Doctor of Occupational Therapy, University of Illinois at Chicago

Application Deadlines: november 1st for spring 2017 and march 1st For Fall 2017

For registered occupational therapists, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree is a post-professional degree designed for practitioners who wish to move into roles as leading practitioners, managers, educators, leaders, and applied scholars. 

UIC master’s students who want to enter the field with knowledge and skills beyond the OT master’s degree can complete the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree by co-enrolling in the MS program and the OTD program. For more details on this option, including application instructions for MS/OTD co-enrollment, go to the Co-enrolling in the MS and OTD section.

At UIC, students are immersed in a rigorous curriculum composed of the following: 

The program stresses a strong mentorship model in which students work closely with a faculty mentor to complete a program tailored to the student's career goals. Students may matriculate full-time or part-time.

Students who want to take courses at UIC before they apply to the OTD Program can apply as non-degree students and take up to 12 credits that can be applied towards the OTD. For more information, view the Non-Degree Admissions page.

Why complete a professional doctorate in occupational therapy?

As the field of occupational therapy continues to grow, many occupational therapists find themselves needing advanced therapeutic skills, knowledge and expertise to manage people and programs, and greater ability to convey their knowledge effectively to others using educational methods. Entry-level degrees in occupational therapy focus on developing generalist practitioners. By comparison, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) focuses on developing advanced practitioners with specialized expertise, advanced knowledge and skills, and the ability to take on leadership and educational roles in the field. The OTD also focuses on evidence-based practice and research that can be applied to improving your practice and developing new areas of innovative practice.

For the currently practicing occupational therapist, an OTD offers opportunities for career development and advancement. For a currently enrolled master’s student, an OTD offers the opportunity to enter the field with advanced knowledge and skills.

Differences between an OTD and a PhD

An OTD focuses on developing advanced professional skills (which we call a practice scholar), while a PhD focuses on developing skills to conduct research and become an independent investigator (which we call a scholar of practice). Although the OTD program will provide applied research knowledge and skills, it will focus on using existing evidence to inform professional and community-based practice. The research training of PhD students is much more extensive, with the expectation that they will actively engage in developing new knowledge through independent inquiry. Your career goals should determine which of these advanced degrees you pursue.

If you would like guidance on which degree would be a better match for your career goals, please contact the Department of Occupational Therapy.

The College of Applied Health Sciences also offers two PhDs. For more information, please click on the following links: