FAQs | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

Frequently Asked Questions

Chatham University Professional Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Why should I earn the professional OTD degree?
Due to changes in health care, occupational therapists are challenged to expand their knowledge base in order to meet the demands of contemporary practice. We are challenged to provide high quality, cost effective and evidence based services. The Professional OTD prepares you to critically evaluate research and apply this knowledge to clinical practice.

The professional OTD graduate is prepared to become a future leader of the OT profession. You will learn business and marketing skills, theories of education and learning, and leadership skills.

ACOTE standards for entry-level occupational therapy education require the majority of academic faculty to hold a doctoral degree by 2012.

The occupational therapy profession continues to expand beyond traditional settings into emerging practice areas: Ergonomics, Home Modification, Driving Rehabilitation Programs, Assisted Living Facility Consultation, Health and Wellness, Assistive Device Development Consultation and other community-based services. The OTD program will prepare you to take a leadership role in these new and exciting practice settings.

Many other health care professions offer clinical doctoral education. The OTD is consistent with this trend.

Is there a difference between entry-level OT and post professional OTD programs? 
Educational standards are specifically defined by ACOTE for entry-level OT programs to ensure the student is prepared to enter the field of occupational therapy. Post professional OTD programs are not accredited by ACOTE. The Chatham University OTD program is a post professional program comprised of 10 courses with general objectives. The professional student develops their own highly individualized learning goals, guided by faculty, relative to their practice focus. 

Learning progresses from beginning to advanced stages in entry-level OT programs; whereas, advanced learning is required of the professional OTD student throughout their education. 

The clinical reasoning skills that you bring to an OTD program as an experienced therapist/educator allow you to apply your new learning directly to your work environment.

Is there a difference between the OTD and PhD degree? 
The professional OTD degree differs from the PhD in one key way. The OTD degree has more of a clinical or practice focus, whereas the PhD is a research based degree. 

The OTD is a clinical doctorate and therefore requires much less of a time commitment. Most students are able to complete the OTD in 16 months.

I do not have a bachelors or masters degree in Occupational Therapy, can I begin the OTD program? 
We require that while you must have a masters degree to begin the regular OTD cohort, either your bachelors or masters degree MUST be in Occupational Therapy.  If you do not currently hold a masters degree, but you do hold a Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy, you may apply to our BS to OTD Bridge Program.

What are the admissions deadlines? 
July 1 if you are applying to the Fall semester and November 1 if you are applying to the Spring semester. However, we will continue to process applications after these dates. For more information, please contact the School of Continuing and Professional Studies at 412-365-1498.

Where can I find information about financial aid and tuition rates? 
Just contact the Chatham University Student Services Department at 412-365-2797 or visit the SCPS tuition webpage for information at financial aid and tuition rates. You can also access useful links such as FAFSA at this website.

How is the OTD program structured? 
The OTD program can be completed in 16 months over a period of four semesters. Students are enrolled in 2-3 online courses per semester, allowing the OT clinician or academician to maintain their work status. During terms with three classes, students are only taking two concurrently, as the term consists of one 14-week class and two 7-week classes. It is our aim that the student can balance life commitments and effectively engage in new learning. You can view the course tracks at our OTD Curriculum Page.