OTCAS Application

All applications for the Entry Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (EL-OTD) program are submitted online directly through OTCAS and the VCU Graduate Admissions online application. 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.

By the December 1 deadline, applicants need to have done all of the following:

  • Completed the OTCAS Application with the following components (descriptions below):
    • Personal Statement
    • Value-Added Essay
    • Letters of Recommendation – 3
  • Completed the VCUSupplemental Information Application
  • Taken the ETS Graduate Record Examby December 1 and had the scores sent directly to OTCAS using the VCU OT Designated Institution Code of 1219.  
  • Completed at least 30 observation hours with an OT or OTA practitioner

You do not need to pay any fees until the application is complete and you are ready to submit it. Once your application is submitted it will be marked as "Received." It will take some time for OTCAS to verify your electronic transcript based upon the transcripts that you have had sent to them from all of the colleges and/or universities that you have attended. The Graduate Admissions Committee will only review applications that have been marked as "Verified" by OTCAS and for which VCU has received a complete Supplemental Information Application. The cost of OTCAS is $140 for the application to the first program and $60 for each subsequent program.

The cost of the VCU Supplemental Information Application is $65, and is paid to VCU Graduate Admissions.

Please see OTCAS FAQ's for more specific information regarding the OTCAS application process.

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

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 Committee would like to know how your inclusion in the next class of entry-level OTD students would "add value" to the composition of the class, enrich the lives of your future clients and ultimately enhance the future of the profession.

Please compose an essay of no more than 1000 words.  Describe the unique characteristics, qualities, and skills you possess that bring added value to the next cohort and the profession and how these have been influenced by your diverse and formative life experiences, leadership, team membership research and scholarship opportunities, and/or community engagement with people of varied and diverse backgrounds.

Letters of Recommendation

Three letters of recommendation are required.  A recommendation from an occupational therapist is preferred, but is 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.