PhD Academic Curriculum in Occupational Science

OS Kendra

The doctoral program in Occupational Science emphasizes a course of study appropriate to each student's interests and career goals. In addition to occupational science seminars, doctoral students select courses that build expertise in research and interdisciplinary perspectives in areas related to occupation and human activity.

Foundation Seminar in Occupational Science

Research Theory and Methodology in Occupational Science and Therapy

This seminar investigates different underlying philosophical dispositions found in occupational science and occupational therapy and considers the associated methodologies that can be employed in occupational science.  It introduces the student to different ways of knowing about occupations and explores designs that could be used to study occupation and the association between occupation and health or well-being. Applied examples of research design are critiqued and evaluated for how each contributes to our understanding of the complexities of occupation and evaluation efficacy of interventions.  Students are encouraged to develop and explain their own epistemologies, paradigms, theories and methodologies.

Doctoral seminars in occupational science

Human Occupation and Context: Epistemology and Application of Concepts:      

Occupational Science is over 20 years old – still a young discipline and not without controversy, the original concept of a discipline focused on occupation persists.  This seminar begins with a hard look at the original precepts of occupational science. Then supports the student in developing their own occupational science “looking glass,” drawing from the original examination to consider several works from other disciplines.  Finally the seminar explores early and recent trends and critiques of occupational science in order to develop an assessment of the state of the discipline and the directions the students think it should take to continue its development.

Processes transforming occupation across the life course

Students synthesize research in order to generate robust understanding of everyday activities as explored in other disciplines.  The use this information to explore what brings about transformations in occupational performance or occupational meaning for a socially identified group of people (e.g., preschoolers, recently immigrated young adults, cancer survivors).  Adopting the perspective that occupation is the transaction that joins the person and situation in a functional way the student offers a conceptual analysis of how changes in the group’s occupations occur. By reading broadly in the literature from different disciplines students also critically analyze how the knowledge about occupation is socially constructed.

Translating Occupational Science into Evidence-Based Practice:

This seminar uses literature on the state of the science as related to autism and other developmental disabilities to examine how a body of work is translated into evidence-based practice.  Readings form a broad range of interdisciplinary research in occupational science, psychology, education, medicine, sociology, etc. will be utilized to critically analyze various research approaches and methods of data collection, analysis and interpretation.  This seminar targets the interfaces among theory, scientific knowledge, and practice and examines efficacy/intervention research that impact on health, development and social participation.

Theories of Action:

This seminar examines works of philosophers and theoretical social scientists that can provide a basis for thinking more carefully and deeply about human occupation, broadly construed.  The fundamental premise is that scholars grounded in appropriate philosophy and theory can conceptualize and theorize occupation more rigorously and thereby add substantively to the discipline. Writings from various traditions compose the readings, including pragmatism, phenomenology, activity theory, actor-network theory and others. While works read will tend to focus on action, associated issues such as identity, place, culture and social relations will be considered.

Interdisciplinary Cognate Area

Courses taken outside the division to gain interdisciplinary perspectives in areas related to human activity, occupation.


Research and Design Methodology

Three courses required to be consistent with career goals and anticipated dissertation plans

Academic Career Seminars

Allied Health Grant Writing

Personnel Development and Systems Change or College Teaching

Mentored research and teaching apprenticeships

Students will work with their primary Mentors and Program Advisory Committee to plan applied research and teaching experiences.  The research experiences take the form of two closely monitored apprenticeships and may cover a variety of research related experience.  The experience in teaching is also tailored to each student’s background and career goals. Students new to academic settings will have the opportunity to build their teaching portfolio.