Occupational Therapy

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About Us

Career opportunities in occupational therapy are steadily increasing. Develop the critical skills you’ll need to join this growing healthcare profession with the fully-accredited Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) from Northern Arizona University.
The accredited Northern Arizona University (NAU) Doctor of Occupational Therapy is the only public and non-profit graduate program in the Southwest United States. 
This intensive Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program features up to six months of fieldwork plus an individualized 16-week residency rotation, designed to prepare for advanced roles in occupational therapy. Upon graduation, you’ll be prepared to work with clients across all stages of life in a wide range of settings. Our graduates are qualified to assume leadership and scholarly roles as occupational therapy professionals.

The OTD program is based on the 30-acre Phoenix Biomedical Campus, where students have access to cutting edge technology, facilities and labs. The urban environment presents numerous opportunities for inter-professional education with other programs on campus, including the NAU Doctor of Physical Therapy program, the Masters of Physician Assistant program, the NAU Master of Athletic Training and the University of Arizona Medical School program.

The Department Chair, Oaklee Rogers, OTD, OTR/L, attributes the success of the program to its “Practice Scholar” model, a model of education that was developed by the founding chair, Dr. Patricia Crist, the founding faculty, and the consultations and engagement with the occupational therapy community. NAU OTD’s Practice Scholar model combines the goal of cultivating highly respected occupational therapy practitioners who are also scholars…. with the ability and interest to establish and lead research and who can translate observed changes from interventions into outcome studies. Our graduates are poised to influence fellow professionals in new and innovative practices that will assist its clients’ development and progress. A practice scholar is not just a user of evidence but creates evidence in their own context.

NAU’s program is known for its emphasis on service learning and community interaction. The program connects with community agencies to give the students experience with people in their natural context. Students see people in their lifelong journey adapting to disability, chronic illness or social conditions so that they can choose strategies that will be meaningful in the long term Examples of this emphasis is serving as one of the primary members of the award-winning and nationally-recognized Community Health Mentor Program (CHMP), where students from various programs learn from their community mentor and from each other. You may also view a sampling of student field experiences by clicking https://vimeo.com/244747395

Our Accreditation  

The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education granted the university permission to accept its first class in fall 2014. At its April 9-10, 2016 meeting, ACOTE reviewed the Report of On-Site Evaluation (ROSE) regarding the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program at Northern Arizona University. All standards were found to be compliant and ACOTE voted to Grant a Status of Accreditation for a period of 7 years.

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx.

Why would a person interested in joining the field would seek the greater commitment of obtaining a doctoral level over a master’s degree? ACOTE has mandated that beginning on July 1, 2027, persons seeking an initial license as an occupational therapist must hold a doctoral level degree. Occupational therapists without a doctoral degree and who are licensed prior to that date are exempt from the requirement. Nonetheless, a doctoral degree is going to be increasingly the norm. Because the NAU OTD program encourages leadership in the field, maintenance of a competitive advantage calls for joining the new norm.

The Field of Occupational Therapy 

As defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association, “The practice of occupational therapy means the therapeutic use of occupations, including everyday life activities with individuals, groups, populations, or organizations to support participation, performance, and function in roles and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings. Occupational therapy services are provided for habilitation, rehabilitation, and the promotion of health and wellness to those who have or are at risk for developing an illness, injury, disease, disorder, condition, impairment, disability, activity limitation, or participation restriction. Occupational therapy addresses the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory-perceptual, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in occupations that affect physical and mental health, well-being, and quality of life.”

The job outlook for occupational therapists in the United States is high, with the employment of occupational therapists projected to grow 24 percent from 2016 to 2026. This growth may be attributed to the growing evidence that occupational therapists positively contributes to improved outcomes.

The field is catching the interest of many. In January 2018, U.S. News & World Report ranked occupational therapy is 11th of the 100 best jobs for 2018. Glassdoor ranked occupational therapy as 4th among the 50 best jobs in America in 2018. In January 2017, MSN Money listed occupational therapy as one of the 25 best jobs in America right now.

The NAU OTD program’s academic and service curriculum reinforces the holistic nature of the field of occupational therapy. Occupational therapists fill an important niche in health care by addressing the whole person, while looking for tools and adaptions of the environment in which that person lives.

Faculty Opportunities with the NAU Occupational Therapy Program in Phoenix, AZ

The expansion of the program presents several opportunities for qualified educators in the field of occupational therapy to join the highly respected NAU OTD faculty.

The program is currently seeking to fill two full-time positions:
Assistant Clinical Professor - The responsibilities of the successful candidate will include teaching courses related to one or more of the following: occupational practice theory and models, mental health, environmental adaption and technology, administration, leadership, and health policy.

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator - The successful candidate will serve as the fieldwork coordinator with primary responsibility to design, implement, manage and evaluate Level I and Level II fieldwork education for the entry-level doctoral program. Preparation of fieldwork educators to integrate the curriculum model; oversee student transformation into entry-level practice-scholars and successfully meet fieldwork education accreditation standards. Additional responsibilities include teaching as well as creating and disseminating practice-oriented scholarly products.

Other expectations for both positions include student advisement, and service to the department, college, university, and profession.
Qualified persons interested in changing possibilities into realities may apply at: https://nau.edu/human-resources/careers/

Northern Arizona University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer. Minorities, Women, Persons with Disabilities, and Veterans are encouraged to apply.


Northern Arizona University Department of Occupational Therapy has been approved to accept students through the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). This program permits students from Alaska, Hawaii, Montana, Wyoming and Nevada to attend graduate school with a “support fee” to reduce the cost of the non-resident rate. The PSEP is funded by their home states to encourage their citizens to pursue advanced degrees in occupational therapy. We warmly welcome students from those states to consider attending our accredited doctoral program. For more information, visit WICHE PSEP.