This posting is based on personal experience and knowledge from attending USC’s OTD program. Thanks to S for sending the questions!
Q. How competitive is to be admitted into the OTD program?
A. As someone who went from MA from gram to OTD program right away, I would say it was not as competitive as getting into the master’s program. They have really promoted the program from early on and the students probably had more opportunities to explore residency and scholarships opportunity more than none-students. I also heard about few cases who got accepted close to the beginning of the program, or got conditional admission. Overall, if you want to get in it’s definitely worth a shot.
Q. What are the chances to receive a scholarship? Is it related to any specific track?
A. It is related to your residence more than a specific track. But in general, there are more paid residency in Clinical track than any other tracks. The OT Division at USC offers few residency than provides scholarship – the amount varies each year but some opportunities covers about 50% of the tuition. The Division also have some list of previous residency sites you can try contact.
If you have your license, you may find a residency that pays you to work as an occupational therapist and attend school at the same time (this is where it gets more complicated for international students but it is possible). In this situation, many OTD student get hired at the same organization after graduation.
Q. What tracks are there?
A. In case of USC, there are four tracks: Advanced Clinical Practice, Clinical Research, Policy and Administration, and Pedagogy (teaching) track. Main difference in each track is the focus of the residency. You can find more details here: http://chan.usc.edu/academics/otd
what tracks are there?
Q. What are the requirement for graduation?
A. Other than course requirement and residency requirement that you do over the program, you are also required to complete a portfolio and final presentation. The core courses helps you to prepare and complete the requirements. More details can be found here: http://chan.usc.edu/academics/otd/curriculum-and-requirements
Q. How was it? Was it difficult?
A. It was a busy year but I would not say that it was difficult. The main thing that made it relatively easier for me was to have supportive residency supervisor, faculty mentor, colleagues, and other OTD students.
The main challenge was time management – it would be more difficult if you are doing paid residency off-campus or from distance through internet. You may have to work on the weekends to meet the productivity requirements as a full time therapists, unless adjusted in advance. Some electives may have more demanding than others or have time conflicts.