Starting in fall 2019, KU will transition from the master's degree program to the entry-level clinical doctorate – the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. This program has been designed to provide students with skills necessary to work as an occupational therapist in a range of health care, educational and community-based settings.

The OTD is a three-year full time on- site commitment. Lectures and labs occur on the KU Medical Center campus.  Upon completion of didactic course work, students complete required fieldwork and doctoral experiences throughout the Kansas City metropolitan area, the state of Kansas, and across the country. Upon completion of this course of study, students will be eligible to take the national certification (NBCOT) examination to obtain occupational therapy licensure. 

The entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy program has been granted candidacy and is in phase two of pre-accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449; (301) 652-6611. For more information, visit the ACOTE website at

Applications for this program are accepted online and requires two parts to be completed separately. Like many entry-level programs across the country, KU uses the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) as the first part of the application process. In the second part, supplemental materials are submitted to KU using a CollegeNet online application.

Detailed instructions on how to apply are posted on the Department of Occupational Therapy Education website. Application materials are accepted August 1-December 1 for the class entering the program in August of the following fall. All application materials must be received by December 1 for an application to be complete and qualified for review.

Admission requirements:

  • A bachelor's degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution is required and must be documented by submission of official transcript indicating the degree has been conferred before entering the program. Official transcripts from all course work taken at any institution also are required. Although an application may be submitted while course work still is in progress, the student's plan for completion prior to entering the program must be articulated as part of the application.  Students with degrees from institutions outside the U.S. may be subject to transcript evaluation to verify the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree and the student meets the minimum cumulative grade-point average requirement.
  • Applicants must possess a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.2 on a 4.0 scale for his or her bachelor's degree program and specifically a 3.2 GPA on the specific prerequisite courses. Information documented on student transcripts will be used to calculate all grade point averages. Consistent with University of Kansas policy, the admissions committee will replace grades of classes that have been repeated.
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE): All applicants must complete the GRE and submit official scores to OTCAS. The GRE must be taken within the last three years to be valid on the application.
  • The following prerequisite courses are required: abnormal psychology, lifespan development, statistics, ethics, human physiology, human anatomy with a lab, a social science course, and medical terminology.
    Specific requirements for prerequisite courses are as follows:
    • Each course (except labs and medical terminology) must be a minimum of three credit hours. Medical terminology may be one credit hour.
    • Students must complete prerequisite coursework before beginning the program.
    • A passing grade of "C" or higher is required in all prerequisite courses. A grade of “D” is not considered a passing grade.
    • Grades must be posted for 18 of the 24 prerequisite hours including Human Anatomy with lab and Physiology  prior to applying to the program.
  • Applicants who are not native speakers of English, whether domestic or international, must demonstrate they meet the minimum English proficiency requirement.
  • All applicants must complete a minimum of 40 hours volunteer or shadowing with at least two occupational therapist in two different settings. Experiences must be completed within the last 3 years and prior to applying to the program.
  • As part of the online application, applicants will submit a personal statement describing why occupational therapy is his or her chosen career, and how a degree in OT will support the applicant's personal and professional goals. This statement should include an explanation of how personal, professional, and educational background and experience has prepared the applicant for this career decision and a future in occupational therapy.
  • Applicants will also submit a 500-word (or less) statement of interest in which he or she provides information about the reasons why the  program at the University of Kansas is of interest. Unlike the personal/professional statement submitted to OTCAS about occupational therapy as a profession, this Interest statement should be specifically about the KU's occupational therapy program.
  • Three separate references are required and should be written by a professional, advisor, instructor, supervisor, coach, or other adult contact who can attest to the applicant’s potential success in the  program and future contributions to the occupational therapy profession. At least one letter of recommendation must be from an academic reference.
  • A professional resume must be included with the application describing work and/or volunteer experience including activities involved in and awards.
  • A background check is required during the admission process; it may affect the student's eligibility to enter the program. This one-time fee must be paid directly to the company performing the background investigation. A drug screening may also be required. More information: School of Health Professions background check and drug screening policy.
  • Applicants who have been convicted of a felony should be aware of the fact that application for licensure, certification, or registration will be subject to review and additional information may be requested. Based on the review process, denial of licensure, certification, and/or registration may occur and subsequent opportunities for employment may be compromised.
  • All accepted students must submit copies of current, valid CPR and First Aid certifications prior to the program start date. CPR certification must be from the American Heart Association and confirm the Healthcare Provider designation covering the entire lifespan (infant, child, and adult).

Applicants will be assessed based on these requirements.  Admission requirements are subject to change. Students beginning course work in the fall term of 2019 will be governed by the 2019-2020 academic catalog. Other years’ catalogs».

Entry-level Professional OTD curriculum - This subplan allows students who possess the appropriate prerequisite course work and an undergraduate degree to pursue a 3-year clinical doctorate degree that includes academic, practicum, and fieldwork preparation for professional practice in a variety of OT settings. Practicum and fieldwork experiences are offered throughout the Kansas City community, the state of Kansas and, in some cases, in states other than Kansas. Upon completion, students are eligible for the OT certification examination administered by NBCOT. Only students who have successfully completed the entire three-year program are eligible for this certification exam, which is required for legal employment as a practicing OT.

Degree requirements:

  • All students are enrolled as full-time students, and degree requirements are normally completed within 3 years of admission to the program. All academic preparation and fieldwork in the professional program must be completed within 4.5 years of the first date of matriculation into the program.
  • Cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of at least a 3.0 for all graduate coursework.
  • Successful completion of all courses with the grade of “C” or higher.
  • Successful completion of required Level II fieldwork experiences with the grade of “B” or higher. A part-time optional Level II fieldwork experience will not count toward satisfying this requirement.
  • Successful completion of a minimum of 112 credit hours, including academic course work and fieldwork experiences.
  • Successfully complete the oral examination (the Professional Growth Assessment) during the final semester of the program.
  • Enrollment in a minimum of one (1) credit hour the semester the student will graduate.
  • Successful completion of the following courses:
OTDE 700Foundations in Occupational Therapy2
OTDE 705Functional Anatomy and Kinesiology to Support Occupational Performance3
OTDE 710Professionalism in Context - I: Interpersonal and Interprofessional2
OTDE 711Professionalism in Context II: Leadership 2
OTDE 715Occupational Therapy Scholarship - I2
OTDE 716Occupational Therapy Scholarship - II2
OTDE 720Theory to Practice in Occupational Therapy 2
OTDE 725Fundamentals of Occupation 3
OTDE 730Population Health & Wellness3
OTDE 735Therapeutic Interventions3
OTDE 740Neuroscience Foundations to Support Occupational Performance4
OTDE 750Interprofessional Experiences - I1
OTDE 755Occupational Performance and Participation Across the Lifespan - I3
OTDE 760Policy and Advocacy for Occupational Therapy - I1
OTDE 765Occupational Performance and Participation Across the Lifespan - II3
OTDE 770Living with Orthopedic Conditions4
OTDE 775Policy and Advocacy in Occupational Therapy - II2
OTDE 780Assistive Technology to Enhance Occupational Performance and Participation2
OTDE 795Research Discovery for Occupational Therapy 2
OTDE 800Professional Communication2
OTDE 805Interprofessional Experiences - II1
OTDE 810Living with Neurological Conditions4
OTDE 815Psychosocial Theory and Practice3
OTDE 820Research Implementation in Occupational Therapy2
OTDE 830Living with Chronic Conditions3
OTDE 835Integration Seminar in Occupational Therapy - I1
OTDE 840Integration Seminar in Occupational Therapy - II1
OTDE 850Professionalism in Administration2
OTDE 860Research Dissemination in Occupational Therapy2
OTDE 865Program Evaluation and Development2
OTDE 870Contemporary Community Engagement3
OTDE 900Occupational Therapy Level II Fieldwork - Part I10
OTDE 905Occupational Therapy Level II Fieldwork - Part II10
OTDE 915Teaching in Occupational Therapy3
OTDE 950Capstone Project Planning - I1
OTDE 951Capstone Project Planning - II1
OTDE 952Capstone Project Planning - III1
OTDE 990Capstone Experience14
Total Hours112

Specific elective courses may be selected to complement the student's program in consultation with the student's academic advisor.

Degree requirements and course descriptions are subject to change. Any courses taken as an equivalent must be approved by the Graduate Director and the Office of Graduate Studies. In most cases, use the catalog of the year student entered the program.  Other years’ catalogs».

The Doctorate  of Occupational Therapy degree program at KU Medical Center is a full-time, three-year course of study at the graduate level and includes academic, fieldwork and doctoral capstone preparation.

Year 1
OTDE 7002OTDE 7112OTDE 7501
OTDE 7102OTDE 7353OTDE 7704
OTDE 7053OTDE 7404OTDE 7802
OTDE 7253OTDE 7553OTDE 7653
OTDE 7202OTDE 7162OTDE 7952
OTDE 7152OTDE 7601 
OTDE 7303  
 17 15 12
Year 2
OTDE 8002OTDE 8303OTDE 8502
OTDE 8051OTDE 90010OTDE 8602
OTDE 8104OTDE 8351OTDE 9511
OTDE 8153OTDE 9501OTDE 8652
OTDE 8202Optional research and discovery or complimentary pathways 1-3OTDE 8703
OTDE 7752 Optional research and discovery or complimentary pathways 1-6
 14 16-18 11-16
Year 3
OTDE 90510OTDE 99014 
OTDE 8401Optional research and discovery or complimentary pathways 1-3 
OTDE 9521  
OTDE 9153  
Optional research and discovery or complimentary pathways 1-3  
 16-18 15-17 
Total Hours 116-127


Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral Degree Program

Because an entry level Occupational Therapy Degree signifies that the holder is eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam and signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the profession of occupational therapy, it follows that graduates must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical, community or school based situations and to render a wide spectrum of occupational therapy services.  Therefore, all students admitted to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program at the University of Kansas Medical Center must have the following abilities and expectations with or without accommodations.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program, and reasonable accommodation will be made for qualified applicants or students who disclose a disability. Candidates who indicate upon application or after acceptance to the program that they cannot meet an expectation listed will be reviewed further by the OTD Admissions Team in collaboration with the KUMC Office of Academic Accommodations to determine if reasonable accommodations are likely to lead to successful completion of the OTD academic program.

Essential Motor Skills: The occupational therapy student must:

  • have gross motor skills to move freely and safely about the Medical Center and fieldwork sites. 
  • be able to perform moderately taxing physical work, often requiring prolonged sitting. 
  • have balance and equilibrium necessary to do such things as move clients from bed to wheelchair or to manipulate parts of, or whole bodies of, simulated and real people of all ages. 
  • have fine motor skills essential to perform such tasks as anatomical dissection, splint making, material development or maneuvering equipment.

Essential Sensory Skills:  The occupational therapy student must:

  • accurately perceive objects in the environment
  • accurately observe human performance.  For example, the student must be able to discriminate between a safe and an unsafe environment and between therapeutic and non-therapeutic behavior and contexts. 

Essential Communication skills:  The occupational therapy student must:

  • assimilate information from written sources (texts, journals, medical or school records, etc).
  • attain, comprehend, retain and use new information presented in written formats.
  • independently complete assignments, tests, and professional documentation appropriately, in a timely manner, and in appropriate format. 
  • impart information so that it can be understood by others. 
  • elicit information from instructors, peers, persons receiving services, family members, and supervisors.
  • follow verbal or written instruction in order to complete assignments. 
  • note and respond to factual information provided by others as well as to the more subtle cues of mood, temperament, and social responses. 
  • communicate with others accurately, sensitively, effectively and succinctly.
  • communicate in a timely manner and in a way that is appropriate to the situation. 

Essential Cognitive Skills:  the occupational therapy student must:

A). Clinical Reasoning:  

  • make correct observations and have the skills of comprehension, measurement, calculation, reasoning, integration, analysis, and synthesis.  For example, the student must have the skills to conduct assessments accurately, compute test scores, analyze results and determine the impact of this information on intervention, while synthesizing a variety of input.
  • recognize, label, and categorize information to draw conclusions.  Then the student must be able to question, analyze, and judge the results of their conclusion.

B). Judgment:

  • demonstrate judgment in classroom; laboratory; and fieldwork settings which shows an ability to make mature, sensitive, and effective decisions in appropriate situations
  • relate appropriately to instructors, peers, supervisors and persons being served.  For example, when provided with constructive feedback from an instructor or supervisor, the student will adapt behavior accordingly.
  • demonstrate professional behaviors, such as timeliness and regular attendance.

Essential Behavioral/Social Skills:  occupational therapy students must:

  • exhibit professional behaviors and attitudes during their participation in the classroom and in clinical situations.  This includes, but is not limited to, appropriate language, flexibility toward change and acceptance of responsibility for one’s own conduct. 
  • exhibit a positive attitude toward persons being served, family members, peers, and supervisors.
  • be flexible and creative to adapt to professional and technical change.
  • demonstrate professional attitudes and behaviors while experiencing heavy workloads (e.g., large number of tasks to complete in a limited amount of time), task related uncertainty (e.g. changes of schedule on short notice), and/or a distracting environment. 
  • support and promote the activities of peers and health care professionals by sharing knowledge, eliciting input, and acting with empathy toward others.
  • be honest, compassionate, ethical, and responsible. 
  • be forthright about errors or uncertainty.
  • critically evaluate his or her own performance, accept constructive criticism, and look for ways to improve. 
  • evaluate the performance of fellow students, instructors, and clients and to offer constructive comments tactfully.

KUMC Department of Occupational Therapy Education Professional Behaviors

The Department of OTE has adopted a structured format for teaching and assessing professional behaviors. Professional behaviors are attributes, characteristics or behaviors that are not explicitly part of the profession’s core of knowledge and technical sills but are required for success in the academic program, fieldwork and capstone experiences, and the profession. As such, we take your development in these behaviors as seriously as we do academic performance. The ten behaviors and definitions are as follows:

Critical Thinking: The ability to question logically; to identify, generate, and evaluate elements or logical argument; recognize and differentiate facts, appropriate or faulty inferences, and assumptions; and to distinguish relevant from irrelevant information. The ability to appropriately utilize, analyze and critically evaluate scientific evidence to develop a logical argument, and to identify and determine the impact of bias on the decision making process.

Communication: The ability to communicate effectively (e.g., verbal, non-verbal, writing and listening) for varied audiences and purposes.

Problem Solving: The ability to recognize and define problems, analyze data, develop and implement solutions and evaluate outcomes.

Interpersonal Skills: The ability to interact effectively with patients, families, colleagues, other health professionals and the community in a culturally aware manner.

Responsibility: The ability to be accountable for the outcomes of personal and professional actions and to follow through on commitments that encompass the profession within the scope of work, community, and social responsibilities.

Professionalism: The ability to exhibit appropriate professional conduct and to represent the profession effectively while promoting the growth/development of the OT profession.

Use of Constructive Feedback: The ability to seek out and identify quality sources of feedback, reflects on and integrates the feedback, and provides meaningful feedback to others.

Effective Use of Time and Resources: The ability to manage time and resources effectively to obtain the maximum possible benefit.

Stress Management: The ability to identify sources of stress and to develop and implement effective coping behaviors; this applies for interactions for: self, patient/clients and their families, members of the health care team and in work/life scenarios.

Commitment to Learning: The ability to self-direct learning to include the identification of needs and sources of learning; and to continually seek and apply new knowledge, behaviors and skills.