Occupational Therapy is the practice of helping individuals maintain, enhance, or regain productive meaningful lives through engaging in activities or occupations within the context of family, work, and community life. Occupational therapists work with infants, children, adolescents, adults, and older people promoting health and/or facilitating prevention, maintenance, or restoration of health related to physical, cognitive, psychosocial, behavioral, or environmentally-based challenges. Career opportunities exist nationwide and internationally, and in many different settings-hospitals, public and private schools, rehabilitation centers, community health centers, nursing homes, home health programs, and community-based settings such as business, industry, daycare, and private practice.
Purpose & Role of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) curriculum assures students will be competent to effectively practice in a rapidly changing health care environment by having experience in designing innovative, community-based practice models. The occupational science thread in the curriculum provides a foundation for integrating occupational justice into everyday practice. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) curriculum seeks to take students deeper into scholarly practice through more time and experience with evidence-based practice and research and translating knowledge to best practice. This supports them to build specialty knowledge on the generalist foundations further enhanced with the experiential internship. The result is the ability to build special professional skills beyond that of the generalist entry-level practitioner. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) curriculum provides coursework for the scientific foundations, emphasizes the critical role of psychosocial skills infused across all practice areas, strengthens the theme of leadership development, and provides a knowledge base for advocacy roles in health and human services. The ultimate goal of our occupational therapy transformational education is to prepare occupational therapists to serve people through participation in the full range of life’s everyday activities, or occupations. Scientific evidence shows that meaningful occupational engagement leads to improved health and well-being.
Admission: Doctor of Occupational Therapy
Pacific University makes use of a centralized application through OTCAS. Applicants for the entry-level OTD degree are advised to submit applications by the beginning of November.
Enrollment is limited and admission is highly selective. A bachelor’s degree is required. The faculty in the School of Occupational Therapy believes that both academic coursework and life experiences are vital in building a strong foundation to ensure success in the professional program. Students considering admission to the School of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University should seek both educational and life experiences which provide opportunities for gaining knowledge as well as for developing essential skills and attributes necessary for pursuing an education in the field of occupational therapy.
An on-campus interview is required. This process provides the applicant with an opportunity to assess their/her/his “fit” with the program and also allows the Admissions Committee to further assess essential skills and traits of the applicant which may or may not have been reflected in the application.
During the application review and during the interview process, the Admissions Committee looks for evidence of knowledge, skills, and attributes that are deemed necessary for success within the curriculum. Factors considered include, but are not limited to:
- Self-management skills including ability to appraise one’s own challenges and strengths
- Ability to assume responsibility for one’s own personal and professional development
- Leadership and teamwork skills
- General knowledge and interest in the study of human occupation (the way people occupy their time in self-care, productive and leisure activities)
- Ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
- Interpersonal skills and self-confidence
- Ability to articulate values and beliefs regarding health and well-being
- Critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving
- Motivation to pursue a career in occupational therapy
A bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university, including the specified prerequisite courses, is required for admission to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. All academic prerequisite coursework must be completed with a “C” grade or higher, with a recommended minimum GPA of 3.4 for the last 45 semester credits. Evidence that all prerequisite coursework requirements will be completed prior to actual entrance into the program must be documented.
Natural Sciences (10 semester credit minimum)
- Human Anatomy w/ Lab
- Human Physiology w/ Lab
- Biomechanics or Kinesiology is recommended
A year-long series in both human anatomy and human physiology is preferred. A single course combining anatomy and physiology will be reviewed for adequacy. All courses must include laboratory. Anatomy and physiology must be completed within the last seven years.
Completion of this prerequisite enables the applicant to: 1) understand the way in which the human body develops, is anatomically structured and physiologically functions and moves to engage in occupation, 2) utilize methods of scientific inquiry, 3) apply concepts and theories of science, and 4) build skills in problem solving and logical analysis.
Social Sciences (9 semester credit minimum)
- General Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Developmental Psychology (preferably across a lifespan)
These courses should address the individual and group patterns of thought and behavior. Specifically general psychology, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology are required. The remaining credits may include courses from the following areas: sociology, anthropology, politics, government, business, and economics.
Completion of these prerequisite courses in human growth and development, preferably across the life-span, and courses which promote an understanding of both normal and abnormal adaptive development at both the individual and group level enables the applicant to: 1) gain a deeper understanding of various levels of the human experience including that of the individual, society, and culture, 2) enhance critical thinking skills through written and verbal communication, 3) engage in and develop skills in self-reflection, 4) develop a greater awareness of social systems, and 5) use these skills, to identify and develop skills necessary to influence and change society.
Expository Writing (3 semester credit minimum)
Must include a course in expository writing offered in either an English or writing department. Students’ proficiency level in writing will be determined at time of enrollment.
Completion of this prerequisite enables the applicant to develop skills for critical thinking and clear writing necessary for professional practice, self-reflection, and scholarship.
Statistics (2 semester credit minimum)
- Courses from any of the following:
It is recommended that this be taken in a department of psychology or sociology. Coursework on research methods that includes qualitative methodology is encouraged but not required.
Completion of this prerequisite enables the applicant to 1) examine principles of research design, methodology and analysis, and 2) systematically analyze qualitative and quantitative research, and 3) use these concepts in developing evidence-based practice skills.
Humanities & Language (6 semester credit minimum)
- Courses from two (2) of the following:
- Art History or Appreciation
- Performance Arts (Music, Dance, Theatre)
- Studio Arts (Drawing, Design, Painting, Ceramics, Sculpture)
- Foreign Language
- Art History or Appreciation
(In addition to the writing prerequisite) Must include courses from two (2) of the following areas: literature, religion, history, philosophy, ethics, performance arts, (music, dance, & theater), studio arts (drawing, design, painting, ceramics, & sculpture), art history or appreciation and foreign language.
Completion of this prerequisite enables the applicant to: 1) enhance interpersonal intelligence, 2) develop skills in designing and creating occupational performance solutions with a variety of materials and modalities, 3) enhance analytical and critical thinking abilities, 4) broaden skills in philosophical inquiry, 5) gain a greater understanding of classical and modern perspectives, and 6) engage in self-reflection
A complete sequence or survey course. May be taken for credit or no credit.
School of Occupational Therapy Programs
- Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
- Hawai’i Outreach Initiative
- Bridge to OTD through Kapiolani Community College’s OTA degree via Pacific University’s Bachelor of Health Science
Hawai’i Outreach Initiative
Pacific University has a long-standing history with students from Hawai’i and would like to extend that relationship to our School of Occupational Therapy Entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD). We are committed to addressing the occupational therapy workforce needs in Hawai’i and Pacific Rim.
This Hawai’i Outreach Initiative is both a focused admissions process and a clinical fieldwork priority in the state of Hawai’i. The top five scoring Hawai’i Outreach applicants each year will be guaranteed an interview for the OTD program. Although an interview does not guarantee admission, it is an acknowledgment of our desire to help meet the educational and career needs of the State.
In order to qualify for the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative, a prospective OTD student must be a resident of Hawai’i and express an active intent to return to the islands to practice as an occupational therapist. The residency requirement may be shown by one or more of the following: current address or permanent address, high school diploma, college diploma, or current driver’s license.
Students accepted into the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative complete the first two years of the OTD in Hillsboro, Oregon. They have the first opportunity to participate in available clinical fieldwork experiences in Hawai’i and have the opportunity to complete the final year of the program in Hawai’i. Pacific University continually seeks out clinical fieldwork sites in Hawai’i that will provide students with quality clinical experiences to meet the state of Hawai’i occupational therapy licensing requirements.
There is no separate application for the Hawai’i Outreach Initiative. Students from Hawai’i are identified through their application materials and their stated commitment to return to Hawai’i following graduation to work as an Entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) practitioner. Contact Graduate Admissions with questions.
Bridge to OTD through Kapiolani Community College’s OTA degree via Pacific University’s Bachelor of Health Science
Kapiolani Community College’s Occupational Therapy Assistant program, in conjunction with Pacific University, has developed a direct pathway for OTA students to enter Pacific’s Bachelor of Health Science in Healthcare Management program, providing a matriculation plan to the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy at Pacific University. This program is designed for the practicing certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). The matriculation plan provides an expedited pathway for those occupational therapy assistants (OTA) who want to advance their knowledge and skills to complete the Bachelor’s degree program in three semesters and have a direct plan to the entry-level Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
OTAs who have a Bachelor’s degree in any field (health sciences are preferred) can apply to entry-level occupational therapy programs, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association. Occupational therapy assistants who complete the Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) degree and specified undergraduate prerequisite coursework are eligible to apply to the entry-level Doctorate in Occupational Therapy at Pacific University. The BHS courses meet many of the prerequisite requirements and a Bachelor’s degree to apply toward graduate study in the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy.
All Bachelor of Health Science courses are delivered online, with weekly synchronous “in-class” meetings via web-conferencing. There are no on-campus class meetings. The program requires three additional semesters of coursework or 40 semester credit hours for completion of the Bachelor of Health Science degree. If Pacific’s two-semester foreign language requirement has not been met with transfer credits, then students can enroll in Pacific’s Healthcare Spanish course online for four credits, at no additional cost.
Students are admitted fall semester only, but the BHS program has a rolling admissions process; applications are accepted year-round, but must be postmarked by August 1 for primary consideration for entry in the subsequent fall semester. Contact Emily Josi at: email@example.com or call: 503-352-7219.
Student Learning Outcomes
See Chapter One of our Occupational Therapy Student Handbook
Accreditation and Licensing
Certification & Licensure
Occupational Therapy Student Handbook
Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
Doctor of Occupation Therapy
Cost, Financial Aid and Scholarships
Prospective students are strongly encouraged to seek out and explore scholarship opportunities that may be available to them, as there are many sources of educational scholarships.
See Cost and Financial Aid webpage for additional information