Occupational Therapy Program FAQ

Interested in learning more about Occupational Therapy and the UW-Madison Occupational Therapy Program? Request more information here:


Also, check out our most recent webinar to hear from our Admission Coordinator, Program Director, and current students answering prospective student questions about the program.


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Q: Would you say that you put more emphasis on clinical work or research in the doctorate of occupational therapy program?

A: First and foremost, we are training clinicians. The OT Program at UW-Madison is unique in that it places a strong emphasis on both clinical practice and research. Upon graduating, students are well prepared to scrutinize evidence and make decisions in practice based on the strongest evidence available. Students are also prepared to provide evidence-based clinical interventions, in addition to learning about considerations in practice through additional coursework, hands-on experience in research and clinical labs, and extensive program opportunities.

Q: How does this program aim to educate future clinicians on working with diverse populations, and how does the curriculum and fieldwork experiences help promote culturally sensitive practice?

A: One of the curricular values of the new entry-level OTD Program is culturally responsive care. All coursework and research labs will incorporate this value. Students will have the opportunity to engage in research and learning opportunities focused on culturally responsive care, equity and social justice. Fieldwork and learning opportunities are available in traditional settings, and in community-based sites. Many of the community-based sites especially include opportunities to work with clients with diverse backgrounds and life experiences.

Q: Do you have further information on the clinical rotations/sites or any links that you could provide?

A: OTD students complete three Level I clinical rotations, and two Level II clinical rotations. Level I rotations are 40 hours, and Level II rotations are 12 weeks. UW-Madison has over 100 fieldwork contracts at sites located in Wisconsin and across the U.S.

Q: Can entry-level OTD students begin a Ph.D. before they finish the entry-level OTD?

A: UW-Madison is able to offer a very strong Ph.D. opportunity in Occupational Science. Entry-level OTD students will have the opportunity to engage in a Ph.D. that can be completed sequentially if acceptance into a research lab for a Ph.D. opportunity is determined. We also have scholarship funding available for students who are interested in this opportunity. Please reach out to Karla Ausderau (kausderau@wisc.edu) with any questions.


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Q: Do you need MCAT and/ or GRE scores?

A: GRE and MCAT are not required.

Q: Is it required to put in letters of recommendation on the schools application when it is already in OTCAS?

A: No. Letters of Recommendation should be included in the OTCAS application only.
Please visit the following webpage for details: https://kinesiology.education.wisc.edu/admissions-and-aid/occupational-therapy-admissions/

Q: Do undergraduates with research experience have an advantage when applying to this program?

A: In the past, roughly 50-60% of the applicants offered admission had research experience. While research experience can be very strong, there are additional factors that also contribute to the strength of an application.

Q: Is your admission rolling or do you not start looking at applications until after the Nov. 15th deadline?

A: We do practice rolling admission. We begin reviews anytime after October 1st. It is possible that an applicant might receive an offer of admission before November 15th, however, the Admissions Committee completes the majority of application reviews during winter break. The Admissions Committee will not fill the class until all of the applications have been reviewed.

Q: How long do we get to submit our decisions after we get our acceptance letters?

A: There is no set timeline for this process. The Admissions Committee will complete the majority of application reviews over winter break, but application reviews still can occur in February or March as well. The Admissions Committee will attempt to provide all applicants with a decision (accepted/not accepted/wait list) by mid-March.

Q: Can you further discuss the UW specific essay in OTCAS?

A: Within OTCAS, there is a response to a conflict question that is required. Here is what to expect:

OTCAS CONFLICT QUESTION (Limit 2000 Characters):

Describe an interpersonal conflict in which you were involved during the past year or two. An interpersonal conflict is a situation in which you and others experienced discord and disagreement with each other due to differences in perceptions and opinions related to the conflict area. The conflict could be one that occurred in school, work, family life, or recreation. The conflict should not be an internal conflict that you alone experienced. Please address the following:

  • Describe the conflict and how it came to occur.
  • Describe individual emotions, needs, and desires each person had regarding the conflict and its outcome (including your own).
  • Describe how you knowingly or unknowingly contributed to the conflict.
  • Describe whether a resolution was achieved and how the resolution was generated.
  • Describe the conflict outcome.

Q: I have a question about the second course that is required for the Lifespan Development Prerequisite. What should I do?

A: Please begin by visiting the following webpage, and explore the “Lifespan Development (6 credits) Tab”: https://kinesiology.education.wisc.edu/admissions-and-aid/occupational-therapy-admissions/#prerequisite-coursework
Two courses must be completed. This can include one course that highlights child development and one additional course that highlights adolescent through adult development. If your educational institution offers only one course that highlights the entire lifespan (for example: Developmental Psychology or Lifespan Development-3 credits) you will still need to complete an additional course highlighting a segment of the lifespan. Potential options could include: Infant Development, Child Development/Psychology, Adolescent Development/Psychology, Aging, Educational Psychology, Learning & Development, Motor Development. Please contact the admissions coordinator (OTadmissions@education.wisc.edu) with any questions.


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Q: Are there opportunities to TA/PA/RA for funding?

A: The entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program is a new program, with a new funding structure. With the change in funding structure, entry-level OTD students will not be eligible for traditional TA/RA/PA positions on campus. However, new scholarships have been developed within the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program, in addition to opportunities to receive compensation for leadership in teaching or research within the Occupational Therapy Program.

Q: Will there be scholarship/funding opportunities also available for out-of-state students?

A: Yes! The majority of the department scholarships are open to all students. Please visit the following webpage for details: https://kinesiology.education.wisc.edu/admissions-and-aid/tuition-scholarships-and-financial-aid/

Q: Do you recommend an OTD student working part time?

A: The credit load per semester, for the entry-level OTD Program, is very demanding. Students will be encouraged to determine the amount of time needed for course participation and research engagement, before determining if they are able to add additional responsibilities to their schedule.

Q: When are scholarship awards determined?

A: Incoming students will be notified about program awards starting in January.

Q: Does the paid/volunteer/shadowing experience have to be occupational therapy or would working as a behavioral therapist for children with autism count towards that?

A: Regarding the experiential requirement, any opportunity to observe, volunteer, or work, in at least two different settings with individuals with special needs will satisfy this requirement. The experience does not need to take place with an Occupational Therapist, however, if possible, it is a good idea to gather some experience (shadowing or other) with Occupational Therapists, to make sure the career is a good fit for you.

Q: Are fee waivers or grants available for application fees?

A: There is a fee included with the OTCAS application and the UW-Madison Graduate School Application. There are some opportunities for fee waivers/fee grants available.

For OTCAS, visit: https://help.liaisonedu.com/OTCAS_Applicant_Help_Center/Starting_Your_OTCAS_Application/Getting_Started_with_Your_OTCAS_Application/03_Application_Fees

For the UW-Madison Graduate School Application, visit:



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Q: What will the Doctoral Capstone be like?

A: The Doctoral Capstone will be an opportunity for OTD students to advance their ability to lead and contribute to the profession of occupational therapy. The doctoral capstone includes both an independent capstone project and a 14-week full-time capstone experience during the Spring semester of Year 3 in the OTD program. Via the doctoral capstone, our program adheres to the ACOTE (2018) Standards which identify that the experience will provide in-depth exposure within one of the following capstone focus areas: Advanced Clinical Practice, Advanced Community Practice, Education, Leadership/Advocacy/Policy, or Research

Students are not responsible for creating their own capstone sites (we have those placements curated already based on threads in our curriculum and the needs of the community and the profession). While students are not responsible for creating or finding their own capstone site, they are responsible for collaborating to develop individual capstone learning objectives at those sites, based on the evidence-literature and the needs of their community partner (ACOTE, 2018, D.1.2). This planning process will occur within the context of pre-capstone planning courses within the curriculum. For more information see CapstoneFAQUW-Madison – Google Docs