The Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences will provide a new postprofessional doctorate degree, designed to equip licensed occupational therapy practitioners with the knowledge and skills necessary to advance their careers within the field, according to Jeffrey Crabtree, associate professor, department of Occupational Therapy and director of the new degree program.

A university news release notes that the degree was developed with working professionals in mind and is offered as a hybrid program, with evening and weekend class times and the majority of coursework completed online. The program is meant to accommodate busy lifestyles and allow students to move through a three-semester program; beginning in the summer and ending in the spring.

With the reported recommendation of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) that all entry-level programs in the nation be at the doctoral level by 2025, Crabtree says the university aims to take a leading role in offering a program expected to become more common over the next decade. The increasing onslaught of older adults and chronic diseases that can cause death and disability also makes the offering of the degree timely, according to Crabtree.

“Occupational therapists are trained to provide critical services to these populations; but as our understanding of neuroscience improves, as the healthcare system adapts to these demands with an increased demand of occupational therapists, so will the need for educators, administrators, leaders, and specialized practitioners. This postprofessional doctoral program will provide students with a sound foundation for advanced practice, the flexibility to pursue their unique area of specialty, and the skills needed to meet professional challenges,” Crabtree explains.

The release states that the degree’s general admission requirements include an AOTA membership, an occupational therapy license, and a master’s degree. The release adds that for prospective students with a bachelor’s degree, the school recommends the Master of Science in Health Sciences online degree, which is also intended for working professionals in the healthcare system.

The department will accept applications for the program starting fall 2014, with the first students beginning in May 2015.

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[Source: Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis]