Occupational Therapy, Entry-Level (ELOTD)

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Occupational Therapy, Entry-Level (ELOTD) Overview

Chatham is proud to offer the entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (ELOTD) program for students wishing to obtain this credential who hold a bachelor’s degree. At Chatham, you can earn your OTD in only 28 months—one term beyond the Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT). The OTD provides more real-world experience through a doctoral project in your area of interest. Through this project, you’ll increase the scope of your career to include paths such as leadership, advocacy, research, program development, and advanced clinical practice.
Program School
Application Deadline


Completed applications must be e-submitted to OTCAS and are now being accepted on a rolling basis. Additional information can be found in the Admission Requirements section below.

Credits Required

99 (7 terms)

This full-time cohort program begins each fall and is completed in only 28 months, just one term past what is required for a master’s degree.

Learning Opportunities

Leadership Focus

The ELOTD program provides students with opportunities to engage in a variety of leadership activities throughout the curriculum. Learn more below.

Did you know?


Chatham University’s entry-level OTD program has been granted Accreditation Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). More information can be found by visiting our accreditation page.

Explore the Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy Degree:

Occupational therapy has joined the number of health-related professions that have been transitioning to the entry-level doctorate. In some settings, this has impacted hiring practices, salary differentials, and leadership appointments.

How to Apply

Applicants to Chatham University’s entry-level occupational therapy program must use the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Beginning mid-July, applications may be submitted through OTCAS with all admission requirements noted below. Please note the GRE is not required, and there is no supplemental application. 

Important Dates for Fall 2025 Admission

Priority Application Deadline: OTCAS Submitted by October 1, 2024
Priority In-Person Interview Date: October 19, 2024
Additional Virtual Interview Dates: Added on an as-needed basis

All interviews are by invitation only.

In order to be eligible for invite to the admission interview, applicants must have 3 of the 5 prerequisite courses completed by August 31, and at least one of those courses must be human anatomy with lab or physiology (animal or human) with lab or anatomy & physiology I with lab.

*It is highly recommended that you submit your application to OTCAS on or before October 1. OTCAS’s verification process occurs once an applicant e-submits the application and all official transcripts have been received. Verification involves some processing time, so it is in your best interest to submit all materials as early as possible to ensure your complete, verified application is available for us to review.

Admission Requirements 

  • A completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution or completion of undergraduate requirements for the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) prior to the beginning of classes.
  • Official transcripts from all institutions attended sent directly to OTCAS.
  • Overall combined GPA of 3.0 or better on a scale of 4.0 as calculated by OTCAS.
  • Prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale. Additionally, grades less than a “C” are not acceptable, and prerequisite courses must have been completed no more than ten years prior to the anticipated start date of the program.
A "Pass" or “Satisfactory” grade for prerequisites will be accepted for coursework completed only during the Spring 2020 semester. However, such grades do not impact GPA calculation.

  • At least three of five prerequisite courses completed by August 31 of the application year, and at least one of those courses must be human anatomy with lab or physiology with lab or anatomy & physiology I with lab. Prerequisite courses:
    • Human Anatomy with lab - one term**
    • Physiology (human or animal) with lab - one term**
      • **If taking anatomy with physiology, both Anatomy & Physiology I and II with labs are necessary to fulfill the anatomy and physiology requirements.
    • Abnormal Psychology – one term
    • Statistics or Research Methods – one term
    • Developmental Psychology or Lifespan Development – one term
      • A combination of developmental psychology courses that cover the lifespan—birth to death—are also acceptable
    • Optional Neuroscience – one term 
      • Neuroscience is not required; therefore, students who have not taken this course will not be disadvantaged during the admission review process. Exposure to this course content is helpful for matriculated students.
  • Two professional letters of reference included in the OTCAS application. Acceptable letters of reference may include those from academic faculty or advisors, from occupational therapists involved in shadowing or work experience, or from supervisors or staff members from volunteer or work experience.
  • Attendance at an admissions interview with faculty and alumni.

Additional Admission Information

Advanced placement, transfer of credit, or credit for experiential learning is not available to students in the entry-level OT Program for occupational therapy courses due to the integrated and sequential nature of the coursework in this program.

Integrated Degree Program

Chatham University undergraduates applying through the Integrated Degree Program (IDP) must complete all requirements outlined on their respective admission or track tab on the IDP Portal Site. All IDP applicants should work closely with their academic advisors to ensure all requirements are met according to the IDP course of study.

Admission Review Process

After verifying that the minimum academic requirements are met, the occupational therapy program faculty reviews each candidate's entire application and invites the most talented and qualified students to interview before program faculty and alumni.

As part of the admission review, Chatham reserves the right to request a background check prior to the offer of admission. The occupational therapy program strives for diversity and gender equity within each class.

Articulation Agreements

Chatham University has entered into "Articulation Agreements" with a select group of Colleges and Universities. These agreements provide for additional student pre-professional advisement and possible priority admission status for candidates with exceptional applications, demonstrating academic preparation above the minimal acceptable standards.

Agreements exist with the following institutions for the 2024-2025 academic year:

  • Allegheny College
  • Baldwin Wallace University
  • Grove City College
  • Penn State Mont Alto
  • Washington and Jefferson College
  • Waynesburg University
  • Westminster College

Applicants from these institutions are advised to discuss the articulation requirements with their advisor as well as the graduate admission counselor at Chatham University.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact our Admission Department:

Office of Admission
Chatham University
107 Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Email Admissions

International Applicants

International Applicants must submit additional documentation to the Office of Admissions. A list of these documents can be found on the International Admission web page.

Admitted Student Profile

For students beginning Fall 2023:

Numbered Enrolled: 28
Average Overall GPA: 3.45 
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.50 
Average Age: 23
Out-of-State Residents:   57%

For students beginning Fall 2022:

Numbered Enrolled: 38
Average Overall GPA: 3.49 
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.48 
Average Age: 24
Out-of-State Residents:   47%


OTH 726: Pediatric Occupational Development & School-Based Practice
This course addresses the occupational development of children and adolescents, and the interrelationship between the child, occupation, and environment on occupational performance and participation. Students explore childhood occupations, models and frames of reference, and evaluation and intervention in schools.

OTH 741L: Acquired Neurological Conditions Lab
This lab-based course complements the OTH 741 course with a focus on application of the OT process on acquired neurological conditions. Students will develop skills to conduct assessments and interventions based on theory and evidence for clients with acquired neurological conditions.

OTH 644: Community-Based Fieldwork
The community-based fieldwork emphasizes higher level management and leadership skills, including program development, advocacy, and consultation. Students learn about community agencies, population and organizational needs, and the role of occupational therapy practitioners in community-based settings. The program plan is implemented and evaluated by OT faculty and the community-based site.

OTH 790: Doctoral Capstone Experience
The doctoral capstone provides in-depth exposure to one or more of the following: advanced clinical practice, research, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, or education. The capstone includes the 14-week mentored capstone experience and completion of the doctoral capstone project. Students work with a site mentor, faculty mentor, and the doctoral capstone coordinator throughout the process.

View Full Curriculum

View Course Sequence Guide

The program guides students through introspection and self-reflection to develop individualized, authentic leadership skills, and prepares them with the tools and knowledge to be leaders within the OT profession and society at large. Students are provided opportunities both inside and outside the classroom to explore and apply cutting-edge theories and intervention approaches. They gain an understanding of professional responsibilities and advocacy through engagement in various personal and professional leadership and scholarship opportunities.

—JODI SCHREIBER, OTD, OTR/L, C/NDT, associate professor of occupational therapy

Photo of two students practicing occupational therapy techniques on each other in a classroom

Our Mission

To prepare and empower innovative, compassionate occupational therapy practitioners, scholars, and leaders to promote sustainable health and well-being among individuals, populations, and communities through the power of occupation.

Photo of a group of 18 Chatham students posing together in a train station.

Focus on Leadership

Chatham’s entry-level OTD program provides students with opportunities to engage in a variety of leadership activities throughout the curriculum. They are assigned a leadership advisor, and take part in a leadership advising group. In addition, there are multiple opportunities to engage in advocacy and leadership roles throughout the program, including program committee positions to foster the development of professional service and leadership skills.

Photo of students wearing masks, sitting around a room

Interprofessional Education (IPE)

Interprofessional education involves students from two or more health professions learning together during their training. The goal of IPE is to enhance communication and decision-making, allowing various domains of knowledge to complement each other.

Learn About IPE : Checkerboard 4 - Interprofessional Education (IPE)
Decorative image reading Faculty Listing

Program Faculty

Chatham’s OTD faculty members bring a wealth of clinical experience as well as teaching experience in a range of practice settings. They serve as mentors and advisors and are there for you every step of the way.

Meet the Faculty : Checkerboard 5 - Program Faculty
Photo of a woman in yellow sweater sitting in a lecture hall, smiling and taking notes during a class.

Board Eligibility

Chatham ELOTD graduates can sit for the National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) exam, which certifies them as an OTR®. State licensure is required by most states and is usually based on the results of the NBCOT® exam. Chatham’s OT Program results from the NBCOT® exam can be found online at https://www.nbcot.org/Educators-Folder/SchoolPerformance by searching for “Pennsylvania”, “OT Doctoral-Level Programs”. 

Rolling grassy hills, historic red brick buildings, and multicolored autumn trees decorate Chatham University's Shadyside campus in Pittsburgh.

ELOTD Accreditation Status

Chatham University’s Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral Degree Program is accredited 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.

View Full Accreditation & Student Outcomes : Checkerboard 8 - ELOTD Accreditation Status
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Location in Pittsburgh

Chatham's location allows for access to a network of resources from surrounding colleges and universities. The many nearby hospitals, clinics, and community agencies offer a wide variety of opportunities for observation and fieldwork experiences. There’s lots of opportunity to network with local OT clinicians through guest lectures and panel discussions.

Photo of two young Chatham University students demonstrating physical therapy techniques.

Support an OT Student

The Class of 2018 created the Joyce Salls Occupational Therapy Student Award, which honors Dr. Salls’s dedication to her students and the field of Occupational Therapy. The purpose of this award is to provide recognition and financial assistance to a deserving occupational therapy student at Chatham University’s School of Health Sciences.

Give Now : Checkerboard 11 - Support an OT Student

Entry Level Occupational Therapy

Do you have questions?

We make it easy to get in touch:

Call Us


Text Us

412-419-3772 (standard text/SMS rates will apply)

Email Us


Request Information

Complete our Request for Information form

Or, answer a few questions and we will be glad to help.

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