Graduation and Credentialing

Accreditation

Our entry-level OTD degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status 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 www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

UIC will learn ACOTE’s decision regarding accreditation of the entry-level-OTD in December 2024, in advance of the graduation of the first entry-level OTD cohort in May 2025.

Progression and retention requirements

The Department of Occupational Therapy monitors student academic progress, including cumulative degree grade point average.

To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0/4.0 (B average). The GPA is the average of all grades, including all entry-level OTD courses and electives. A grade of less than C in any required course (including a grade of unsatisfactory) will result in a recommendation for dismissal from the entry-level OTD program, even if the cumulative GPA is above 3.0. Students may appeal their dismissal to the department’s Academic Standing Committee.

A cumulative GPA below 3.0 will result in academic probation. Students are allowed two enrolled academic terms to raise their GPA and leave probation. Students who fail to raise their GPA to 3.0 or otherwise fulfill the terms of their probation within the deadline will be dismissed from the university.

Exceptions may be considered by the UIC OT Academic Standing Committee on a case-by-case basis.

Graduation requirements

Students must be in good academic standing to graduate, even if all other requirements have been met.

Students graduating with an entry-level OTD will be required to satisfy all the departmental, college, and university graduation requirements.

All entry-level OTD students are required to successfully complete 38 required courses (Refer to the What To Expect webpage)  for a total of 110 credits to meet graduation requirements and to be eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy® (NBCOT®). The 38 required courses include 26 didactic courses, 7 fieldwork courses, 2 seminar courses, a 14-week capstone experience, and 2 capstone project courses.

To graduate, students must maintain an acceptable level of academic achievement, defined as follows:

  • All required or elective courses graded A-F must be completed with a grade of C or better. Students who earn below a C in a required or elective course are dismissed. Students have the right to appeal a course grade and/or dismissal decision, following departmental, college and university guidelines.
  • All required or elective courses graded on a “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis (e.g., Level I Fieldwork, Level II Fieldwork), must be completed with a grade of “Satisfactory”. Students who earn an Unsatisfactory grade in an S/U course are dismissed. As above, students have the right to appeal a course grade and/or dismissal decision, following departmental, college and university guidelines.
  • Students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA in all required entry-level OTD courses and electives during their OTD matriculation and at graduation. When the OTD GPA falls below 3.00, students are informed that they have two additional terms of registration (including summer, if registered) after the warning term to raise the GPA to 3.00. Students who raise their GPA to 3.00 or above within the deadline will be removed from probation.
  • A student with a degree GPA less than 3.0 will not be approved for graduation.  Approval for graduation is achieved by raising the OTD GPA to 3.0 or greater prior to the end of the last term required for graduation.
  • Students on probation who fail to raise their average to 3.00 or to otherwise fulfill the terms of their probation within the deadline will be dismissed. As above, students have the right to appeal a course grade and/or dismissal decision, following departmental, college and university guidelines.

The entry-level OTD is a professional program. A thesis or dissertation is not required. However, students are required to complete a capstone project, per ACOTE® requirements.

Policy to Ensure That Students Complete All Graduation, Fieldwork, and Doctoral Capstone Requirements In A Timely Manner

To ensure that students complete all graduation, fieldwork and doctoral capstone requirements in a timely manner, the following time limits for completion of E-OTD program and program components are imposed:

  • All elements of the program must be completed within 6 years. The program is normally completed on a full-time basis and part-time status is only granted by petition to the Academic Standing Committee. A formal plan for progressing in the program on part-time status must be part of the petition to the Academic Standing Committee.
  • Students must progress to Fieldwork Level IIA (OT 649/OT 650) within 12 months of completing all prerequisites for Level IIA Fieldwork.
  • Each 12-week Level II Fieldwork requirement, i.e., OT 649/OT 650 (FW Level II-A: Part 1/ FW Level II-A: Part 2) and OT 669 (FW Level II-B) must be completed within 24 months of beginning the Level II fieldwork requirement.
  • An individual 14-week capstone experience must be completed within 24 months after it begins.
  • The doctoral capstone experience must be started after completion of all pre-requisite coursework and Level II fieldwork, as well as completion of preparatory activities defined in 2018 ACOTE OTD Standard D.1.3.
  • Leaves of absence beyond one year are not routinely considered at any point in progression in the program.
  • Exceptions to the above may be considered by the Academic Standing Committee on a case-by-case basis.

NOTE: ACOTE® requires 24 weeks of Level II Fieldwork. Together, Fieldwork Level II-A: Part 1 (OT 649; 6 weeks), Fieldwork Level II-A: Part 2 OT 650; 6 weeks),  and Fieldwork Level II-B (OT 669; 12 weeks) fulfill the 24-week Level II fieldwork experience requirement articulated by ACOTE®. Fieldwork Level II-A is divided into two courses (OT 649 and OT 650) because the first six weeks of the Level II-A fieldwork occurs in the spring semester and the second six weeks occurs in the summer semester.

Part-time status

The program is usually completed on a full-time basis. Part-time status is granted only by petition to the Academic Standing Committee, including a formal plan that complies with the following time limits:

  1. Students must start Fieldwork Level II within 12 months of completing its prerequisites.
  2. Fieldwork Level II must be completed within 24 months after it begins.
  3. Leaves of absence beyond one year are not routinely considered at any point of progression in the program.

Exceptions may be considered by the UIC OT Academic Standing Committee on a case-by-case basis.

Certification and licensure

Graduates of the entry-level OTD program are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam for occupational therapist. After successful completion of the exam, the graduate will be a registered occupational therapist (OTR).

All states require licensure to practice and each state has specific requirements. State licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination.

About NBCOT's character review and background checks

A felony conviction or academic disciplinary action may affect a graduate’s ability to take the NBCOT certification exam or attain state licensure.

NBCOT conducts background checks for certification exam applicants who have affirmative responses to one or more of the character review questions:

  1. Have you ever been convicted of a felony? (NOTE: Applicants must answer affirmatively even if convictions have been pardoned, expunged, released, or sealed.)
  2. Do you currently have a felony charge or charges against you?
  3. Have you ever surrendered any professional license, registration, or certification or had one denied, revoked, suspended, or subject to probationary conditions by a regulatory authority or certification board, including NBCOT?
  4. Do you currently have a professional license, registration, or certification under review for possible disciplinary action?
  5. Have you ever been found by any court, administrative, or disciplinary proceeding to have committed negligence, malpractice, recklessness, or willful or intentional misconduct which resulted in harm to another?
  6. Do you currently have a charge(s) of negligence, malpractice, recklessness, or willful or intentional misconduct that resulted in harm to another against you?
  7. Have you ever been suspended and/or expelled from a college or university?
  8. Are you currently under active investigation that could lead to being suspended and/or expelled from a college or university?

A detailed, written explanation regarding the incident(s), and documentation pertaining to probation or parole are required as part of the NBCOT Character Review.

NBCOT offers the Early Determination Review for prospective or current OT students to learn if a past issue will affect their certification exam eligibility before they undertake or complete their studies.