Entry-Level Occupational Therapy

Program Type
Doctoral Program
Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD)
Mode of Study
In Person

Tuition per credit hour

$445 for both in-state & out-of-state residents. See details and other costs

Credit hours

108 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship & fellowship opportunities. Explore aid


No GRE required. Apply for fall term. View application process & deadlines

Program Highlights

  • Earn your OTD in three years and six months of full-time study.
  • Acquire an entry-level doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy if you hold a baccalaureate or master’s degree in a discipline other than occupational therapy.
  • Engage in six months of full-time fieldwork.
  • Design an evidence-based capstone project that demonstrates excellence in a chosen area of study.
  • Prepare to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).
  • Study in a program that is nationally accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
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Program requirements

Our program builds upon your previous education and experience by providing a course of professional study that stresses competency in practice, research, and program development, and producing ethical, evidence-based practitioners and leaders within the field.

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Engaged, dedicated faculty

Our faculty are committed to the student success and offer opportunities for students to engage in their research. Faculty research areas include hoarding disorder, pediatric mental health, and the effects of sensory room use on stress in students.

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Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today
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Learning spaces

Our learning facilities include a dedicated pediatric clinic space which includes sensory integration equipment. We have a separate dedicated space for adults, including modalities and exercise equipment, and a lab space that includes a kitchen and bathroom for learning activities for daily living.

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Hands-on learning

Engage in six months of full-time fieldwork in psychosocial, community practice, and pediatric or adult population settings. You’ll also design a capstone project in a chosen area of study that could include clinical practice skills, research skills, leadership, advocacy, education, and theory development.

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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Meet us
The entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program at USM is accredited 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 www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program 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.
The time limit for completion of the ELOTD program is dated from the date of first matriculation and ends at seven years.

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Admission information: Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate OTD

Application deadlines

We accept applications on a rolling basis and review them continuously.

Application deadlineFall term start
FinalAugust 1
InternationalJune 1

Admission to the Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral program is competitive with limited spaces each fall. The program seeks applicants who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than occupational therapy with a record of academic achievement and who are committed to employing interdisciplinary approaches and strategies in the study of occupational therapy.

The program also seeks candidates who are committed to self-development as a necessary foundation for assisting others. Academic coursework and clinical experiences require that students be available throughout the day and some evenings. A part-time option is also available where students may complete their academic work in three and a half years. Full-time coursework consists of seven consecutive semesters of academic coursework, including six months of full-time fieldwork in an occupational therapy setting.

Completion of the application requirements does not guarantee admission into the program. Admission will be based on a comparative evaluation of applicants’ materials as they relate to such areas as academic achievement, writing skills, and interviewing.

Unconditional acceptance to the OTD program will be extended only to students who are competitive and who have submitted documentation that all of their requirements have been completed at the time of their application. Successful candidates who are in the process of completing prerequisite courses will receive conditional acceptance until all their requirements have been completed. Full-time students must have completed all prerequisites before the start of classes in September, while part-time students may be allowed additional time to complete select prerequisite courses.

General qualifications

  • Recommended: 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale. GPA below a 3.0 will be considered on an individual basis. GPA will be weighted with emphasis on pre-requisite course work. Students with a GPA below 3.0 can provide an additional statement about their GPA and why they will be successful in the program. GPA will be weighted with emphasis on pre-requisite course work.
  • GRE scores are not required
  • Prerequisite courses: Courses must be completed at a regionally accredited college or university with a grade of B- or higher.
    • Required:
      • Medical Terminology: 1-3 credits
      • Developmental Psychology or Multicultural Human Development: 3 credits
      • Abnormal Psychology: 3 credits (taken within 6 years of applying)
      • Anatomy & Physiology I with Lab: 4 credits (taken within 6 years of applying)*
      • Anatomy & Physiology II with Lab: 4 credits (taken within 6 years of applying)*
    • Recommended — while not required, these courses will strengthen an application:
      • Neuroscience: 3 credits
      • Introduction to Sociology: 3 credits
      • Statistics: 3 credits
      • Introduction to Physics with Lab: 4 credits
*Online or simulated labs will be assessed at the discretion of the Program Director.

Equivalency exams may be taken in place of certain courses if a grade of B- was not achieved. Please refer to the Credit for Prior Learning Office for more information on specific course offerings. Straighterline courses will not be accepted for prerequisite courses. For grades lower than a B-, students may opt to retake the course, complete an equivalency exam (specific subjects only), or petition the faculty to substitute an appropriate course and/or work/life experience. Courses below B- will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
    • Students may also apply through the Centralized Application Service for Occupational Therapy Programs: OTCAS. The OTCAS portal opens for applicants in mid-July. OTCAS requires its own set of fees for utilizing this service. Applicants applying through OTCAS will pay all associated fees directly through the OTCAS program.
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
    • Please note that the optional OTCAS application does require a fee.
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: Explain why you selected occupational therapy as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals. Essay length: 3-5 pages.
  • Letters of Recommendation(3): Three letters of recommendation are required. Recommendations should be from individuals who are qualified, through direct experience with your academic or professional work, to comment on your ability to undertake graduate study and your chosen profession. As part of the online process, applicants will be prompted for the names and email addresses of three recommenders. Each person will receive an electronic recommendation form to complete directly from the university.
  • Interview. Qualified applicants will be invited to be interviewed by the faculty.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address