The occupational therapy program resides in the Department of Kinesiology and offers two graduate professional programs, an entry-level master of science (MS–OT) and a post-professional doctor of occupational therapy (OTD). Occupational therapists interested in pursuing a Ph.D. may also apply to the occupational science track of the Ph.D. in Kinesiology. The purpose of the graduate program is to prepare clinicians, researchers, and teachers who possess a solid foundation in both the theoretical and applied aspects of the disciplines of occupational therapy and science.

The M.S. program is a two-year professional program designed to prepare students for practice. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). At the master's level, supervised fieldwork experiences with children and adults are provided in a variety of settings. This program meets the requirements for OTR certification set by the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

The post-professional OTD program is a part-time, structured, predominantly online curriculum serving occupational therapist’s need for distance access and flexibility in acquiring advanced practice skills. The OTD program trains occupational therapists to become visionary leaders, engage in inter-professional education and practice, and facilitate research translation.

The Ph.D. program in kinesiology–occupational science track provides relevant classroom and laboratory experiences for the scholar–researcher interested in occupational science. The academic program consists of coursework within the Department of Kinesiology and in related areas such as psychology, statistics, population health, engineering, or education. Students completing the program will be prepared for careers as university professors and researchers. For further information about this degree, see Occupational Science on the department website.

A bridge program can be designed for students who wish to pursue entry-level professional training and further advanced graduate study at the OTD or Ph.D. level. Such students follow a modified sequence of coursework, fieldwork training, and research experience in order to satisfy all academic and certification requirements.

Course Information

The OTD course sequence and descriptions can be found here.

Financial assistance, sometimes available to graduate students in occupational therapy, consists of scholarships, fellowships, and teaching, project or research assistant positions. Financial assistance is limited; opportunities vary by program and from year to year. Students enrolled in the OTD program are not permitted to accept teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, or other appointments that would result in a tuition waiver. Students who are considering applying for financial support should see the OT program M.S. or OTD webpages for further information.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

64 credits (34 beyond the M.S.)

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

50% of degree course work (32 credits out of 64 total credits) must be completed in graduate level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 30 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework should be less than five years old to be considered, additional justification and/or documentation are needed for work taken between five and ten years. Work more than ten years old will not be considered.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison Undergraduate

No undergraduate coursework will be allowed to count toward OTD requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements from: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval and payment of the difference in tuition (between Special and graduate tuition), students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. These credits are considered part of the total allowable credits available for a student to transfer. Coursework should be less than five years old to be considered; additional justification and/or documentation is needed for work taken between five and ten years.

Work more than ten years old will not be considered.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

The OTD has a prescribed curriculum of 64 credits. See Curriculum on the OT website.

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

Breadth is provided via interdisciplinary training (minor requirement waived).

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

Minimum 3.00 GPA required.

Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires students maintain a graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) for courses numbered 300 and above (excluding research) to receive a degree. Conditions for probationary status may require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School. See Probation on the Graduate School website.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor to meet UW information management needs, and accordingly, and of its own volition, the department assigns an advisor to each student. The advisor is a graduate or clinical faculty member.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis. The OTD Program Coordinator will advise students in the early stages of their studies. The advisor may also serve on the student's capstone project committee.

Assessment and Examinations

Curricular requirements (all didactic courses) must be passed, in conformity with GPA and grad requirements, above. Capstone project proposal and final product must be reviewed and approved by a committee of graduate faculty per Graduate School policy.

Time Constraints

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

No language requirements.

Applicants for all graduate programs must complete a UW–Madison Graduate School application.

OTD (Post-professional)

An official copy of a current state license to practice OT in the U.S. will be required for admission.

A minimum equivalency of 30 UW–Madison credit hours taken as a graduate student beyond the Bachelor’s degree is also required. It is expected that most applicants will meet this requirement through having obtained a master’s degree in occupational therapy or related field. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in OT may apply but will be required to complete graduate credits (as outlined on our website) to meet any deficiencies.

In addition, applicants must submit a personal statement responding to prompts provided on the graduate application page; a current resume or CV; official transcripts per the instructions on the application page; and letters of recommendation (two required, one additional optional) from professors, co-workers, supervisors, and/or other professionals who can speak to the applicant's capacity to be an adult learner, potential for leadership, and capabilities to succeed as a graduate student.

Knowledge and Skills

Foundational Knowledge

  • Demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the evolution of the profession, the social and global forces influencing practice, delivery models, policies, and systems, including interprofessional and emerging areas of practice.
  • Articulate and apply underlying theories, concepts and techniques of occupational therapy intervention to health promotion and well-being for the prevention of disease and dysfunction.

Scientific Inquiry and Theory Development

  • Articulate the knowledge, roles and practices of other professions with whom occupational therapists typically engage in practice.
  • Formulate systems to gather, analyze and interpret data from a practice setting.
  • Translate evidence into best practice for the continued development of the profession.
  • Develop and implement an interprofessional, scholarly capstone project that addresses an identified service system, intervention or programmatic problem, relates theory to practice and demonstrates synthesis of advanced knowledge in a practice area.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the process for locating and securing grants and how grants can serve as a fiscal resource for scholarly and programmatic activities.
  • Evaluate the outcomes of the capstone project and communicate findings to an interprofessional audience in a clear, understandable manner through a peer-reviewed report or presentation.

Practice Reasoning and Decision Making

  • Empirically monitor client progress and treatment efficacy in practice.
  • Identify and apply appropriate tools for measuring practice outcomes at the individual and systems level.
  • Synthesize current knowledge, available evidence and responses to interventions to inform new approaches to practice problems.
  • Demonstrate the skills necessary to lead and manage an interprofessional team.

Professional Conduct

  • Demonstrate commitment to professional growth through the creation, implementation and monitoring of a career development plan.
  • Demonstrate active involvement in professional development, leadership, and advocacy for the benefit of constituents and the profession.

Faculty: Professors Benedict (OT Program Coordinator), Edwards; Associate Professor Larson; Assistant Professors Ausderau, Pickett, Travers. Additional instructors are listed here.