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Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the OTD program?

Most students will complete UTMB's post-professional OTD in two years. The curriculum allows the program to provide a pre-degree semester for students with Baccalaureate degrees. Before entering the post-professional OTD program, students with Baccalaureate degrees are required to take three credit-hours in a research design and analysis course at a Master's level and three credit-hours of portfolio development demonstrating advanced clinical expertise. Bachelor's trained students will complete the program in seven semesters. Master's trained students will complete the program in six semesters.

What will my course schedule look like?

Semester Coursework Start On-site End

Pre-Degree: Fall

Basic Research Methodology

Evidence of Professional Development

Late August None Early December
Semester 1: Spring

Evidence Based Practice

Theory for Practice

Capstone Seminar I

Early January 4 days
(TBD)
Mid-April
Semester 2: Summer Leadership

Research Methodology for Practice

Capstone Seminar II

Early May None Early August
Semester 3: Fall

Program Development

Outcome Measures for Practice

Late August None Early December
Semester 4: Spring Health Policy and Ethics

Capstone Development I

Early January 4 days
(TBD)
Mid-April
Semester 5: Summer

*The student chooses
two courses

Education Theory in Academic
and Clinical Practice

Health Promotion and Wellness

Contemporary Practice with Children

Contemporary Practice with Adults

Late April None Early August
Semester 6: Fall Current Issues and Trends
in Occupational Therapy

Capstone Development II

Late August None Early December

What makes the UTMB OTD program unique?

The curriculum is based on an analysis and synthesis of evidence associated with a) adult learning theory, blended learning approaches, evidence-based practice, and graduate education, b) national and international trends in occupational therapy and healthcare, population health initiatives, evidence-based practice guidelines and knowledge translation and c) research and official documents, philosophical principles, theoretical perspectives, supporting the practice of occupational therapy. Ultimately, the process and intention of the curriculum aims to create a learning experience that causes or allows students to experience a paradigm shift leading to a transformation of one's perception and practice as an occupational therapist (Mezirow & Associates, 2000).

What prerequisites are required?

In addition to the general admission requirements of the UTMB Graduate School, applicants must meet the following minimum acceptable standards of admission:

  1. Bachelor's or master's degree in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university
  2. Cumulative minimum GPA of 3.0 from prior course work.
  3. Current (within 5 years) GRE scores, if applying with a bachelor's degree. (The GRE is not required if applying with a master's degree.)
  4. Three or more years of relevant occupational therapy experience post-graduation
  5. Be working in an occupational therapy practice setting (clinical, community, or education)
  6. Three letters of recommendation
  7. A personal statement
  8. Complete an interview with Admissions Committee
  9. A non-refundable enrollment fee of $200.00 that is applied to the student's tuition

How do I apply for the OTD program?

OTD applicants must submit:

  1. A completed application along with a $50.00 non-refundable application fee and a letter of application. The application deadline for the OTD program is August 15, 2016, for baccalaureate trained therapists and November 15, 2016, for Master's trained therapists.
  2. Three letters of recommendation from persons who can evaluate the applicant's potential for doctoral study. Letters of recommendation should be from an academic advisor, professor or supervisor. One letter must be from an occupational therapist.
  3. A personal statement addressing goals and reasons for wanting to pursue doctoral work.
  4. Current Curriculum Vitae
  5. Official transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions attended sent directly to UTMB enrollment services.
  6. Confirmation of initial certification for certification by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.
  7. Confirmation of current licensure in state of residence.

How much does it cost to attend the Occupational Therapy program? Are loans or scholarships available?

The cost of attending UTMB's OTD program is among the lowest of its kind in Texas, and financial aid is available. The School of Health Professions also offers several types of scholarships to enrolled students. Questions concerning financial aid should be directed to the Financial Aid office at (409) 772-1215 or you may check out fees at: https://www.utmb.edu/enrollmentservices/.

What can I do to improve my chances for admissions?

The Occupational Therapy department recommends that you complete and submit your application and necessary materials promptly.

Can I come to the campus and speak with someone?

You are welcome to come and talk with us during our monthly open house events. Visit shp.utmb.edu and click on "prospective students."

Is the post-professional OTD program fulltime or part-time?

The program is part-time. It is intended to allow students to take classes following a schedule that will allow them to continue to work full-time as they progress through the program.

How many students can enroll in each course?

Currently, each course enrollment depends on the instructor, but most are capped at 20-30 students.

How many credit hours total in the post-professional OTD program? What are the courses in the curriculum?

The program is 34 credit hours for those with a Master's degree. Applicants that do not have a master's degree in some field will need an additional 6 graduate credit hours (total of 40 hours). These 6 credit hours are taken at UTMB.
The additional graduate credit hours include:

  • Basic Research Methodology
  • Evidence of Professional Development

The core courses in this curriculum include:

  • Evidence Based Practice
  • Theory for Practice
  • Capstone Seminar I
  • Leadership
  • Research Methodology for Practice
  • Capstone Seminar II
  • Program Development
  • Outcome Measures for Practice
  • Health Policy and Ethics
  • Capstone Development I
  • Current Issues and Trends in Occupational Therapy
  • Capstone Development II

Elective course offerings during the summer semester of the second year of the program (the student chooses two courses):

  • Education Theory in Academic and Clinical Practice
  • Health Promotion and Wellness
  • Contemporary Practice with Children
  • Contemporary Practice with Adults

What is unique about the UTMB post-professional OTD curriculum?

Several post-professional OTD programs are available throughout the U.S. We offer both Master's to OTD and Bachelor's to OTD degree plans. The Bachelor's to OTD degree plan includes 6 credit hours of coursework intended to facilitate completion of doctoral level work. We have designed our program at UTMB to include 'core' courses for all OTD students on the relevant areas of the profession and electives for students to select based on individual interests. These 'core' courses comprise 28 credit hours of the curriculum. Coursework is designed not only to improve clinical knowledge, but also should enhance the therapist's ability to serve as a clinical instructor for entry-level OT students. The remaining 6 credit hours can be 'tailored' by our post-professional OTD students to meet their unique professional interests. The post-professional OTD student will be able to pick two elective courses that meet his/her personal and professional interests.

How long is the program?

We anticipate that most students will complete the post-professional OTD in two years. The program is 34 to 40 hours in length or 14 to 16 courses, depending on the degree the student enters the program with.

Is the university accredited and is the program accredited?

The University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The University has degree authority to award both the entry-level Master's of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and the post-professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD). The entry-level MOT program at UTMB is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTEĀ®). Post-professional degree programs are not currently accredited by ACOTE; however, the curriculum has been designed with the doctoral level accreditation standards as a guide. The post-professional OTD program has been approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

How are the MOT and post-professional OTD different?

An entry-level MOT program prepares those new to the profession of occupational therapy. A post-professional OTD program is designed to provide additional knowledge and training for those persons who are already licensed and want to learn more at the doctoral level.

Can some of the courses be waived if I have prior similar OTD courses?

Post-professional graduate courses taken for university credit within the past 5 years may be considered for credit transfer and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Up to 6 credit hours may be acceptable for course substitution/credit waiver; students must have made a B or greater in any courses considered for course substitution/credit waiver.

When are courses offered? Is there a sequence of courses? Is there flexibility in taking them? Is there a minimum number of credit hours that must be taken each semester?

The post-professional OTD program is an online educational experience, requiring the successful completion of 14 courses for those with a Master's degree and 16 for those with a Bachelor's degree. Courses are offered each semester, and are to be completed in a specific sequence. If a student takes a 'break' from taking courses in a semester, that student must request a leave of absence from the program and complete required paperwork.

What is a typical course load?

The planned course load is two to three courses per semester for 5-7 credit hours.

Will I have to go to campus for exams?

For this type of graduate learning, proctored exams are very rare. If an instructor requires a proctored exam, it will be the student's responsibility to locate a center/location where they can take their exams. You are responsible for any cost incurred for proctor services outside of campus. Options include "for profit centers" (i.e. Sylvan) or college testing centers. Public libraries are not accepted proctor sites. At this time, we do not have any exams that require proctoring.

I will be juggling many responsibilities while enrolled in this program. How much time should I plan to spend on the coursework?

This can vary, depending on the course content, with less time spent on course content the student is familiar with, and more time needed for those courses where the information is foundational and new. A general guideline is that the average student should expect to spend 3 hours a week for a 1 credit course, 6 hours a week for a 2 credit course, and 9 hours a week for a 3 credit course.

Can students take any course in any semester?

No. The curriculum has a specific sequence and students will be part of an identified cohort. This provides numerous advantages for both students and faculty. Distance education, especially for students who have been out of the education realm for many years, can be daunting and an established cohort can provide much needed support. Visits to campus are coordinated with identified cohorts making learning opportunities more coherent and meaningful with all students at the same stage. In this manner, the faculty can manage larger groups with more diverse experience. A logical sequence of courses facilitates students progressing to the doctoral level together, enabling increased expectations and rigor as the program progresses. Practice specific selective courses will provide the opportunity for those with common backgrounds to discuss the detailed issues of their practice area at a higher level. We believe the needs of diverse practitioners seeking leadership, management, or educational opportunities in a variety of settings can be met with careful design of more generic courses. Experiential assignments, projects, and research within a common course can be applicable to all settings and clients.

Do I need to be on campus in Galveston?

All courses are designed for online delivery, with some courses requiring on-site visits to the UTMB campus in Galveston, Texas. The on-site visits will cover four days during the spring semesters of both years.

Are courses graded?

Yes. Students must maintain a 3.0 grade point average to continue in the program. The academic policies are provided to each student upon entry to the program.

Is it required that I have a Master's degree?

No. The program is designed for all U.S. licensed occupational therapists. Those applicants that do not hold a Master's degree in some field will need to take at least 6 post-baccalaureate (i.e. graduate) credit hours. These 6 credit hours are taken online through UTMB in a pre-program semester.

Will I be expected to write a thesis?

This is a clinical doctorate and the students will submit and present a scholarly capstone project to complete the program. The capstone project shows the synthesis of knowledge, the ability to perform reflective practice, and demonstrates the development of advanced occupational therapy skills. The primary purpose of the capstone project is to focus the student on the development, implementation, and evaluation of a scholarly project related to his or her area of practice. Students will work closely with their capstone mentor and be supported by their capstone advisory committee in translating theory and evidence into their project. Through the capstone project, the student will demonstrate understanding of new occupational therapy concepts/knowledge and the ability to lead and practice at the highest level of professional practice. The project offers the student an opportunity to demonstrate skills as an innovative leader and clinical practitioner at the doctoral practice level. Each capstone will result in a completed project (deliverable) though the format of these will differ according to the project.

What are the program faculty credentials?

All program faculty members hold appointments in the Department of Occupational Therapy, School of Health Professions at UTMB. The program instructors are licensed occupational therapists and hold doctoral degrees. All have extensive clinical expertise covering the spectrum of OT practice and some also have specialty certifications; currently these include hand therapy and low vision therapy.

Will I have a faculty advisor to answer my questions and provide me with guidance?

Yes, each student is assigned an advisor from the departmental faculty. The assigned advisor will have a skill set similar to the student's, when at all possible.

Do I have to be a UTMB graduate to enroll in the post-professional OTD program?

No, the post-professional OTD program is designed for all U.S. licensed occupational therapists.

Additional Questions?
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Sharon McEachern at (409) 772-3062 or email ppotd.admissions@utmb.edu. She will be happy to assist you.


Costs/Financial Aid

What are the costs for students in the program?

Details regarding fees, tuitions and expected costs can be found in the SHP Tuition and Fees Handbook:http://shp.utmb.edu/asa/Forms/Tuition%20and%20Fees%20Handbook%20-%20Draft.pdf. Books and other supplies will be an additional expense.

What are my options for financing this post-professional degree? Does the university offer financial aid?

Some employers offer tuition reimbursement for graduate coursework. Students must be enrolled in at least 5 credit hours of graduate coursework per semester to be eligible for UTMB Financial Aid.

Other Information

Which health forms and immunizations are needed?

Students should refer to the Student Wellness webpage for details: http://www.utmb.edu/studenthealth/immunization.asp. The immunization requirements comply with the State of Texas Higher Education Mandatory Immunizations Requirements and the recommendations of the Texas Department of State Health and the CDC. It is your responsibility to ensure that you complete the immunization requirements. Proof must be provided of MMR and varicella (chicken pox) vaccines (or proof of illnesses), and tetanus/diphtheria and tetanus/diphtheria/pertussis, and hepatitis B vaccines. A TB skin test (PPD) must be within 6 months of enrollment. Submission of the Bacterial Meningitis acknowledgement form (found on the Student Wellness website) is also required. There is a legislative mandate effective January 2012, that every student who is under 30 years of age and attending on-campus courses be required to have the bacterial meningitis vaccine; the consequence for not getting the vaccine is that they will not be allowed to register or be on campus. Our online post-professional DPT students should be exempt from this requirement because these students do not attend classes here in Galveston. Students must upload proof of medical insurance coverage each semester.

What computer skills are needed?

It is recommended that students have basic knowledge of programs such as MS Word, PowerPoint, and email.

Will I need a certain type of computer in order to take this course?

Blackboard supports the commonly-used web browsers for Windows and Macintosh computers. See the Blackboard login page (http://eclass.utmb.edu/) or http://ar.utmb.edu/bb/BrowserSetup/Computer_Setup.htm for specific information on browsers and configuring your computer.

What technologies will I need for the interactive course activities/assignments?

Many courses require students to present case studies, reports or other course projects to their instructors and classmates using Skype, Adobe Connect, WIMBA, or Lync. Students will need to have a microphone, headset, and camera for these activities. Most can be purchased at local retailers such as Walmart, etc.

I'm not very computer savvy; is there assistance for students like me?

UTMB provides free 24/7 help desk support to academic students and faculty members teaching online. The Help Desk can provide answers to questions about using internet connectivity and browser configuration, as well as general computer support. Blackboard issues and problems will be routed by the Help Desk to Academic Computing support for resolution of these specific problems. The UTMB Help Desk is available at:

  • 409-772-5200
  • 281-557-7777
  • 888-898-2401

For more specific Blackboard problems, Academic Computing provides free 8:00 am. to 5:00 p.m. (M-F) support at 855-661-7967 (toll free).

Do I have 'the right stuff' to be successful in an online post-professional program?

You will need to make that decision for yourself. Ask yourself: Can I set a personal schedule and meet the deadlines for assigned work? Are my writing and communication skills average or better? Can I solve problems and work through difficulties independently? Can I read and follow detailed instructions on my own? Am I comfortable using the Internet as a means of communication and research? Do I have regular access to the Internet and email? [source: an article by Julie Young, Duke Gifted Letter, issue 2, 2009]

Can I get Continuing Education Units (CEUs)? And will the course instructor complete the paperwork for me to get my professional CEUs?

These university course credits can be submitted by the therapist/student for continuing education (CE) credit to a professional state licensing agency; and many agencies will provide CEUs for the successful completion of graduate coursework. It is the responsibility of the enrolled student to determine the requirements for CEU credit in their state and to submit the needed paperwork to that agency. Typically, proof of course completion (i.e. university transcript) and a copy of the course syllabus are required for CEU credit to be awarded. Official UTMB transcripts are available at http://www.utmb.edu/enrollmentservices/.

Additional Questions?
If you have further questions, please feel free to contact Sharon McEachern at (409) 772-3062 or email smceache@utmb.edu. She will be happy to assist you.