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School of Graduate and Professional Studies

Occupational Therapy Doctorate

Why pursue an Occupational Therapy Doctorate at North Central College? 

North Central’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program will help you develop the foundational knowledge, leadership, and ethical behaviors necessary to be a competent, entry-level practitioner, serving those with a variety of injuries, illnesses and disabilities such as Alzheimer’s, autism, or the loss of limbs. 

The entry level OTD program provides students with an experiential educational process, guiding them to grow and develop the professional knowledge and ethical behavior necessary to be purposeful and competent practitioners. The program challenges students in areas of development of leadership skills to advocate and lead the profession and implementation of evidence-based research in delivery of client-centered care. This educational process, grounded in the college’s liberal arts tradition, prepares the students to collaborate inter-professionally within their workplaces and communities. 


Accreditation Status 

 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 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 510E Bethesda, MD 20814. 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.

Students must complete 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork as well as an individual 14-week capstone experience within 30 months following the completion of the didactic portion of the program. The doctoral capstone experience must be started after completion of all coursework and Level II fieldwork as well as completion of preparatory activities defined in 2018 ACOTE OTD Standard D.1.3. 

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at: www.nbcot.org/Educators-Folder/SchoolPerformance

How it Works 

  • The program takes 27 continuous months to complete, one of the shortest programs in the region
  • Enrollment begins in the spring of each year and occupational therapy students complete the degree in May of the third year.  
  • Fieldwork placements in and around Naperville and Chicago are integrated with coursework, allowing you to apply course concepts to practice. 


Fast Growing Profession 

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, nationwide “employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, much faster than the average for all occupations." 

According to NBC Chicago, occupational therapist ranks no. 6 for most in-demand Chicago jobs. 


National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) 

Upon graduation, OT students can log into NBCOT and review requirements for registering and taking the OT certification examination. 

To find out how you can obtain a license in the state of Illinois, visit the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Resources. To obtain a license in another state, you will need to research that particular state’s requirement. 


The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program is a 27-month program (including two summer semesters) - one of the shortest programs in the region. All courses in the program are required and sequential. The program requires completion of 112 through courses offered in tradition, online and hybrid formats, as well as two 12-week fieldwork experiences.  


  • 27-month, 112 credit hour program completed in seven semesters
  • Cohorts begin each Spring semester 
  • Mix of online, traditional and hybrid courses 
Spring Semester - Year One
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD705 Introduction to Occupational Therapy 3 16
DOTD701 Leaders and Theories in OT 1 5
DOTD702 Documentation/Reimbursement/Appeals 2 10
DOTD719 Assessment Theory 1 5
DOTD703 Health, Wellness, Literacy in a Leadership Role 3 16
DOTD729 Assessment Application 2 10
DOTD704 Functional Anatomy 3 16
Total 15 16
Summer Semester - Year One
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD721 Pediatric Theory 3 12
DOTD731 Pediatric Assessment and Intervention 3 12
DOTD724 Neurological Dysfunction Theory 3 12
DOTD734 Neurological Dysfunction Assessment and Intervention 3 12
DOTD800 Evidenced Based Practice I 3 12
DOTD820 Level I Fieldwork – Pediatrics 1 4
Total 16 12
Fall Semester - Year One
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD723 Physical Dysfunction Theory 3 16
DOTD733 Physical Dysfunction Assessment and Intervention 3 16
DOTD722 Mental Health Theory 3 16
DOTD732 Mental Health Assessment and Intervention 3 16
DOTD822 Level I Fieldwork – Mental Health 1 4
DOTD810 Evidence Base Practice II 3 16
Total 16 16
Spring Semester - Year Two
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD725 Geriatric Theory 3 16
DOTD735 Geriatric Assessment and Intervention 3 16
DOTD801 Professional Advocacy and Leadership 1 5
DOTD802 Management and Leadership 2 7.5
DOTD804 Preparation for Academic Work 2 7.5
DOTD803 Specialty Interventions 3 16
DOTD895 Capstone Project I 3 16
DOTD821 Level I Fieldwork – Adult 1 1
Total 18 16
Summer Semester - Year Two
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD830 Level II Fieldwork 12 12
Total 12 12
Fall Semester - Year 2
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD840 Level II Fieldwork 12 12
DOTD896 Capstone Project II 4 4
Total 16 12
Spring Semester - Year Three
Course Number Course Title Credit Hours Number of Weeks
DOTD897 Capstone Experience 14 16
DOTD898 Capstone Project III 4 16
DOTD899 Capstone Post Presentation 1 1
Total 19 16

Applying to the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

Searching for the right occupational therapy program in Illinois? We are looking for students for our occupational therapy degree program who possess academic, leadership and ethical qualities necessary to become registered occupational therapists. We use a rolling admission process where completed applications are reviewed throughout the admission cycle, so we advise you to complete your application as early as possible. 

Important Dates

For Spring 2024 cohort:

  • July 21, 2023: OTCAS available for Spring 2024 candidates
  • December 1, 2023: Verified OTCAS application deadline

For Spring 2025 cohort:

  • July 21, 2023: OTCAS available for Spring 2025 candidates
  • December 31, 2023: Verified OTCAS priority application deadline
  • June 7, 2024: Verified OTCAS standard application deadline

Please note, individuals may apply to the program at the application open; however, acceptances will not be made until ACOTE candidacy accreditation status is attained. 

Prerequisite Courses 

Prerequisite coursework must be completed within 5 years of matriculation to the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program and have a grade of C or above. Prerequisites may be in progress when you apply but must be completed prior to the start of the degree program if you are accepted. All in-progress and future prerequisite coursework must be documented in the OTCAS application.  Each course may only satisfy one prerequisite. 

  • 8 credit hours - Human Anatomy and Physiology* 
  • 3 credit hours - Sociology or Anthropology 
  • 3 credit hours - Developmental Psychology 
  • 3 credit hours - Abnormal Psychology 
  • 3 credit hours - Statistics 

*Can be satisfied by either Human Anatomy with a lab and Human Physiology with a lab or Human Anatomy and Physiology I with a lab and Human Anatomy and Physiology II with a lab 

We do not accept transfer credits toward the fulfillment of graduate-level coursework. Academic credit is not provided for applicants' work, experiential, or volunteer experience. 

Application Process

1. Begin Your OTCAS Application

All applicants must apply online via the online application service OTCAS. Review all OTCAS and North Central College-specific instructions prior to completing the application process.

Submit the following documents to OTCAS:

  • Official transcripts showing an earned, four-year, bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university prior to matriculation. Evidence of earning a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale.
  • Three letters of reference:
    • One letter from an occupational therapist
    • Second letter from a professor who has taught the applicant or an academic advisor
    • Third letter from either a supervisor or someone who can speak to the applicant’s work ethic
  • Personal statement as prompted in the OTCAS application.
  • Supplemental essay that answers the following: What experiences have you pursued in order to prepare for providing culturally competent and equitable care for people experiencing health disparities because of minoritized identities, disabilities and/or class?
  • Minimum 30 hours of documented observational/volunteer experience:
    • Twenty (20) hours must be in an occupational therapy setting
    • Ten (10) hours must be in a community service setting

GRE test scores are not required.

2. Application Review

Completed applications are reviewed throughout the admission cycle. Applicants who submit a complete and verified OTCAS application by the priority deadline date will be considered for early admission. Admission decisions are made within two weeks of application review and until the class is filled. Applicants must meet all the admission requirements listed to be considered for admission.

3. Program Engagement

We want to get to know you, and we want you to get to know us! Applicants will be required to demonstrate engagement with the program via one of the following options after acceptance and deposit:

  • Attend a virtual event/webinar
  • Attend an onsite event/open house
  • Schedule and attend a virtual meeting with a faculty member
  • Schedule and attend an in-person meeting with a faculty member
  • Tell us your story - We know things that are on the application do not always fully show your experiences. What makes you want to be an OT? All stories are valuable. Use any of the following to tell us your story:
    • PowerPoint
    • Written Narrative
    • Video
      • Email final submission to msheperd@noctrl.edu.

International Applicants

Applicants who are not United States citizens and/or who graduated from a college or university in a country other than the United States also must submit the following to be considered for admission:

  • Official course-by-course evaluation of foreign transcripts by WES (World Education Service) or ECE (Educational Credential Evaluators). Occupational therapy students may be required to submit additional academic documentation/information.
  • Official results of the TOEFL or IELTS. The minimum TOEFL score is 80 or IELTS band score of 6.5 or higher. 


Applicant Resources 

Have questions about applying to OTCAS? Check out our recorded information session to learn more about the OTCAS process and get answers to common application questions. 

Watch Recording

Cost of Attendance

When considering the financial cost of attending graduate school, one number does not tell the whole story. Cost of Attendance provides a more complete picture of all costs, direct and indirect, for one academic year at North Central College.  Numbers are subject to change on an annual basis.


2025-2027 Cohort Cost of Attendance

Direct Costs

 Direct costs are expenses that will be included on your semester bill, such as tuition and fees.

Year One (Spring Semester) Year Two (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters) Year Three (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters)
Tuition $13,980.00 $46,600.00 $43,804.00
Program Fee $130.00 $130.00 -
Wellness Fee $50.00 $100.00 $100.00
Yearly Total $14,160.00 $46,830.00 $43,904.00
Total Direct Costs of Program: $104,894.00


Indirect Costs

Indirect costs are expenses that will not appear on your semester bill but should be considered. Examples of indirect costs include housing, supplies, and personal expenses. Indirect costs vary by student lifestyle, living arrangements, and educational choices. Below are estimated indirect costs for students enrolled in graduate programs at North Central College. It is encouraged that students consider opportunities to minimize other costs and borrowing.

Year One (Spring Semester) Year Two (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters) Year Three (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters)
Housing and Food $7,038.00 $21,114.00 $21,114.00
Transportation $1,112.00 $3,336.00 $3,336.00
Personal Expenses $1,067.00 $3,201.00 $3,201.00
Books and Supplies $450.00 $1,350.00 $1,350.00
Student Loan Fees $108.00 $324.00 $324.00
Yearly Total $9,775.00 $29,325.00 $29,325.00

Total Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance will be used by the Office of Financial Aid to determine the maximum amount of financial aid you can receive within the specified year. Note: If your actual cost differs from what is listed under indirect cost that is okay. We encourage you to explore budgeting tools that will help you manage your expenses.

Year One (Spring Semester) Year Two (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters) Year Three (Summer/Fall/Spring Semesters)
Cost of Attendance $23,935 $76,155 $73,229


Please visit Financial Aid to learn more about the financial aid process and resources available.

The Office of Financial Aid can be reached at 630-637-5600 or by emailing finaid@noctrl.edu.