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Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD)

Pursue an Occupational Therapy Doctorate to help advance your education in helping patients live healthier and more fulfilling lives

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You must be a licensed registered nurse or have completed an associate degree of nursing to apply for the program.

You must be a licensed registered nurse and have completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree or a bachelor's degree in a closely related field to apply for this program.

You must be a licensed registered nurse and have completed a Master of Science in Nursing degree to apply for this program.

You must be a licensed registered nurse and have completed a Master of Science in Nursing degree or a master's degree in a healthcare related field.

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OTD Program Highlights

WCU's Doctor of Occupational Therapy program helps students develop the skills and competencies needed to enter the field and provide patient-centered care to meet a diverse range of needs.

<p>Earn your Occupational Therapy Doctorate in as few as 32 months</p>

Earn your Occupational Therapy Doctorate in as few as 32 months

<p>Master your skills in our dynamic learning environment and learn integrated care</p>

Master your skills in our dynamic learning environment and learn integrated care

<p>Practice in technologically advanced simulations and skill labs to help master techniques and build confidence</p>

Practice in technologically advanced simulations and skill labs to help master techniques and build confidence

<p>Study and gain fieldwork experience alongside students in other healthcare fields--practicing interprofessional collaboration</p>

Study and gain fieldwork experience alongside students in other healthcare fields--practicing interprofessional collaboration

<p>Support Beyond Graduation - WCU offers ongoing assistance with professional and career development</p>

Support Beyond Graduation - WCU offers ongoing assistance with professional and career development

For questions about admissions, please contact:
Admissions Department
Send an email

Student Life at WCU

Join a diverse community of passionate, dedicated individuals at WCU.  With a culture that feels like a family, you will have all the support you need to be the best you can be. Join a study group to learn from your classmates or get some guidance through peer tutoring sessions. WCU’s class sizes grant you the opportunity to get to know your professors and get insight into the healthcare industry. Find a community that helps you build on your strengths and reach your academic goals.

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Additional Information About our OTD Degree

Welcome to West Coast University's Occupational Therapy Department. Our department has a tradition of excellence. 

West Coast University prepares MSOT and OTD students to be successful professionals, by emphasizing holistic client-centered care, evidence-based practice, and critical thinking skills. A part of our mission at West Coast University is to embrace a student-centric learning partnership. We continuously pursue more effective and innovative ways through which our students develop the competencies and confidence required in a complex and changing world.

Our facility is technologically advanced and provides students with an environment that promotes innovative learning methods designed to develop skilled, confident, competent therapists. Our faculty members represent a wide array of expertise in the field of occupational therapy.

We are a family here at West Coast University. As you step through our doors you will feel a comfortable and supportive environment. We provide a quality education for our students. We are a tight knit group, and believe that it's ok to have fun while you learn.

Our legacy is our graduates. They make us proud daily, as they continue to propel the profession forward as leaders, advocates, and trailblazers, exhibiting industry-current solutions to promote quality of life.

Thank you for your interest in our OTD program. I look forward to meeting you during our interview season.

Warmest regards,

Dr. Stacey Willis, OTR/L
Dean & Program Director

Student-Centric Educational Environment

When setting out to design our program, we posed a simple question: What type of educational structure will maximize OT doctoral program students' opportunity for success?

OUR ANSWER: An integrated approach to classroom work, advanced technology and in-depth, hands-on experiential learning.

Occupational therapy, by its very nature, is hands-on and interactive so our learning environment reflects those key realities.

West Coast University occupational therapy students take part in exciting innovations–such as our technologically-advanced patient Simulation Centers – involving students in simulated healthcare scenarios that mirror real life. And because the real world of healthcare depends on interprofessional cooperation, West Coast University gives occupational therapy students the chance to collaborate with other healthcare professionals in training.

Learning is Doing

We believe our students pursuing OT degrees learn best through active participation. Ongoing experiential education is achieved through hands-on implementation of classroom theory, and through fieldwork, obtaining real-world skills in a variety of practice settings. Active participation advances the students’ practice and communication skills, enabling them to take on increased responsibility over the course of their fieldwork with greater confidence.

The philosophy of the Department of Occupational Therapy at WCU reflects the mission statement and values of West Coast University, the values of the occupational therapy profession, and the mission and values of the faculty of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. Some of the themes that these entities share are: student-centricity; commitment to the communities served; innovation and creativity; and the efficient use of resources. The occupational therapy curriculum incorporates beliefs about health and well-being, occupation, and teaching and learning. Education is focused on helping the student to emerge as a “scholar of practice” with advance skill above those of a generalist as a direct care provider, consultant, educator, manager, researcher, and advocate for the professions and the consumer (ACOTE Preamble, p.1)

West Coast University's Occupational Therapy Program is based on the belief that all humans are occupational beings in nature, and in the healing power of occupation whereby humans can influence their own health status. Occupational engagement and thus occupation-based interventions are therefore the central theme of the curriculum.

Our mission is to provide doctoral-level education to develop caring and competent Occupational Therapy practitioners through the integration of theory, research and practice. These scholars of practice will be lifelong learners and can develop into advocates and leaders for the Occupational Therapy profession in diverse local and global communities. Through a student-centric and interprofessional curriculum, the students should be prepared to be reflective practitioners by applying principles of evidence-based practice, research, and critical thinking to facilitate the well-being of consumers through engagement in valued occupations and as it relates to health promotion, prevention, and wellness.

The curricular threads are:

  • Occupations as a means and end
  • The healing power of occupation
  • Client-centeredness
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Therapeutic use of self
  • Diverse and globally connected
  • Wellness and prevention
  • Critical thinking and clinical reasoning
  • Adaptation as a means towards performance and engagement
  • Leadership and advocacy

Graduates from the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Graduation and NBCOT Pass Rates are as follow:

Graduation Data

Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2017 Program commenced N/A
2018 No graduates N/A
2019 No graduates N/A
2020 28/27 96%
2021 28/24 86%

Graduation Data

Year: 2017
Students Entering/Graduating Program commenced
Graduation Rate N/A
Year: 2018
Students Entering/Graduating No graduates
Graduation Rate N/A
Year: 2019
Students Entering/Graduating No graduates
Graduation Rate N/A
Year: 2020
Students Entering/Graduating 28/27
Graduation Rate 96%
Year: 2021
Students Entering/Graduating 28/24
Graduation Rate 86%
Year: 2022
Students Entering/Graduating 28/28
Graduation Rate 100%

NBCOT Certification Data

Year Number of Students Taking Exam Number of Students who Passed Exam Passage Rate
2017 Program commenced N/A N/A
2018 No graduates N/A N/A
2019 No graduates N/A N/A
2020 26 26 100%
2021 19 18

NBCOT Certification Data

Year: 2017
Number of Students Taking Exam Program commenced
Number of Students who Passed Exam N/A
Passage Rate N/A
Year: 2018
Number of Students Taking Exam No graduates
Number of Students who Passed Exam N/A
Passage Rate N/A
Year: 2019
Number of Students Taking Exam No graduates
Number of Students who Passed Exam N/A
Passage Rate N/A
Year: 2020
Number of Students Taking Exam 26
Number of Students who Passed Exam 26
Passage Rate 100%
Year: 2021
Number of Students Taking Exam 19
Number of Students who Passed Exam 18
Passage Rate 95%

A student applying for admission to the OTD program at West Coast University must:

  1. Submit a completed application for admission and pay application fee through WCU and OTCAS and submit transcripts by the deadline.
  2. Meet the program admissions requirements.
  3. Submit a copy of official transcripts through OTCAS.
  4. Participate in a qualitative admissions interview arranged by a University Admissions Advisor.
  5. Complete an enrollment agreement if accepted into the program.

Program specific application requirements and prerequisites:

  1. Have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution. Overall Last 60 unit requirement must meet a 3.0 minimum GPA
  2. Application can be submitted during enrollment in an undergraduate degree program or during completion of prerequisite course work. Note: In order to be considered for admissions all course work must be completed and final documentation must be submitted by the deadline posted on OTCAS.
  3. Medical terminology course required. (1-2 credits)
  4. Applicants who earned a bachelor’s degree in a non-English speaking country must have verification of the following scores within two years of intended enrollment:
  5. An Internet Based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90 with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or
    1. An IELTS of 6.5 with no less than 6 on each band score.
    2. Students whose native language is English and/or students with a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university are exempted from this examination.
  6. Applicants must have obtained an overall 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA) of program prerequisite courses (from accredited universities) within the last ten years.
    1. Required prerequisite courses:
      • Two (2) courses in the humanities or social sciences (Anthropology; Philosophy; Religion; Ethics; Cultural studies; Group dynamics) (3 semester units)
      • One (1) Statistics course (3 semester units)
      • One (1) courses in Human Anatomy plus lab (3 semester units)
      • One (1) course in Physiology plus lab (3 semester units)
      • One (1) course in Human Development or Lifespan (Human Growth & Development, Developmental Psychology, Lifespan Psychology (3 semester units)
      • One (1) course in Abnormal or Behavioral Psychology (3 semester units)
      • One (1) course in Advanced Writing (3 semester units)
    1. Student should have:
      1. Basic computer skills in Microsoft Word and PowerPoint
      2. Three (3) references: (1-2) occupational therapists; 1 faculty member/advisor; 1 professional
      3. A minimum of 40 volunteer or observation hours obtained from an occupational setting of choice

In order to be considered, all program specific admissions requirements and prerequisites must be met by deadlines posted on OTCAS.

Fulltime devotion to this program is highly recommended; any employment can interfere with the successful completion of this program

      • The University reserves the right to deny admission to applicants if the admissions requirements are not successfully met. The denial of admissions is final and may not be appealed.
      • Candidates - Once the applicant becomes an eligible candidate, a $500 deposit (Cashier’s Check or Money Order only) is required as part of the acceptance to the OTD program offered at WCU. This requirement will also be mentioned in the acceptance letter from the Occupational Therapy Department.

        Health Insurance Requirement - Students enrolled in the OTD program will be required to provide evidence of health insurance prior to participation in fieldwork. Participation in fieldwork is required to complete the program.

The Occupational Therapy Doctorate program does not allow transfer credit.

OTD Candidate Deposit

Applicants that are conditionally accepted to the OTD program will be required to submit a $500.00 good faith payment for a Seat Deposit. The Seat Deposit will be credited to your program costs. The University will retain a maximum of $175.00 of this deposit should you cancel your enrollment within seven calendar days (excluding holidays) of enrollment or by the seventh calendar day of the first term, whichever is later. The seat deposit is fully refundable if you are not admitted as a result of your background check. Deposits may be paid by money order or cashier's check made out to West Coast University.

For specific graduation requirements, please see the OTD Graduation Requirements.

For questions about admissions, please contact:
Admissions Department
Send an email

To view the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program curriculum, please Click Here!

Click Here to view the Academic Calendar.

The 120 credit, 32-month Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program derives from a practice-scholar model emphasizing the integration of scholarly knowledge in professional practice. The culminating project and attendant doctoral courses aim to facilitate the student's personal growth of reflective practice skills and lifelong learning for an extensively prepared entry into the profession of occupational therapy. Going beyond the generalist requirements of a master’s level program, the doctoral coursework for WCU's OTD program provides the student with a deepened engagement with practice skills, innovation, occupational therapy and occupational science theory, and research, thereby building a solid foundation for future leadership and advocacy within occupational therapy and the workplace.

Within WCU's Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, students develop competency in integrative thinking about humans as occupational beings to provide occupation-based occupational therapy services to meet a diverse range of needs. Intervention courses give students experience utilizing technologically advanced equipment, a medical simulation lab, and advanced practice modalities. The integrative pedagogy builds a sophisticated understanding of occupational performance with an emphasis on viewing humans as bio-psychosocial beings. Coursework extensively prepares them for Fieldwork Level I and II experiences which take place from trimesters II-VI.

Upon successful completion of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program, students will be able to:

  1. Develop and implement client-centered care that is inclusive of cultural values, beliefs, and needs.
  2. Demonstrate effective communication skills and function effectively as a member of an inter-professional health care team.
  3. Apply critical analysis of evidence during the occupational therapy process and participate to increase the body of knowledge of the profession through the preparation and dissemination of scholarship.
  4. Design and implement interventions with a central focus on occupation as the means and end of therapeutic process, in line with the profession’s philosophy.
  5. Integrate health promotion and wellness in interventions with individuals, communities, and populations.
  6. Model leadership and advocacy for occupational therapy in the full range of service areas.

To view the Certification Outcomes, please click here.

NBCOT National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
NBCOT Certification data for the program is available on NBCOT website.
Graduates from the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program are eligible to take the national certification examination for the occupational therapist. This examination is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), website. After successful completion of this examination, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most state require licensure to practice, and state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

Please note that in order to take the national certification examination the following questions will be asked:

  • Have you ever been charged with or convicted of a felony? (Note: Applicants must answer affirmatively if records, charges or convictions have been pardoned, expunged, released or sealed).
  • Have you ever had any professional license, registration or certification revoked or subject to probationary conditions by a registry authority or certification board?
  • Have you ever been found by any court, administrative or disciplinary proceedings to have committed negligence, malpractice, recklessness, or willful or intentional misconduct which resulted in harm to another?
  • Have you ever been suspended and/or expelled from a college or university?

Institutional Accreditation

West Coast University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

985 Atlantic Avenue, #100
Alameda, California 94501

Programmatic Accreditation

West Coast University's Doctor of Occupational Therapy program received accreditation on July 26, 2019 from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE's telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-2682, and their website is Program graduates 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 individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure to practice; however, state licensure is 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.

Going beyond the generalist requirements of a master’s level program, the doctoral coursework at West Coast University prepares the student as a scholar of practice by preparing students for future leadership and advocacy within occupational therapy and the workplace.

The Doctoral Capstone Consists of two parts:

Capstone Project

The purpose of the capstone project is to serve as the culminating project for the doctoral student and will enable the student to see a large project through the phases of initial research and development, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination.

Capstone projects will focus on one or more of the following areas:

  • Clinical Practice Skills
  • Program or Policy Development
  • Education
  • Leadership
  • Administration
  • Advocacy
  • Theory Development
  • Research

Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE)

The Doctoral Capstone Experience serves as the context for implementing the capstone project. The DCE site provides the student with the opportunity to develop advanced skills beyond the level of a generalist practitioner, deepen competency as a scholar of practice, and complete their capstone project.

The Doctoral Capstone Experience is 14 weeks (560 hours) in length, 80% of hours must be completed directly on-site.

Capstone Projects

Aimee Villalpando - Neuro Specialist Institute

Alyssa Lizardo - CHLA

Andrea Dionisio - VOA

Angelica Rae Holper - Neuro Specialist Institute

Ashley Ko - SLEA

Caitlin Jukes - Lactation & Development Resources

Chelsea Sangalang - Alzheimer's LA

Elyssa Ronda - Motivate Therapy

Isabel Fagsao - Thrive Pediatrics

Jeanine Moussa - CBD College

Kimberly Doctolero - Vibrant Minds Charter

Monica Velazquez - Valley Orthopaedic Bone & Joint

Morgan Howe - Wasatch

Nosa Ogiamien - Ascencia

Rebecca Keating - Spooner PT

Rebecca Yi - VA Blind Rehabilitation Center

Sheila James - WCU

Yuliya Bilovus - Triumph Foundation

Zoe Wilkens - OTTP

Ellen S. Park, OTS - A Group Feeding Program Manual For Children With Sensory Processing Difficulties

Amber Elmore, OTDS - A Self-Regulation Skill Building Group for Adults with Serious Mental Illness and Co-Occurring Issues

Carolyn Leong, OTD/S - Advocacy Initiative for Dwelle Collaborative: An Occupational Therapy Program for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Jabari Hoyte, OTS - Advocating for Occupational Therapy’s Role in Underserved Communities: A Mixed Methods Study

Christina Ramirez, OTD/S - Caring for the Caregiver: An OT-Based Approach in Caring for Persons with Alzheimer’s and other Dementias

James Bierman, OTS - Community Reintegration for Adults with Serious Mental Illness

Valerie Cromwell, OTS - Curriculum Development and Interprofessional Education Opportunities Targeting Trauma Informed Care in an Occupational Therapy Program

Jason Bonilla, OTD/S - Discovering Mealtime Success: A Program for Parents of Picky Eaters

Breanna Espero, OTD/S - Educational Sessions for Caregivers with Children with Functional Feeding Difficulties

Charmaine Lim, OTD/S - Effectiveness of Equine-Assisted Activities for Individuals With Mild to Moderate Dementia

Monica Quintanilla, OTS - Health and Wellness and Occupational Therapy Advocacy for Cal State LA Students

Joy Santiago, OTD/S - Improvement of Quality-of-Life and Occupational Participation for Women with Substance Use Disorder

Sona Tovmasian, OTD/S - Improving Quality of Oncology Rehabilitation as Multidisciplinary Approach

Adrienne Marilla Msw, Otd/s - Life Unpaused: An Ot Cancer Survivorship Life Unpaused: An Ot Cancer Survivorship Program With Telehealth Accessibility

Kathleen Yee, OTD/S - Occupational Performance Coaching for Caregivers of Children with Down Syndrome and Functional Feeding Difficulties

Orville Gallego, OTD/S - Occupational Therapy in a Job-Skills Training and Employment Program for Adults with Mental Health Challenges

Karmjit Vicki Sagoo, OTD/S - Preliminary Clinical Pathway for Cancer Related Cognitive Impairments (CRCI)

Alejandro Ortiz, OTD/S - Producing Outcomes for Group-Based Early Intervention

Morgan Ashley Absher, OTD/S - Psychosocial Concerns in Acute Care: Meeting Patient Needs Through Educational Programming for Occupational Therapists

Tristen Taylan, OTD/S - Quality Improvement and Program Development for inClusion ClubHouse

Kevin Tan, OTD/S - Safety, Health, & Wellness for Seniors Living with Mild Dementias

Elizabeth Arroyo, OTD/S - Sensory Processing and Emotional Regulation Training Workshops for Teachers of Head Start

Jian Ku, OTD/S - Technological Solutions to Improve Occupational Participation for Older Adults with Hearing Impairments

Bianca Callier, OTS - The Benefits of a Trauma-Informed Aquatic Wellness Program: A Pilot Study


To view the WCU OT Student Handbook, please click here.
To view the WCU OT Fieldwork Education Manual, please click here.

Core Faculty

Stacey Willis, OTD, BSOT, OTR/L

Dean & Program Director

Dean & Program Director

Dr. Stacey Willis obtained her Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Southern California in 2012, and her undergraduate degree in Occupational Therapy from California State University Dominguez Hills in 2002. Dr. Willis is an expert in psychosocial occupational therapy treatment, and has been working in community-based mental health for the past 12 years. Dr. Willis has extensive experience in the areas of management, leadership, program development, community integration, fiscal operations, and contract administration.

Dr. Willis served as the Intensive Services Director at the Occupational Therapy Training Program, where she was responsible for overseeing all daily and administrative operations of the Intensive Services Department. This included the oversight of three intensive programs funded by the county of Los Angeles (Wraparound Program, Center for the Assessment of Prodromal States Pilot Program, and the Full Service Partnership Program).  Dr. Willis was able to identify, promote, and embed occupational therapy services into various community-based programs. As director Dr. Willis also provided ongoing management, training, and mentorship to an interdisciplinary mental health services team. Dr. Willis remains a consultant for the division.

Dr. Willis has spoken at numerous conferences, and community events emphasizing the importance and vital role that occupational therapy provides in the treatment of individuals living with mental illness.

Dr. Willis is an avid Lakers fan, self-proclaimed movie buff, and enjoys engaging in community outreach, in an effort to inspire youth to strive to reach their fullest potential. She and her husband’s favorite pastime is to cheer on their son and daughter at their numerous sporting events.

Diana Gantman Kraversky, OTD, MS, OTR/L, AP

Associate Professor

Associate Professor

Dr. Gantman Kraversky began her pediatric therapy career as a speech therapist with a Masters of Science in Speech Pathology, Education and Child Development from Minsk State Pedagogical University in Belarus. Later, in the United States, she completed her degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh and a Post-Professional Doctoral degree in Occupational Therapy from the Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions.

Her extensive, over 15 years, experience of working with infants, children, adolescents, and young adults includes various practice settings, such as the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, private practice, in-home early intervention settings, and school districts. Dr. Gantman Kraversky served as a consultant for the center-based summer intervention programs and therapeutic camps for children with special needs. She developed new occupational therapy programs and specific interventions within various practice settings, such as functional feeding groups, handwriting, and sensory-motor programs.

Dr. Gantman Kraversky worked in the capacity of an occupational therapy coordinator and supervised both administrative and therapeutic staff. She has experience in conducting clinical research and continuing education courses for the interdisciplinary rehabilitation and special education teams. Dr. Gantman Kraversky has presented in occupational therapy at the local level as well as in the state of Pennsylvania and lectured in various higher education programs. Her leisure pursuits include traveling, reading, cooking and hiking with her husband, daughter and a family dog.


Associate Professor

Associate Professor

Michael Ang created the Outpatient Occupational Therapy Program at St. Vincent Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he specialized in treating neurological and upper extremity conditions. He was the first Certified Stroke Rehab Specialist in Southern California, and has advanced practice certification in hand therapy, physical agents, and swallowing interventions. He has clinical experience treating adults in acute care, intensive care, transitional care, inpatient rehab, outpatient rehab, skilled nursing, assisted living, and home health therapy. 

In 2018, Michael won a RAISE award (Raising Awareness in Stroke Excellence) with the National Stroke Association, and presents on a variety of neurological topics across the nation. He is the originator of the CNS (Certified Neuro Specialist) Method, and works closely with The Neuro Specialist Institute. Michael is a former professor at the University of Southern California, where he created a number of courses related to stroke and brain injury. At West Coast University, Michael teaches Occupations in Practice and Preparatory Methods I and II.

Bryan Kang, OTD, OTR/L, HTC, PAMS

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Assistant Professor

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Assistant Professor

Bryan Kang, OTD, OTR/L, HTC, PAMS is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in upper extremity rehabilitation across various medical institutions in Los Angeles. Dr. Kang knew he wanted to work with individuals experiencing upper extremity disorders from his own upper extremity rehabilitation journey. His work clinical currently seeks to expand psychosocial considerations for upper extremity rehabilitation.

Dr. Kang graduated from the University of Southern California with a Master of Arts in Occupational Science and Occupational therapy in 2018 and went on to complete a doctoral residency program at USC Keck Medical Center specializing in upper extremity rehabilitation. While studying at USC, Dr. Kang had the opportunity to become a regular contributor to the USC Chan Magazine as well as communication and marketing endeavors through the Student Ambassador program.

Upon graduation, Dr. Kang has gone on to present research on psychosocial considerations for upper extremity rehabilitation at regional and state conferences.

In his current role at West Coast University, Dr. Kang teaches courses focused on professionalism, cultural humility, therapeutic use of self, proper documentation, as well as traditional and nontraditional occupational therapy practice settings. Additionally, Dr. Kang works collaboratively with students and fieldwork settings to coordinate meaningful fieldwork experiences in preparation for graduation and entry-level clinical work.

Kathryn B. Duke, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Dr. Kathryn Duke is a licensed occupational therapist whose work has focused on better understanding the occupational needs of marginalized groups such as refugees with disabilities, people with limited English proficiency, and people with co-occurring mental and physical health conditions. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with her Master’s in Occupational Therapy in 2016 and Doctor of Occupational Therapy in 2017. Dr. Duke has presented at national conferences on topics related to mental health and diabetes self-management, interprofessional practice, occupational therapy student fieldwork evaluation, motivational interviewing, and income-generating occupations for refugees with disabilities. At the University of Illinois at Chicago, she was part of an OT research team tasked with validating the revised Fieldwork Performance Evaluation for Level II OT and OTA students; she was also part of an interdisciplinary team that developed the community-based Partners of Refugees in Illinois Disability Employment (PRIDE) program.

Prior to entering the field of occupational therapy, Dr. Duke taught English for international students and immigrants at universities and community-based organizations for 8 years. This experience sparked her passion for working with non-native English speakers from diverse backgrounds as an occupational therapy practitioner and instructor.

Dr. Duke is an avid reader. She also enjoys watching international films, traveling, taking long walks, and playing Scrabble.

Lauren Diaz OTR/L, CNS, RYT

Community-Based Fieldwork Instructor

Community-Based Fieldwork Instructor

Professor Lauren Diaz earned her Masters of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from West Coast University in 2015. She began her career focusing on adult rehabilitation in both home health and inpatient settings. During this time, she was also provided the opportunity to develop a therapeutic garden at a community-based mental health facility in Los Angeles, CA. Through her work with individuals who experience homelessness and those residing in permanent supportive housing, she discovered her passion for advocating and developing OT’s unique role in emerging practice settings and improving health equity for our communities.

She along with fieldwork students develop and implement programs focused on health promotion, wellness, and recovery for marginalized and underserved populations. Their work with local non-profit agencies has been successful in the creation of a new OT position at one of their partnering sites. Professor Diaz is passionate and dedicated to fostering student learning and creating opportunities for students to gain the leadership and advocacy skills needed to propel the OT profession forward.

Professor Diaz has presented her research on the topic of Community-Based Fieldwork and its Impact on Population Health at the national level which has been integral for the creation of the Community-Based Fieldwork Instructor positions at West Coast University.

Professor Diaz enjoys watching live music, spending time in nature, going out to restaurants with friends and family, and cuddling up with her OT husband and dog Rocco.

Manisha Sheth, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Dr. Manisha Sheth obtained her Post Professional clinical Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy from the Boston University, MA in 2016. Her doctorate research was focused on how does non-pharmacological occupational therapy interventions improve sleep in clients who undergo fast track joint replacement surgery.

Dr. Sheth has worked as a clinical specialist and lead OT for Comprehensive Joint Replacement Center at Norwalk Hospital, CT for past 16 years. Dr. Sheth is NOMAS (Neonatal Oral Motor Assessment Scale) licensed professional for past 11 years. Her extensive, 30 years experience of working with adult and older adult populations includes various practice setting such as acute care, acute rehab, skilled nursing facility and home health.

Prior to teaching at West Coast University, Dr. Sheth served as an adjunct faculty at Dominican College, NY for 2 years. Dr. Sheth has spoken at numerous state and national conferences and has written a chapter about sleep disorders in breast cancer survivors in the book titled “The little book for menopause: Living with the challenges of breast cancer.” Dr. Sheth has been passionate about health promotion and wellness programs focusing on sleep hygiene for older adults.

Dr. Sheth has travelled extensively across North America, West Europe and South East Asia. She enjoys spending time with her husband and two children, cooking vegetarian world cuisines, and exploring Southern California.

Aaron Picus, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Dr. Aaron Picus is a licensed occupational therapist with a wide range of scholarly interests, focusing on the lived experiences of disability and the tactics everyday practitioners employ to create change within their organizations.  Born and raised in Houston, TX, he eventually made his way to the Los Angeles region by way of New Orleans & Chicago.  He received both his Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and post-professional clinical doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  He has created multiple continuing education programs, one of which empowers occupational therapy practitioners with the evidence base for generating a change unique to their own organizational contexts.  He considers himself a pediatric practitioner, specializing in Early Intervention.  Dr. Picus is passionate about addressing ableism in his practice and often finds himself drawing upon his own experiences receiving occupational therapy as a child.

Working in the Early Intervention system provides him the opportunity to connect with caregivers and create life-lasting changes in a child’s developmental trajectory.  Dr. Picus also has experience in outpatient pediatric settings, with expertise related to DIR/Floortime & Sensory Integration.  He especially enjoys the mentoring process and witnessing students as they develop into future clinicians.  During his free time, he enjoys cooking, hiking, reading, and exploring new neighborhoods across LA county. 

Stephanie Attenni, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor

Dr. Stephanie Attenni obtained her master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 2014. Following graduation, she worked in both geriatric and school-based settings. Dr. Attenni served on the board of her state association as both recording secretary and newsletter editor. She also served as an adjunct faculty member at Temple University.

In 2016, she moved to California to attend the University of Southern California. She completed her residency at the USC Lifestyle Redesign(TM) Faculty Practice and obtained her Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2017. Her doctoral studies focused on chronic disease management, prevention, and wellness.

Prior to teaching at West Coast University, she worked in travel therapy, home health and inpatient acute care, experimenting with integrating her wellness and mental health knowledge into these traditional settings. Dr. Attenni has also presented at the AOTA National Conference, served as a panelist for new practitioners at AOTA/NBCOT Student Conclave, and has contributed to the AOTA Student Pulse E-Newsletter. She is a certified yoga teacher and Reiki Level II practitioner. Dr. Attenni is a multi-passionate practitioner who believes that all people have the right to live a healthy and meaningful life. Her goal as a professor is to ensure that all students feel confident in addressing patients holistically.

Dr. Attenni is an avid reader and writer. She loves to travel and cook with her husband, spend time with her family and friends, go to the beach, and explore various metaphysical healing modalities including Astrology & Human Design.

Elise Leizerovich, OTD, OTR/L

Capstone Coordinator, Assistant Professor

Capstone Coordinator, Assistant Professor

Dr. Elise Leizerovich received her Master’s in Occupational Therapy from Thomas Jefferson University in 2014 and her Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences in 2020. Her doctoral capstone project focused on the development of an occupational therapy case management program for individuals with serious mental illness. While Dr. Leizerovich has experience in a variety of OT settings, her primary areas of interest are mental health and school-based OT. Dr. Leizerovich enjoys cooking, playing tennis, traveling, and going to sporting events.

Adjunct Faculty

Bryant Edwards

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Bryant Edwards earned his Masters of Arts and Occupational Therapy Doctorate from the University of Southern California, and his Masters of Public Health from The Ohio State University.  Having spent the entirety of his occupational therapy career working with children and adolescents, he is Board Certified in Pediatrics through the American Occupational Therapy Association.  Dr. Edwards is currently the Occupational Therapy Manager at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, overseeing a staff of over 50 occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and therapy aides.  In addition, he has served as a consultant for school districts and therapy agencies.  His volunteer leadership has included serving as the Secretary for the Occupational Therapy Association of California for 4 years, and he is currently the Vice President of the Association. He has served as adjunct faculty at West Coast University since 2016.​

Sergio Sandoval, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Dr. Sergio Sandoval is Assistant Professor of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate and Masters Programs at West Coast University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Marketing and Management from California State University, Northridge. He worked in project and personnel management for 10 years before returning to graduate school to pursue occupational therapy. Dr. Sandoval graduated from the University of Southern California with a Masters and Doctorate degree in Occupational Therapy. His doctoral researched focused on healthcare policy and administration, and the patient experience in healthcare systems. During his time at USC, Dr. Sandoval severed as Research Assistant in the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department where he played an integral part in a feasibility research study that served as a basis for The Resilient, Empowered, Active Living With Diabetes (REAL Diabetes) randomized controlled trial to improve glycemic control and quality of life among young adults with diabetes using an occupational therapy intervention. He also discovered his passion for teaching while at USC, serving as a Lab Instructor for graduate courses in Kinesiology and Neuroscience.

Dr. Sandoval is currently a practicing clinician and maintains a caseload in outpatient and inpatient settings, including acute rehabilitation and intensive care units. He has several years of experience working with adult populations treating both neurological, orthopedic, and upper extremity and hand conditions. He holds several specialty certifications at the state and national level, including hand therapy (HTC), physical agent modalities (PAM), stroke rehabilitation (CSRS), swallowing assessment and intervention (SWC), and soft tissue mobilization (IASTM). Dr. Sandoval is currently pursuing the Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) certification and has met requirements to sit for the examination. He is passionate about working with adult populations in the areas of neurological rehabilitation and hand therapy. His leisure pursuits include hiking with his two dogs, traveling, cooking and exploring new restaurants in the Los Angeles area.

Bianca Callier, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Bianca Callier earned her Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree from West Coast University in 2020. Dr. Callier has had numerous experiences providing community-based mental health services to women experiencing homelessness, survivors of human trafficking, and children and adolescents with mental illness. When educating on topics of mental health, she challenges her students to advocate for the role of OT and mental health and use empathy and compassion when developing occupation-based treatments for future clients.

Following graduation, Dr. Callier focused her career on gaining experience as an early intervention pediatric therapist and starting a business in aquatic occupational therapy. Dr. Callier is passionate about advocating for OTs unique role within aquatic therapy. She developed her doctoral capstone project to provide an aquatic wellness program to a marginalized community through the lens of a trauma-informed care approach. During the 2020 OTAC Conference, Dr. Callier presented a poster and short course presentation session of her capstone project and the research outcomes. Her presentation has been accepted to present at the upcoming World Federation of Occupational Therapy Conference in Paris, 2022.

Dr. Callier is dedicated to the mission to increase diversity and inclusion within the profession of occupational therapy as an active member of the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity, COTAD. As a leader of the COTAD Community committee, she organizes and facilitates community service projects during each annual AOTA Conference. In addition, Dr. Callier serves on the OTAC Membership Committee and the OT Program Advisory (PAC) Committee at West Coast University.

Dr. Callier enjoys her yearly trip to Yosemite, cooking, going on walks with her family and Goldendoodle, swimming, and looking for dolphins at the beach.

Celine Banaga, OTR/L, CNS

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Professor Celine Villanueva Banaga received her Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from West Coast University in 2016. She pursued a career in predominantly serving the adult and older adult populations in various settings including outpatient, inpatient, and home health settings. Through her experience working in the field, she developed a deep interest in neurological rehabilitation as well as upper limb amputation and prosthetic training and has earned her Neuro Specialist certification (CNS) and certification in OSSUR Upper Limb Prosthesis.

Professor Banaga is currently a practicing home health clinician who aims to bring relevant day to day experiences into the classroom to further her students’ skills in clinical problem solving, patient communication, and foundational techniques, to further the growth of Occupational Therapy as a profession.

Matcha latte in hand, Professor Banaga loves to go thrift shopping with her husband, frequenting various restaurants in search of the perfect french fry, spending time with her two dogs (Milo and Potato), and traveling.

Michelle Kornet, MBA, MS, ORT/L, CHT

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Professor Kornet is originally from the Hudson Valley, New York, and relocated to California in 2019. She graduated from The Sage Colleges with a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy and began her career in OT working with members of both the United States Military and Airforce to rehabilitate orthopedic injuries. Professor Kornet was mentored and trained by both surgeons and therapists to become a Certified Hand Therapist (CHT) in 2018.

Additionally, Professor Kornet has completed a second master's degree in Business Administration. She currently maintains a clinical caseload in hand therapy in addition to being the Director of Clinical Services at a private clinic in Los Angeles. She believes in quality patient care and is dedicated to the advancement of the field of hand therapy. Professor Kornet serves as a volunteer mentor through the American Society of Hand Therapists (ASHT) and a fieldwork supervisor for current OT students.

In 2020, Professor Kornet joined the West Coast University, occupational therapy faculty, as an Assistant Professor in both the masters and doctoral programs. She is currently lecturing on topics related to lifespan and physical dysfunction including her passion: upper extremity rehabilitation.

In her spare time, Professor Kornet can be found running, practicing yoga or enjoying the outdoors with her two beagles.

Rani Waterman, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Dr. Rani Waterman is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in pediatric acute care.  She graduated from the University of Southern California with her Master’s in Occupational Therapy in 2016 and her Post-Professional Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy in 2017.  Her doctoral research focused on maternal wellbeing within the population of children with severe feeding issues.   

She has worked in primarily in acute care with both adults and children.   She currently works at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles treating children 1+ years with a variety of diagnoses.  She has advanced practice in Swallowing Assessment, Evaluation or Intervention and specializes in neuro rehab and hand therapy.   

Dr Waterman enjoys cooking, hiking and anything that has to do with her dogs.  

Kendra King, OTR/L, CBIS

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Professor King is an Assistant Professor of the Occupational Therapy Doctorate and Masters program at West Coast University. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Theater and Dance from University of Texas at Austin in 2006. She spent four years working as an actress in New York City, but discovered her passion for working with children when she began volunteering at the Creative Arts Workshops for Kids in Harlem. This motivated her to return to school and in 2013 she graduated with her Masters in Occupational Therapy from University of Southern California.

Professor King began her OT career working in the Inpatient Rehabilitation unit at Cedars-Sinai. After two years she transitioned to Acute care at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). In her five years at CHLA, Professor King became an essential team member and resource for patients with brain injury, stroke, and spinal cord injury earning her CBIS (Certified Brain Injury Specialist) in 2017. Professor King also works in the CHLA Outpatient Hand Clinic and is the Co-Chair of the OTD Committee at CHLA. She is currently pursuing her SWC (swallowing assessment and intervention) and hopes to one day sit for her CHT (Certified Hand Therapist). She has presented on a wide range of topics at AOTA, OTAC, and guest lectures at USC.

Abraham Kim, OTD, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Dr. Abraham Kim obtained his doctorate degree in occupational therapy from Rush University College of Health Sciences in Chicago. Having lived in multiple Asian countries, his doctorate research focused on stigma on mental health amongst occupational therapists in South Korea. His experience in occupational therapy expands from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seoul. 

Dr. Kim currently is a practicing clinician as well as the director of rehabilitation in an outpatient clinic in Los Angeles. His work outside of teaching focuses on, “getting patients back to what they want and need to do”. 

Dr. Kim enjoys watching the Lakers, collecting action figures & sneakers, golf, and filming/editing. 

Valerie C. Perry, OTD, OTR/L, CNS

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Assistant Professor, Adjunct

Dr. Valerie Perry is a licensed occupational therapist specializing in adult rehabilitation. She earned her Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree from West Coast University in 2020. For her capstone project, Dr. Perry was invited to collaborate with the occupational therapy department at WCU-CGS to expand the curriculum on treatments for mental health patients with a trauma-informed care approach. Additionally, she promoted interprofessional education and communication through a workshop series that involved graduate students from the occupational therapy, physical therapy, and pharmacy departments at WCU-CGS. These events provided an opportunity for these three disciplines to collaborate in both classroom and off-site settings.

Following graduation, Dr. Perry pursued a career serving the adult and geriatric population and is currently practicing as a home health clinician. She has experience treating neurological conditions, orthopedic, cardiothoracic, and progressive diagnoses. To advance her capability to provide effective neurological rehabilitation, Dr. Perry also earned her certification as a Neuro Specialist (CNS). She seeks opportunities to augment students’ learning by incorporating examples from her practice in lectures to facilitate students’ comprehension.

In her spare time, she enjoys snowboarding, swimming, reading, and escaping to the mountains with her husband.

Azada Hsu, MA, OTR/L

Assistant Professor, AFWC

Assistant Professor, AFWC

Professor Azada Hsu is a licensed occupational therapist. She obtained her Master of Arts degree in Occupational Therapy from University of Southern California in 2018. While studying at USC, Professor Hsu was involved in Global Initiatives, a program focused on building and expanding the division’s collaborative relationships globally and supporting international students enrolled in the division’s academic programs. While Professor Hsu has experience in OT settings across the lifespan, her primary areas of interest are mental health, acute care, and emerging areas of practice.

Currently, at West Coast University, Professor Hsu assists with teaching fieldwork courses and works collaboratively with students and fieldwork sites to provide enriching learning experiences. Professor Hsu is passionate about supporting students holistically, by instilling in students the importance of creating daily rhythms for occupational wellness while making progress towards their personal and professional goals. In her spare time, Professor Hsu loves being in nature, eating good food, traveling, and spending time with her husband, young children, and labradoodle.


Lisa Phillips

Program Manager

Program Manager

Lisa Phillips' experience in higher education began in Georgia in 2004. She worked as the assistant to the Department Head of Dental Hygiene at Clayton State University, just south of Atlanta. She has a passion for working with students in higher education.   Mrs. Phillips became part of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program in November 2012 when the program was in the developmental stages.

Mrs. Phillips was given the nickname "Momma Lisa" by the inaugural MSOT cohort for being so involved in their journey and a source of encouragement.  Her true joy and passion is helping students become the professionals they are meant to be.  Lisa says she especially enjoys working with Occupational Therapy Faculty and students because "they make me laugh every day." 

Lisa loves sewing, gardening, stained glass, college football and animals — specifically her fur babies.

Teresa Cisneros

Academic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Academic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Teresa Cisneros is originally from Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Los Angeles in 2015. She obtained her B.A. in Business Communication and B.S. in Justice Studies from Arizona State University (ASU). Teresa has worked in higher education since 2013 when she worked for the Graduate Education Office at ASU as a Student Support Specialist. There she was able to help graduate students with the application process and later transitioned into a Format Advisor assisting students with their thesis and dissertations.

Teresa became part of the Department of Occupational Therapy in May of 2016. She enjoys working with students and building partnerships with fieldwork sites.

On her spare time, Teresa enjoys spending time with family and friends, going to the movies, and party planning.

Brittany Crow

Academic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Academic Fieldwork Administrative Assistant

Brittany Crow received her Bachelor’s degree in Broadcast Communication at California State University of San Bernardino in 2015. Her experience in higher education developed at the Art Institute of Orange County California in 2016, where she was an Assistant Director of Admissions. While holding her previous title, she gained the passion for guiding each student in their desired career path.

Brittany joined the West Coast University team in December 2018, and is excited to continue working at a University. Brittany enjoys spending time with her family and friends on weekends, trying out different restaurants and going on getaways

Is the GRE Exam Required?

No, please do not send your scores, the scores will not be factored in.

Can I take a combined Anatomy & Physiology Course?

Yes, as long as you meet the minimum 6 semester unit requirement, including labs. To meet both our Anatomy & Physiology prerequisite requirements, you can submit two single courses (i.e. Human Anatomy + lab & Human Physiology + lab) or two combination courses (i.e. A&P1 and A&P2).

What if my prerequisite GPA is below a 3.0?

The minimum GPA for prerequisite courses is 3.0, therefore applicants with a GPA lower than 3.0 will be ineligible for admission. Courses that are retaken will be calculated using the higher grade. All coursework must be completed/verified before the deadline.

Can I have pending coursework when I apply?

Yes, but only if you are going to have the coursework and all admissions requirements completed and submitted by the deadline. Coursework must be verified by OTCAS by the deadline, in order to be reviewed/accepted.

Do I need to submit the transcripts/references to the school as well?

No, only to the OTCAS. All you will submit to the school directly is your supplemental application and fee.

Do I need to pay OTCAS & WCU?

Yes, the OTCAS fee and our application fee are separate fees.

Do you accept coursework/transcripts/references/hours/undergraduate degree to be submitted after the deadline?

No, deadlines are firm.

When does the program start?

Fall of each year.

How do I know my application status?

Please click here to email the admissions department and include your OTCAS ID.

Do I need to submit a personal statement or resume?

No, please do not send in a resume or personal statement, this is not part of the application process.

Are the program admissions requirements based on semester units or quarter units?

Our program admissions requirements are based on semester units.

What is the allowed timeframe for prerequisites courses?

All required prerequisite coursework must be completed with a grade of a C or better, meet our semester unit requirements, be completed within the last ten years, and through a regionally accredited college or university.

What is an OTD degree?

An Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) is the most advanced degree you can pursue in occupational therapy. WCU's OTD program helps provide you with the hands-on experience and skillset needed to succeed as a Doctor of Occupational Therapy.

How long does it take to become an OTD?

With WCU's OTD program, you can earn your OTD degree in as little as 32 months.

What does being waitlisted mean?

Receiving a waitlist notice means you have met all admissions requirements, however, we are unable to offer you admission at this time. Waitlisted candidates are placed on a list which ranks candidates based on the admissions requirements, using specific holding patterns. A student's ranking on the waitlist may change at any time depending on other students who are added or removed.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: In order for a candidate’s application to be considered, all requirements must be submitted and met. The candidate’s CAS application must be complete and in verified status through the centralized application service system by the application cycle closing date/deadline in order to be reviewed. Documents/transcripts may not be submitted after the deadline/application closing date. For questions, please contact