Utah Tech University to begin offering Occupational Therapy Doctorate this fall

Paving the way for Utah Tech University to offer its first doctoral degree, the institution has gained approval to begin offering a clinical doctorate in occupational therapy in the Fall 2024 semester.

“The Occupational Therapy Doctorate offers students the opportunity to engage in research, specialized clinical training and leadership development, positioning the university as a contributor to the advancement of healthcare in both the academic and clinical fields,” Dr. Eliezer Bermudez, dean of Utah Tech’s College of Health Sciences, said.

UT’s occupational therapy program will accept students with bachelor’s degrees and prepare them to use therapeutic interventions to help clients adapt to injury, illness or disability. The priority deadline for application is March 1, 2024, with a final deadline of May 1, 2024.

Students will participate in a wide variety of learning activities and training opportunities to learn how to help clients who are limited by physical, cognitive, psychosocial, developmental and environmental conditions maximize their independence and maintain optimum health and well-being.

“Utah Tech’s Occupational Therapy doctoral program embraces a collaborative and inclusive active-learning environment, which utilizes a polytechnic approach in preparing students to meet the diverse occupational and healthcare needs of the community,” Dr. Sheila Longpré, the program director, said. “Incorporating coursework that focuses on evidence-based practice, the program aims to develop future leaders who are competent, confident and effective agents of change to meet the evolving needs of clients and the profession.”

By training students to be occupation therapists, the program will help meet regional workforce demand. There is an annual projected job opening rate of 9,600 positions between 2022 to 2032 for occupational therapists with a 12 percent expected growth rate on the national scale, which is much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The addition of a clinical doctorate in occupational therapy is in line with Utah Tech’s mission to prepare students to enter in-demand career fields such as healthcare through hands-on training. The program would be a unique addition to the health science programs already available at UT, including Dental Hygiene, Nursing, Emergency Medical Services, Exercise Science, Medical Laboratory Science, Medical Radiography, Physical Therapist Assistant, Health Administration, Respiratory Therapy, Surgical Technology, Population Health, Recreation & Sport Management, Health & Human Performance, and Master of Athletic Training.

“The establishment of a Doctor of Occupational Therapy program at Utah Tech University signifies a commitment to advancing the field of occupational therapy within the region,” Dr. Bermudez said. “This program is crucial in elevating the expertise of healthcare professionals, contributing to occupational therapy practice and addressing the evolving healthcare needs of diverse populations and the region.”

To apply or learn more about Utah Tech University’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate, which is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities and the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education, click here.