Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD), Center City


  • Center City Campus
  • College of Rehabilitation Sciences

Degree Earned

  • Doctorate

Program Type

  • On Campus

Application Information

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is designed to prepare students to enter the field of occupational therapy at the doctoral level.

Our department partners with the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS).* Applications to this program are sent to and processed by OTCAS.

We communicate with applicants via email, so please provide a valid email address and adjust your email settings to allow mail from Jefferson.edu.

Program Requirements (for enrolled students)

  • Three years of doctoral coursework
  • Two full-time Level II Fieldwork rotations (12 weeks each)
  • Doctoral Capstone Experience and Capstone Project (experience - minimum of 560 hours)
  • Passing score on a Competency Examination
  • Completion of a Final Scholarly Capstone Project including oral presentation and plans for dissemination

*This application is supported by Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox.  Students using Internet Explorer or Safari may not have full functionality of the application.

Application Deadlines

Application Open Date: July 22, 2021
Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions to April 1, 2022

To be considered complete and eligible for review, an OTCAS application must be verified and all applicable documents must be submitted in the directed manner and received by the program deadline.

Please note that the OTCAS verification process can take 4-6 weeks. It is important to keep this information in mind when determining if you will meet the deadline.

Decisions are granted on a rolling basis throughout the cycle until the class is filled. We encourage applicants to apply well in advance of the application deadline. We will contact academically eligible applicants via e-mail to schedule an admission interview (provided space is still available). Decisions include: Offer of Admission, Denied Admission, Hold for Grades and Waitlist.


For the Fall 2022 application ONLY, observation hours will be recommended, not required. Thomas Jefferson University’s OT Department recommends students observe licensed OTs or OTAs for a total of 30 hours in at least two different settings. Jefferson does not have a specific form required to log OT observation hours; please complete the observation hours section of OTCAS to document your observation hours.

Students must complete their Bachelor’s degree at a regionally accredited institution before the start date of the program.

A cumulative GPA minimum of a 3.0 is preferred, a prerequisite coursework GPA minimum of a 3.0 is required.

30 semester credits for the following specific course areas.

Course Type Credits Required
Anatomy & Physiology I with lab* 4
Anatomy & Physiology II with lab* 4
Physics with lab OR Biomechanics with lab** 4
Statistics 3
Abnormal Psychology 3
Developmental or Lifespan Psychology 3
Sociology OR Cultural Anthropology***
English/Writing**** 3
English/Writing**** 3

* 8 credits of A&P I and II or 4 credits of Human Anatomy and 4 credits of Human Physiology required. Labs must be included.

**Algebra or Calculus based physics course will be accepted

***Any sociology or cultural anthropology course will meet this prerequisite. If a student’s institution does not offer cultural anthropology, a course that covers multiple cultures and/or ethnicities from a broad perspective based in anthropology or the social sciences will be accepted.

****Any English course or officially designated writing intensive course will meet the prerequisite.

  • All prerequisite courses are required to be completed at a regionally accredited institution before you enter the program.
  • The majority of prerequisite courses (over 50%), including at least one science, should be completed at time of application. Not all prerequisite courses are required to be completed at time of application.
  • All math and science prerequisite courses (Statistics, A&P I and II and Physics) are required to be completed within 7 years of application to Jefferson.
  • Prerequisite courses can be completed in an on-campus, hybrid or online format.
  • Prerequisite courses are required to be completed with a grade of “B-” or above. A grade of “C+” or below will not meet the prerequisite requirement.
  • Prerequisite credit can be earned for prerequisite coursework, which is not math or science, through standardized tests such as PA, IB & CLEP, pending department approval.
  • Credits are calculated on a semester scale; if courses are taken on a quarter scale, the credit hours will be converted to the semester credit scale.

Prerequisite Worksheet (PDF)

Transfer Equivalency Guides: Jefferson has collaborated with many colleges & universities to provide applicants with a list of the equivalent coursework that will meet Jefferson’s prerequisite courses. If there is not a guide for your college or university, as long as it is a regionally accredited institution, we accept prerequisite coursework from your institution.     

Prerequisite coursework is subject to change. Please consult the Office of Admissions at (215) 503-8890 or TJU.Admissions@jefferson.edu.

Students participating in the Occupational Therapy Programs at Thomas Jefferson University must have all essential skills to perform successfully as a student. These requirements apply to classroom, laboratory and clinical/fieldwork envi­ronments. Students must be able to perform the following with or without rea­sonable accommodation. If you require reasonable accommodation, please contact:

Student must possess sufficient cognitive skills to:
  • Acquire, process, retain and apply knowledge through a variety of instruc­tional methods such as written materials, oral delivery, visual demonstra­tions, laboratory experiences, clinical experiences and independent learn­ing.
  • Complete reading assignments, search and analyze professional literature, and apply information gained to guide practice; learn, retain and use infor­mation from texts, journals, documentation and other written sources.
  • Process (measure, calculate, analyze, synthesize and evaluate) large amounts of complex information; apply theoretical concepts to practice activities and perform clinical problem-solving in a logical and timely man­ner.
  • Apply mathematical and basic statistical skills.
  • Perceive and understand three-dimensional relationships and spatial rela­tionships necessary for education and practice-related tasks such as moving in a variety of environments, designing treatment equipment and fabricating splints.
  • Participate equitably in cooperative group learning activities; actively par­ticipate in class discussions and as a member of a team.
  • Orally present information to groups of people.
  • Maintain attention for 2-4 hours; tolerate days when classes may last 8-10 hours.
  • Take and pass tests/quizzes in a variety of formats.
  • Complete written assignments and produce written documentation in stan­dard and organized English.
  • Apply knowledge and judgment required to demonstrate ethical reasoning and behavior.
  • Apply safety knowledge and judgment to a variety of situations.
  • Comply with fieldwork site rules and regulations.
  • Demonstrate problem-solving skills and judgment necessary to modify eval­uation or intervention methods when necessary to address the specific needs of client (behavioral, cultural, etc.), in order to maximize client per­formance.
  • Apply clinical reasoning and judgment necessary for interpretation of eval­uation data and development of treatment plans.
  • Identify and select occupations that are goal directed and motivate and challenge clients.
  • Demonstrate judgment necessary to establish priorities and develop and use strategies.
Student must possess sufficient behavioral/social-communication skills, and professional behaviors to:
  • Demonstrate positive interpersonal skills including, but not limited to, coop­eration, flexibility, tact, sympathy and confidence.
  • Demonstrate respect for diversity, including but not limited to, socio-cultural, socioeconomic, spiritual and lifestyle choices.
  • Collaborate with classmates, clients, family members, significant others and team members.
  • Function successfully in supervisory and instructor-student relationships; change and adjust behavior and performance in the classroom, laboratory or clinic on the basis of instructor feedback.
  • Communicate in the English language effectively and clearly in oral and written forms, using proper spelling, punctuation and grammar to explain procedures and teach skills.
  • Use language appropriate to the recipient, with faculty, peers, clients and other health professionals from different social and cultural backgrounds to obtain information from clients, peers, faculty, supervisors and other profes­sionals.
  • Use communication skills needed to practice safely.
  • Use therapeutic communication skills such as attending and active listening during therapeutic interactions; and motivating and facilitating client behav­iors in order to maximize client performance.
  • Communicate effectively both verbally and non-verbally; elicit and describe factual information and perceive information derived from verbal and non­verbal communication and social cues.
  • Be appropriately assertive as required to speak in class, initiate and guide the therapy process, establish limits as needed for the safety of self and clients and establish professional identity within complex systems.
  • Utilize the computer for communication and class assignments.
  • Exhibit professional demeanor including appropriate language and dress, and acceptance of responsibility for conduct.
  • Demonstrate organizational and time management skills and ability to pri­oritize activities effectively as needed to attend class and fulfill class require­ments.
  • Exhibit flexibility and adapt to changing environments and expectations.
  • Cope with stresses encountered in the intensive educational process as well as clinical practice environments.
  • Demonstrate consistent work behaviors including initiative, preparedness, dependability, punctual attendance and work site maintenance.
  • Tolerate working in environments where there is exposure to disability, ill­ness, pain and death.
  • Observe persons and scenarios and elicit relevant information for use in assessment and intervention.
  • Plan, guide and implement both individual and group interventions.
  • Maintain ethical standards including honesty, integrity and confidentiality at all times.
  • Produce the required volume of work in the expected time frame.
Student must possess sufficient physical and sensory (sensorimotor) skills to:
  • Tolerate sitting for up to two hours at a time, over an 8-10 hour period. 
  • Tolerate periods of physical activity for up to 8-10 hours per day. 
  • Demonstrate coordination, equilibrium and sensory functioning required to manipulate parts of, or whole bodies of, simulated and real clients for pur­poses of evaluation and treatment.
  • Demonstrate mobility and ability to move within environments adequately to access and maneuver within locations and destinations including class­room, laboratory and clinical settings.
  • Demonstrate sufficient postural control, neuromuscular control, eye/hand coordination, strength and integrated function of the senses of vision, hear­ing, tactile sense, vestibular (movement sense) and proprioception (sense of muscles and joints) to manipulate and use common occupational therapy equipment, devices, materials and supplies, and demonstrate competency in the use of these objects within assessment and treatment procedures commonly used in occupational therapy practice.
  • Demonstrate motor skill capacities with sufficient levels of strength, endurance and fine and gross motor coordination to safely, accurately and effectively engage in a wide variety of therapeutic techniques, activities and occupations used in the occupational therapy assessment and intervention process including the ability to lift and move objects, adequate manual dex­terity, arm and hand function needed to use tools and perform other manip­ulative activities, use of limbs and trunk in bending, twisting, squatting, kneeling, reaching, pushing, pulling, holding, extending and rotating.
  • Tolerate physical contact with others; tolerate manipulation of his/her own body by peers or instructors for instructional purposes.
  • Demonstrate sufficiently high degree of coordination of motor skills and vig­ilance to respond to emergency situations quickly and appropriately, includ­ing performance of CPR.
  • Travel to fieldwork site.
Fieldwork and Residency/Experiential Placement

Fieldwork placements are not available in all states, and state availability for fieldwork placement and residency is subject to change.

Application Requirements

Create an account in OTCAS through the applicant portal and follow the directions to complete the application.

Submit official transcripts from all colleges/universities you have attended to OTCAS using the Transcript Request Form. Send official transcripts to OTCAS at:

PO Box 9120
Watertown, MA 02471

If your coursework was completed outside of the United States, you must submit a course-by-course evaluation from one of the following international evaluation agencies:

Include your CV or resume on the OTCAS application in the "Extracurricular Activities, Honors, Work Experience and Licenses" section.

Jefferson does not require test score submission from the GRE or MAT as part of the application process.

Complete the essay found on the OTCAS application. Your personal essay should address why you selected Occupational Therapy as a career and how an OT degree relates to your immediate and long term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational and professional background will help you to achieve your goals.

Three letters of recommendation are required to complete your application. One academic letter of recommendation is required. The other two letters of recommendation can be from a volunteer or professional supervisor or manager, Occupational Therapist, or additional academic references.

Letters from family, friends or co-workers will not be accepted.

Submit documentation of all volunteer or work experience in OTCAS, include experiences both within and outside of healthcare. 

Please see our additional information for applying as an International Student.

TOEFL Requirements

Send official TOEFL scores (if applicable) to:

Thomas Jefferson University
130 South 9th Street, Suite 100
Philadelphia, PA 19107
TOEFL code: 2903

All students who are offered admission are required to have a criminal background check and child abuse clearance.  Some clinical sites may require health professions and pharmacy students to be fingerprinted and/or undergo a drug test. The Office of Admissions will provide you with the appropriate information to complete these requirements, as needed.

Clinical rotation and fieldwork sites that require a criminal background check, child abuse clearance and/or fingerprinting may deny a student’s participation in the clinical experience, rotation or fieldwork because of a felony or misdemeanor conviction or a record of child abuse. Clinical sites may also deny participation in clinical experiences for other reasons, such as failure of a required drug test, or inability to produce an appropriate health clearance. As participation in clinical experiences, rotations or fieldwork is a required part of the curriculum and a requirement for graduation, denial of participation by a clinical site may result in delay of graduation or the inability to graduate from the Program.

Regardless of whether or not a student graduates from Thomas Jefferson University, individuals who have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor may be denied certification or licensure as a health professional. Information regarding individual eligibility may be obtained from the appropriate credentialing bodies.

Potential students considering entering (or who have already entered) an occupational therapy educational program can utilize NBCOT’s Early Determination Review Process to determine his/her eligibility if they are concerned of an issue in their background that may prevent them from being eligible to sit for the certification exam.