Two students working in the PT room.

Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists lead fulfilling careers, helping people of all ages adapt to their circumstances and achieve greater independence in their daily lives. The Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program provides you with the real-world learning experiences and practical knowledge you need to deliver high-quality care that changes lives.

Empower others and change lives

Throughout the lifespan, people encounter challenges that impede their ability to navigate everyday activities and achieve their goals. As an occupational therapy student at USD, you will gain the educational foundation you need to address these needs and help people of all ages live full, meaningful lives.

Our program takes a holistic, person-centered approach – one that considers the physical, psychological and social needs of clients and understands the importance of adapting the environment to fit the person. You'll experience real-world learning in state-of-the-art laboratories, community settings and fieldwork sites that will equip you with the confidence you need to thrive in your profession. You'll also learn from professors who know your name and care about your success. With a small student-to-faculty ratio and an open-door policy, our program is committed to providing you with personalized advising and support. The OTD program will prepare you to become an expert, compassionate occupational therapist who creates innovative services for your clients.

Help others maximize their independence in daily life as an occupational therapy student at USD.             


Degrees & Offerings

Occupational Therapy (OTD)

  Vermillion Main Campus
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy program equips you with the expertise and person-centered approach you need to empower individuals as they work toward their goals and seek independence. You'll take either the non-specialization route or choose from one of the following specializations: mental health, neuroscience and rehabilitation, pediatrics or rural/underserved.

Accelerated Occupational Therapy (B.S./OTD)

Major + Doctorate
  Vermillion Main Campus

This 3+3 program is available to current USD students pursuing a B.S. in health sciences with a specialization in clinical studies; a B.S. in kinesiology and sport management with a specialization in exercise science; or a B.S. in neuroscience with a specialization in cognitive neuroscience. The accelerated track will allow the undergraduate program to count 20 hours of the first year of a Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree toward the electives in the B.S. degree. The student will complete 100 hours by the end of the third year toward the undergraduate degree.

Program Details





Graduate Admissions

Start Your Application Today

This graduate program utilizes a specialized CAS online application to complete the admissions process. To learn more about this program's unique application process, requirements and program deadlines, visit Specialty Graduate Program Applications.

Additional requirements exist for international applicants. For more information, visit International Admission Requirements.


Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the Occupational Therapist, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy {NBCOT®).After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be an Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Known for Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in occupational therapy.
A faculty member teaching students during a presentation.

Occupational Therapy

Our department facilitates meaningful research and a robust education for future occupational therapists through the Doctor of Occupational Therapy program and an occupational therapy pathway. With state-of-the-art facilities, a small student-to-faculty ratio, hands-on learning opportunities and more, the department prepares students to assist people in achieving their goals, maintaining or rebuilding their independence and participating in everyday activities. 

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Occupational Therapy. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in management of chronic disease, the role of OT in dementia care, occupation-based intervention and quality of life with lymphedema, psychosocial rehabilitation, occupational performance measurement, productive aging and gerontology, promotion of childhood mental health and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ranelle Nissen

Ranelle Nissen

Interim Associate Dean, SHS
Bio Image for Faculty Member Shana Cerny

Shana Cerny

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mackenzie Feldhacker

Mackenzie Feldhacker

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Karen Hebert

Karen Hebert

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Moses Ikiugu

Moses Ikiugu

Bio Image for Faculty Member Whitney Lucas Molitor

Whitney Lucas Molitor

UG Public Health Program Director
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jessica McHugh

Jessica McHugh

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Allison Naber

Allison Naber

Assistant Professor
A physical therapist having a child do a physical therapy exercise.

State-of-the-Art Facilities

You'll learn in state-of-the-art facilities right here on campus. Our program is located in the Sanford Coyote Sports Center, which houses teaching, learning and clinic spaces that are designed for collaboration and hands-on experiences. You'll also take classes alongside other health sciences and medical students in the Lee Medical Building. From human gross anatomy courses to simulation exercises, the opportunities offered in these facilities make your education exceptional. 

A student baking.

Learn by Doing

Throughout your education, you'll learn in real-world settings and serve your community. Here are just a few of the experiences you can look forward to: 

  • Participating in simulations alongside students from a variety of disciplines

  • Having the opportunity to complete fieldwork in the pediatric, physical rehabilitative, psychosocial and other arenas in one of our 175+ partner sites around the nation

  • Attending occupational therapy conferences at both the state and national levels

  • Choosing an area of specialty to explore and research through your capstone experiential project


2022-2023 Tuition and Fees

Tuition - Graduate Student Rate/Credit Hour
South Dakota Resident $340.15
Minnesota Resident Reciprocity* $599.90
Non-Resident $888.10
University Fees Rate/Credit Hour
General Activity Fee $55.30
Lab/STEM Fee $42.35 per ANAT and PHGY credit hour
School of Health Sciences Special Discipline Fee $103.50 per OCTH credit hour
OT Liability Fee (estimated) $11.00 each fall semester
Estimated Program Total (114 Credits)**
South Dakota Resident $56,302
Minnesota Resident Reciprocity $85,029
Non-Resident $116,428
Other Expenses (Estimated)
Books First Year (Estimated) $2,700
Second Year, Summer (Estimated) $1,100
Second Year (Estimated) $1,300
Third Year, Summer (Estimated) $678
Third Year (Estimated) $500
Vaccinations Hepatitis B Vaccination estimate (1st Year only if you have not completed the vaccination series and a positive titer). Each of the vaccinations in the series is approximately $59 and the titer is approximately $40.
TB (PPD) Blood test $65
Influenza Vaccination $35/year

*Minnesota reciprocity rate for summer 2022. This information may be updated for fall 2022 and spring 2023.
**Number of credits is subject to change.

WICHE Professional Student Exchange Program

If you are a resident of Alaska, Hawaii, Montana or Wyoming, you are eligible to apply for reduced tuition through the WICHE Professional Student Exchange Program.

Outcomes and Accreditation

The Doctor of  Occupational Therapy program at the University of South Dakota is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). ACOTE is recognized as the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education by both the United States Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

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