Doctor of Occupational Therapy Curriculum

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy is a 2.75-year full-time program over eight semesters. The OTD Program is designed as a dynamic and developmental framework, rooted in constructivism and transformative learning principles. Our innovative curriculum is structured across three integral levels: Foundations, Occupational Therapy (OT) Process, and Experiential Learning. At the Foundations Level, students learn the fundamental principles that support occupational therapy, establishing a robust knowledge base essential for advanced practice. The OT Process Level examines the intricacies of clinical/professional reasoning, assessment, and intervention strategies, fostering the application of theoretical concepts to real-world scenarios. Finally, the Experiential Learning Level provides students with immersive opportunities to synthesize their knowledge and skills in diverse settings, cultivating the transformation of theoretical understanding into proficient, person-centered practice. This developmental approach not only equips students with the requisite skills but also encourages a reflective and adaptive mindset crucial for the evolving landscape of occupational therapy.

Our Program Philosophy

We believe all people and communities have a right to meaningful participation in occupations that promote health and well-being. Occupational therapy provides a powerful and multidimensional lens to capture diverse human experiences, allowing practitioners to create solutions for engagement in everyday occupations.

The University of New Haven Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program is dedicated to preparing compassionate, competent occupational therapists who advance cultural humility and can profoundly impact the lives of individuals and communities. Our program philosophy is rooted in holistic person-centered care, evidence-based practice, cultural competency, and a commitment to service, reflecting our belief in the transformative power of occupational therapy.

Our Teaching and Learning Philosophy

Our Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program is dedicated to creating a dynamic learning environment rooted in constructivist (Von Glasersfeld, 1995) and transformative learning (Mezirow, 2000). These approaches emphasize active engagement, critical reflection, and personal growth to equip students for success in the evolving field of occupational therapy.

Constructivist Learning:
  • Active Engagement: We foster an interactive learning environment, encouraging questions, exploration, and meaningful discussions.
  • Prior Knowledge: Valuing diverse backgrounds, we connect new information to students' existing understanding.
  • Collaborative Learning: Collaboration is central; students work together to solve problems and learn from diverse perspectives.
  • Authentic Contexts: Emphasis on real-world application through case studies, fieldwork, and practical experiences.
Transformative Learning:
  • Critical Reflection: Students critically reflect on assumptions, beliefs, and values, challenging preconceived notions.
  • Diverse Perspectives: Exposure to diverse viewpoints is essential, creating a community that celebrates diversity.
  • Experiential Learning: Transformation occurs through direct experience; students confront challenges and learn from successes and disappointments.
  • Self-Directed Learning: Empowering students to take ownership of their educational journey by setting goals and seeking resources.

Our program integrates constructivist and transformative learning, offering a holistic educational experience. Faculty serve as facilitators, guiding students toward becoming competent and reflective occupational therapists. Learning extends beyond the classroom into clinical practice, research, and community engagement. This integrated approach prepares students to adapt to healthcare changes, provide person-centered care, and advocate for social justice. We are committed to nurturing an empowering learning environment, fostering personal and professional transformation in aspiring occupational therapists dedicated to positively impacting individuals and communities.

Method of Delivery

Our curriculum delivery method combines the strengths of online learning activities with face-to-face professional skill development to offer a comprehensive and flexible educational experience.

Through our hybrid model, students will engage in interactive online modules that cover theoretical foundations, case studies, and discussions, providing a convenient and accessible way to acquire essential knowledge. This online component allows for self-paced learning, accommodating various learning styles and schedules.

Complementing the online component, face-to-face sessions focus on hands-on professional skill development. These in-person sessions, led by experienced faculty and practitioners, offer a collaborative and immersive environment where students can apply theoretical concepts to real-world scenarios. These sessions may include hands-on activities, simulations, and supervised clinical experiences, ensuring that students develop the practical skills necessary for success in their future occupational therapy careers.

This hybrid approach maximizes the benefits of both online and face-to-face learning, creating a well-rounded educational experience that prepares students for the dynamic challenges of the field. It allows for flexibility in learning while ensuring that students receive hands-on training crucial for becoming proficient occupational therapy practitioners.

Program Learning Objectives (PLOs)

To advance our program’s mission and achieve our vision, the following Program Learning Objectives (PLO’s) are threaded throughout the curriculum:

UNH OTD graduates will demonstrate competency in:

  • PLO #1: Synthesis and integration of concepts related to occupation, health, and participation, enabling them to provide holistic and person-centered interventions in diverse settings.
  • PLO #2: Interprofessional practice and collaboration, equipping them to engage effectively in teams and contribute to comprehensive, person-centered care.
  • PLO #3: Community-based practice, through the ability to design, implement, and evaluate occupation-centered interventions that promote health, well-being, and participation in diverse community settings.
  • PLO #4: Leadership and advocacy, enabling them to advocate for the profession, influence policy, and assume leadership roles within healthcare and community settings.
Our Curricular Threads:

To meet the Program Learning Objectives, the following curricular threads are woven throughout the program:

  1. Occupation, Health & Participation: Occupation, health, and participation are interconnected concepts that occupational therapists consider when working with individuals to improve their overall well-being. Occupational therapy aims to enable individuals to participate in meaningful occupations that contribute to their health and overall quality of life.
  2. Interprofessional Collaboration: Students will engage in interdisciplinary activities and coursework to prepare them for working alongside other healthcare professionals.
  3. Community-Based Practice: Community-based practice involves coursework and fieldwork experiences that prepare students to work with clients in traditional and non-traditional community settings.
  4. Leadership and Advocacy: Coursework will focus on leadership development and opportunities for students to engage in advocacy efforts.


Von Glasersfeld, E. (1995). Constructivism in education. In L. Steffe & J. Gale (Ed.), A constructivist approach to teaching (pp. 3–16). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Mezirow, J. (2000). Learning as transformation: Critical perspectives on a theory in progress. Jossey-Bass.