Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department Chair: Steve Cope, ScD, OT/L


This professional Master of Science program is designed to provide entry-level graduate education in the field of occupational therapy. Students learn entry-level skills and techniques commonly used in the practice of occupational therapy in a variety of areas and with diverse populations. They develop the ability to apply these skills through effective clinical reasoning based on a solid theoretical foundation of human function. The purpose of occupational therapy is to help individuals achieve a maximum level of independence in all areas of their lives. Occupational therapy is needed when an individual's ability to live independently, to care for personal needs, and to participate in work, school, family and community life is disrupted by illness or injury. Occupational therapists also provide education and training for wellness and prevention concerns. Occupational therapists work in schools, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, and hospitals, as well as alternative service delivery models (e.g., prisons, community mental health agencies and business/industry).

Students enter the Entry-level Master of Science (M.S.) in Occupational Therapy (OT) Program after completing a baccalaureate degree (no preferred major) and all OT Program prerequisite courses (see below). Upon entry into the OT Program, students will complete two consecutive years of professional occupational therapy education, plus six months of clinical fieldwork. Students will earn a Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy. The OT Program is offered on a full-time basis only for students matriculating in summer of 2017; part-time options will begin in the summer of 2018.

Prerequisites for Admission

The following prerequisites (or their approved transfer equivalents) are required for admission:
• BIO 2110 and BIO 2120: Anatomy Physiology I & II (prerequisite - BIO 2001)
• HSC 2209: Medical Terminology
• PSY 1105: General Psychology
• PSY 2208: Life Span Developmental Psychology
• PSY 3330: PSY/SOC Research Methods
• PSY 3331: Statistics
• Choice of SOC 1125 (Basic Concepts and Principles of Sociology); SOC 2433 (The Family and Society); HON 2125 (Global Sociology); or HIS/WMS 2231 (Cultural Anthropology)

Recommended Courses:
• PSC 1501: Physics (or PSC 1201)
• PSY 3423: Abnormal Psychology
• BIO 3020: Pathophysiology

All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of 2.7 or better. Credits from high school AP courses will not be eligible to satisfy prerequisite coursework for the OT Program, as stated in the OT Department Handbook. The St. Scholastica OT Program does not give credit for work experience or credits taken in another OT Program toward prerequisite or in-program courses. Prerequisite courses must be within the past 10 years.

General Information

All occupational therapy practitioners must graduate from an accredited occupational therapy program and pass the national certification examination in order to practice occupational therapy. In addition, all states require certified occupational therapy therapists to be licensed.

The Entry-level Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTA's phone number is (301) 652-2682. Their website is

Upon completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements of the OT Program, students are awarded a Master's of Science (M.S.) degree. Graduates of the OT Program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for Occupational Therapists administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Information about NBCOT and the certification examination can be found at See the table below for St. Scholastica OT student pass rate over the past three years. Note: A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. An individual, who has a felony background and is considering entering an occupational therapy program, can have his or her background reviewed prior to actually applying for the exam by requesting an Early Determination Review.

After successful completion of this examination, the individual will be a registered occupational therapist (OTR). State licensure is required in all 50 states; practitioners must work with licensing boards within states they plan to work in order to obtain initial licensure and then maintain their license by acquiring continuing education credits and paying fees. 

NBCOT Exam Graduate Pass Rates

Exam Year




First-time test takers




 First-time test takers who passed




Percentage of first-time test takers who passed




Cells reflect the number of test takers who passed the exam within one year of graduating regardless of the number of attempts. Pass rate data can be accessed by going to the following link:

Application to the M.S. in OT Program

There are two methods of application to the OT Program, the First-Year Admission Criteria Track (FACT) and the Standard Admissions Track.

First-Year Admission Criteria Track (FACT)

FACT is a criterion-based early admission program for the graduate Master of Science OT Program. A limited number of students who declare their intent to pursue a Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy degree by the end of their freshman year will be guaranteed admission to the OT Program. FACT is available for up to 16 first-year students on a first-come first-served basis with applications accepted until May 1. Students who have enough credits when they arrive at The College of St. Scholastica as first-year college students to make them sophomores (or higher), may apply as FACT applicants only if there are less than 16 FACT applicants in the future occupational therapy class with whom they will apply.

FACT criteria:

  • register as a FACT student with the Graduate Admissions office by the end of the first year (deadline for application to the FACT Program is May 1st, the opportunity to register earlier is available). The first 16 applicants will be accepted into the FACT early admission program;
  • complete a baccalaureate degree and all prerequisite courses for the OT Program. Students must complete a minimum of 6 of the 8 required prerequisite courses by the deadline for application (November 15, 2016) AND complete the remaining required prerequisites prior to June 7, 2017;
  • maintain an overall and a prerequisite grade point average of 3.0 with a grade of 2.7 or better in all prerequisite courses and obtain a minimum grade of 3.0 on the first year English composition course; and
  • submit the completed OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Admission System) application by the November 15, 2016 deadline.

Students who do not maintain the required overall and prerequisite GPA grades will be removed from the guaranteed FACT admission track, but may still apply to the graduate OT Program through the standard application process.

Note on planned changes to the FACT admission track:  The 2015-2016 academic year marked the end of the FACT admission option to the OT Program. St. Scholastica students who are currently on a FACT list for admission in the summer or 2017 or 2018 are guaranteed admission to the OT Program assuming they maintain the necessary overall and prerequisite GPA. 

All St. Scholastica students who apply to the OT Program for admission in the fall of 2016 and thereafter will be given priority review. Priority review means that applicants who have earned a degree (or will earn a degree prior to starting the M.S. in OT Program) from St. Scholastica will be reviewed prior to applicants with degrees from other colleges or universities. Priority review does not mean guaranteed admission. 

Standard Admissions Track:

Standard Admissions Track applicants will need to:

  • complete a minimum of 6 of the 8 required prerequisite courses for the OT Program. Students must complete a minimum of 6 of the 8 required prerequisite courses by the deadline for application (November 15, 2016) AND complete the remaining required prerequisites prior to June 7, 2017;
  • maintain an overall and a prerequisite grade point average of 3.0 with a grade of 2.7 or better in all prerequisite courses and obtain a minimum grade of 3.0 on the first year English composition course; and
  •  submit the completed OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Admission System) application by the November 15, 2016 deadline.

Minimum Eligibility for Admission:

All applicants to the OT Program at The College of St. Scholastica must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria in order for their application to be considered: 

  • B.A./B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution. No specific baccalaureate major is required;
  • achieve a minimum cumulative and prerequisite GPA of 3.0;
  • complete all prerequisites with a grade of 2.7 or better and within 10 years of application;
  • submit GRE scores obtained within the 5 years prior to application and sent to the CSS OTCAS code of 1995;
  • submit three letters of recommendation; and
  • complete a minimum of 40 hours of observation with an occupational therapist

Note: meeting minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission. Exceptions to minimum criteria may be made at the discretion of the admissions committee. Interviews are not typically part of the admission process for the OT Program.

Scoring of Admission Criteria:

Applications that meet the above minimum eligibility criteria will be reviewed and scored by members of the admissions committee using a rubric. Applicants are ranked based on both quantitative and qualitative criteria. Quantitative measures include GPE scores (analytical writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning) and computed grade point average (GPA) for all undergraduate work and prerequisite coursework. Qualitative aspects of the application are scored by members of the admissions committee. Areas that receive scoring include:  

  • letters of recommendation: provide three recommendation letters. It is suggested that at least one of the three letters of recommendation be from a professor who knows the applicant well enough to speak to her/his qualification for graduate school. It is also recommended that one or more letters of recommendation come from an occupational therapist or employer who can speak about the applicant's work or volunteering experience with individuals who have a disability.
  • observation hours: all applicants must have a minimum of 40 observations hours (additional points are awarded for greater than 40 hours). Applicants should consider the following when planning observations: observe various practice settings with distinctly different client populations (e.g. pediatrics and adult rehabilitation); all observations must be completed within two years before application; all observations must be in a setting that offers the opportunity to observe a registered and/or licensed occupational therapist. 
  • previous experiences: applicants should provide details about their work history, community service, honors/recognitions, leadership, teaching and participation in research activities, as these are awarded additional points.
  • personal essays: essays that follow the prompts with clear expression of ideas, good organization, and absence of writing errors are awarded additional points.

Additional Information about Becoming an Occupational Therapy Student

  • A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. An individual, who has a felony background and is considering entering an occupational therapy program, can have his or her background reviewed prior to actually applying for the exam by requesting an Early Determination Review.
  • Students who apply to the MS in OT program will be expected to perform a minimum number of Technical Standards and Essential Requirements.

Application Procedure Using OTCAS:

All applicants (those using the FACT or Standard Admission) must use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) as the only method for applying to the OT Program. Visit the OTCAS website at for more information. The M.S. in Occupational Therapy Program will consider only those applicants who submit a completed application through OTCAS. The following information is required:

  • official transcripts of baccalaureate and graduate coursework. Applicants must have an overall and a prerequisite grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 with a grade of 2.7 or better in all prerequisite courses;
  • official score from the current (not revised) GRE general test on the OTCAS application and submit official documentation of your score to the Graduate Admissions Office at The College of St. Scholastica;
  • three letters of recommendation;
  • record of observation hours;
  • personal essay;
  • record of accomplishments, work history, and service;
  • international applicants to the OT Program must provide TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test scores, including the TWE (Test of Written English) essay rating. A score of 550 on the written test, score of 213 on the computer-based test or a score of 79 on the iBT TOEFL test or a four on the TWE essay rating are required for admission. The British International English Test, will also be acceptable, a minimum score of 6.5 is required for admission. 

The application deadline for the OT Program is mid-November (November 15, 2016). Applicants will be considered after the application deadline if there are spaces available. The initial acceptance pool consists of up to 16 qualified FACT students and the remainder of qualified St. Scholastica and transfer students for a class of 36.  

For information and assistance with applications, students may contact the Office of Graduate and Extended Campus Admissions, The College of St. Scholastica, 1200 Kenwood Ave, Duluth, MN 55811-4199. Telephone (218)723-6285 or (866)478-9277, Email

Requirements to Graduate

Students are expected to:

  • successfully complete didactic course requirements;
  • take all courses in sequence; if a student fails a course, he or she must retake that course when it is next available which may require the student to stop out of the OT Program resulting in a delay of graduation;
  • maintain a cumulative and semester GPA of 3.0 while in the OT Program;
  • successfully complete the Level I and II Fieldwork experiences. All Level II Fieldwork experiences must be completed within 24 months of completion of academic coursework; and
  • complete 81 credits of the OT curriculum.

Additional Requirements of the OT Program

Once accepted into the OT Program, and prior to beginning classes, students must submit the following documentation to the Department of Occupational Therapy:

  • a copy of proof of current certification in CPR for professional providers "Healthcare Provider BLS" through the American Heart Association;
  • a health screen through the College's Student Health Services, which includes proof of immunizations (Varicella titer, Rubella titer, and Tdap);
  • an annual Minnesota background study (regardless of state of residency). All students must complete a Minnesota background study and do fingerprints at the beginning of the OT Program. A background study in student's home state, if other than Minnesota, is also required. The background studies must be completed and returned with a "clear" status before the student may participate in clinical fieldwork; and
  • a federal criminal background study. Students will be notified on how to submit the appropriate forms. The cost is paid through course fees. NOTE: Students should be aware that if they have a criminal record, they may not be able to participate in fieldwork, obtain certification by NBCOT, or become registered / licensed by individual states to practice as an occupational therapist.

Additional requirements for participation in fieldwork may include a drug test/screen, additional immunizations or titers, etc. These requirements are site specific.

Fees and Expenses

Course fees of $300 are assessed each semester for course materials and other expenses during the first 2 years of the academic program. Students can anticipate total charges of approximately $1,200 for course fees and approximately $2,000 for textbooks and resources, during the course of the 2-1/2 year OT Program. During the time a student is completing fieldwork, the student is responsible for living expenses, transportation to and from the site, and other related costs. Level II Fieldwork experiences are full-time (40 hours/week) work experiences that often require homework assignments and outside responsibilities. Fees are subject to change.

Student handbooks are provided to all accepted applicants for specific policies and procedures related to academics and fieldwork.

M.S. in OT Program Curriculum

Students may enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. All courses, however, must be completed successfully in sequence. Following completion of the didactic component of the OT Program, the student completes two fieldwork experiences, each 12 weeks in length. Fieldwork is arranged by the OT Program at approved sites throughout the United States.

The first year of the Occupational Therapy (OT) curriculum provides students with a science-based foundation for learning skilled evaluations and interventions aimed at improving day-to-day functioning for clients. Key occupational therapy concepts such as occupation-based practice, client-centered practice, and evidence-based practice further ground students in OT's unique role in health care. Participation in both on and off-campus clinical experiences expose students to a range of clients and settings.

In the second year, advanced clinical courses help student hone their ability to think critically about the process of providing OT for diverse clinical populations in a variety of settings using different service models. Additional fieldwork opportunities afford the opportunity for students to experience the OT process of client care and develop comfort with making decisions for specific clients. Students also participate in original research projects mentored by experienced faculty.

The third year is devoted to two 12-week clinical experiences. These required fieldwork experiences involve full-time work under the supervision of a certified occupational therapist. This intensive mentored experience allows students to develop entry-level skills in providing all aspects of OT care in a given setting.

The OT curriculum is in the process of revision. The OT Program has traditionally started in the fall of the year; however, the OT Program moved the start of classes to June rather than September beginning in 2016.

M.S. in OT Program Student Learning Outcomes

The Student Outcomes of the OT Program are guided by the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics, Core Values and Attitudes of Occupational Therapy Practice, and the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework. The outcomes are described in five broad areas, found below, including professional identity, cultural competence, communication, leadership and disciplinary excellence.

1. Professional Identity in Occupational Therapy Practice
Graduates will demonstrate the values, attitudes and behaviors of entry-level occupational therapy professionals in their relationships with clients and colleagues. Their ability to foster intentional relationships, necessary for the effective client-centered approach, involves both self-awareness and awareness of the uniqueness of every individual.

Graduates will:
    • Integrate the behaviors, values and ethics of an entry level occupational therapist into their classroom and experiential activities;
    • Demonstrate the ability to develop intentional relationships with clients;
    • Work effectively with supervisors, employers, and other professionals; and
    • Balance physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of self and clients.

2. Cultural Competence in Occupational Therapy Practice
To practice in a diverse work environment, graduates will demonstrate behaviors and attitudes that foster cultural competence.

Graduates will:
    • Articulate the process of becoming culturally proficient through the understanding and appreciation of others' beliefs, values and diverse life experiences;
    • Evaluate ethnic, religious, sexual, socioeconomic, age and gender discrimination inherent in health care environments and practices; and
    • Create and adapt intervention strategies that effectively address cultural and social influences that impact client progress.

3. Communication in Occupational Therapy Practice
Graduates will be able to effectively present, discuss and defend the concepts and opinions of the profession of occupational therapy through verbal, non-verbal and written language, using a variety of methods, techniques and technology.

Graduates will:
    • Demonstrate effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills with healthcare professionals, clients, families, agencies, or other consumers of occupational therapy services;
    • Interpret, synthesize and apply information from a wide range of sources to contribute to and inform professional practice; and
    • Produce clear and accurate client documentation and respect confidentiality of client information.

4. Leadership in Occupational Therapy Practice
Graduates will be knowledgeable about basic principles of management and leadership. At interpersonal and interdisciplinary levels, graduates will integrate the profession's values and ethics as they thoughtfully promote collaboration between stakeholders. Incorporating their knowledge of the latest policy directions, graduates will be involved in professional organizations, ever mindful of being good stewards, team members and advocates of people in need.

Graduates will:
    • Knowledgeably represent the domains of occupational therapy;
    • Articulate ethical principles of management and leadership; and
    • Analyze current local, state and national trends in healthcare and anticipate future trends that may impact the practice of occupational therapy.

5. Disciplinary Excellence in Occupational Therapy Practice
Grounded in the theory and foundation of the profession, graduates will critically analyze, interpret and synthesize information needed to provide client-centered care. Graduates will be dedicated to improving people's lives through innovation, research, education and services in the field of occupational therapy.

Graduates will:
    • Be knowledgeable in specific content areas of the profession, including emerging practice areas;
    • Apply the theoretical foundation of the profession to practice;
    • Collaborate effectively with COTAs, OT aides and other disciplines in client intervention; and
    • Take initiative to direct one's own learning.