Applying to the OTD program is a two-step process:

1) Apply to the Graduate College. 

2) Apply to the OTD program through the Centralized Application Service for Occupational Therapy (OTCAS).

  1. Choose Northern Arizona University as your school. Incomplete applications and applications submitted after the deadline will not be considered.  Applicants are encouraged to take advantage of the academic update window to update their grades.
  2. Sign up to receive updates regarding development of the program and any modifications to the university’s OTCAS application.

Additional application materials and requirements 

  1. Two letters of recommendation
  • One letter from a licensed occupational therapist who can attest to applicant’s potential as a graduate student and future practitioner in the following areas:
    • Communication skills, interpersonal relationship abilities and emerging leadership skills
    • Potential to engage in positive, caring communication interactions with individuals typically served by occupational therapy accumulated during the past two years
    • Demonstrated self-motivation and maturity to become a leading occupational therapy practitioner
    • Basic understanding and alignment with occupational therapy practice and its contribution to health care and quality of life
    • Demonstrated professional, mature presentation and demeanor across all interactions and observations
  • One letter from a person in a position of authority with whom you have worked and who can attest to your ability to:
    • Complete rigorous long-term endeavors, such as one will find in graduate student studies
    • Write and communicate in a mature, responsible, inquisitive manner
    • Demonstrate self-responsibility as a learner
    • Be motivated as a learner and/or engage in learning processes
    • Collaborate or partner effectively with peers in course related activities
  1. Documentation of volunteer or paid experiences involving direct contact with individuals who are representative of individuals who will be seen in future occupational therapy practice:
  • Forty hours observing two different occupational therapists each practicing in a different type of settings with different age-groups (minimum of 20 hours in each setting). Possible sources of referrals of observation hours include your state occupational therapy associations, your pre-health faculty in your undergraduate degree, medical professionals, and providers of occupational therapy services, e.g., assisted living, schools and medical facilities. You are encouraged to do this no later than two months before the application deadline.
  • Forty hours in at least two different community settings (agencies, programs, camps, etc.) serving vulnerable, disabled or disadvantaged individuals or populations that address health, rehabilitation , disability, quality of life or community issues or sustainability initiatives.

While the program does not require a specific form for documenting hours, we do require evidence of hours.  That documentation needs to be uploaded into OTCAS. 

  1. Information indicating experience and participation in any of the following:
  • Leadership in extracurricular and community activities
  • Prior education, work experience, honors, awards or service
  • Extended caretaking or sibling experience for individual with a disability and/or chronic condition
  • Demonstration of excellent writing and communication skills in the application narrative and throughout the admission process.


    The final stage of the application process is a mandatory on-campus interview. Individuals are invited for interviews based on:

    • All information submitted through OTCAS
    • Completion of a separate application to the NAU Graduate School
    • Overall prerequisite coursework progress and grade point averages

    You must meet the minimum requirements to be considered for an interview. However, because of the significant competition for admission, meeting these minimums does not guarantee you will be invited for an interview or admitted to the program.

    Arizona residents are given some preference over non-Arizona residents when determining who is invited for an interview. On-campus interview invitations will be sent via e-mail to applicants. Interviews are half-day obligations that will be held on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Virtual interviews because of distance of travel to Phoenix, Arizona, are not available.

    TOEFL Scores 

    Students who present transcripts for courses or degrees earned from non-English-speaking universities or whose official native language is not English will need to present their results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

    The University requires a minimum TOEFL score of 80 on the Internet-based test, 213 on the computer-based test, or 550 on the paper-based test. The TOEFL is waived for applicants who earned a bachelor's degree from a U.S. university. The minimum International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score is 7.0.

    Criminal Background Check 

    Successful candidates must have and maintain the statutory requirements that will be needed for licensure.  While requirements vary from state to state, NAU OTD requires that students meet background requirements of the State of Arizona.  This is because of the extensive fieldwork experiential component in Arizona. 

    Arizona Revised Statutes states that in order to be licensed the individual must: “be of good moral character” and be eligible to legally work in the U.S. provides the definition of “good moral character”.  The section states, ‘Good Moral Character’ means “an applicant has not been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor within 5 years before application and never been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. “

    Facilities to which a student may be assigned may require additional background checks.

    Also, students with a criminal background should check with the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy before applying to the OTD program to see if they are eligible to be certified as an occupational therapist.  It is important to note that individuals with a felony conviction may not be able to sit for the national certification exam and will therefore not be credentialed.