Occupational Therapy (OTD) – Entry-Level

Towson University has been successfully preparing occupational therapy graduates for over 40 years. In response to the profession’s mandate for clinical doctorate entry within the next decade, Towson University now offers two entry-level programs preparing certified occupational therapists — the entry-level MS program and now an entry-level clinical doctorate program (OTD). Both programs excel at providing critical learning opportunities to prepare graduates for one of the fastest growing fields in health care.

A woman in a brown three-quarter length sweater, with short brown hair and glasses, smiles as she form a blue hand splint to the patient sitting across from her. The patient has long, dark hair and a dark shirt, and sits with their back to the camera.
 An occupational therapy student practicing hand-splinting.

Why Choose the Entry-Level OTD?

The Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is designed for individuals without a degree in occupational therapy who are looking to enter the profession with a set of leadership skills and experiences that the clinical doctoral degree can provide. Individuals looking to enter the profession with a master’s degree can explore our Occupational Therapy Master’s degree (OT MS) program. Currently certified Occupational Therapists interested in earning an OTD should explore our Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD). Individuals with an MS degree interested in earning a research doctorate should explore the Occupational Science (ScD) program.

The Entry-level OTD curriculum is grounded in the science of occupation and designed to prepare skilled and ethical clinical leaders. The program uses active learning experiences such as labs and clinical opportunities to develop skills of knowledge translation and ability to evaluate research evidence.

A Community-Based Program

The department’s 40-plus year history of collaboration with world-renowned healthcare resources in the area as well as community programs and agencies benefits students with access to the full continuum of health care delivery.  The Occupational Therapy Center and Hussman Center for Adults with Autism in the Towson University Institute for Well-being provide additional fieldwork, research and service outreach opportunities.

In the last semester of the program, students complete a Doctoral Experiential Practicum (DEP) that dovetails with a required Capstone Project. The DEP and Capstone Project involve direct interaction with an assigned community program or agency to address the site’s needs and priorities in ways that allow students to refine self-identified targeted skills beyond the generalist level. Students are mentored by faculty throughout the DEP and Capstone Project. Community site agreements are made based on the ability of the site to provide the targeted experiences for students, supervision capacity, and the fit with faculty areas of research and expertise. Therefore, the number of available community sites for placement is limited.

Admission to the Entry-Level OTD

Entry-Level OTD applicants must satisfy all admission requirements and deadlines to be considered for admission to the program, and must complete all prerequisite coursework prior to entering the program.

Program Accreditation

The entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.

The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Degree Requirements

The Entry-Level OTD is a professional, full-time, year-round commitment. Students complete 96 credits over three years, including four Level I Fieldwork experiences, two Level II Fieldwork experiences, a Capstone Project, and a Doctoral Experiential Practicum. Coursework is completed in a combination of on-campus, online, and hybrid formats. Review the degree requirements in the Graduate Catalog and program expectations for more information about required coursework, access to technology for online learning, and the course sequence.

Estimated Tuition Costs: 3-Year ELOTD Program

Year of Attendance

(97 Total)


Course/Lab Fees

(Estimates made based on hard copy books)

School Fees


In State
($439 per unit)

Out of State
($908 per unit)

In State

Out of State





(OCTH 600, 607, 678)









(OCTH 782)














Estimated Totals



  • Fees do not include out of pocket expenses which may include but are not limited to: Background checks, health screening requirements, and/or transportation
  • Tuition and fees are subject to change
  • School fees include $9 per unit for technology (up to $106 per term) and other fees. The Bursar's Office provides a full breakdown of tuition and fees.
  • The Provost Budge Office publishes the full list of TU's course/ lab fees.
  • Fees do not include room and board. Various housing and dining options are available through the university.

Making Connections in a Growing Field

Towson University Occupational Therapy students have presented their work at the annual conferences of the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Society for the Study of Occupation (SSO) USA, and the World Federation of Occupational Therapists Congress, and have co-authored publications with faculty. Throughout the program, students establish a strong professional network with facilities and practitioners, with opportunities in the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) and Pi Theta Epsilon, which often lead to a smooth transition to employment post-graduation.

Hands-on Learning

The Entry-Level OTD includes required laboratory and clinical learning experiences designed to reinforce classroom learning and further prepare students for career success.

Level I Fieldwork

Level I Fieldwork introduces students to the practice of occupational therapy by exposing them to a variety of occupational therapy settings and roles. Under the supervision of licensed practitioners, and with the support of faculty, students complete four required Level I fieldwork experiences: one in mental health, one in adult physical rehabilitation, one in children and youth practice, and one in a community-based program.

Level II Fieldwork

Level II Fieldwork provides full-time, in-depth experience in delivering occupational therapy services to clients, focusing on the application of purposeful and meaningful occupational therapy services. Under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist, and with the support of a faculty supervisor, students complete two required Level II fieldwork experiences focused on one or more of the following practice areas: adult physical rehabilitation, mental health, and children & youth. Each experience is a 12-week, 480-hour, full-time commitment requiring additional time for preparation on the evenings and weekends; students are not permitted to maintain employment during Level II fieldwork.

Capstone Research Project

The Capstone Project provides students with experience in producing a high quality scholarly product. Through a two-course sequence, the student will design, propose, implement, document, defend, and disseminate an independent, evidence-based project related to their area of focus and addressing the priorities of the assigned community program/agency. Common areas of focus include: clinical practice, research, administration, or advocacy.

Doctoral Experiential Practicum

The Doctoral Experiential Practicum (DEP) provides an in-depth experience that dovetails with the Capstone Research Project. It focuses on refining skills in the student’s area of focus beyond the generalist level in a community program/agency. While completing their first several semesters of coursework, students work under a faculty advisor and the Doctoral Capstone Coordinator to design a DEP plan with individualized objectives. Students must gain DEP approval and successfully complete the Occupational Therapy Knowledge Exam (OTKE) prior to site placement and DEP enrollment. The DEP experience is a 16-week, 640-hour, commitment often requiring additional time outside of the on-site schedule for planning, review, and other related responsibilities; students are advised to eliminate employment during that time.


Contact Information

Sonia Lawson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA - Program Director
Entry-Level OTD Program Director
Sonia Lawson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
Linthicum Hall
Room 235E