OTD: Curriculum and Requirements
The USC Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degree requires a minimum of 60 units of graduate level coursework in occupational therapy and the maintenance of a 3.0 GPA.
The following courses, also part of the USC Master of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy program, are required of all students in this program. However, students who have taken equivalent courses as part of degree programs at other schools may request Division credit for some of these courses. Our O.T.D. adviser will be happy to work with you in investigating potential waivers which can be granted for students who have obtained master’s degrees from other universities.
- OT 451 Neuroscience of Behavior
- OT 470 Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice
- OT 504 Health Promotion and Wellness
- OT 580 Leadership Capstone (OT 580)
- OT 581 Quantitative Research for the Practicing Clinician
- OT 585 Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science
Read Course Descriptions here.
Core O.T.D. Occupational Science/Leadership Courses
All O.T.D. students are required to take an intensive course in occupational science during the fall semester, which gives students the grounding to understand the complexities surrounding everyday living and social engagement in the world. Additionally, it equips the student to conceptualize program innovation, to persuasively articulate the unique contribution occupational therapy makes in meeting societal needs, and to be well informed of the science supporting clinical practice. In the spring semester, all O.T.D. students take a second core course during which they complete a proposal by midterm that describes the innovative project they will then implement as part of their program of study. In this course they are exposed to leadership-related content, business writing, grant and proposal development and implementation, fiscal management, and the design of occupational science-based innovations.
Track Emphasis Courses (Cognates)
All O.T.D. students take at least one course (4 units) in another academic unit at USC. The coursework must clearly relate to the student’s professional goals and remain consistent with the objectives of the O.T.D. program. For example, a student who developed an Lifestyle Redesign® program to support environmentally sustainable habits took coursework in the USC Marshall School of Business to refine her business presentation and communication skills. Another student, completing his residency in a violence prevention program, took a course on nonprofit organization management. A third student, completing her residency in a Lifestyle Redesign® weight loss program, selected a course from the Keck School of Medicine of USC on health promotion. A fourth, who secured a leadership position in a residential aging-in-place program, took her elective courses in the USC Davis School of Gerontology. Finally, students who wish to pursue more intensive study in occupational science may be granted permission to use their elective units to concentrate in Division-based 600-level occupational science courses associated with the Ph.D. program. Examples of “cognate” courses past O.T.D. students have taken include:
- MKT 526 Advertising and Promotion Strategy Explains the use of argument, emotion, endorsements for persuasive ads; tools for analyzing ad effectiveness, budgeting, media planning and scheduling; principles of pricing for creative promotion. At the USC Marshall School of Business.
- GSBA 599 Business Fundamentals for Non-Business Professionals Directed research course at the USC Marshall School of Business.
- PPD 545 Human Behavior in Public Organizations Behavior in organizations; focus on personal, interpersonal and group level factors that influence such behavior. At the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy.
- PM 562 Intervention Approaches for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Approaches for modifying health behavior in various settings and within diverse populations. Emphasis on practical considerations necessary to design and implement interventions with demonstrated effectiveness. In the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
- SOWK 603 Merging Policy, Planning and Research for Change in Families and Childrens’ Settings Development and evaluation of service programs for children and families incorporating social welfare policy, macro practice and research skills. At the USC School of Social Work.
- PM 536 Program Evaluation and Research Overview of concepts, tools, data collection, analysis methods and designs used to evaluate health promotion programs. Examples from substance abuse prevention, family planning and reproductive health programs. In the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
- PYSC 544 Psychophysiology Recent research on relations between basic psychological states (e.g., cognition, learning, emotion) and physiological response processes (e.g., autonomic responses, covert muscle activity). At the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
- JOUR 504 Public Relations Research and Evaluation Covers the use of primary psychographic and demographic research, pre- and post-campaign testing and other highly
quantifiable research techniques in program development and evaluation. At the USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism.
The doctoral residency is a crucial element of our O.T.D. program. We believe that immersion in specific practice contexts (whether they be clinical, policy-related, educational or research focused) gives occupational therapists the skills and expertise to move occupational therapy forward. As a result, our O.T.D. program involves 24 units taken over three semesters. You will work in carefully selected settings (which may be the one in which you have had experience) with the guidance of a mentor. For example, you may work alongside a master clinician in lymphedema treatment, interact with a policy think tank, or teach undergraduate students studying occupational science. Usually, students on the clinical track complete their residency at a center of clinical excellence in their area of interest: students on the policy/administrative track are placed in advocacy organizations; and students with a research focus have participated on interdisciplinary research teams.
Your placement may be paid or voluntary, depending on the resources of the site. One of the three semesters, usually summer, you will participate onsite 36-40 hours a week and will not take any other classes. During the other two semesters of residency, you will participate part-time for a minimum of 18 hours a week. This experience is overseen by an advisory board composed of Division faculty.
Important Note for International Students
Please bear in mind that certification through the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy® (NBCOT®) in order to practice as an occupational therapist in the United States, which is required to be completed by the end of your first semester of the O.T.D. program, can take up to six months. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT® certification examination or attain state licensure. Please view www.nbcot.org for more information.
Our O.T.D. program is based on customization. Each program is designed in accord with the needs and ambitions of our students. In the end, what we want most is to equip students with the skills to secure their desired future. We realize that students with considerable clinical expertise may seek to take more coursework and less residency than is typical. However, students with less clinical experience may want to infuse their program with additional clinical exposure. Our approach to customization makes such substitutions possible through the availability of a variety of potential Division-based or university-wide potential electives. Electives that are popular for substitutions include:
- OT 500abc Clinical Problems in Occupational Therapy
- OT 555 Seminar: Implementation of the Advocacy Model
- OT 560 School-based Practice
- OT 564 Sensory Integration Theory
- OT 571 Assistive Technology
- OT 572 Ergonomics
- OT 573 Hand Rehabilitation
- OT 574 Enhancing Motor Control for Occupation
- OT 575 Dysphagia Across the Lifespan: Pediatrics through Geriatrics
- OT 576 Universal Design
- OT 578 Therapeutic Communication for the Healthcare Practitioner
- OT 583 Lifestyle Redesign®
- OT 590 Directed Research
Read Course Descriptions here.