USD to offer Occupational Therapy doctorate; expands off-campus programs in Pierre and Sioux Falls

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A new doctorate degree in occupational therapy has been created at the University of South Dakota, responding to the profession’s efforts to move the entry degree for occupational therapists from the master’s to doctorate level. The South Dakota Board of Regents approved the new degree offering Thursday.

Plans also call for delivery of an online clinical doctorate for current practitioners and previous USD master’s degree graduates who wish to transition to the doctorate-level degree. Regents’ officials say occupational therapy programs across the country are moving quickly to doctorate degree programs.

There is high demand for USD’s current M.S. degree in occupational therapy. About 150 students apply annually for 28 seats in the program. USD projects it will graduate 28 students each year from its doctorate program after full implementation.

In other action, the Board of Regents approved:

* USD’s request to deliver the bachelor of science in nursing degree at Capital University Center in Pierre. USD currently offers a two-year associate degree at CUC, but that program will transition by fall 2016 into the bachelor’s degree program. University officials say this change aligns with a growing demand for more highly-trained nurses, especially in healthcare leadership positions. USD expects to graduate 16 students annually after full implementation.

* A request from USD to offer the paramedic specialization within the B.S. degree in health sciences at the Health Sciences Center in Sioux Falls. Offering this specialization in Sioux Falls aligns with the location of most students and faculty and provides improved access to laboratory and simulation experiences for students. An estimated 40 students will graduate with the specialization after full implementation.

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Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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