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Widener University Announces New Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program

Bruce Hall

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will begin in June 2019.

Chester, Pa. –Widener University is proud to announce the launch of the new Doctor of Occupational Therapy program within the School of Human Service Professions. The three-year doctoral program beginning in June 2019 will include hands-on, experiential learning, clinical research, personal faculty mentorship and interdisciplinary collaboration.

Occupational therapy is an expanding profession within the health care field that is expected to grow 24 percent by 2026. Therapists in this field help to improve clients’ abilities to perform tasks associated with daily living.

“The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program will deliver a dynamic and valuable learning experience,” said President Julie E. Wollman. “Our committed faculty will guide students toward professional and personal success through high-quality academics and personal mentorship. Rooted in inter-professional and community-based learning experiences, the program will teach students the necessary skills to become leaders in the occupational therapy field and serve a diverse range of clients.”

The program is designed to be completed in three years as a full-time graduate student. Students who hold a bachelor’s degree in any discipline are eligible to apply. Applications must be submitted online through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS).  Application deadline is Jan. 15, 2019.

“We are thrilled to introduce the Doctor of Occupational Therapy within the School of Human Service Professions,” said Robin Dole, dean of the School of Human Service Professions. “Graduate students will be able to take the next step in their careers with a client-centered and evidence-based curriculum in an interdisciplinary and supportive learning environment. This program will not only allow students to advance their careers but emerge as leaders in the profession.”

Students enrolled in the program will have the opportunity to work across health care disciplines within the university. The program’s inter-professional learning model will foster collaboration with other departments such as physical therapy, social work, human sexuality, nursing and clinical psychology to deepen the students’ understanding of the course work and enable them to provide the best quality care for diverse client populations. Hands-on experiential learning opportunities will be available through doctoral and fieldwork experiences in clinical and inter-professional community settings such as the Widener student-run, pro bono Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic.

In November, the university was awarded a $20,000, grant from the Foundation for Delaware County that will provide necessary resources ahead of the program’s inaugural semester. The grant will equip program classrooms with the furnishings and supplies needed to simulate activities of daily life such as dressing, bathing, laundry and meal preparation.

All inquiries and questions about the program can be directed to Wendy Wachter-Schutz, founding program director for occupational therapy, at 610-499-4372 or

Widener’s entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The program must have a pre-accreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. 


Widener University is a private, metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener comprises seven schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees. Visit the university website,