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 32 months—two terms 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.
Degrees Offered
  • Doctorate
  • OT
Program School
Application Deadline

February 1

Applications must be e-submitted to OTCAS by February 1st. It is strongly recommended that applicants complete their application including submission of recommendations and transcripts by January 15th. Additional information can be found in the Admission Requirements section below.

Credits Required

117 (8 terms)

This full-time cohort program begins each fall and is completed in only 32 months, just two terms past what is required for a master’s degree.

Cost Per Term


Cost consists of program tuition (cost per term times number of terms) as well as any applicable University and degree-specific fees. Students are subject to two tuition increases. Additional details regarding fees can be found here

Did you know?


Chatham University’s entry-level OTD program has been granted Pre-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.

Due to the impact of COVID-19, several requirements have been updated for the 2021-2022 application cycle and are noted in the “Admission Requirements” section below.

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 2022 Admission

Application Deadline: February 1*
Virtual Admission Interview Date: Saturday, February 12, 2022 (by invitation only)

In order to be eligible for invite to the admission interview:

  1. 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.
  2. Applications must be e-submitted to OTCAS by February 1*.
  3. Applications must be complete and include all other Chatham admission requirements as noted below by February 1*.

*It is highly recommended that you submit your application to OTCAS on or before January 15. 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.
2021-22 CYCLE UPDATE: A "Pass" or “Satisfactory” grade for prerequisites will be accepted for coursework completed during the Spring 2021 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.
  • A minimum of ten hours of OT shadowing at two different occupational therapy settings (20 hours total) included in the OTCAS application. Please note that verification of this shadowing is not required. Examples of different settings include:
    • Acute Care/Hospital
    • Long Term Care/Skilled Nursing Facility
    • Acute/Sub-acute Rehabilitation
    • Outpatient clinics
    • Home Health 
    • Schools /Preschool/Early Intervention
    • Mental Health settings 
2021-22 CYCLE UPDATE: We understand shadowing hours may not be accessible due to COVID-19 and are advising affected students to develop insight into the OT profession through alternative ways: interview two OTs from two different settings (may be virtual) or research two OT settings via the American Occupational Therapy Association website. (A combination of research in one practice area and an interview in another practice area is also acceptable.) Students will not be required to verify their interview or research experiences.

  • Three letters of reference included in the OTCAS application: one academic (faculty or advisor), one OTR involved in shadowing experience, and one supervisor or staff member of a volunteer or work experience.

2021-22 CYCLE UPDATE: Students unable to obtain an OTR reference may instead supply one additional reference from either an academic (faculty or advisor) source or from a supervisor or staff member of a volunteer or work experience.

  • Attendance at virtual interview.

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 2021-2022 academic year: Allegheny College, Baldwin Wallace University, Grove City College, Penn State Mont Alto, Washington and Jefferson College, and Waynesburg University. 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
Woodland Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15232
Fax: 412-365-1609
Email Admissions

Admitted Student Profile

For students beginning Fall 2021:

Numbered Enrolled:  40
Average Overall GPA: 3.54 
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.68 
Average Age: 24
Out-of-State Residents:   37%

For students beginning Fall 2020:

Numbered Enrolled:  39
Average Overall GPA: 3.57 
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.6 
Average Age: 23
Out-of-State Residents:   46%

 For students beginning Fall 2019:

Numbered Enrolled:  40
Average Overall GPA: 3.55 
Average Prerequisite GPA: 3.65 
Average Age: 24
Out-of-State Residents:   50%

OTH622: Occupational Performance in Children and Adolescents

This course addresses the occupational development of children and adolescents, and the interrelationship between the child, occupation, and the environment on occupational performance and participation. Students learn theories and conceptual models of practice used in pediatric OT, and the evaluation and intervention process as practiced in a variety of settings (community, hospitals, schools, etc). Influence of the family, environment, and sociocultural factors on the developing child and the OT process is explored.

OTH 632: Environmental Interventions

Students learn principles of assistive technology practice and the occupational therapist’s role on the assistive technology team. Students explore and critique technology resources, assess environments, and apply information to evaluation and treatment. The impact of environmental interventions on the consumer’s ability to engage in meaningful occupations is discussed and analyzed.

OTH644: Community Based Fieldwork & Seminar

This community-based fieldwork experience emphasizes higher level management and leadership skills, including program development, advocacy, and consultation. Students learn about community agencies, population and organizational needs, and apply their knowledge to conceptualize, plan, implement, and evaluate a unique program in a community-based agency.

OTH 790: Doctoral Capstone Experience

This Doctoral Capstone Experience is designed to provide exposure in one or more of the following areas: clinical practice, research, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education or theory development. The experiential component will be a minimum of 14 full-time weeks in length.  Development of individualized learning objectives and evaluation of student performance occurs in collaboration with the student, faculty Doctoral Project mentor and mentor in the practice setting with expertise consistent with the student’s area of focus.

View Full Curriculum

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

Our Faculty

Chatham’s OTD faculty members bring a wealth of clinical experience as well as teaching experience in a range of practice settings.

Full Faculty
Photo of Kim Kivlan
Program Assistant for the OT Program & Academic Fieldwork Assistant
Photo of an instructor and female student on the floor, interacting with a small child looking at a picture book

Our Vision

The vision of the ELOTD at Chatham is to cultivate personal and professional growth as globally-minded citizens and as leaders in healthcare. At its core, the program promotes sustainable health and wellness for all persons, communities and populations.

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.

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

ELOTD Accreditation Status

Chatham’s Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctoral Degree Program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Pre-accreditation Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. 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 5 - 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 7 - Support an OT Student
Redbrick academic buildings on Chatham University's Shadyside campus are framed by colorful budding trees and green grass.

MOT Accreditation Status

The Master’s-Degree-Level Occupational Therapy Program at Chatham University has been accredited for a period of 10 years from academic year 2018/2019 to 2028/2029 by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE's telephone number is 301-652-AOTA and their website is here.

View Full Accreditation & Student Outcomes : Checkerboard 10 - MOT Accreditation Status

Intergenerational Living Partnership with Vincentian Schenley Gardens

Experimenting with intergenerational living—housing arrangements that go out of their way to mix older and younger people—has been happening for years around the world, with benefits to young and old. For older individuals, regular social interaction improves overall health, creates cognitive stimulation, and may be associated with lower levels of an inflammatory factor implicated in age-related disorders like Alzheimer’s, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers. For younger individuals, the opportunity can help alleviate financial stress, expand educational experience, and provide mentorship. 

Photo of three Chatham University students examining a classroom skeleton's chest.

A Strong Reputation

Chatham's School of Health Sciences has developed a strong reputation for its sought-after healthcare professionals. From advanced degrees to opportunities for increased leadership, our graduates build upon their careers ready to contribute to improving the quality of care in their organizations.

Photo of two women playing with a young girl blowing bubbles in front of colorful mural of hand prints.

Making an Impact in Ecuador

For many of the School of Health Sciences students, it would be their first time treating patients in such a context—navigating different cultures, different specialties, even different words. And if that weren’t novelty enough, they’d be doing it in Ibarra, Ecuador.

Photo of a nurse in green scrubs leaning over a patient laying on a table. She is measuring their pulse with a stethoscope.

Faculty Expertise

Students benefit from the breadth of faculty expertise found in Chatham’s OTD program: biomechanics, community-based practice, evidence-based practice, geriatrics/skilled nursing, gerontology, holistic practice, home care, leadership, mental health, neuroscience, pediatrics, rehab management, school-based practice, sensory integration, and spinal cord.