About the Program

The Occupational Therapy Educational program at MUSC was the first professional, graduate entry-level program in the state of South Carolina. The entry-level OTD is distinguished among the nation’s finest occupational therapy doctoral programs through its commitment to supporting health and participation in life. The program embraces the university’s core values: compassion, collaboration, respect, integrity, and innovation.

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) degree prepares students for lifelong and rewarding careers. Graduates are prepared to improve the quality of life for people who experience difficulties and challenges to everyday living.

Our high-quality program is provided at an academic medical center and the curriculum is rigorous and engaging. Educational technology enhances classroom learning, group work develops professional skills, and experiential learning refines practice skills.

Interprofessional education is a hallmark of the program and involves connections with other health professionals across the campus and in the community. Research shows that working in teams produces better outcomes. Teamwork supports innovation and promotes excellence.

reaching Emily occupational therapy research lab

Beginning in the second year, fieldwork experiences are an integral part of the curriculum and allow opportunities for direct observation and participation in a variety of practice settings and contexts. These experiences help integrate learning from the classroom and lab and enhance capacity for becoming a proficient occupational therapist. We are excited to offer three courses online, Population Health and Visionary Leadership, in the final semester of didactic coursework (semester six) and Professional Seminar (semester eight). Students should have access to personal technology such as a laptop computer, tablet, or PC throughout the duration of the program as well as a working webcam when taking the online courses.

Semesters seven and eight are two full-time 12-week fieldwork rotations at facilities throughout the state and across the country working under the direct supervision of a clinical instructor. The final semester involves a Doctoral Capstone course. The 14-credit capstone course provides an in-depth, customized experience specific to the interests, skills, and professional goals of the occupational therapy student.

Our mission includes education, scholarship, and service. We strive to educate students to become credentialed, entry-level doctoral prepared occupational therapists proficient in the delivery of evidence-based services to individuals, organizations, and populations. We aim to expand our contribution to the body of knowledge of occupational therapy. We embrace community engagement by reaching out and providing services that promote health and participation in life, thereby enhancing quality of life for those who are underserved and whose occupational needs often go unmet.

Our mission includes education, scholarship, and service:

  • We strive to educate students to become credentialed, entry-level doctoral prepared occupational therapists proficient in the delivery of evidence-based services to individuals, organizations, and populations.
  • We aim to expand our contribution to the body of knowledge of occupational therapy.
  • We embrace community engagement by reaching out and providing services that promote health and participation in life, thereby enhancing quality of life for those who are underserved and whose occupational needs often go unmet.

Becoming an occupational therapist who effectively enables the occupational well-being of individuals and societies is a process that requires self-exploration, self-reflection, and practice. We believe that the occupational nature of people drives the framework for the educational program by creating and promoting opportunities for the following:

  • Active participation and quiet reflection.
  • Exploration and mastery of the environment.
  • Respect for all people of the world and their occupational needs.
  • Integration of current trends in learning and technology to meet the needs of the learner.

We believe that life is an unfolding journey and the path we all travel is paved with ongoing opportunities for learning and instruction. Our views on teaching and learning are aligned with the AOTA’s (2017) “Philosophy of Occupational Therapy Education” statement. We acknowledge that learning and teaching are reciprocal in nature and should embrace the qualities of participation, collaboration, and adaptation. Faculty members are committed to serve as professional role models, to respect and inspire our students, and provide them with the best possible learning opportunities. We provide both in-person and virtual (distance) learning environments that are characterized by mutual trust, respect, and acceptance of differences and diversity.

The curriculum of the entry-level OTD program is designed to reflect the mission and philosophy of the institution and program. Our curriculum design is based on the underlying premise that the process of becoming an entry-level doctoral practitioner is like taking a journey. To prepare for entry-level practice in occupational therapy, the journey takes students along a pathway of critical thinking coupled with professional reasoning. For entry-level doctoral practitioners, this also requires active involvement in professional development, leadership, and advocacy for the profession.

There are four reasonably distinct yet connected phases provide the overarching structure for the curriculum design. The four phases support the program’s mission and reflect the philosophy of the profession and nature of education in our professional program. We call the four phases acquisition, application, integration, and innovation and suggest that these four phases show correspondence with each of the three domains of Bloom’s Taxonomy: cognitive, psychomotor and
affective. We show the relationship between the four phases of our curriculum design and the three taxonomic domains; thereby linking the journey to entry-level practice with the increasing complexity of learning that is the hallmark of graduate professional education.

Our program is designed around four primary content areas or curriculum threads: evidence-based practice, community-engagement, interprofessionalism, and leadership. These curriculum threads are integrated within each of the four learning phases of acquisition, application, integration, and innovation. The threads are the strengths of our program and define the context in which course content is taught. They are embedded in the curriculum design and contribute to the educational goals (student learning outcomes) of the program.