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Occupational Therapy (OTD): Entry Level

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

UW–Madison OTD students talk at a table in the clinic

Start your career as an occupational therapy professional and future evidence-based leader with the comprehensive Doctor of Occupational Therapy: Entry Level program.


Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Doctor of Occupational Therapy: Entry Level program is designed to give you the knowledge and skills necessary to transform our nation’s health and education systems, and address the needs of diverse communities.

This clinical doctorate program is designed specifically for entry-level graduate students. The program includes the fundamentals of occupational therapy as well as courses on excellence in clinical practice, wellness, leadership, and the development and application of evidence in occupational therapy.

Our mission is to train highly skilled occupational therapists to become visionary leaders and advocates in interprofessional practice. You will be guided towards creating a personalized professional learning plan, which will culminate in a capstone experience and an individual project.

As a top-ranked Occupational Therapy program, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy: Entry Level provides students with a world-class education and the rigorous training needed to become innovators in the field. Our expert faculty will help you build the skills and practical training to meet your individual career goals.

The UW–Madison entry-level occupational therapy doctoral 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 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.

Is this program right for you?

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Doctor of Occupational Therapy: Entry Level program is designed to give you the knowledge and skills necessary to transform our nation’s health and education systems, and address the needs of diverse communities.

This clinical doctorate program is designed specifically for entry-level graduate students. The program includes the fundamentals of occupational therapy as well as courses on excellence in clinical practice, wellness, leadership, and the development and application of evidence in occupational therapy.

Our mission is to train highly skilled occupational therapists to become visionary leaders and advocates in interprofessional practice. You will be guided towards creating a personalized professional learning plan, which will culminate in a capstone experience and an individual project.

As a top-ranked Occupational Therapy program, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy: Entry Level provides students with a world-class education and the rigorous training needed to become innovators in the field. Our expert faculty will help you build the skills and practical training to meet your individual career goals.

The UW–Madison entry-level occupational therapy doctoral 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 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.

Admissions requirements

All applicants must:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution.
  • Have a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0.
  • Have observational, paid, or volunteer experience in at least two different settings serving persons across the lifespan with physical, cognitive or behavioral conditions (direct observation of occupational therapy practice is highly recommended).
  • Earn at least a “C” or better in the following prerequisite courses or their equivalent:
    • Lifespan Development (6 credits)
    • Abnormal Psychology (3 credits)
    • Statistics (3 credits)
    • Human Physiology (3-5 credits with lab)
    • Human Anatomy (3-5 credits)
    • Human Anatomy Lab (1-3 credits)
  • Submit evidence of English language proficiency, if applicable. The required proficiency scores are: TOEFL IBT 92, PBT 580; or IELTS 7.0.

Application materials required:

  • Online Application
  • OTCAS Application
  • Kira Talent Virtual Interview Assessment (invitation will be provided after successful submission of the Graduate School Application and the OTCAS Application)
  • Statement of purpose
  • Transcripts
  • Three letters of recommendation

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Program highlights

  • UW–Madison is a premier institution and has trained some of the greatest thought-leaders in the field of occupational therapy.
  • We have over 75 years of excellence training occupational therapists, giving you access to a large and diverse alumni network.
  • We offer a small, intimate cohort with regular mentoring from world-class faculty.
  • We provide the unique opportunity to bridge to a PhD in Occupation Science for those interested.

University of Wisconsin–Madison ranked in the top 10% of best occupational therapy program by U.S. News & World Report.

How you'll learn

  • Benefit from practical, hands-on learning opportunities in collaboration with your peers and instructors with face-to-face classes on the UW–Madison campus.
  • Receive high-quality mentored research experiences.
  • Demonstrate your new skills through a capstone project.

Sample curriculum

Year 1

  • Human Anatomy-Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy
  • Applied Neuroanatomy for Allied Health Professionals
  • Professional and Leadership Skills
  • Fieldwork: Adult Physical Disabilities
  • Living Well: Designing Occupation-based Wellness Promotion

Year 2

  • Enabling Occupations: Mental Health Across the Lifespan
  • Fieldwork: Community-Based Mental Health
  • Promoting Health and Wellness for Populations
  • Communicating OT to Interprofessional Audiences
  • Fieldwork: Pediatrics
  • Evidence Based Practice Lab Practicum
  • Applied Leadership and Management in OT
  • Level II Fieldwork

Year 3

  • Level II Fieldwork (continued)
  • Current Trends Shaping Occupational Therapy Practice
  • Human Occupation and Health
  • Capstone Project
  • Doctoral Experiential Component

Job outlook

Top Job Titles
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Director of Rehabilitation

Market Salary
$81K in 2019

Projected Job Growth
23.8% for Occupational Therapists (2016-2026)

Job Postings
4,566 in 2019

Source: Burning Glass Technologies: Labor Insight. 2020.
Burning Glass Technologies’ Market Salary is an estimated expected salary. Market Salary uses machine learning algorithms to account for experience, skill, and education among other factors that may impact individual salaries.

Ready to learn more about Occupational Therapy (OTD): Entry Level?
View the UW-Madison Guide

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Our friendly, knowledgeable enrollment coaches are here to answer your questions. Contact an enrollment coach to:

  • Learn how to make this program work with your life/schedule
  • Verify credit transfers
  • Get help with your application
  • Determine if financial aid is available

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