Apply to Duke OTD

Applications will open on Thursday, July 16, 2020. 

The Duke OTD program will welcome 28 students into its inaugural August 2021 cohort. We are seeking a wide representation of disciplinary backgrounds; therefore, Bachelor degrees in any field are welcome with an overall GPA of a B or above.

To make the application process as accessible and cost-effective as possible, neither the GRE nor prescribed pre-requisite courses are required. The application and interview process will, however, be rigorous. Applicants will need to demonstrate the knowledge, self-reflection, motivation, and interpersonal maturity necessary for success in a rigorous curriculum and for leadership in helping people access and participate in everyday occupations.

How To Apply

Create an OTCAS Account
The Duke OTD admissions process will be managed through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). If you are using OTCAS to apply to other programs, please note that Duke has specific requirements for the Letters of Recommendation and for Pre-requisites. Only those applications that follow the Duke-specific instructions will be considered complete in OTCAS.

Click here to apply. Email with any questions.

Request Three Letters of Recommendation
We recommend that you consider people who have enough experience with you that they can give concrete examples of how you demonstrate traits like critical thinking, emotional regulation, working with people from diverse backgrounds, or working in teams. The Duke application requires three letters: one from someone who has worked with you in each of the following contexts:

  • 1 from an academic reference
  • 1 from a work or internship supervisor
  • 1 from a volunteer organization or community context with whom you have had an association (should be different from the supervisor letter of recommendation)

NOTE: Each recommender will need to address the Duke-specific prompt for their narrative. The prompt is available on OTCAS and it is your responsibility to send it to each recommender. Generic letters of recommendation that do not address the Duke prompt will render the application incomplete.

Request Your Transcripts
Request transcripts through OTCAS from all colleges and universities you have attended, whether or not your studies resulted in a degree. You can upload official transcripts that include courses still in progress but if you are admitted to the program, you will need to request official final transcripts be sent by the institution directly to Duke University Occupational Therapy Doctorate Division.

Complete the Pre-requisite Questionaire
While there are no prescribed pre-requisite courses, you will need to demonstrate knowledge in eight pre-requisite knowledge domains that are foundational to studying occupational therapy. These domains are available in OTCAS. For each pre-requisite knowledge domain, you will need to identify the undergraduate courses and the learning activities that you completed. Use only courses that you have completed and passed with a C or better, or are now completing and are not at risk of getting below a C for the final grade.

An example of how to complete the pre-requisite questionnaire is provided in OTCAS.

Write the Duke-specific Essay
You will find instructions for the essay in OTCAS. This essay relates directly to the vision, mission, core commitments, and knowledge domains of the OTD curriculum. The essay will be evaluated on the depth of thought and insight and on the clarity of the writing. We recommend completing multiple drafts before uploading.

Write the OTCAS Essay
We will use this essay to learn how you see the relationships between your career choice and who you are as a person. The essay will again be evaluated on the depth of thought and insight and on the clarity of writing.

• Applications open Thursday, July 16, 2020
• Applications close January 4, 2021
• Interviews (by invitation) will be held mid-February to early April 2021
• Notifications of admissions will be sent April 16, 2021 (This date is determined by our accreditation process timeline)

The review process will begin as soon as applications are verified in OTCAS and deemed complete. Verification can take several weeks after submission.

Information Sessions
Please join us for one of our 2020 virtual information sessions. We will hold sessions from 2:00–3:00 p.m., (EDT) on
• Monday, August 31, 2020
• Monday, September 28, 2020
• Monday, October 26, 2020

Please register for an Information Session here.

Financial Aid
The Duke OTD intends to offer a limited number of graduate assistantships and will continue to develop resources to support students as the program grows. We will work with students to identify additional sources for financial assistance.

The College Foundation of North Carolina provides financial assistance to qualified students.

The Duke School of Medicine Financial Aid website has additional support and information.

Tuition and Fees
Tuition for the 2021-2022 academic year will be $42,000. Please note tuition, fees, and living allowance amounts are Board of Trustees mandated and subject to change.

The OTD program is a three-year, full-time program. Our costs are competitive with other doctoral-level programs at similar institutions.

Tuition is due in three equal parts throughout each program year.

The below fees are also required:

  • $2,000 technology fee in years one and two
  • $1,000 laboratory fee in year one
  • $600 First Year Fee
  • $1,160 Student Health Fee (yearly)
  • $37 Graduate Student Activity Fee (Fall and Spring)
  • $20 Graduate Student Services Fee (yearly)
  • $162.75 Recreation Fee (yearly)
  • $3,605 Health Insurance (yearly, if purchased through Duke)

These fees help cover the cost of an encrypted laptop and tablet, preloaded with the required software, on-site technical support, anatomy instruction, background checks, CPR, First Aid certification, drug screening, parking, and building access.

The cost of living in central North Carolina is very reasonable.

Learn more about living in Durham here.

The Duke University Office of Financial Aid estimates that the cost of food and rent, including utilities, for a graduate student in Durham is approximately $25,320 a year.

Review the Required Technical Standards for Admissions
All candidates for the School of Medicine (SOM) must possess the ability to learn, integrate, analyze, and synthesize data. They must have use of the senses of vision, hearing, equilibrium, or an intermediary as determined by each individual program and the disability office. Candidates must have motor function capabilities, physical endurance, and emotional health to meet the specific program’s demands as well as the SOM requirements outlined below which may include extended hours of instruction and time in clinical settings, evenings, nights, and weekends.

The study of medical sciences is not a purely intellectual exercise. Rather, a specific set of minimal physical, mental, emotional, and social abilities are needed to be a successful student. Students must possess all of the abilities described in the five categories below, with or without reasonable accommodations as determined by the Student Disability Access Office  To achieve the optimal educational experience, students are required to participate in all phases of the training program. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the program and/or the Student Disability Access Office early in the application process to discuss accommodation needs. If a student desires an ultimate position in a residency program, they should understand that GME programs and Board Certification may not allow or provide accommodations.

The candidate for a degree from the School of Medicine in the Doctor of Medicine program, Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Occupational Therapy Doctorate program and/or Physician Assistant program must possess the following abilities and skills necessary to successfully complete the curriculum as well as any other technical standards specific to the individual programs:

Observation: Candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in lectures and laboratories. Candidates must be able to evaluate patients accurately and assess their relevant health, behavioral, and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through a comprehensive assessment of patients, correctly interpret clinical data, accurately evaluate patients’ conditions and responses, as well as develop a diagnostic and treatment plan. Vision, hearing, and touch or the functional equivalent are required.

Communication: Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective caregiving of patients, including the ability to communicate effectively and sensitively in English, with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients, and those supporting patients, in person and in writing.  Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately record information and accurately interpret verbal and nonverbal communications.

Motor Functions: Candidates must be able to provide and/or direct the provision of general care and emergency treatment to patients. Candidates must be able to perform routine physical examination and diagnostic maneuvers. A candidate should have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by palpation, auscultation, percussion, and movement of limbs, as well as carry out treatment maneuvers, which may include lifting, transferring of patients, and assisting during ambulation while assuring their own safety as well as the safety of the patient.  Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.

Intellectual–Conceptual, Integrative, and Quantitative-Abilities: Candidates must effectively interpret, assimilate, and understand the complex information required to function within the health professional programs of the SOM. Problem-solving is a critical skill that requires conceptual integrative, and quantitative thinking abilities. The candidates must also be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships, the spatial and functional relationships of structures and to analyze and apply this information for problem solving and decision – making. Candidates must be able to effectively participate in educational activities either online or in-person in individual and small groups in all learning environments. They must have the ability to organize, prioritize, analyze and evaluate detailed and complex information individually, in small groups, in a clinical setting, and within a limited time frame both in person and via remote technology. Candidates must be able to learn, participate, collaborate, and contribute as part of a team.

Behavioral and Social Skills: Candidates must exercise good judgment and promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the diagnosis and care of patients. A candidate must have the emotional health to fully use their intellectual ability, exercise good judgment, and to complete all responsibilities attendant to the evaluation and treatment of patients. They must be honest, able to self-assess own mistakes, respond constructively to feedback, and assume responsibility for maintaining professional behavior. The skills required include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of the uncertainties inherent in the practice of their profession.

A candidate must be able to develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with faculty, patients, families, caregivers, and colleagues. A candidate must be able to tolerate physical and emotional stress, maintain alertness and wakefulness, and continue to function effectively. They must have a high level of compassion for others, motivation to serve, and integrity. They must behave in an ethical and moral manner consistent with professional values and standards. A candidate must possess sufficient interpersonal skills to interact positively and sensitively with all people.

Candidates must be able to satisfy the above requirements with or without reasonable accommodations. For questions about reasonable accommodations, see the Duke Accessibility website.