Curriculum Outline

In your investigations, you will find that programs are sometimes organized by lifespan categories such as pediatrics, adults, and older adults. Sometimes programs are organized by sub-specialties of the field such as orthopedics, neuro, hands, and wellness. You will also see programs structured by settings such as school-based practice, community-based practice, medical model practice. Rather than sub-specialties or lifespan, the Duke OTD program of study is organized according to the enduring ideas of the profession. These are the threads that run throughout all practice areas.

In year one, you will learn why occupation is considered a mechanism of health and various models that guide expert thinking about occupation. Learning will range from the geopolitical factors that influence occupation all the way down to specific body functions that can influence occupation. Then you will learn ways that occupation can be disrupted by events such as acquired disability, stigma, bullying, life transitions, natural disasters, and poorly designed environments. Throughout the entire program of study, you will learn how expert occupational therapists think about, talk to people about, watch people doing occupations, how they analyze what they hear and see, and how they collaborate with clients to create goals. You learn the skills expert occupational therapists use to enable access and participation in occupation. These skills include coaching, adapting, consulting, educating, and designing. Taken together, the skills you learn in Year One constitute the occupational therapy process.

In year two, you learn how expert occupational therapists use the occupational therapy process to impact occupation through interventions targeting groups, organizations, and communities. These skills include creating education programs, conducting program evaluations, designing programs, conducting research. Also in Year Two, you have opportunity to customize your program of study through Advanced Practice Courses and Electives.

Year three includes your culminating practices experiences. These include two 12-week Level II Fieldwork experiences and one 14-week Capstone experience.


Year 1

18 weeks

Year 2

Year 3