Frequently Asked Questions – Transitioning Degree Levels

Frequently Asked Questions regarding Accredited Programs Transitioning to a Higher Degree Level – February 2020

As stated in ACOTE Policy IV.B.4. Transitioning Education Levels, an OT master’s program or OTA associate degree program seeking accreditation for a higher degree level (OT doctoral or OTA baccalaureate degree) should first seek approval to offer the doctoral or baccalaureate degree from the institution, the educational licensing and/or governing board(s) of the state(s) in which the program is to be offered, and the institutional accrediting body. The program does not need to have doctoral-degree or baccalaureate-degree granting authority at the time of the Letter of Intent, but must have that authority at the time the Candidacy Application is submitted.

Existing OTM or OTA programs that are developing a higher degree level (OT doctoral or OTA baccalaureate degree) should follow ACOTE Policy IV.B.4. Transitioning Education Levels. The section under the heading of “STATUS OF THE PROGRAM AND TRANSITION RULE” addresses the reaccreditation process for transitioning programs.
1. Prepare a signed Letter of Intent that includes the information detailed in the policy.
2. Prepare a Letter of Intent Data form to submit with the program director’s CV.
3. Submit a scanned copy of your Letter of Intent, completed Letter of Intent Data Form, and program director’s CV to accred@aota.org. Note that the $500 deposit is not required.

When a Letter of Intent is received from a transitioning program (one that plans to close its OTM program once the OTD program is accredited), it is added to the regular 12-program cycle on a first-come, first-served basis. Once a cycle is full, up to 6 transitioning programs may be added to the Candidacy Application submission cycle beyond the 12-program cap.

Accredited programs that are transitioning to a higher degree level and phasing out the lower degree level are not subject to additional accreditation fees. The institution will not be charged for the $500 Application Fee Deposit, the Application Fee balance, the Preaccreditation Review fee, or the Initial On-Site Fee. The OTD or OTA-B program would begin paying the Annual Accreditation Fee once the program has transitioned to the higher degree level. Prior to that time, the OTM or OTA program would be paying the Annual Accreditation Fee. (See ACOTE Policy V.A. Fees).

Yes, as long as the institution ensures that the program director will be able to meet all requirements of 2018 Standard A.2.1, including the requirement that the program director has sufficient release time to ensure that the needs of the program are being met.

Yes, requests to have all data in the OTM/OTA Faculty tab copied to the OTD/OTA-B program may be submitted to Sue Graves at accred@aota.org. It is recommended that program wait until just before submission of the OTD/OTA-B Candidacy Application or Self-Study to make sure the most current Faculty profiles are copied over.

To add a user who is already in the eAccreditation system, you will need to contact Sue Graves Accreditation Program Manager, Technical Support, at accred@aota.org and request that those individuals be set up as “dual users”. Once Accreditation staff sets them up as dual users, they will have access to both programs when they log in.

No, ACOTE is not granting delays for this reason. However, per ACOTE Policy IV.B.4. Transitioning Education Levels, once your Letter of Intent with a proposed timeline to seek accreditation for an OTD/OTA-B program is submitted, your OTM/OTA program will be scheduled for an abbreviated Report of Self-Study and a 1-day reaccreditation visit. The abbreviated Report of Self-Study will only require that you report on 2011 Standards A.5.1-A.5.6 or 2018 Standards A.6.1-A.6.4 (depending on when the report is to be submitted). Therefore, it is recommended that you submit your Letter of Intent for the OTD/OTA-B program as soon as feasible.

The Interim Report for transitioning programs cannot be waived. However, per ACOTE Policy IV.B.4. Transitioning Education Levels, once your Letter of Intent with a proposed timeline to seek accreditation for an OTD/OTA-B program is submitted, your OTM/OTA program will be scheduled to submit an abbreviated Interim Report which will only require that you report on 2011 Standards A.5.1-A.5.6 or 2018 Standards A.6.1-A.6.4 (depending on when the report is to be submitted)

Programs should refer to ACOTE Policy VI.E. Sample Statements Regarding Accreditation Status and Use of the ACOTE Logo and ACOTE Policy III.A.1. Step One: The Application Review for guidance. As stated in the Step One policy, the institution may advertise its occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant program as an Applicant program, but it must be made very clear that there is no guarantee that the program will receive Candidacy Status or be allowed to admit students. The difference in status between the accredited OTM/OTA program and the applicant OTD/OTA-B program must be clearly stated.

The Standards that were adopted by ACOTE in August 2018 have an effective date of July 31, 2020:
-All Candidacy Applications will be under the new 2018 Standards.
-Initial self-studies submitted on March 2, 2020 (and later) will be under the new 2018 Standards.
-Reaccreditation self-studies submitted for 2020/2021 on-sites (and later) will be under the new 2018 Standards.