Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program

Occupational Therapy Programs CA

About the Program

Established in 1994, we graduated our first class of graduate occupational therapy students in August, 1996. We received approval from ACOTE in 2015 to start a doctoral program and we admitted our first doctoral class in fall 2016. We will no longer be offering the Master degree in occupational therapy. Our graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in occupational therapy and often progress rapidly to leadership positions in the field.

The program offers a rigorous education in both the basic sciences and in occupation-based practice with advanced skills in clinical practice, research, leadership, advocacy and a capstone experiential project.. Occupational therapists must learn to participate collaboratively with other health care professionals. For this reason, core courses are shared with students in the physical therapy programs. Learning to communicate with other health care providers is important in preparation of building teamwork.


  • Faculty to student ratio is 1:9
  • Master and Doctor of occupational therapy students at SMU are enrolled in an intensive human anatomy course with cadavers
  • The majority of program faculty continue to practice in the field, have diverse backgrounds, have numerous publications and have presented nationally and internationally
  • Samuel Merritt University is located in Oakland, California, close to San Francisco, Berkeley and the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma
  • All students participate in three labs that provide free OT services to individuals in the community
  • Clinicians and employers in the field consistently rate graduates of the Master of Occupational Therapy Program at Samuel Merritt University as outstanding contributors to their professional staff

Pass Rate (for the MOT graduates)

The total number of graduates who passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination for 2015–2017 was 108 out of 108, which is a pass rate of 100%. During the three year period, the program had 108 graduates. For our most recent year, 2017, the pass rate was 100% (of 37 test takers, 37 passed). The total number of graduates for 2017 was 37. The website for all OT program pass rates is located at:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)

4720 Montgomery Lane
Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
Program Accreditation Status Last Visit Next Visit
Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Full accreditation 2018 2023/2024
Entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) Full accreditation until 6/30/2027 2018 n/a

Application Deadline

Application Deadline

The application submission deadline is October 1. Samuel Merritt University accepts applications using OTCAS. Applications must be filed prior to the application deadline. Keep in mind that it is to the students’ advantage to include as many available grades as possible with the application. For example, with the submission deadline of October 1, you should wait to submit an application until any summer grades are available. There is no opportunity to update your application at a later date.

In less than two years, my family has a better life. It was a fast program and I spent many nights studying after the kids went to bed, but now I’ve got a lot to show for it: A new career Alejandra Villegas FNP
Our background in sports and passion for physical performance drove us to study the science of human movement. Tino and Tron Tino & Tron Hardy Physical Therapy
So many foot problems can be successfully treated if they are identified early, and corrective measures are taken. Then, there are patients with diabetes and other chronic diseases that require specialized, ongoing foot care. We see everything in our clinics. Samantha Ralstin Samantha Ralstin Podiatric Medicine

Program Resources

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