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.

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.

Please note: If you already have a degree in occupational therapy, you must go through a different application process. Click here for additional information.

With an OTD degree, you will be 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.


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) 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. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

    The GRE must be taken no more than five years prior to application. Quantitative, verbal and analytical writing scores are required. Our current mean scores are 153 quantitative, 156 verbal and 4.0 analytical writing.

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. OT-related experience

    A minimum of 30 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.

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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.

    9. 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.

    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 typically begin the admission process during the preceding fall and must complete all required elements by the December 15 deadline.

    The application process is as follows:

    • The OTCAS system is open for applications in July for those applying for admission the following fall. OTCAS opens in July for fall 2021 admissions.
    • Your application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and GRE scores must be submitted to OTCAS by December 15 (or January 15 if you are a 3-2 applicant).
    • 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.
    • Admission decisions may be made prior to the December 15 deadline. Applicants are encouraged to complete the application process well in advance of the deadline.
    • Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions as soon as possible, usually between November through February. The time required to review applications and respond to applicants will vary depending on many factors, including application volume. Offers of admission must be accepted or declined within four weeks.

    Your application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and GRE scores must be submitted to OTCAS by December 15. For the GRE, select "MISSOURI" as the state where we are located. The Washington University OTCAS code for the GRE is 0081; the occupational therapy code is 0618.

    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 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is

    A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

    Ranked as the Number Three OT Program in the Nation

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    or Robin Hattori at (314) 286-1653