Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy

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Vision Statement

The PhD in Occupational Therapy is primarily a research degree that prepares occupational therapists for advanced scholarly careers in academia and practice.  At the completion of the PhD program in Occupational Therapy, the graduate will have demonstrated the ability to contribute new or expanded knowledge, skills, and attitudes to the discipline/practice of occupational therapy, as evidenced by publications in peer reviewed journals, and national presentations at peer reviewed professional conferences.  The graduate will have demonstrated competency in the development and completion of a program of research that is judged to be consistent with performance expected for the degree by internal and external reviewers.

Graduates of the TWU PhD/OT program will have acquired the level of knowledge and the ability to demonstrate the performance competencies that are consistent with program’s vision statement.

Knowledge – Graduates of the program will be:

  • Firmly grounded in the theories of occupation that form the core concepts and assumptions of OT practice.
  • Well-schooled in research method and analysis that is applicable to everyday practice.
  • Able to apply sound andragogy within educational contexts.

Performance Competencies – Graduates of the program will have successfully:

  • Used occupation-based theory to conduct research that translates the results directly into the everyday practice
    of occupational therapy.
  • Participated with mentor in the development and submission of a grant and/or research proposal.
  • Initiated the development/evolution of a collaborative research network.
  • Presented and/or co-presented with mentor on research findings – professional conferences.
  • Developed and submitted manuscripts on research findings – may be co-authored with mentor and research committee.
  • Taught/co-taught in a graduate course, professional workshop, or other venue as approved by mentor.


Total semester credit hours required

The PhD degree plan must include a minimum of 90 semester credit hours of masters/doctoral level coursework beyond the bachelor’s degree. Coursework that was completed as part of a related master’s or doctoral degree may (with approval) be applied to the Ph.D. degree plan (maximum of 45 semester credit hours). TWU PhD coursework (including dissertation) that is included on the Ph.D. degree plan must be completed within 10 years of the first completed course as a TWU PhD student. In addition, more than 50% of the semester credit hours included on the TWU PhD degree plan must be awarded at TWU.

Pre-dissertation Course Work

The student coordinates all initial enrollment through the PhD coordinator.  All PhD degree plans are individualized and should be finalized during the fall semester of 2nd year course work. The student must complete all Research Tool coursework identified on the student’s degree plan before the semester in which the student sits for the qualifying exam. The student must complete all coursework identified as a Required Course on the student’s degree plan by the close of the semester in which the student sits for the qualifying exam.

Qualifying Examination

The overall purpose of the PhD qualifying exam is to 1) stimulate the student’s synthesis of knowledge, 2) evaluate the student’s progress in acquiring necessary knowledge and skills at the PhD level, and 3) evaluate the student’s potential to be successful in conducting dissertation level research. Students must satisfactorily complete the qualifying examination before they are eligible to become a doctoral candidate and enroll in dissertation course work. Students may petition to sit for the examination in the fall or spring semester preceding the exam. The exam is offered twice a year. Dependent on the recommendation of the student's Qualifying Exam Committee the qualifying examination may be repeated once.

Dissertation Final Examination

PhD candidates must demonstrate successful completion and oral defense of their dissertation research proposal. Dependent on the recommendation of the student's Research Committee, the proposal defense may be repeated once.

Doctoral candidates must demonstrate successful completion and oral defense of their dissertation project. Dependent on the recommendation of the student's Research Committee, the dissertation defense may be repeated once.

Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program of Study (90 semester credit hours)

The organized class courses are offered in a blended format with both online and face-to-face learning. Face-to-face seminars occur at the beginning and end of each Fall/Spring semester, and once in Summer.

Knowledge Base
OT 6223Theory and Knowledge Development in Occupational Therapy3
OT 6243Learning Designs for Occupational Therapy Knowledge3
OT 6353Neuroscience Applications: Occupational Therapy and Adaptation3
OT 6343Theory of Occupational Adaptation3
OT 6333Occupation in Context3
Research Tools
OT 6553Applied Research Design and Methods3
OT 6363Statistical Analysis in Occupational Therapy3
OT 6643Advanced Qualitative Methods in Occupational Therapy3
OT 6623Instrumentation for Measuring Occupational Performance3
Academic Advisory Committee approved elective in Advanced Quantitative Analysis 3
Select 6 semester credit hours from the following:
Scholarly Writing in Occupational Therapy
Advanced Qualitative Methods in Occupational Therapy
Current Issues and Trends in Occupational Therapy
Grant Writing in Occupational Therapy
Teaching Practicum in Occupational Therapy
Independent Study (Requires Academic Advisory Committee approval. Outside Electives may be included in degree plan under advisement of Research Mentor. Students are encouraged to take advantage of graduate coursework outside of TWU and/or OT to broaden/strengthen his or her program of study.)
Qualifying Examination
OT 6563Programmatic Research Planning (Required)3
OT 6983Dissertation (Repeated through semester of successful proposal defense)3
OT 6993Dissertation (Repeated through semester of successful final defense)3