The occupational therapy doctoral 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. Doctoral capstones will be developed by the OTD student in collaboration with the Capstone Coordinator, a KGI faculty mentor and a site mentor. The doctoral capstone will reflect the OTD program’s curriculum design as well as contribute to key initiatives. Doctoral capstones will also develop relationships between KGI and the community, engage students in reflexive scholarly practice, and explore potentially transformative roles for occupational therapists as students champion 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.

 The doctoral capstone consists of two components: the capstone project and the doctoral capstone experience (DCE). Students must successfully complete didactic course and level II fieldwork rotations prior to commencement of the doctoral capstone.

Capstone Project

Students will collaborate with their faculty mentor to choose one of the following areas as the primary focus for the capstone project:  

  • Clinical practice skills
  • Research
  • Program and policy development
  • Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Administration
  • Education
  • Theory development

Doctoral Capstone Experience

The DCE is the culminating experiential component of the OTD program and serves as the context in which the capstone project is implemented. With the support and guidance of the Capstone Coordinator and KGI faculty mentor, the OTD student will identify a community partner as their DCE site. A mentor at the site with documented expertise related to the doctoral capstone topic must also be identified. The DCE is 14 weeks full time (560 hours), with a minimum of 80% of hours completed on-site. Students complete their DCE in the final trimester of the OTD program, following successful completion of didactic coursework and fieldwork.

Curricular Threads

  • Systems approach to health equity and occupational justice
  • Lifestyle medicine for health promotion and prevention
  • Innovations in practice
  • Whole person care
  • Occupation-based practice
  • Research, evidence, and scholarship
  • Scientific and theoretical grounding of practice
  • Development of professional identity and lifelong learning
  • Integrated approach to experiential learning

Preparation for the Doctoral Capstone

Preparation for the doctoral capstone occurs throughout the OTD program.

    • Trimester 1: Students are provided with an overview of the purpose and process of the capstone and embark on a journey of developing their professional identity.
    • Trimester 3: Students are led through a series of guided reflections and assignments to explore capstone areas of interest, at which point they are then paired with a faculty mentor for the doctoral capstone.
    • Trimester 4: The student, Capstone Coordinator, and KGI faculty mentor collaborate to identify a DCE site at which the student can carry out a capstone project. DCE sites are carefully selected in order to ensure alignment with the student’s professional goals and interests as well as the program’s curriculum design and key initiatives. Additionally, a site mentor at the DCE site will be identified. In some situations, the faculty mentor and DCE site mentor may be the same person. Additional expert mentors may also be identified, as appropriate.
    • Trimester 5: Students will develop their capstone plan, including an individualized memorandum of understanding, in collaboration with their faculty mentor and DCE site mentor. The capstone plan must reflect connections to curricular threads and key initiatives, as well as include individualized student objectives and a plan for supervision. Students will determine individualized objectives of the DCE through completion of a needs assessment and literature review.
  • Following successful completion of level II fieldwork experiences in trimesters 6 and 7, students will begin their 14-week DCE occurring in trimester 8. Students will carry out their capstone project plan with mentorship from the DCE site mentor and faculty mentor. Projects will result in deliverables that benefit the DCE site.

  • Finally, students will disseminate their capstone project outcomes to relevant stakeholders and professional communities.

Capstone Examples

Focus Area
Project Examples
DCE Site Examples
Clinical practice skills
*Site Mentor must be an OT
Developing a clinical pathway for use within a specific practice setting

Implementation of an innovative OT protocol along with a case study about its effectiveness

Regional hospital, pediatric clinic
Program or policy development
Developing an occupation-based program to meet the needs of clients at the DCE site

Conducting an evidence-based evaluation of an existing program to develop meaningful recommendations and modifications from at OT perspective

Community-based programs for individuals with mental health diagnoses
Designing and implementing an individualized research study in alignment with the faculty mentor’s scholarly agenda
Neurorehabilitation clinic, hippotherapy center
Establishing the need for OT services in an emerging practice setting based on in-depth needs assessment and business proposal
Community-based non- profit agency
Conducting a quality assurance project to identify recommendations for clinical processes
Regional hospital
Developing curriculum for an Introduction to OT course to be offered to undergraduates

Developing a series of educational modules for practitioners pertaining to a specific topic

KGI OTD Program

Any practice setting such as clinic, hospital, or school

Interested in Becoming an OTD Capstone Site?

Please fill out the form to connect with Vikas Sharma, Program Director, Occupational Therapy Program and Professor of Practice.