What people do every day matters. Occupational therapists empower clients of all ages to flourish through participating in daily life activities. KGI’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program in Claremont, CA prepares graduates as innovative leaders within the occupational therapy field. The three-year program showcases active-learning, hands-on lab and fieldwork experiences, and team collaboration that prepares students to become resourceful, ethical, and agile problem solvers.

At KGI, we believe in occupational therapy’s transformative power both in current practice settings and in areas where occupational therapy is not yet established. KGI’s OTD program envisions the innovative potential for therapeutically utilizing occupation to promote and sustain health, wellbeing, participation, and inclusion to meet a wide range of ever-changing, real-world needs. Our mission is to educate future occupational therapists to meet the needs of individuals, communities, and populations for meaningful participation in daily life activities through a transformative and dynamic educational process. Students will learn to work with people of all ages and ability levels in client-centered, culturally responsive ways.

The transformative educational process of learning to “think like an OT” will be fueled by dynamic teaching, active learning, and collaboration with occupational therapy classmates and students from other professional programs and disciplines. The program will provide a solid foundation in the scholarship of practice where professional thinking necessarily utilizes evidence and theory to meet clients’ needs for optimizing occupational performance and participation.

We will teach our students to think outside of the box. KGI’s OTD students will consider innovative possibilities for the future of practice where pioneering new approaches to occupational therapy care will be valued in the marketplace to meet the ever-changing needs of our world. The most powerful tool we can use in occupational therapy is ourselves. KGI’s OTD program will nurture students’ growth as compassionate, ethical practitioners who act with authenticity and integrity in every step of the occupational therapy process.

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Program Quick Facts

Program length
It takes eight trimesters (three years) to complete the OTD program.
Full or part-time program
The OTD program is a full-time program with classes during the day.
Online or in-person classes
All classes are done in-person along with capstone and fieldwork essential for learning.
Students are provided the opportunity to put their classroom knowledge into practice with multiple fieldwork opportunities.
The capstone provides an opportunity for students to develop as innovative leaders and scholars of practice by demonstrating in-depth synthesis and application of knowledge within an area of focus in a mentored setting.

OTD Program Details

  • We understand that for people to be happy and healthy they need to be seen and treated holistically. Through the lens of a systems approach, KGI OTD students will be trained to utilize a whole-person approach to occupational therapy. Students will learn to achieve therapeutic outcomes by addressing the complex interplay of factors that influence occupational engagement, including both physical and mental health, family systems, social factors, and the environment.

    We believe that occupational therapy is the answer for many of the problems people face in our world. KGI OTD students will understand the innovative potential of therapeutically utilizing occupation to promote health and well-being for clients, communities, and populations. Students will be trained on the use of innovative practices and technologies to evolve occupational therapy care in traditional settings as well as pave the way for occupational therapy in emerging areas of practice.

  • KGI’s innovative OTD curriculum is based on an integrative and systems approach, with occupation as the core subject to prepare students for the future of practice. KGI specializes in active learning, and our OTD students will experience a wide range of hands-on, engaged teaching and learning strategies with ample time to work in labs and on teams.

    As a curricular thread, principles and practices of lifestyle medicine will be interwoven into courses across the OTD program preparing students to be champions for lifestyle changes to improve health and well-being. OTD students will also have the opportunity to learn basic design and engineering principles and work with students in KGI’s Master of Science in Medical Device Engineering program on creating device solutions to promote participation in daily life activities.

    We understand occupational therapy is a broad profession. KGI OTD students will have the ability to take elective courses in a range of topics to build knowledge and experience in a specific area of practice or clinical skill set.

    Learn more about the curriculum and electives.

  • OTD fieldwork helps students to bridge innovation with traditional therapeutic settings through the infusion of whole-person care, lifestyle medicine principles, and innovative practice skills. Learn more.

  • The OTD capstone provides an opportunity for students to develop as innovative leaders and scholars of practice by demonstrating in-depth synthesis and application of knowledge within an area of focus in a mentored setting. Learn more.

  • A career in occupational therapy is like many different jobs wrapped into one. Occupational therapists work in hospitals, long-term care facilities, schools, clinics, behavioral health settings, and community-based settings. The wide range of settings, ages, and conditions means that you can always keep growing, exploring, and finding new ways to make a difference in others’ lives.

  • Our world is filled with needs that occupational therapy can fulfill. KGI’s OTD students will learn about the value of bringing an occupational therapy lens to providing community-based services. Our OTD students will learn the process of determining the needs of a community, identifying grant and funding sources, and developing programs in areas including older adult independent living settings, after-school programs, and family shelters, among others. Students will gain experience in providing therapeutic services to the community through experiential learning opportunities and collaborations with other disciplines in the KGI community.

  • The OTD program at KGI believes the profession is better and more effective when there is equitable and diverse representation of the communities and populations we serve. Students will begin their education learning about occupational therapy using an occupational justice lens and understand the inequities that lead to poor health outcomes and access to services. Students will apply this knowledge throughout the curriculum, learning to address and advocate for issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion at the practice and policy levels while also developing lifelong skills to be culturally responsive practitioners.

  • Attending graduate school can be a stressful experience where managing time and demands can prove challenging. At KGI, we have occupational therapy services available through Student Affairs for all students to help navigate the complexities of attending graduate school. KGI OTD students will learn how to provide occupational therapy services in higher education settings through coursework, electives, and the option of fieldwork to help move this important emerging practice area forward.

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The Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (SPHS) celebrated its Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) class of 2026, Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPA) class […]

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Dr. Vikas Sharma Named Program Director for KGI’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

  Dr. Vikas Sharma, OTD, OTR/L, has been named Program Director for Keck Graduate Institute (KGI)’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) Program. He has been an occupational therapist for more than […]

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Program Faculty

Leylani Wandell, PP-OTD, MOT, OTR/L

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Assistant Professor
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Vikas Sharma, OTD, OTR/L

Program Director, Occupational Therapy Program and Professor of Practice
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Nicolaas van den Heever, OTD, OTR/L

Professor, Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program
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Kelly Auld-Wright, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor
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Ann McDonald, PhD, OTR/L, MA, SWC, ALC

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Hanalynn Hunt, OTD, OTR/L, CBIS

Assistant Professor and Capstone Coordinator, Occupational Therapy Program
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"Graduates of our OTD program will have the opportunity to work with patients of all ages in a variety of settings."
Martin Zdanowicz
Professor of Pharmaceutical and Applied Life Sciences

Ready for What’s Next?

If there’s anything we can do, be sure to connect with our admissions team. You can also check out more information on cost and aid and how to apply.

Accreditation Process

KGI’s entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program has received candidacy status from Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and is able to enroll students. KGI’s OTD program is approved by the Western Association of Schools & Colleges (WASC).

Accreditation Process