(Carson, CA) – With the passing of Assembly Bill 829, California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) will become the first public university in Southern California to offer a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (OTD).
Passed by the California Legislature on Aug. 15 and signed by Governor Gavin Newsom on Aug. 30, AB 829 grants the California State University (CSU) system the authority to develop OTD programs on its campuses. Along with CSUDH, San Jose State University has also been approved by the CSU to create an OTD program. The two universities are currently the only CSU campuses to offer master’s degrees in the booming field.
“The Legislature appropriately recognized and supported the critical need for more well-trained and job-ready providers ready to practice occupational therapy in California,” said CSUDH President Thomas A. Parham. “California State University, Dominguez Hills already offers a top-tier master’s program in OT that is highly respected, and the fact that we are the only public university in the region with the faculty knowledge and experience ready to launch a comprehensive Doctor of Occupational Therapy program that is affordable for all of Southern California’s citizens, is both a tremendous point of pride and distinction for our campus, and a great reflection of what the CSU has to offer.”
Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps individuals, particularly those with mobility issues, maintain a level of independence and ability to participate in the daily activities that are meaningful to them. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, common interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, assisting people recovering from injuries to regain skills, and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.
CSUDH’s’ Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program (MSOT) has been offered since 2004 and is the only one of its kind offered at a public university in Southern California. The program’s graduates boast a 100 percent pass rate on the national board exam.
“We are very proud to offer a public path to a career in this important healthcare field. This doctorate program will enable us to continue the great success of our master’s-level program, and help meet the workforce demand for doctorate-level education and specialization,” said Terry Peralta-Catipon, chair of the OT department at CSUDH. “We believe that the healthcare workforce should reflect our population. That’s why an affordable public degree is so important, not just for our students, but for our state.”
The National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy notes that California has 12 percent of the U.S. population, but just 8 percent of the occupational therapists. However, the shortage has resulted in robust employment opportunities and salaries for those entering the state’s OT workforce. More than 95 percent of the university’s master’s students are employed as occupational therapists within six months of graduation.
It is anticipated that the OTD program will launch in the next few years. Its curriculum will feature several concentrations: clinical practice expertise (adult physical rehabilitation, mental health, and pediatric and school-based practice); research and education; and leadership and advocacy.
“We anticipate that the doctorate-level degree would continue to bring significant cost savings to our students. They deserve it – as some of the most sought-after professionals in the field,” said Peralta-Catipon.