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

Prospective students interested in the OTD Program have three admissions pathways described below: automatic conditional admission as a high school senior who has been admitted to St. Ambrose, automatic conditional admission as a first year St. Ambrose student, and also as an applicant in the General Admission process as a junior, senior, or graduate student (transfer or St. Ambrose).

Students may begin the OTD program as early as their senior year, or as a graduate student, depending upon their admission pathway and their academic plan of study. As you prepare to apply, please consider all deadlines and application requirements noted in the section below.

Contact us or call us at any time with any questions about the admissions pathway that is right for you.


Temporary Admission Prerequisite and Criteria Changes Due to COVID-19

Online and/or distance learning courses
The OT Department will continue to accept online or distance learning prerequisite courses - including lab courses - that started on campus then transitioned to online or distance education during Spring 2020 to satisfy requirements.

Pass/No Pass or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory courses
The OT Department will accept Spring 2020 coursework that is graded on a Pass/No Pass or Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis to fulfill a prerequisite course requirement including those not normally graded in that manner but impacted by policies in the COVID-19 pandemic. These grades will not be factored into prerequisite GPA calculations.

OT observation hours
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, observation hour requirements have been waived for the 2020 application cycle.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
Due to the impacts of COVID-19, the GRE requirement has been waived for the 2020 application cycle.

Please note that all other admission policies and criteria remain in effect. Please contact the OT Department with any questions at any time.

Complete the online application Download the OTD Application Guide (pdf)

General Admission: Early Decision

Sept. 15

Application Due

Applicants can qualify to participate in an early interview and decision process that will fill up to 15 seats in the incoming OTD class. See the "Deadlines" section below for more information.

General Admission Decision

Dec. 1

Application Due

Applicants submitting complete applications by December 1 – and any applicants who already submitted an application for an early admission decision but is not yet accepted – can qualify for an interview if meeting the minimum requirements for admissions.


students in class

Meet with a pre-OT advisor


Prospective students interested in admission and applying to the OTD Program should meet with the Pre-OT Advisor.

Together during this meeting, you will determine which admission pathway fits your situation and receive assistance in the application and admission process.


Admission Pathways

Your Three Options

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program at St. Ambrose University has three pathways for admission into the 3-year, entry-level doctoral Occupational Therapy (OT) program: Two automatic, conditional admission tracks for accepted high school and first-year St. Ambrose students and a general admission track for any student interested in OT.

Prospective students can complete their undergraduate and OTD (professional) coursework in a 3+3 year format, which means completing their Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree within 6 years.

Keep in mind that all general education and baccalaureate degree requirements must be completed prior to begining the OTD specific coursework. Depending upon the undergraduate degree path, students may require a 4+3 year approach.

High School Senior - Admitted to St. Ambrose

High School

  • High school students accepted at St. Ambrose intending to pursue a doctoral degree in OT will receive automatic, conditional admission if they meet the high school requirements listed below and continue to maintain the college requirements listed below.
  • High school students interested in receiving automatic, conditional admission must complete this automatic, conditional admission request form by March 1 of their senior year in high school.

Minimum High School Requirements

The following minimum requirements must be met for high schoolers accepted to St. Ambrose University:

  • Complete 20 hours of observation in at least 2 different settings with an OT during high school.
  • Personal statement describing interest in OT
  • 3.5 unweighted GPA
  • 24 ACT or 1160 SAT

Minimum College Requirements Upon Admission

If accepted to the OT program, you must maintain these minimum college requirements:

  • Complete an additional 30+ hours of observation with an OT. Complete 10+ hours of service per year.
  • Maintain a 3.3 GPA throughout the remainder of undergraduate studies.
  • Complete all prerequisite coursework with a 3.0 prerequisite GPA and no grades lower than C in prerequisite courses. Prerequisite anatomy and physiology coursework (BIO 230/232) must be taken at SAU. (see Curriculum for prerequisites)
  • Students must participate in regular, student-directed advising focused on professional development and service. Examples of preparations may include reflections on observation/service experiences, participation in educational groups/clubs led by OTD students, etc.

Please Note:

  • Once admitted, all students must continue to meet the college requirements throughout their undergraduate study to remain qualified and ensure their position in the OTD Program.
  • A student may not receive/continue as an automatic condition admit if also on an early admission track to another graduate program.
  • Students may begin the OTD Program as early as their senior year in college if all of their prerequisites, general education requirements, and major requirements are completed by the end of their junior year.
First-Year - St. Ambrose Student

First-Year

  • First-year St. Ambrose students intending to pursue a doctoral degree in OT receive automatic, conditional admission if they meet the first-year college requirements and maintain the college requirements listed below.
  • First-year St. Ambrose students interested in receiving automatic, conditional admission must complete this automatic, conditional admission request form by June 1 of their first year.

Minimum First-Year Requirements

The following minimum requirements must be met for First-Year students already attending St. Ambrose University:

  • Complete 20 observation hours with an OT in at least 2 settings if seeking admission during first year at Ambrose
  • Personal statement describing interest in OT
  • 3.3 cumulative GPA by end of second semester of first year

Minimum College Requirements Upon Admission

If accepted to the OT program, you must maintain these minimum college requirements:

  • Complete an additional 30+ hours of observation with an OT. Complete 10+ hours of service per year.
  • Maintain a 3.3 GPA throughout the remainder of undergraduate studies.
  • Complete all prerequisite coursework with a 3.0 prerequisite GPA and no grades lower than C in prerequisite courses. Prerequisite anatomy and physiology coursework (BIOL 230/232) must be taken at SAU. (see Curriculum for prerequisites)
  • Students must participate in regular, student-directed advising focused on professional development and service. Examples of preparations may include reflections on observation/service experiences, participation in educational groups/clubs led by OTD students, etc.

Please note:

  • Once admitted, all students must continue to meet the college requirements throughout their undergraduate study to remain qualified and ensure their position in the OTD Program. 
  • A student may not receive/continue as an automatic, conditional admit if also on an early admission track to another graduate program.
  • Students may begin the OTD Program as early as their senior year if all of their prerequisites, general education requirements, and major requirements are completed by the end of their junior year.
General Admission - Transfer Students and Upperclassmen

General Admission - Transfer and Upperclassmen

  • Many students decide to pursue occupational therapy education after their first year in college. The OTD Program is committed to reserving seats in each OTD class for students seeking admission as college seniors or graduate students.
  • The application deadline for an early decision is September 15 and the general application deadline is December 15.

General Admission: Minimum Application Criteria

  • Complete 50+ hours of observation with an OT in at least two different settings.
  • Complete all prerequisite coursework with a 3.0 prerequisite GPA and no grades lower than C in prerequisite courses. (See Curriculum for list of prerequisites)
  • Complete online OTCAS application through the OTCAS website, www.otcas.org. Application will include a required personal statement, three letters of reference, and official GRE score.
  • Applicants may be selected for professional interviews that focus on academic, personal, and professional preparedness for graduate studies.

General Admission Application Details

Deadlines

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 1 of each year.

Applications received by December 1 are given priority; however, applications will be accepted until the class is filled.

Applicants can request to be part of an early decision admission cycle - if qualified - by meeting a September 15 deadline. A limited number of early decision spaces are available. An early decision applicant will automatically be considered in the general admission cycle if they are not accepted early.

Early Admission Decision Application Due: September 15
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 admission, applicants must have submitted a complete application and have a minimum pre-requisite GPA of 3.4 or be affiliated with St. Ambrose as an alum or degree-seeking student.

General Admission Decision Application Due: December 1
Applicants submitting complete applications by December 1 – and any applicants who already submitted an application for an early admission decision but not yet accepted – can qualify for an interview if meeting the minimum requirements for admission.

How to Apply

Applicants 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 otcasinfo@otcas.org.

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.)

Other Requirements

In addition, students must:

  • Complete the prerequisite coursework: Prerequisite 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 prerequisite courses must be available by December 1 application deadline (or September 15 if requesting consideration for early admission).
  • Provide documentation directly to the OT office 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.) Use one of these documentation methods:
    • SAU Observation Hours Log (pdf)
    • Official letterhead signed by a registered occupational therapist
    • Direct from an occupational therapist's email

Applications to the program must be complete by December 1 for the following fall. Application processing begins September 1 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.

Personal Statement and Interview

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 in planning 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 Graduate Credits

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 admits 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 SAU Center for International Education will be involved in this process with all international inquiries or applicants.

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.

Contact


Lynn Kilburg, DHSc, MBA, OTR/L, Program Chair

Occupational Therapy
Center for Health Sciences Education
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52804
563-333-6277
OT@sau.edu

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