Occupational Therapy Doctorate, Entry Level

The VCU Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD), Entry Level program is focused on preparing graduates to provide direct service in all occupational therapy practice settings. The OTD degree prepares 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.

Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) - 104 Credits

9 Semester Course Sequence

Year 1 - 40 Credits

Semester Credits Courses
Summer 1 9

OCCT 589 Advanced Functional Anatomy (7)

OCCT 580 Introduction to the Profession of Occupational Therapy (2)

Fall 1 17

OCCT 590 Functional Movement Analysis in Occupational Therapy (3)

OCCT 591 Neuroscience Applications to Occupational Therapy (4)

OCCT 592 Introduction to Injury, Illness, and Disability (3)

OCCT 593 Analysis of Human Occupation (1)

OCCT 594 Theoretical Foundations of Occupational Therapy (3)

OCCT 617 Therapeutic Process in Occupational Therapy (2)

IPEC 501 Interprofessional Education (1)

Spring 1 16

OCCT 613 Adult Occupational Performance I (3)

OCCT 614 Pediatric Occupational Performance I (4)

OCCT 615 Level I Fieldwork in Occupational Therapy (1)

OCCT 616 Research Process in Occupational Therapy (3)

OCCT 618 Systems, Policy, and Management (2)

OCCT 689 Occupational Therapy Assessment and Evaluation (3)

Year 2 - 35 Credits

Semester Credits Courses
Summer 2 5

OCCT 693 Occupational Synthesis and Adaptations (2)

OCCT 780 Leadership Seminar (3)

Fall 2 17

OCCT 713 Adult Occupational Performance II (4)

OCCT 714 Pediatric Occupational Therapy II (4)

OCCT 715 Level I Fieldwork in Occupational Therapy (1)

OCCT 716 Evidence Based Practice in Occupational Therapy (3)

OCCT 718 Psychosocial Mental Health course (3)

OCCT 781 Program Development and Evaluation (2)

Spring 2 11

OCCT 692 Assistive Technologies for Occupational Engagement (3)

OCCT 717 Level I Fieldwork in Psychosocial Occupational Therapy (1)

OCCT 721 Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy (3)

OCCT 759 Fieldwork Education Seminar (2)

OCCT 782 Professional Development Portfolio (2)

Year 3 - 29 Credits

Semester Credits Courses
Summer 3 9 OCCT 760 Level II Fieldwork in Occupational Therapy (9)
Fall 3 9

OCCT 761 Level II Fieldwork in Occupational Therapy (9)

Spring 3 11

OCCT 783 Doctoral Capstone (10)

OCCT 784 Capstone Evaluation and Dissemination (1)

The Department is committed to prepare outstanding, evidence-based, client-centered occupational therapists to serve the state and nation, as reflected in our student learning outcomes.

  1. Students will demonstrate knowledge of the social determinants of health for persons, groups, and populations with or at risk for disabilities and chronic health conditions.
  2. Students will demonstrate practice grounded theory.
  3. Students will apply, analyze, and evaluate the interaction of occupation and activity.
  4. Students will evaluate and document client occupational performance and participation.
  5. Students will analyze and synthesize relevant scientific literature and apply results to improve occupational therapy practice and patient care outcomes in a culturally sensitive manner.
  6. Students will participate in professional development, leadership, and advocacy opportunities.

Owning a personal computer is an essential part of learning in the entry level OTD program. VCU OTD students are encouraged to enter the program with a relatively new computer. Laptops and tablets are preferred for their portability and versatility. Students need access to high speed Internet to participate in course content that may be delivered online and to maintain communication with faculty throughout the program. Additionally, students working on team projects often share files using Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Slides. Competency in use of online resources and general use of computer software, e.g., Microsoft Word for word-processing, Powerpoint for professional presentations, and Excel for occasional spreadsheet development, is recommended. Students may wish to acquire a printer as well though students may print materials at Health Sciences Library.

VCU policy does not require that students undergo criminal background checks, drug screenings, credit checks or the like as a condition of acceptance or enrollment. However, clinical sites may require criminal background checks, including credit checks, Department of Motor Vehicles records check, review of professional disciplinary records, registry searches of certain types of sex offenders and/or verification of legal residency. Clinical experiences of Level I and Level II fieldwork are an integral part of the EL-OTD academic program. 

Students assigned to a clinical rotation or internship at a clinical facility are responsible for completing the required checks and screenings and assuring that results are obtained by the facility that asks for them. Virginia Commonwealth University does not assume any responsibility for obtaining or evaluating the results of a criminal background check, drug screen or other check, maintaining the records of results, or delivering them to clinical sites. The University will make reasonable efforts to place all enrolled students in clinical training. It will be the decision of the clinical fieldwork setting (school, community agency or healthcare or medical facility) whether the student will be allowed to participate in fieldwork should there be positive criminal or sex offender results.

Additionally, the occupational therapy licensing board National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) may deny the individual the opportunity to sit for an examination if an applicant has a criminal history or is convicted or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a felony or other serious crime. Successful completion of the EL-OTD at VCU does not guarantee licensure, the opportunity to sit for a licensure examination, certification, or employment in the relevant health care occupation.

"Essential requirements are those requisites that the institution and program, licensure and certification boards, and the profession respectively have determined to be critical in (a) meeting the competencies, goals, and purpose of the program; and (b) maintaining the safety of the people served in the education process and eventually in the therapeutic arena." (Wells & Hanebrink, 1997, pp. 26).

Students enrolled in Virginia Commonwealth University's Occupational Therapy program, preparing to become professionals in occupational therapy, are expected to have essential skills in addition to academic competence. These skills are related to one's ability to function as an occupational therapist and/or an occupational therapy student. While not all skills are needed across all settings, all are essential to occupational therapy practice in general. Thus, essential skills are the physical and mental abilities, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that make up the cognitive, psychomotor, and affective domains of occupational therapy practice. Overlying all domains of function is the need to be ethical in all conduct both as a student and a practitioner.

Essential skills apply to classroom, laboratory, clinical/fieldwork, and professional work environments. They exist to ensure the public that the graduates of our program are prepared to become fully competent and caring occupational therapists. In order to be successful in our program, and as occupational therapy professionals, individuals must be able to demonstrate multiple skills and abilities that span the academic, motor, emotional, and social nature of our profession. Where appropriate, the individual must be able to perform all listed essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations.


  • Commitment to the VCU Honor Code, and the Code of Ethics of the profession and behavior that reflects honesty, integrity, and a sense of right and wrong in the helping environment.

Ensuring Safety

  • The ability to ensure the safety of self and others within the occupational therapy practice setting, during all occupational therapy activities.

Affective Domain

  • The ability and commitment to work and interact with individuals without regard to the nature of their illness or disability, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, or age group.
  • Commitment to the policies of the university, the occupational therapy program, fieldwork sites, and places of employment. This includes matters ranging from professional dress and behavior, to adhering to academic and/or facility schedules, which are subject to change.
  • Emotional health for utilization of intellect, the exercise of good judgment, prompt completion of responsibilities and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with others.

Cognitive Domain

  • Cognitive abilities needed to integrate information from all courses throughout the curriculum, leading to effective clinical reasoning and problem solving. This requires the basic ability to absorb and integrate information as it is presented, and progresses to the ability to integrate and apply information to clinical problem solving. Thus, students are expected to move from the basic skills of understanding and memorizing information, to more advanced cognitive skills that involve analysis of information and situations and appropriate application of that knowledge.
  • The ability to communicate verbally and in writing, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary. This skill is needed in order to build relationships with faculty, advisors, fellow graduate students, fieldwork supervisors, coworkers and clients, their families, and their significant others. Further, it is essential in the clinical environment when interacting with clients, caregivers/significant others, and other professionals. Proficiency in communication includes transactions with individuals and groups in learner, collegial, supervisee, consultative, leadership and task roles. Students must be able to elicit and gather information and describe findings.
  • The cognitive and perceptual ability to work with clients in varied practice settings, insuring the safety of clients, significant others, and staff.
  • The organizational skills and stamina for performing required tasks and assignments within allotted time frames; the ability to travel to and from classes, fieldwork assignments, and work on time.
  • Critical thinking skills in order to problem solve creatively, master abstract ideas and synthesize information in order to handle the challenges of the academic, laboratory, and fieldwork settings.

Psychomotor Domain

  • The capacity to prepare for and respond to the challenges of any environment that requires a readiness for immediate and appropriate response. This requires training for emergencies as delineated within specific clinical environments (e.g., CPR, infection control), and a readiness and willingness to respond as needed.
  • The physical ability and capacity (i.e. balance, strength, and flexibility) to safely position the client or oneself to enable accomplishment of such things as range of motion, manual muscle testing, transfers, and pertinent activities of daily living. This applies to all practice settings.
  • Physical status permitting one to assume necessary workloads, and adapt to changing and challenging environments. These skills require flexibility and a spirit of cooperation.
  • The ability to complete tasks within specified timeframes appropriate to either the clinic or the classroom. Timeframes are determined based on the environment, but will be consistent with the expectations occupational therapists are likely to encounter in actual clinical practice.

For more information about the Entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (EL-OTD)
Program or the application process please contact otentrylevel@vcu.edu.

You may also call our Senior Program Specialist, Rebekah Allen, at (804) 828-2219

The Department of Occupational Therapy is located in the College of Health
Professions, 900 E Leigh Street, Richmond VA, 23298