill this requirement.

    2. Pre-requisite and cumulative GPA

    A grade of B or better is required for all pre-requisite courses, and a 3.25 cumulative GPA is required for the MSOT and OTD programs.

    3. Recommendations

    Three letters of recommendation are required from:

    • A professor, teacher, or academic advisor.
    • A person who can speak to your clinical potential, such as someone who supervised you during an OT-related experience or worked with you in a setting related to health care or populations related to OT. 
    • A person of your choice, other than a relative or family friend, who can speak objectively about your strengths. A work supervisor or another teacher is recommended.

    4. OT-related experience

    A minimum of 30 in-person hours of occupational therapy-related experience or observation is required. We encourage applicants to visit different sites to experience the diversity of the OT practice. Activities such as volunteering as a camp counselor for children with disabilities or working as an aide at an assisted living facility count toward this requirement as they provide exposure to populations that interface with OT. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that a portion of the hours include observation with one or more occupational therapists. We also encourage you to supplement these types of experiences with non-traditional OT-related hours, which could include written reflection on books, podcasts, movies, website and alumni interviews, etc. Explore these resources and see this page for more details on how to document.

    5. Understanding of OT and strong writing skills

    Applicant should answer the personal statement prompt provided by OTCAS. The statement should reflect knowledge of OT as gained through observations and other experiences, as well as strong writing skills and articulation of goals for the future. There is no set word minimum or maximum.

    6. Life experience

    Please complete the portions of the OTCAS application regarding extracurricular experience fully even if you mention activities in other places, such as your personal statement.

    7. Video interview

    Following the processing of your application, you will receive an email from the Program in Occupational Therapy with a link to complete a three-question, asynchronous video interview. The questions are designed to better understand your interpersonal and problem-solving skills.

    8. International students

    TOEFL (and TWE, if Paper-Based Test) should be taken no more than one year prior to application. Transcripts from universities outside the United States must be reviewed by a credentialing agency. Click here for more information.

    Estimated Cost of Attendance

    Current Cost
    OTD Program
    2024 Fall Semester
    OTD Program
    2024 Spring Semester
    OTD Program
    2024-25 Academic Year
    Total Cost of Program (3-year program 2024-2027)
    Tuition $18,333 $18,333 $54,999 $145,750
    Student Fees
    $0 $0 $0 $0
    Books and Supplies
    $800 $950
    $1,850 $3,375
    Loan Fees
    4.228% Grad (PLUS)
    1.057% (Unsub)
    4.228% Grad (PLUS)
    1.057% (Unsub)
    4.228% Grad (PLUS)
    1.057% (Unsub)
    4.228% Grad (PLUS)
    1.057% (Unsub)
    Distance Ed Fees
    $0 $0 $0 $0
    Total $19,133 $19,283 $56,849 $149,125
    Photo of students in a poster session

    How to Apply

    Washington University participates in AOTA’s centralized application system for occupational therapy educational programs, OTCAS. Students manage their applications online and may apply to more than one school at a time. Washington University does not require a separate application or fee.

    The Program admits one class each year in the fall. Applicants begin the admission process during the preceding fall and must complete all required elements by the Nov. 15 (early admission) or Jan. 30 (regular admission) deadlines.

    The application process is as follows:

    • The OTCAS system is open for applications in July 2024 for those applying for admission to the fall 2025 class.
    • Your application, official transcripts and three letters of recommendation must be submitted to OTCAS by Nov. 15 (early admission) or Jan. 30 (regular admission).
    • Once completed, “OTCAS applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.” Click here for OTCAS frequently asked questions about the deadline. In our experience, it can take two to four weeks before an application is verified by OTCAS and released to us for review.
    • Once completed OTCAS applications are released to us, they are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
    • Applicants are encouraged to complete the application process well in advance of the deadline. Decision notices for early applications will be sent out by Dec. 11 and must be accepted or declined by Jan. 11. Decision notices for regular applications will be sent out by Feb. 28 and must be accepted or declined by Mar. 28.
    PLEASE NOTE: Applicants are encouraged to complete the application process well in advance of the deadline. Decision notices for early applications will be sent out by Dec. 11 and must be accepted or declined by Jan. 11. Decision notices for regular applications will be sent out by Feb. 28 and must be accepted or declined by Mar. 28.

    Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid and employment.

    Washington University - Non-Discrimination Statement

    The School of Medicine is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body.

    The Program in Occupational Therapy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 510E Bethesda, MD 20814. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652-6611 and its web address is

    With the MSOT or OTD degree, graduates are eligible to sit for the NBCOT examination to become a practicing occupational therapist. The exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), located at One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. NBCOT’s phone number is (301) 990-7979 and its web address is See our NBCOT Pass Rate. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification exam or attain state licensure.

    The Program in Occupational Therapy has determined that, as a result of its ACOTE accreditation, its MSOT and OTD program curricula meets the educational requirements to sit for the NBCOT examination and to pursue licensure and certification in all states and territories of the United States and Washington, D.C.

    January 15
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    We welcome inquiries from prospective students, potential collaborators, community partners, alumni and others who want to connect with us. Please complete the form below to begin the conversation.

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    Schedule an Info Session

    We are excited that you are considering applying to the Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University. Please join us for a Zoom Information Session for either our entry-level MSOT or OTD degrees or our online post-professional OTD. Current faculty members will discuss the degree program and answer any question you may have. We are offering these sessions on the following days and times. The content is the same for each one, so you only need to sign up for one.

    Upcoming ENTRY-LEVEL Degree ZOOM Info sessions:

    Schedule an Entry-Level Info Session

    Upcoming PP-OTD Degree ZOOM Info session:

    Schedule a PP-OTD Info Session