Apply to the OTD Program
At Ambrose, we understand that making the decision to further your education through graduate studies is an investment personally, professionally, and financially. The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) staff are here to guide you through the process, ask the right questions, and provide the important answers you'll need to put you on the path to success.
Prospective students wishing to apply for the OTD program must fill out a common-application, available online here. Students may apply as early as their junior year and begin the OTD program in their senior year. To be eligible to begin the program as an undergraduate student with senior status, all general education and degree required courses must be completed and all admissions criteria met before beginning OTD courses.
As you prepare to apply, the download the OTD Application Guide (pdf) and review the Prerequisite Coursework. The accordions below provide all you need to begin a smooth and efficient application process, and know that you can call us at any time with questions you may have.
Above National Norms
For several consecutive years, 100% of our Occupational Therapy graduates passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy on their first try. The national pass percentage is 85% (2016 data).
Applications for the upcoming cohort of occupational therapy students will be accepted upon the opening of the OTCAS cycle (usually in July/August) through December 1st of each year. Applications received by December 1st are given priority; however, applications will be accepted until the class is filled. Applicants can request to be a part of an early decision admissions cycle, if qualified, by meeting a September 15th deadline. A limited number of early decision spaces are available. An early decision applicant will automatically be considered in the general admissions cycle if they are not accepted early.
Early Admissions Decision: Application Deadline September 15th
Applicants can qualify to participate in an early interview and decision process that will fill up to 15 seats in the incoming OTD class. To be considered for early admissions, applicants must have submitted a complete application and have a minimum pre-requisite GPA of a 3.4 or be affiliated with St. Ambrose as an alum or degree seeking student.
General Admissions Decision: Application Deadline December 1st
Applicants submitting complete applications by December 1st, and any applicants who already submitted an application for an early admissions decision but is not yet accepted, can qualify for an interview if meeting the minimum requirements for admissions.
Applicants should apply online using the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) at www.otcas.org. An application fee of $140 for the first application and $60 to each additional program is required.
Applicants seeking assistance with the application process should email Customer Service at email@example.com.
The OTCAS application includes:
- A personal statement.
- Three letters of reference. One reference letter must be from an OT where observation hours were completed.
- Official score from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). (Submit directly to OTCAS with program code 7811.)
In addition, students must:
- Complete the prerequisite coursework: Pre-requisite coursework must be completed with a grade of C or higher and a combined minimum GPA of at least a 3.0 (4.0 scale). A grade for all pre-requisite courses must be available by the application deadline of December 1st (or September 15th if requesting to be considered for an early admission decision).
- Complete a baccalaureate degree in their chosen field of study by June 1st, before beginning OTD coursework.
- Complete supplemental materials and submit directly to the OTD office.
*Provide documentation - on official letterhead and signed by a registered occupational therapist - of 50 hours of volunteer OT experience completed within the past 5 years in at least two different OT settings. Applicants may receive some credit from employment in an occupational therapy setting with approval from the OTD program.
Applications to the program must be complete by December 1 for the following fall. Application processing begins September 1st and continues until the class is filled. Applications received after the deadline are generally not considered; however, if the class is not full, late applications may be reviewed. The OTD Application Guide (pdf) is a useful resource and checklist.
Selection and Notification
Prospective students will be selected for professional interviews that focus on academic, personal, and professional preparedness in anticipation of beginning graduate level study. If selected, applicants will be required to discuss their submitted personal statement during the interview. The number of interviews completed each year varies depending upon the size of the applicant pool compared to the open spaces in the incoming class.
At the completion of the application process, students will be notified of their admission status in writing and must submit an acceptance confirmation and a $200 acceptance fee.
Interviews are by invitation only. Applicants invited for an interview will be expected to summarize the personal statement they submitted with the OTCAS application. The following may assist you as you plan your summary and discussion during the interview.
- The summary of your personal statement should give an overview of your key life experiences and a reflection on their significance, leading to your decision to pursue occupational therapy.
- You may bring up to three documents or items referenced in your personal statement that illustrate your strengths and goodness of fit with the occupational therapy profession. These three items will be retained by you at the end of the interview. You are not penalized if you choose not to bring documents or items to supplement your discussion.
- Be prepared to verbally summarize and discuss your personal statement; do not read it to us at the interview.
Transfer students from other colleges and universities can apply for admission to St. Ambrose and the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program.
Students must be admitted to the University as well as the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program. Admission to St. Ambrose University does not guarantee advancement into the professional program. Transfer students should submit copies of all transcripts to the OT Department. A photocopied catalog description of all transferred support courses must be submitted along with the application form. These transcripts will be considered a part of the application and are necessary to determine admission and placement. Transcripts must be received by the application deadline.
Prospective students trained as occupational therapists internationally, Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants, or prospective students who have taken occupational therapy coursework elsewhere should contact the OT Department to determine if prior coursework or work experience will be granted credit.
Course Equivalency Determination Policy
The OTD Program does admit students who may have completed occupational therapy or occupational therapy related coursework and fieldwork from other universities both within the United States and Internationally. Because of differences in curriculum designs or accreditation standards, courses do not always clearly articulate with one another between institutions. The following steps will occur to ensure fair and consistent evaluation of previous coursework when a student inquires and/or is admitted into the OTD program.
1. Transcript and work experience (as an OT practitioner) evaluation will occur to establish which courses, if any, may be appropriately considered for waiver or substitution, in part or in full, for an OTD Program required course. No more than 12 credits may be considered for equivalency into the OTD Program.
2. A tentative program plan will be established. The plan will be reflective of the anticipated course sequence, noting courses that are waived or to be considered as equivalents as the program progresses. If admitted, the plan will be reviewed each semester to ensure successful student progression and development with revisions being possible as the student progresses through the program and demonstrates attainment of course and program objectives.
3. Meetings with course instructors for any courses considered for equivalency will occur to establish if a course will be waived, audited in part, or taken in full. The meeting may include discussion and testing. If participation in a portion of a course in combination with previous coursework is allowed, possible arrangements to address the content could range from auditing the course, attending specific modules, test and/or assignment completion, hybrid models for gaining content, or any combination of these strategies to ensure that all content is learned.
4. The Center for International Studies will be involved in this process with all international inquiries or applicants.
OTD Admissions Requirements for International Applicants Policy
The OTD Program may admit international students. In all cases the published admissions requirements for the program and university will be met. The Center for International Studies will be consulted to assist with determining if additional materials are needed to complete the application packet. Additional information required beyond the published OTD Program standards may include:
1. TOEFL test scores, copy of passport photo page, any I-94 or US visa (if appropriate) and proof of funding sources if appropriate.
2. The Center for International Studies summary of academic history (including accreditation status of attended schools), academic ability, visa status, and evaluation of other documents that may be needed.
3. In cases where some occupational therapy or occupational therapy related course work has been taken, the OTD program (with assistance from AOTA, NBCOT, and/or WFOT) will verify the occupational therapy education accreditation status of any previously attended institutions and the impact of that status on course equivalency potential.