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ASOT OTD Program Student Handbook

The Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy (ASOT), Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) Program Student Handbook is the policy and procedure resource specific to this program. This handbook aligns with the Spalding University Student Handbook and Catalog.

Pre-graduation Student Responsibilities

In order to meet and accommodate the diverse needs of all students, Spalding University confers degrees eight (8) times each academic year. Students must successfully complete all ASOT courses in the OTD curriculum, including the capstone project before degree conferral can occur. Approximately six months before your expected graduation date, you must make application for graduation through WebAdvisor. Follow the links -- WebAdvisor for students>Academic Planning>Application For Graduation.  The name you enter on this application is the name that will appear on your diploma.  In order to receive your diploma and the release of completed transcripts, your account with the university must be in good standing, otherwise a degree hold will occur. 

Graduation and Degree Conferral

Spalding University holds one Graduation Ceremony per academic year.  The university wide ceremony usually occurs the first Saturday of June. Each student must complete all OTD degree requirements including the OT 900 Capstone in order to participate in the Spalding University Graduation Ceremony. 

The OTD program occurs in a trimester format, with curriculum completion and degree conferral occurring after nine trimesters. The typical student  program of study ensures degree completion in approximately three years from starting the program. After OTD program completion, ASOT typically hosts a celebration to honor the students.

Based upon the curriculum starting dates, the OTD program students' degree conferral will occur in January or mid-August of each year.  The degree completion date must be present on your official transcripts in order for processing by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

Spalding University and ASOT does not allow the NBCOT Academic Verification Form (ACVF) to be completed in lieu of the official university transcripts.  OTD students are not allowed to sit for the NBCOT OTR Certification Exam prior to completion of the entire curriculum, this includes OT 900 Occupational Therapy Capstone. Degree conferral occurs after all curriculum learning objectives and official grades for every course is posted on the student's transcript. 


Preparing for the NBCOT Exam

The NBCOT OTR Certification Exam is a high stakes exam that measures your knowledge, skills and competence for occupational therapy practice.  The exam is designed based upon current research of what entry-level practice looks like across the nation.  Every five years, NBCOT completes survey research of practitioners who are considered entry-level (within 0-36 months of entering practice) to determine what tasks and duties make up their day to day practice.  This practice analysis sets the exam outline Domains, Tasks, and Knowledge Statements upon which all versions of the exam are created. 

The four (4) hour exam has two components.  The first is a Clinical Simulation Testing (CST) that consists of three case presentations.  This is followed by the 170 Multiple Choice Testing (MCT) part of the exam.  

The ASOT faculty have integrated competence measures throughout the OTD curriculum to ensure your success on the NBCOT OTR Certification Exam.  It is imperative for you to read across the curriculum and engage in all learning activities within the OTD courses in order to prepare for and learn material required for exam success. 

Approximately one year before completing the curriculum, as part of OT 805 Competency Measures and Capstone Application, you will complete the Occupational Therapy Knowledge Exam (OTKE). At the completion of this exam, you will receive a pdf report of your results that provide you with a national benchmark score allowing you to rate your knowledge of the OT process against other students from across the nation.  This exam is formatted using the NBCOT outline of Domain, Task, and Knowledge statements as they occur on the NBCOT OTR Certification Exam. This first OTKE prior to Level II FW serves to begin your focus on the NBCOT OTR Exam preparation process.  After completing all Level II Fieldwork you will take the OTKE a second time, in OT 850 Management & Delivery of OT services within Complex Healthcare Systems. 

During OT 860 Occupational Therapy Leadership and Advocacy, your will have access to the NBCOT OTR Study Pack and will prepare for the NBCOT OTR Certification Exam.  The first step in making application to NBCOT is to set up your NBCOT Portal at You will need to follow the steps for making application as outlined with the NBCOT Candidate Handbook.  


State Licensure

Every state requires that a practitioner applies for and obtains a state license before practicing within the state.  Statutes and Regulations pertaining to the practice of occupational therapy and licensure within each state varies based upon state law. In order to be licensed within a state, you must first successfully complete/pass the NBCOT OTR Certification Exam. 

Seeking Employment as an Entry-level Occupational Therapist

Applying for your first job as an occupational therapist is an individual decision. Some students begin applying for jobs during the Capstone experience; some apply closer to or upon graduation;  and some apply after passing the NBCOT certification exam.

Generally speaking, applying for a job when the first day of work is within 1 to 3 months after application to graduate is a good "rule of thumb." Employers may have a better idea of staffing needs with this amount of time. If you apply too early, your application may or may not be given as much attention as you prefer, and you may need to plan for follow-up correspondence.

On the other end of the spectrum, some students have the good fortune of jobs being created for or held for them during Level II Fieldwork or Capstone.

Being ASOT OTD Program Alumni

Graduating with a doctoral degree is one of the most memorable achievements one can experience. Graduating from Spalding University's Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy is an esteemed accomplishment that extends far beyond degree conferral: It's a lifetime of benefit and connection.

According to a recent survey, ASOT alumni stated:

  • "I enjoyed my time at ASOT and still feel very proud of my education."
  • "I learned so much at Spalding and honestly feel that all of the faculty care about each student and want them to succeed."
  • "I felt very prepared to take my board exam and obtained gainful employment immediately following graduation. I could not have accomplished all I have without the support and guidance from the faculty and staff within the (OT) program."

Additionally, there are many benefits of being ASOT alumni, one is opportunity for no cost/low cost continuing education as well as access to library databases and resources. Throughout the year, ASOT hosts workshops for occupational therapy providers and students, as well as other professionals, to attend. Additionally, ASOT alumni are uniquely positioned to supervise OTD students from their alma mater during fieldwork experiences and capstone projects. Both continuing education opportunities help ASOT alumni earn units to meet state licensure requirements, as well as offer networking opportunities with like-minded individuals.

In order to stay current with ASOT events and workshops, please provide ASOT with your current contact information, specifically email. ASOT shares invitations and announcements through email and social media, and with your help, you'll always be included. The easiest way to stay informed is by updating your information through email to [email protected], and your emails will be answered as soon as possible. Additionally, faculty always enjoy hearing from past students! Feel free to reach out to any ASOT faculty, as well.

Being a member of the Spalding community and an ASOT alumni is a lifelong honor. Continue the legacy by being involved with the University and this program, and you'll continue making memories, making connections, and making a difference along the way.