Doctoral Capstone and Experience

What is the Doctoral Capstone?

The doctoral capstone provides an opportunity for students to become innovative leaders and scholars of practice by demonstrating in-depth synthesis and translation of knowledge within an area of focus in a mentored setting.

Students begin the capstone process by identifying and recognizing a gap in practice or unmet need within the community. The doctoral capstone consists of two parts: a doctoral capstone project and a doctoral capstone experience designed to give the student an in-depth exposure to a concentrated area of study. Students must complete didactic coursework and level II fieldwork clinicals prior to beginning the doctoral capstone experience.

Doctoral Capstone Project:

Students in collaboration with their faculty mentor develop individualized capstone projects in the following areas:

  • Clinical practice skills
  • Research skills
  • Administration
  • Leadership
  • Program and policy development
  • Advocacy
  • Education

As students progress through the OTD program in collaboration with their capstone team, they create a doctoral capstone project by completing a needs assessment and literature review on a self-selected topic. They must also develop specific learning objectives and identify an evaluation plan to assess the success of their capstone project.

Doctoral Capstone Experience:

The doctoral capstone experience (DCE) is the culminating experiential component of the capstone process. Students implement their projects at a site appropriate for the project during the final semester of the program from January to April. The DCE is different than clinical fieldwork as it is a very student-directed learning experience. Students collaborate with their faculty mentor and a site mentor prior to the start of the experience to ensure goals and objectives for the experience and project are appropriate and meaningful to both the student and the site. The DCE is 14 weeks (560 hours) in length, 80% of hours must be completed on-site. Students will provide the site with identified deliverables upon completion of the capstone experience.

The capstone coordinator, faculty advisor, site mentor, and the student will use a formal evaluation for objective assessment of the student’s performance during and at the completion of the doctoral capstone. 

The Capstone Team:

As already mentioned, to facilitate and guide the doctoral capstone project and experience students will work within a capstone team. This team consists of the student, capstone coordinator, faculty mentor, and site mentor.

Roles of the Capstone Team:

Capstone Student-The capstone student will initiate the project focus and lead the development of the capstone project and experience. They will develop individualized student learning objectives, an evaluation plan, and outcomes for their capstone project and experience through collaboration between all parties within the capstone team.

Doctoral Capstone Coordinator-The doctoral capstone coordinator is a full-time core faculty member who is responsible for the OTD program’s compliance with the doctoral capstone Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) standards. The coordinator will guide the entire capstone process as needed.

Faculty Mentor-The faculty mentor provides guidance and feedback throughout the capstone process to make sure the capstone project and experience meet college and program standards.

Site Mentor-The site mentor is a person who supervises the student onsite during the implementation of the capstone project during the doctoral capstone experience. The site mentor does not have to be an occupational therapist however must have demonstrated expertise in the focus area of the doctoral capstone project.

To better understand what a capstone project entails please view the following examples of past capstone projects from students who have graduated from the Kettering College OTD Program.


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