All applications for the Entry Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (EL-OTD) program are submitted online directly through OTCAS.  Application to the VCU Graduate School is completed via a portal in OTCAS.  The entire process is web-based.

All application materials must be submitted to OTCAS by the application deadline of December 1st. If you have applied to the VCU OT program previously you will need to reapply through OTCAS and VCU Graduate Admissions.  All applicants will be required to start a new application and submit required materials. Be sure to review the entire contents of your application for accuracy prior to submission.

It takes some time to complete the online application form. We suggest that you begin the application during the summer or early fall. Information can be entered into the application pages over time allowing you to build the application gradually until it is complete.

The application consists of the following components, which must be submitted by the December 1st deadline.

Submission of transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.  

An overall grade point average of 3.0 in all college courses is preferred. 

A prerequisite grade point average of 3.25 in prerequisite courses is preferred. 

The mean overall GPA for the cohort beginning the program May 2020 was 3.63.  The mean prerequisite GPA was 3.83

Official scores from the Graduate Record Examinations (GREs).  The highest scores from the Verbal and Quantitative sections are combined.  The highest Analytical Writing score is taken.  A score of 4.0 on Analytical Writing is preferred. 

We are accepting the Test at Home version for the 2020 application cycle.  

Use the VCU Designated Institution code of 1219 to have scores sent to OTCAS.  

OTCAS Personal Statement 

The Personal Statement to be written as one and a half to one and three-quarters (1 ½-1 ¾) single-spaced pages in 12 point Times-Roman font with 1” page margins and no more than 1200 words. The average file size is about 15 KB vs. the 5 MB file size allowable through OTCAS. The following three questions should be addressed:

  • Why you are selecting OT as a career
  • How an entry level doctoral degree in OT relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals
  • How your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals

Applicants should highlight their knowledge of OT as a profession and demonstrate high desire to pursue a degree in occupational therapy.

VCU Value-Added Essay 

The VCU EL-OTD Graduate Admissions Committee is committed to the construction of a class of highly capable, lifelong learners, capitalizing on the diversity of differences in backgrounds, ideas, thoughts, values, and beliefs. The Committee also recognizes the need for accepting and graduating classes of students that support the American Occupational Therapy Association’s commitment to building a globally connected and diverse workforce. The Committee's responsibility is to review the pool of applicants to compose a class where every member contributes in special and unique ways to the makeup of the group. Students admitted to our program must be capable of succeeding in a very rigorous graduate program. Grade point averages and Graduate Record Exam scores help us assess those academic factors, but it takes more than academic success alone to become a successful OT. The majority of the Committee membership is made up of practicing clinicians who volunteer their time to review applications online. In lieu of an interview, they have chosen to require a “Value-Added Essay”, for applicants to describe personal qualities and experiences. The Value-Added Essay, builds upon the OTCAS Personal Statement, and helps the Committee identify those special qualities that set you apart from the many other qualified applicants to the program.

The VCU Graduate Admissions Committee would like to know how you would add value to the next cohort of OTD students and to the profession of occupational therapy.   The following prompt is designed to give you the opportunity to demonstrate self-reflection through individual learning, challenges, experiences and goals. 

 In an essay of no more than 1200 words, choose three (3) of the following activities that you have pursued or achieved an accomplishment in.  Outline the nature of your responsibilities within these activities and describe any personal qualities, skills, and/or characteristics that were developed as a result of engagement in these activities.

  • Leadership/group contributions – e.g., student government experience, community involvement, leadership in organizations, family responsibility, etc.
  • Engagement in research - e.g., experience working in research, contributing to functions of a laboratory, etc.
  • Personal life challenges - e.g., living with a person with a disability, member of a minority group, or member of underrepresented or underserved population. etc.
  • Sports involvement – e.g., membership on teams, participation in competitions, etc.
  • Creative and performing arts experience
  • Work experience
  • Sustained engagement in volunteer experience
  • Study abroad
  • Additional experience outside of those listed above, and not related to scholastic achievement

Letters of Recommendation


Three letters of recommendation are required.  A recommendation from an occupational therapist is preferred, but not essential. Applicants should only ask OT practitioners for a letter if the practitioner knows the applicant sufficiently well to complete the reference fully. Other appropriate references are former college or university professors, academic advisors, employers and other healthcare providers. No personal references will be accepted. Your references will receive an invitation from OTCAS to complete an online rating form that specifically addresses the applicant's motivation, integrity, ability to work well with others, commitment and cultural sensitivity, in addition to commenting on the 10 qualities listed on the rating scale.  All letters of reference go directly to OTCAS.

Observation Hours 

Documentation of a minimum of 10 observation hours.  Please note that this is a modification for the 2020 application cycle.   Resources for completing hours and reporting form can be found here

VCU Graduate School Application 

You will receive an invitation to the Virginia Commonwealth University Entry-Level OTD program Applicant Gateway, where you can complete the application to the Graduate School and pay the application fee.