What to Expect

Thinking about joining our program? Find out what you can expect as a student at UIC

The length of the OTD program depends on:

  • If you attend full-time or part-time
  • If you’ve already earned a bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • If you transfer credits

Assuming you enroll full-time (12-16 credits per fall and spring semesters and 6-8 credits in the summer), an OT with a master’s degree can complete the OTD in 1.5 to 2 years. An OT with a bachelor’s degree will take 2 to 3 years.

If you’re already enrolled in the UIC MS program and want to continue on to the OTD, you can finish the OTD in 1 to 1.5 years (depending on when you apply).

If you simultaneously apply to the MS and OTD, you can finish both degrees in 3 years—it takes around 2 years to earn the MS and 1 year to finish the OTD.

The length of the program would be extended for part-time students and is subject to the amount of credits you complete per semester.

The OTD program includes the following major components:

Our core courses include a theoretical survey of knowledge in the field and research methods. You’ll also take part in a seminar involving attendance at external presentations and lectures, and a pro-seminar course which focuses on social networking with colleagues and working together on your OTD project as well as advanced knowledge and skills seminars.

If you’ve already completed theory and research courses in their MS program, you can request to waive OT 500 and 510.

Required courses

OT 500 Theories of Occupational Therapy 4 hours
OT 510 Research in Occupational Therapy 4 hours
OT 530, 531, 532, or 533 Advanced Field Practicum in Clinical Specialization, Education, Leadership/Management or Scholarship of Practice 4-12 hours
(4 minimum)
OT 590 Doctoral Pro-Seminar in Occupational Therapy
Taken twice for a total of 2 credits
1 hour
OT 592 Doctoral Project 12 hours
OT 595 Seminar in Occupational Therapy 1 hours

In addition to required courses, you’ll work with your advisor to choose elective courses based on your identified goals.

The purpose of elective courses is to develop advanced knowledge in a defined area related to your goals. You’ll pursue topics related to your concentration that complement or expand the chosen professional foci.

Your exact number elective credits will depend on your entry status (i.e. entering the program with a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or co-enrolling with the MS program).

If you enter with a bachelor’s degree and no graduate credits to transfer, you’ll need to complete 46 credits of elective course work.

If you enter with a master’s degree (either in OT or another field) and have no additional graduate credits to transfer, you’ll need to complete 14 credits of electives. That number may vary depending on advanced practica credits and waived core courses.

OT electives

OT 528 Race, Culture, and Health Disparities 3 hours
OT 553 Program Evaluation: Documenting the Impact of Human Services 3 hours
OT 558 Writing for Professional Publication 3 hours
OT 561 Disability and Community Participation: Policy, Systems Change, and Action Research 4 hours
OT 563 Disability and Global Health 3 hours
OT 571 Knowledge Translation in Disability and Rehabilitation Research 3 hours
OT 568 Learning, Teaching, Curriculum Design, Delivery and Evaluation 4 hours
OT 594 Special Topics in Occupational Therapy 1-4 hours
OT 596 Independent Study 1-4 hours

Additional electives

In addition to electives in OT, many of our students take courses in other departments like:

  • Education or special education
  • Disability and human development
  • Psychology
  • Neuroscience
  • Community health sciences
  • Health policy
  • Urban planning
  • Sociology

Advanced practica give you with the opportunity to immerse into an area of practice in-depth, develop specialized skills and knowledge that go beyond entry-level or generalist practice, and apply theoretical and evidence-based knowledge and skills to everyday practice situations.

You’re required to take a minimum of 4 practica credits, and can take up to 12 during the program depending on your goals.

Types of practica

OT 530 Advanced Field Experience: Clinical Specialization in Occupational Therapy
OT 531 Advanced Field Experience in Occupational Therapy Administration/Management
OT 532 Advanced Field Experience: Occupational Therapy Education
OT 533 Advanced Field Experience: Occupational Therapy Scholarship of Practice Leadership

Field exams are designed to assess your mastery of content related to your advanced areas of practice, education, leadership and applied theory/research.

The exam is conducted by a three-person committee, one of whom is the your major advisor or mentor. The other two committee members are determined by you and your advisor based on your program of study.  At least one of the two committee members must be faculty members of the OT department.

The content covered by the field exam will reflect your approved study plan or defined areas of concentration. The content of the questions and administration format will be at the discretion of the committee.

This exam counts for up to 3 credits, if you’re taking independent studies with three UIC committee members.

You’ll complete an OTD project representing major applied work done with your faculty mentor and community of learning, involving planning, implementation, evaluation and dissemination. This gives you the opportunity to experience how a program of scholarship is developed, advances over time, and fits different components together. This project can be an evidence-based practice review, educational case study, or creation and evaluation of training, assessment or intervention program.

The project requires you to develop a proposal, submit it to the committee in writing, and defend it orally prior to initiating the project work. Upon approval by the committee, the project will be implemented under the supervision of your major advisor or mentor and collaborating committee members.

The final OTD project and report is submitted to the committee and orally defended.

Your OTD project accounts for 12 total credit hours.