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ASOT OTD Capstone Project Student Handbook

This manual will provide students, facutly, administration, and partnering agencies with a description of the process and procedures of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project.

900.1: Terminology

POLICY 900.1:  ASOT OTD Capstone Project Terminology

The following terms and definitions are provided to describe important details and titles that are frequently used within the course, OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone. Roles and responsibilities of each individual within the capstone process are described in Section III of this handbook.

  • ASOT capstone coordinator: the faculty member identified by the program who is specifically responsible for ASOT’s compliance with capstone requirements, per accreditation standards.

  • Agency mentor(s): the professional(s) at strategically identified community agencies who has/have demonstrated expertise consistent with the ASOT OTD student’s area of focus.  An agency mentor will be an individual functioning within variety of professional disciplines and roles (e.g. occupational/physical/speech therapist, engineer, community activist, chief executive officer, lobbyist, medical doctor, psychiatrist, etc.). The agency mentor collaborates with the ASOT faculty supervisor, as well as the OTD student, for directing the OTD student’s progression through the on-site experiential component of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project.

  • Areas of focus: specific, doctoral-level areas of focus about which ASOT OTD Capstone Projects will emphasize and develop. These areas of focus include the following: clinical practice skills, research skills, administration, leadership, program and policy development, advocacy, education, or theory development.

  • ASOT faculty supervisor: the ASOT faculty member who provides supervision, guidance, and coaching to ASOT OTD students throughout the ASOT OTD Capstone Project. OTD students will be assigned to a faculty supervisor who has content expertise and/or a research agenda in specific areas of focus that align with student preferences.

    Due to this level of expertise, the ASOT faculty supervisor is the primary authority who approves the ASOT OTD student progression through the capstone project beginning in OT 805: Competency Measures and Capstone Application when students are assigned to faculty supervisors through graduation from this OTD program.   

  • ASOT OTD student: the student practitioner who has successfully met all preliminary course work and fieldwork, per Spalding University’s graduate school policies, prior to commencing OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone.

    The ASOT OTD student, with ASOT faculty supervision, collaborates with the agency mentor to develop a proposal for the capstone before the commencement of the 16 week on-site experiential component.

    The ASOT OTD student will progressively work toward building competency and capacity to be a direct care provider, consultant, educator, manager, leader, researcher, and advocate prior to completion of the ASOT OTD degree.

  • Stakeholder: any individual who has an official role in the ASOT OTD Capstone Project proposal (e.g. ASOT OTD student, ASOT faculty supervisor, agency mentor, specifically identified support personnel). Other stakeholders may include clients/patients, other professionals/staff at the agency, reimbursement sources, equipment suppliers, etc., all of whom will be defined in the capstone proposal.

900.2: Capstone Project

POLICY 900.2:  Selection and Assignment of OTD Capstone Study Focus/Experiential Learning Component, ASOT Faculty Supervisor, and Agency/Mentor

Each individual student must select, design, and obtain approval from his/her ASOT faculty supervisor for a new, advanced, and in-depth learning experience in an assigned mentored setting for the ASOT OTD Capstone Project. This process begins with the completion of the OTD Capstone Application that occurs during Trimester 5 as a part of OT 805: Competency Measures and Capstone Application. The topics of interest available for student selection align with ASOT faculty expertise, interests, and/or research agendas. The capstone community partners/mentors are the applicable community agencies who have expressed interest in partnering with ASOT’s OTD program for the experiential components of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project.

ASOT faculty supervisors are matched with specific ASOT OTD areas of focus, and OTD students will be assigned to specific ASOT faculty supervisors based on common areas of interest, faculty expertise, and faculty availability. Although the topics of interest are specifically listed to match ASOT faculty supervisor expertise, interests, and/or research agendas, there may be opportunity for an emerging, novel topic that is identified by an ASOT OTD student to be considered for his/her capstone project. 

By completing the application, students will identify up to five topics of interest that are categorized in any of the ASOT OTD areas of focus. Although each topic of interest is categorized within a single area of focus, it is understood that these topics may easily fit more than one applicable area of focus. OTD students are highly encouraged to pursue an advanced, in-depth topic of interest that will meet their learning needs, OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone course objectives, and their individual interests as a part of the OTD Capstone Project.

After the OTD student submits the application, ASOT faculty assign the student to a full-time ASOT faculty member who will serve as the OTD student’s faculty supervisor for the remainder of the program. Community agencies will be available to students based on the ASOT official partnerships for the capstone project. Faculty maintain the responsibility and authority for assigning OTD students with ASOT faculty supervisors and related agency partnerships in order to meet the learning objectives of the capstone project, ACOTE standards, and interests of all stakeholders.

900.3: Components of the Affiliation Agreement for Each Capstone Experience

POLICY 900.3:  Components of the Affiliation Agreement for Each Capstone Experience

Per ACOTE standards, the OTD Capstone Projects are provided in setting(s) consistent with ASOT’s curriculum design, including individualized, specific outcomes and plans for supervision. Following a literature review and needs assessment, the OTD Capstone Project’s research question and focused actions emerge from the partnering agencies’ mission and vision designed to have an impact on the agency’s strategic plan. 

A Capstone Agreement Contract, an affiliation agreement between the site and the Auerbach School of Occupational Therapy, where each student’s capstone experiential component will occur must be established prior to the capstone experience (during trimesters 6 and 7 while OTD students are engaged in Level II Fieldwork). The Role Agreement Form is established during Trimester 8, which outlines all responsibilities of participating parties (capstone student, faculty supervisor, site mentor) and plans for mentoring/site supervision. The signatures of all parties are obtained on the Role Agreement Form to illustrate commitment to each role. The Capstone Proposal Template is completed by the OTD student in Trimester 8 and includes individualized, specific outcomes. The Capstone Proposal is to be completed in full by the end of Trimester 8. The Capstone Proposal Signature Sheet is then signed by all parties (capstone student, faculty supervisor, site mentor) upon review and approval of the final Capstone Proposal.  

The Capstone Proposal describes how the ASOT OTD Capstone Project will include an experiential component for developing in-depth, advanced skills and knowledge in specific areas of focus. Therefore, this project, as a part of OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone, will be structured to develop beyond-generalist and in-depth skills to progress competencies developed during Level II fieldwork experiences. If services for clients is a part of an agreed-upon outcome with the partnering agency and ASOT faculty supervisor, then this type of care provision must be considered research-focused, program development-related, or something specifically related to the advancement of the OTD student’s area of focus.   


900.4: Prerequisite Completion

POLICY 900.4:  Coursework and Fieldwork Completion Prior to Enrollment in OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone.

All OTD coursework, including Level I and Level II fieldwork courses, must be satisfactorily completed within four years from date of initial enrollment in the program by each OTD student before commencing OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone.  Additionally, the OTD student must be in academic good standing as defined by the ASOT/graduate school’s academic policies. Evidence of successful completion of all course work and academic good standing will be obtained through transcript audits of each OTD student.

In accordance with the ASOT OTD Capstone Competency Requirement Measure, each OTD student must complete the following items before commencing in OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone:

  • As a part of OT 805: Competency Measures and Capstone Application, the OTD student will reaffirm understanding and submit a newly-signed ASOT OTD Statement of Professionalism as a part of the Capstone Competency Check List.

  • As a part of OT 850: Management & Delivery of OT Services within Complex Healthcare Systems, The OTD student will successfully complete the Occupational Therapy Knowledge Exam (score >60) and the NBCOT practice test series with an average score of >450.

  • As a part of OT 860: Occupational Therapy Leadership & Advocacy,  the OTD student will successfully complete the professional OTD portfolio.

  • As a part of OT 870: Synthesizing Occupational Therapy Research & Practice, under the supervision of the assigned ASOT faculty supervisor and assigned agency mentor, the OTD student will prepare a customized, narrative capstone proposal (detailed on OT 870 syllabus) delineating the capstone project and experiential learning component that includes a literature review, needs assessment, goals/objectives, strategies, and an evaluation plan. The final proposal will be approved by the ASOT faculty supervisor, agency mentor, and ASOT Capstone Coordinator.


Successful completion of all of each requirement listed above, as a part of the ASOT OTD Capstone Competency Requirement Measure, must be met before commencing OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone.  In the event that added time is needed to successfully fulfill these requirements, an “I” ("incomplete") may be provided until the OTD student meets criteria for each item on the ASOT OTD Capstone Competency Requirement Measure. This “I” is limited to three months from the initial date it is recorded with Spalding University’s Registrar.

900.5: Schedule

POLICY 900.5:  Schedule for the Experiential Component of the Capstone Project

Each ASOT OTD student must complete OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone as the culminating course in the OTD program of study.  All preliminary didactic and fieldwork courses and competencies must be completed prior to engagement in OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone. This course provides an experiential component in the final trimester over a 14-week period (560 hours) with a minimum of 80% of the time completed at the assigned mentored practice setting. The Capstone experience must be completed within 12 months from the date of initial enrollment in the Capstone course, OT 900.

Typically, this assignment is scheduled on a full-time basis (40 hours per week over a 14-week period with an additional week at the end for completing any University graduation requirements). The student will begin the Capstone experience two weeks before the start of the final trimester and will complete 12 weeks in the trimester. The final week of the final trimester will be available for any remaining University obligations or requirements. Upon written request by the OTD student and at the discretion and approval of both the OT faculty supervisor and agency mentor, a part-time option may be provided in a 24-week time frame that meets the 560-hour requirements.

No prior Level I/II fieldwork experience or work experience can be substituted or applied towards meeting the OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone course objectives or required hours for the capstone experiential component.  With general faculty direction/supervision and agency mentoring, this 560-hour capstone experiential component requires OTD student development and demonstration of advanced, in-depth occupational therapy-related knowledge and skills.  The OTD student’s capstone assignment will not use the student’s previous or current work and/or fieldwork setting to meet the requirements of the capstone experiential component. 

900.6: Performance and Professional Behaviors

POLICY 900.6: Performance and Professional Behaviors of the OTD Student upon Commencement of OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone 

OTD students are required to comply with the ASOT OTD Statement of Professionalism throughout their enrollment in the ASOT OTD Program. All OTD students read and signed this statement of professionalism upon admission into the program, and concepts of professionalism are taught, interwoven, and practiced throughout the curriculum.

According to ACOTE, the goal of the doctoral Capstone experience is to develop occupational therapists with in-depth knowledge and advanced skills, which are those skills that are beyond a generalist level. By being awarded the ability to progress to the culminating and final course in the curriculum, OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone, all OTD students’ must continue highest levels of the performance of professionalism.

By supplying a newly-signed ASOT OTD Guidelines of Professionalism per the Capstone Student Competency Requirement Measure, students are affirming their understanding of and providing signed attestation that highest professionalism will be upheld throughout trimesters 6-9, which includes Level II fieldwork, leadership and management courses, and the final culminating course, OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone.

ASOT’s OTD Guidelines of Professionalism are aligned with the ASOT OTD Student Handbook, Spalding University Catalog, and AOTA’s Code of Ethics. Additionally, OTD students must comply with the capstone agencies’ professional behaviors expectations. Documented failure to comply with these professional standards may result in a prolonged experiential component or complete termination of the overall ASOT OTD Capstone course and dismissal from the OTD program.

900.7: Dissemination

POLICY 900.7:  Dissemination and Completion of OTD Capstone by the OTD Student

The completion of the capstone experiential component includes all programmatic or service endeavors established in the approved (and any subsequent revisions) Capstone Project Plan.  As a required component of OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone, the OTD student will communicate their ASOT OTD Capstone Project including findings/recommendations in a final presentation to the faculty supervisor, agency mentor, and agency staff/stakeholders. Additionally, a capstone synthesis paper (detailing the entire capstone project and project outcomes/findings) is required for submission to the faculty supervisor. An approved copy of the final DCE/Project Poster recorded video will be published on ASOT's webpage. is an inventory of online course access, which allows ASOT community stakeholders to access free CEUs following capstone students project dissemination. 

900.8: Final Evaluation

POLICY 900.8:  Final Evaluation of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project for OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone

Once each ASOT OTD student has progressed through the didactic, fieldwork, and capstone project curriculum courses, the OTD student becomes eligible for graduation. The OTD student’s eligibility is determined by the final evaluation of their competence upon completion of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project and all related course work for OT 900: Occupational Therapy Capstone. Each OTD student’s capstone project will be objectively assessed according to the criteria identified within the Final Evaluation of the ASOT OTD Capstone Project. These criteria are summarized below:

  • Alignment with the ASOT OTD curriculum threads;

  • Successful completion of all identified outcomes for the ASOT OTD Capstone Project for each stakeholder;

  • Emphasis on applicable and strategic doctoral-level areas of focus;

  • Dissemination of experiences and findings as detailed in policy 900.7;

Signatory agreement and approval by the OTD student, the ASOT faculty supervisor, and agency mentor that all criteria are satisfied, and the student is eligible for graduation as a doctorally-prepared, entry-level candidate for national board certification as an occupational therapist.

900.9: Alternate Placement

POLICY 900.9: Alternate Agency Mentor or Alternate Capstone Site Placement

In the event an agency mentor is no longer able to serve in the agreed capacity/role, the faculty supervisor, in conjunction with the capstone coordinator, will collaborate with the agency to identify a replacement mentor. If a replacement is unable to be secured at the assigned agency, the student will be given an alternate placement to ensure the doctoral capstone experience (DCE) requirements, as noted in the OTD capstone handbook (policy 900.1-900.8), are met. The alternate placement will only be offered if the agency mentor cannot be identified.

In the event an agency is unable to serve in the agreed capacity, the capstone student and faculty supervisor will collaborate with the capstone coordinator to identify an alternate placement. The alternate placement will require approval from the department chair and must ensure the capstone student is given sufficient accommodations to meet all DCE requirements.  

Additionally, in the event that a new agency is assigned for the DCE, the capstone assigned time may be extended based upon the Capstone revised plan/objectives.