Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


This professional Masters 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).

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

Occupational Therapy Entry-level Master's Program

Department Chair: Steve Cope, ScD, OT/L

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 certifed occupational therapy therapists  to be licensed.

The Occupational Therapy Entry-level Master's 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-AOTA. Their website is

Upon completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements of the Occupational Therapy Program, students are awarded a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. Graduates of the 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




3 year total

Number of  graduates





 Graduation rate




95.3% (average)

First-time test takers





 First-time test takers who passed





Percentage of first-time test takers who passed




93.7% (average)

*Cells reflect the number of test takers who passed the exam within one year of graduating regardless of the number of attempts.

Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master's Post-Baccalaureate Program

Students must hold a baccalaureate degree and complete all Occupational Therapy Program prerequisites prior to entry into the Program. The Occupational Therapy Program is 2.5 years in length which includes two years of didactic course work followed by six months of full-time fieldwork experience off campus. Student who complete the OT Program earn an entry-level Master of Science (M.S.) degree in occupational therapy.

Admission Requirement

The Occupational Therapy Program uses the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) as the only method for students to apply to the program. Visit the OTCAS website at for more information.
The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program will consider only those applicants who submit a completed application through OTCAS including:
• All official transcripts of Baccalaureate and graduate course work
    • Applicants must have earned a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all course work and a 2.7 in each prerequisite
• Official score from the current (not revised) GRE general test
    • Record your GRE score on the OTCAS application
    • Submit official documentation of your score to the Graduate Admissions Office at The College of St. Scholastica
• Documentation of a minimum of two 20-hour observations completed within two years prior to application
    • Each observation must meet the minimum 20-hour requirement
    • The observations must be in a setting that offers the student the opportunity to work with either occupational therapist or occupational therapist assistant.

Three Recommendations.
It is recommended 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 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.

There are two methods of acceptance into the Occupational Therapy Program, the Standard Admissions Track or the First-Year Admission Criteria Track (FACT).

Standard Admissions Track:

In addition to applying through the OTCAS, Standard Admissions Track applicants will need to:
    • complete interviews with faculty of the Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee (note: not all applicants are invited for on-campus interviews);
    • have completed all prerequisites requirements prior to the beginning of the occupational therapy courses;
    • have completed a baccalaureate degree from a nationally accredited institution. Students may be accepted prior to completion of a baccalaureate degree. No specific baccalaureate  major is required.

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.
Note: Meeting minimal entrance requirements does not necessarily guarantee admission.

The application deadline for the Occupational Therapy Program is November 14. 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 (see below) and the remainder of qualified St. Scholastica and transfer students for a class of 32.

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

FACT (the First-Year Admission Criteria Track):

FACT is a criterion-based early admission program for the graduate Occupational Therapy Program. A limited number of students who declare their intent to pursue an M.S. degree in occupational therapy by the end of their freshman year will be guaranteed admission to the program. FACT is available for up to 16 first year students on a first-come first-served basis with applications accepted until May 1st.
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:
    1. register as a FACT student with the Graduate Admissions office by the end of the first year (deadline for application is May 1st, the opportunity to register earlier is available). The first 16 applicants will be accepted into the FACT early admission program;
    2. complete a baccalaureate degree and all prerequisite courses for the Occupational Therapy Program;
    3. 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.
    4. attend FACT advising session each semester.
    5. submit the completed OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Admission System) application by the November 14 deadline.
Students who do not meet the criteria will be removed from the guaranteed FACT admission track, but may still apply to the graduate Occupational Therapy Program through the standard application process.
Benefits to the FACT applicant include guaranteed admission into the graduate Occupational Therapy Program, continuous access and interaction with an Occupational Therapy Program faculty member, and exemption from the application interview.

Additional Requirements Once Accepted into the Program

Once accepted into the Occupational Therapy 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
    • students must obtain 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). The study must be completed and returned with a "clear" status before the student may participate in clinical fieldwork. Students will be notified August 15th and have one month to submit the appropriate forms for the Minnesota background study and for a background study in student's home state, if other than Minnesota
    • 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, finger printing, 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 Occupational Therapy 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.

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

Occupational Therapy 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 Occupational Therapy Program, the student completes two fieldwork experiences, each 12 weeks in length. Fieldwork is arranged by the Occupational Therapy 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 occupational therapy curriculum is in the process of revision.

Occupational Therapy Entry-level Master's Program Student Learning Outcomes

The Student Outcomes of the Program in Occupational Therapy 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;
    • Balance physical, social, emotional and spiritual aspects of self and clients.

2. Cultural Competence in Occupational Therapy Practice
   "Cultural competence means having the self-awareness, knowledge, skills and framework to make sound, ethical and culturally appropriate decisions. It is the integration and transformation of knowledge about individuals and groups of people into specific standards, policies, practices and attitudes, used in appropriate cultural settings, to increase the quality of service, thereby producing better outcomes" (Wells, 2005). 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;
    • 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;
    • 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;
    • 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;
    • Take initiative to direct one's own learning.

Wells, S.A. (2005). On cultural competency and ethical practice. Retrieved from