Dear Prospective VCU EL-OTD Student,

Thank you for your interest in our program.  In 2017, VCU OT program celebrated it’s 75th anniversary!  We are proud to have been educating OT students since 1964, and we also take pride in our ranking as #17 in US News and World Report rankings of OT graduate programs in the country. 

In May 2018, we admitted the third cohort of OTD students.  In 2016, the OT program at VCU transitioned to an entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree program.

The VCU OTD program resulted from a response to:

  • Recognition of a substantially expanded knowledge and evidence base within the profession of occupational therapy, indicative of a need for an advanced level of education
  • Environmental needs, that included increased demands on the profession for leadership in clinical practice, academics, and administration
  • The need for equal recognition as an inter-professional collaborator in influencing healthcare policies and procedures
  • Growing interest in the entry level OTD for entry level training within the profession
  • Interests expressed by applicants and current students
  • Awareness of and commitment to VCUs role as a leader in OT education within the state of Virginia and nationally

Our emphasis remains on training graduates to provide direct service in all occupational therapy practice settings. In addition, the OTD degree will prepare graduates to employ evidence-based practice, be consumers and assistants in research, and contribute to program development in traditional and emerging areas of practice. Along with clinical practice it is anticipated that graduates will have greater opportunity for administrative and supervisory positions, and may be qualified for academic positions in occupational therapy programs or occupational therapy assistant programs.


We are often asked, what makes VCU OT unique.  Here is a summary of the unique aspects of our program:

  • Our doctoral practicum takes students to a level beyond Fieldwork II to make personally valued and relevant contributions of OT knowledge to the community, education and research arenas.
  • A strong grounding of theory combined with clinical application occurs throughout the curriculum
  • A strong emphasis on pediatrics with a large number of pediatric faculty
  • A strong bond and colleagulality between the faculty and staff members that extends to relationships with our students
  • Relationships with a large number of clinicians that provide lecture and practical learning opportunities, separate from Fieldwork
  • The number of opportunities to work alongside persons that may be receiving OT services or who are potential clients.
  • The inclusion of a very traditional OT course that teaches practical construction skills and the creation of custom adaptive equipment
  • Opportunities to engage in faculty-directed research
  • Three research labs that are housed in the OT Department.


Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure

Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Occupational Therapy entry-level doctoral degree program is currently a Developing Program by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The program has “Preaccreditation Status” having successfully completed the first two steps of the three-step initial accreditation process. Programs with "Preaccreditation Status" appear to meet the Standards if fully implemented in accordance with the plans of the sponsoring institution. The VCU entry-level OTD program is scheduled for the onsite accreditation visit in November 2018.

Contact information for ACOTE is:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE ) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
4720 Montgomery Ln Ste 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Phone: 301-652-AOTA
Fax: 240-762-5140

We encourage you to review these webpages thoroughly.  If after reviewing the webpages you still have questions about the admissions process, or the EL-OTD program, please send an email to or contact Lawrencine Smith, the OT Program Manager, by telephone at (804) 828-2219. Audrey E. Kane, PhD, OTR/L, Chair of the Entry Level Graduate Admissions Committee monitors the email system. Please do not hesitate to contact us.

Dianne F. Simons, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA
Director of the Entry-Level Education