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OTD / PhD Program

Although the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD) prepares students to practice occupational therapy, as a professional graduate degree, it does not prepare students for research or academic careers. Students who are interested in becoming a researcher or a faculty member prepare for these careers by completing a PhD program. At The Ohio State University, students can combine the Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program with the Health and Rehabilitation Science PhD program through entry into the OTD/PhD track. The primary goal of this dual degree program is to prepare students for academic positions in Occupational Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences programs at research intensive universities.  Therefore, in addition to the professional training, the program emphasizes higher education teaching, research, and writing grants.

Advantages of the OTD/PhD Program

Students accepted into the OTD/PhD program complete PhD courses while they are in the OTD program.  By completing courses during the OTD program, the length of the PhD program can be shorter; in addition certain courses count for both degrees. Students who apply to the dual degree program are also eligible for certain University and College fellowships. Strong applicants for this track have GRE scores at or above the 75 percentile, have a GPA at or above 3.6, may have previous research experience as an undergraduate student, and have strong interest in academia. Students who apply to the OTD/PhD program may be accepted into the OTD/PhD track or may only be accepted into the OTD program. 

Application to the OTD/PhD Program

Students who are interested should simultaneously apply to both the OTD and PhD programs.  Students apply to the OTD Program through OTCAS and to the PhD program through the OSU Graduate School, checking the box on the Graduate School application for OTD/PhD. This PhD application requires 3 letters of reference and a second personal statement that describes a student’s interest in a PhD degree, describes past leadership or scholarship, and explains career goals. In addition, students must request a letter of support from one of the OT faculty.  It is recommended that a potential applicant meet with one of the OT faculty to discuss his or her interests and ask for the letter. The application will be reviewed by both the OT Division’s admissions committee and the School’s PhD admissions committee.

Description of the OTD/PhD Program 

Students accepted into the OTD/PhD program complete all of the OTD courses in the order and sequence of other students The dual degree student also completes additional courses to gain research exposure and experience. In your first year, students take one semester of a research practicum with one of the OTD faculty. In the second year students take a research practicum each semester (2 total). Through these practica, students complete a research specialization in an area of research that aligns with one of the OT faculty. In addition, each semester, the dual degree student enrolls in the PhD seminar, Grand Rounds.  Some students complete the College Teaching course in Spring of the second year (optional). 

The OTD coursework ends in the Spring semester of the second year, at which time students enter full-time fieldwork. Students in the dual degree program are assigned to fieldwork in Columbus for the Autumn semester to allow enrollment in the first core course of the PhD program (Health and Rehabilitation I). In general, OTD/PhD students receive full-time funding in the Autumn semester of the third year. 

Students continue to take the PhD core courses in Spring semester and teach in one of the OTD or School courses. In the second year of the PhD program, students complete the core courses with the goal of taking the candidacy examination by the summer of the second year (fourth year since entry). After passing the candidacy examination, students propose their dissertation and focus on completing the dissertation full time for the remainder of the program. 

It is anticipated that the OTD/PhD program is 5 to 5 ½ years in duration, depending on progress.    

Students can enter the combined degree program any time in the first year. A graduate school application is required to enter the OTD/PhD program after beginning the OTD program.    

Students can decide to pursue only the OTD degree after entering the dual degree program. There is no penalty for this decision. 

For more information, contact Dr. Amy Darragh (amy.darragh@osumc.edu).​​​