Dr. Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Research Scholarship in Occupational Therapy

Dr. Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Research Scholarship in Occupational Therapy is dedicated to establishing a research agenda to impact the advancement of science for the field of occupational therapy through investigation/development of:

  • Models/approaches addressing social justice, human volition, or methods to bridge the gaps between research and practice
  • Extensions of theoretical foundations of occupational therapy, including client-centered, occupation-based innovations and/or
  • Novel and innovative intervention techniques; and/or
  • Methods to use existing data, testing measures, or intervention approaches

Scholarship amount: $5,000

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible, the applicant must: 

  • Be an occupational therapist enrolled in a research doctoral program (PhD, ScD, DrPH, and other doctoral research degrees will be considered).
  • Have completed all department and institutional course work requirements with the exception of writing and defense of the dissertation.
  • Have successfully defended their dissertation proposal at the time of their application, however, they may use the funds for a research study (in the scholarship’s focus area) other than their dissertation study.
  • Have IRB approved or in process at the time of completing the application. Scholarship funds will not be released until the IRB approval is received (if awarded).
  • Agree to utilize scholarship funds during their time as a doctoral candidate without carryover thereafter (if awarded).
  • Have a mentor who has expertise in the area of research study.
  • Conduct research at a US academic institution.
  • Be a US citizen or have appropriate residence/visa documents.

Application Instructions for 2023-2024 Scholarship

Open: August 1, 2023, 12:00 a.m. (ET)

Deadline: Sept. 15, 2023, 11:59 p.m. (ET)

Download Application Instructions


Questions? Email research@aotf.org.


Dr. Gary Kielhofner, DrPH, OTR, FAOTA, was one of the most influential and transformational figures in occupational therapy. The Model of Human Occupation (MOHO), which he developed along with Janice Burke, is one of the most widely used theories in occupation therapy research and practice. However, as important and impactful as MOHO is, it is only one piece of Gary’s legacy. He was a mentor, colleague and collaborator with hundreds of students, faculty members, researchers and practitioners from around the world. He was a visionary who broke new ground and reshaped perspectives of social justice, human volition and helped to bridge the gap between research and practice. He was an AOTA Fellow, one of the 100 Influential OTs named by AOTA, recipient of the AOTA Award of Merit and the AOTF A. Jean Ayres Award and an inaugural inductee into the AOTF Academy of Research.

Central to both AOTF’s mission and Gary’s work is the development of new research talent in occupational therapy. It is an issue that addresses not only the need for more evidence in OT but the need for future leaders in the field. Thanks to the support of Gary’s family, friends, colleagues and the OT community, AOTF has been able to endow the Dr. Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Student Scholarship in Occupational Therapy. This endowment will allow for an annual award to be given in perpetuity. AOTF is extremely grateful for the generosity of everyone who made this possible and we hope to grow the fund to enable larger scholarships in the future. If you wish to support future OT scientists, please make a gift to bolster this scholarship and research talent.

Gary embodied the best qualities of our profession; intellectual curiosity, volunteerism and a purpose-driven life. Gary was generous, always available to help others, continually looking for ways to strengthen the profession and help people with new opportunities to succeed. It is this wonderful combination of talent, passion and leadership that makes Gary an exemplary model for emerging scientists and a person AOTF is delighted to recognize with research-focused award. 

Gary Kielhofner Doctoral Research in OT Scholarship Awardees

2024- Cristina Parsons, MOT, OTR/L, PhD Candidate​, Colorado State University, Inclusion of Young Adults with Intellectual Disabilities in Their Transition to Employment: Designing the Vocational Fit Assessment – Self Report       

2023- Amy McArthur, PhD Candidate, MS, OTR/L, University of Illinois, Project Title: Exploring Breast Cancer as Disability: A Qualitative Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis Dissertation Research Study  

2022- Allison L'Hotta, OTD, OTR/L, Washington University in St. Louis, Project Title: Cancer Survivors' Participation in Meaningful Life Activities, A Mixed Methods Approach (CASPAR)

2021- Rachelle Brick, University of Pittsburgh, Research Title: Developing a Stakeholder-Driven Cancer Rehabilitation Intervention for Older Adults with Breast Cancer

2020- Dominique Como, University of Southern California Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Exploring the Occupation of Oral Health in African American Families