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The VCU College of Health Professions offers a dual degree that results in an Occupational Therapy Doctorate and a Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences. This dual degree program allows outstanding entry-level O.T.D. students to earn their degree while simultaneously completing course credits in the interdisciplinary health related sciences Ph.D. program. Students accepted into the dual degree program would complete specified Ph.D. courses while in their O.T.D. program. In addition, students would be assigned a research mentor and have opportunities to earn research credits that would count toward the Ph.D. The dual degree program allows students to complete their O.T.D. in three years, with efficiencies to complete the Ph.D. 12-18 months earlier than if the two degrees were pursued separately. This efficiency lowers the overall cost of tuition while also reducing time to earning both degrees.

Program goals

Goals of the dual degree program include:

  • Increasing the number of Ph.D.-trained occupational therapists who can contribute to the evidence base of the profession
  • Increasing the accessibility of a Ph.D. for a diverse range of students by reducing the time and cost associated with earning this post-professional degree

The dual degree O.T.D/Ph.D. prepares future occupational therapists with the skills required to advance to positions as researchers and educators. The program allows students to pursue both degrees using a coordinated program of study and apply a limited number of O.T.D. requirements toward fulfillment of requirements for the Ph.D.

The dual degree program is designed for students who want to become career researchers or academics within the field of occupational therapy or who want to do clinical research within the larger health care system. Strong applicants for this dual degree program will have exceptional academic performance and be highly motivated for a career in research. Prior research experience as an undergraduate is highly recommended.

The diplomas for this dual degree program will be awarded sequentially. Students would graduate from the Department of Occupational Therapy with an O.T.D., then transition to complete course work and the dissertation for the Ph.D. in Health Related Sciences.

Student learning outcomes

See each degree program page for student learning outcomes. 

Other information


The student is assigned an adviser from each program to develop coordinated plans of study.