Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program at the University of the Incarnate Word is designed to inspire learning and transformational knowledge for competency in clinical practice, administration, advocacy, education, leadership and research. Graduates can expect to have an exciting career working with everyone from newborn babies to the elderly and helping them overcome challenges with performing meaningful activities or “occupations.”


What is Occupational Therapy?

The Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain and Process (4th ed.; AOTA, 2020c) defines occupational therapy as the “therapeutic use of everyday life occupations with persons, groups, or populations (i.e., clients) for the purpose of enhancing or enabling participation. Occupational therapy practitioners use their knowledge of the transactional relationship among the client, their engagement in valuable occupations and the context to design occupation-based intervention plans.

"Occupational therapy services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and promotion of health and wellness for clients with disability- and non-disability-related needs. Services promote acquisition and preservation of occupational identity for those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction” (p. 80).

The University of the Incarnate Word combines high-quality professional education with service to the community and abundant clinical experience. UIW is informed by our Mission and guided by the example of our founders (the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word). Your Journey. Our Mission. That is the UIW motto that should guide you to gain confidence and deepen your commitment to the profession of occupational therapy. As part of a faith-based institution, the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is prepared to guide you in your professional development and personal achievements.

The OTD program was started in 2021, with the first class matriculating in Fall 2023. Classrooms and lab spaces are located at the School of Rehabilitation Sciences located at 9160 Guilbeau Road, San Antonio, TX 78250. There are four designated OTD labs — activities of daily living lab, kinesiology lab, pediatric lab, and an innovation lab — that are specifically designed to develop hands-on skills and provide opportunities for competency training and testing. A full-access library is located onsite with a full-time librarian, as well as counseling and information technology support. Additionally, the School of Rehabilitation Sciences has an outpatient clinic for hands-on student learning. 

The Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree is a terminal degree, or highest-level degree, for clinical practice. The occupational therapy profession has seen a major shift in the granting of OTD degrees in the past five years with many master's programs across the United States and Texas transitioning to offering only the Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree. The OTD degree prepares beyond the level of a generalist practitioner to further expand knowledge and skills as a direct care provider, consultant, educator, manager, leader, researcher and advocate for the profession and consumer.

The UIW OTD program is vested in creating learning opportunities for building social justice through advocacy project(s) by embracing diversity, equity and inclusion. The advocacy project is designed to engage in sociocultural, socioeconomic, diversity factors and lifestyle choices of populations locally or internationally to address occupational justice. Student groups design and carry out an occupation-based program to address the needs of the population. A formal evaluation of outcomes and processes are measured.

The School of Rehabilitation Sciences offers free occupational and physical therapy services for individuals age 13 and older who are not eligible for Medicare benefits. The clinic serves underserved and uninsured members of the community and those who do not have physical or occupational therapy benefits as part of their health insurance coverage or who have exhausted their yearly benefit. Care is provided by students supervised by faculty. Every semester from the beginning of the program, each student spends 7-8 hours in the clinic. Clients are treated by students under the direct supervision of faculty. Students engage in the entire OT process including evaluations and treatment as part of the curriculum beginning the first semester. 

The OTD program at UIW has many opportunities to learn and develop through interprofessional education. The School of Rehabilitation Sciences houses the Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy and the Master of Science in Athletic Training degrees. Across UIW, there is a School of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Nursing, School of Optometry and School of Pharmacy, all of which create additional interprofessional classroom and lab experiences. Fieldwork and capstone experiences develop exposure to other areas of clinical work and research through interdisciplinary practices.

The OTD student will be engaged in three separate Fieldwork I experiences along with a Fieldwork Seminar to develop professional knowledge, attitudes and skills through interprofessional and interprofessional practice areas in healthcare, community, schools and mental health agencies. Fieldwork I seminars enrich classroom learning in simulated environments, standardized patients, faculty practice, faculty-led site visits and/or supervision by a fieldwork educator in a practice environment. Each student is required to complete a minimum of 12 weeks of full-time Fieldwork II experiences in Year 3 of the curriculum.

The OTD student is required to develop an individual capstone project after completion of all didactic coursework and fieldwork experiences. The student is guided toward the capstone project through coursework, capstone courses and support from the Doctoral Capstone Coordinator, faculty mentor and expert mentor. Capstone experiences frequently lead to career opportunities, research endeavors, professional publications and presentations, innovative product development, program development, management, consultation and theory development.

OTD Capstone Manual


OTD students will:

  1. Demonstrate competency in scholarship, lifelong learning, evidence-based practice, occupation-based practice, education and research through advocating for the OT profession and consumers of occupational therapy services.
  2. Discover and define truth in communication and research, mutual understanding, self-realization and the common good through provision as a health and wellness provider within state and federal regulatory guidelines.
  3. Incorporate a global perspective for social justice and occupational justice through inclusion, diversity and equity to maximize health, well-being and quality of life for all people, populations and communities.
  4. Innovate using advanced, evidenced-based, occupation-based clinical skills, technology and expertise to serve the spiritual, physical, mental health and material needs of a diverse population.
  5. Engage in interprofessional and interprofessional education and practice that addresses evidence-based, occupation-based, client-centered and cost-effective healthcare and demonstrates influence in changing policies, environments and complex systems.

OTD students must meet all University requirements for graduation as cited in the Graduate Bulletin. Students must complete all Level II Fieldwork and the Capstone Requirement of the OTD program within 24 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program. Completion of the program from matriculation to graduation must occur within five years or 60 months.

Credentialing: Graduates of the UIW OTD program will be eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for occupational therapists, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

The first eligible take of the national exam for the University of the Incarnate Word’s Doctor of Occupational Therapy students will be in May 2026. Scores will be accessible starting in January 2027 on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) website.

Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification Examination or attain state licensure.

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Learn more about occupational therapy at the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Learn more about occupational therapy at the Texas Occupational Therapy Association (TOTA).

UIW has launched an Entry-Level Doctor of Occupational Therapy clinical doctorate program.

Students in UIW's OTD program will be immersed in a dynamic learning environment with outstanding faculty, amazing labs and classrooms, and be part of a community network that serves the physical, social, wellness and mental health needs of a diverse health and wellness community. Immerse yourself in the interprofessional learning environments across the UIW health professions. Build on your strengths to become a highly qualified professional in occupational therapy.