Degree type(s): Doctorate
Degree field(s): Healthcare, Occupational Therapy
Location(s): Bismarck, ND; Fargo, ND; Billings, MT
Program offerings by location and modality are subject to change.

Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

Graduate degree; Occupational Therapy Doctorate Degree

Occupational therapy makes it possible for people to achieve independence and enjoy life to its fullest. The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at the University of Mary prepares students to be competent, caring, ethical, compassionate occupational therapy practitioners who are able to meet the diverse occupational needs of individuals, groups, and communities. Graduates of the doctorate program in Occupational Therapy will have the skills and training necessary to practice in a variety of professional roles and settings.

Upon successful completion of your doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy, you will be eligible to take the certification examination for the occupational therapist, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The doctorate in Occupational Therapy is offered at the University of Mary’s main campus in Bismarck, ND, along with our Billings, MT and Fargo, ND campus locations.


The Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Mary has been granted Candidacy status from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD. 20852-4929. ACOTE’s phone number, C/O AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is

The program is now eligible to proceed to Step 2 of the Initial Accreditation Process (the Initial Review), with the submission of the Self-Study Report due on March 2, 2020. The program would then participate in an Onsite Accreditation Team Visit, with the goal to receive formal accreditation before the first cohort of students graduate from the program.

University of Mary NBCOT Pass Rates

Pass rates can be found at 

Occupational Therapy Program

The University of Mary Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree is offered in Bismarck, ND (main campus), Fargo, ND, and Billings, MT. The main campus is located in Bismarck, North Dakota, with satellite locations in Fargo, ND and Billings, MT.

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree is designed for students who have a bachelor's degree. This program takes 3 years to complete, which includes 24 weeks of Level II fieldwork experiences and a 16-week doctoral capstone experience.

Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program Highlights

Grounded in Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values, the Occupational Therapy doctoral program at the University of Mary offers unique learning experiences and opportunities within a supportive healthcare community:

  • Gain real-world experience through service learning and problem-based learning experiences, including an optional international service-learning experience. 
  • Take part in diverse fieldwork experiences in a variety of settings throughout the United States, as well as a group research project which is mentored by an occupational therapy faculty member. 
  • Learn from experienced faculty who represent numerous areas of occupational therapy practice.
  • Develop a foundation for the practice of professional and technical skills, therapeutic use of self, ethical decision making, attitudes of service, and respect for others through a curriculum based in Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values.
  • Learn to think critically, solve problems, and express yourself clearly.

"Through being involved in the University of Mary's Occupational Therapy program, I had the privilege to complete a fieldwork experience where I was able to observe the profession of occupational therapy and everything that comes along with it. I was also able to do different activities on my own with the supervision of my fieldwork educator that solidified that occupational therapy is exactly what I am supposed to be doing. It is so valuable to get these experiences now while still going to school. I have also had the experience to work hands-on with different clients which helps to make sense of the information we have learned in class."

Karlene Nelson, Occupational Therapy major, 2015

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program at the University of Mary prepares competent occupational therapists who are leaders in service through evidence-based practice, advocacy, lifelong learning, and scholarship. Graduates have adept knowledge of humans as occupational beings, critical thinking, therapeutic use of self, and leadership to effect change. Rooted in Christian, Catholic, and Benedictine values, graduates uphold ethical standards, values, and attitudes of the occupational therapy profession.

A select group of students may apply for early assurance into the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program if they have attained a high school GPA of 3.5 or an ACT score of 24. Students who meet this criteria may apply for early assurance to the Doctorate degree program during their senior year of high school and arrange for an interview with a faculty member. If accepted in the early assurance program, students still must meet all criteria for admission to the Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program and maintain a minimum 3.25 GPA in pre-requisite courses and a 3.0 GPA overall. If this level is not attained, they are still eligible to apply under the usual admissions process through OTCAS. The requirements to enroll in the Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program after being admitted as a high school senior are as follows:

  • Completion of the admissions application, including required volunteer hours
  • Compliance with the University of Mary Standard of Conduct

Early assurance students who intend on beginning the professional Occupational Therapy program must inform the admissions committee or the secretary of the Occupational Therapy Department and complete an admissions application by November 1st of the year they intend to enter the program.

For a list of courses for the Loading..., please visit the catalog.

To view a sample program of study, click here.

Even as one of the most affordable private universities in the nation, the University of Mary does offer a variety of scholarships. In fact, 99% of main campus undergraduate students receive some form of scholarship! 

Some scholarships are available for specific academic programs, such as nursing, while other scholarships are available for certain student populations, such as military and veteran students

We strongly encourage you to contact your personal admissions representative to discover all of the options that might be available to you. In many cases, a program specific scholarship is just one component of a complete financial aid package. 

Our admissions professionals will work together with our Office of Financial Assistance to ensure that you get the best financial aid package possible to finance your education. 

To view the cost of attendance, click here.


Cindy Anderson, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Megan Dooley, OTD, MSOTR/L

Matia Gjellstad, EdD, MSOTR/L

Jason Lawson, PhD, MSOTR/L

Julie Sandvig, OTD, MSOTR/L

Jennifer Schroeder, OTD, MS, OTR/L

Janeene Sibla, EdD, OTD, OTR/L

Joscelyn Varland, OTD, CLT, MSOTR/L



Kevin Anderson, PhD, OTR/L, ATP

Deb Hanson, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA



Paula H. Kitzenberg, OTD, MHA, OTR/L

Judy Melvin, PhD, OTR/L

Patrick Walker, MOT, OTR/L 

The University of Mary Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program follows the University of Mary nondiscrimination statement.

This policy gives core faculty and pre-occupational therapy students direction in the admissions process for the occupational therapy education program. Included in this policy are the minimum criteria for admission, the application process and the interview process.

View the nondiscrimination policy here.

Admission Requirements

The following will be needed when you have applied for admission so we can get you accepted into the graduate program:

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75 from a regionally accredited institution and a grade of "C” in all prerequisite course work.
    • Graduated from the University of Mary? Then we’ll get your Mary transcript for you!
    • At most other schools, you can request transcripts by going to the National Student Clearinghouse or by contacting the registrar’s office. 
    • Have your transcripts sent to:
      Office of Admissions
      University of Mary
      7500 University Drive
      Bismarck, ND 58504
    • Or request to send electronic transcripts to [email protected]
  • Three (3) letters of reference addressing moral and ethical behavior, academic abilities, and work ethic.

For more information about our admission requirements, please visit this page.

If you are considering a doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy, you might also be interested in the following graduate programs offered at the University of Mary: