Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy Department

Occupational therapists are 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 strive to understand the importance of these occupations to the individual, and analyze the physical, mental, and social components of those occupations. They facilitate improved capability in the person, and then adapt the tasks and the environment, empowering the person to resume his/her occupations. Occupational therapists also provide support for wellness and prevention concerns. Occupational therapists work in schools, facilities for the elderly, clinics, and hospitals, as well as in alternative service delivery models such as prisons, community based settings, mental health agencies, and business/ industry.


Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master of Science Program

Students may enter the Occupational Therapy Program after completing a baccalaureate degree (no preferred major) and all Occupational Therapy Program prerequisite courses. Upon entry into the 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 program is offered on both a full-time and a part-time basis.


Prerequisites for admission

Both undergraduates and applicants with degrees must take the following prerequisites (or their approved transfer equivalents) for admission into the Occupational Therapy Program: BIO 2110 and BIO 2120 - Anatomy and Physiology (semester I & II), 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, or HON 2125 - Global Sociology. BIO 3020 - Pathophysiology, PSC 1501 - Physics (or PSC 1201), and PSY 3423 - Abnormal Psychology are highly recommended.



There are two methods of acceptance into the Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master of Science (M.S.) Program, the First-Year Admissions Criteria Track (FACT) or the Standard Admissions Track.


First-Year Admissions Criteria Track (FACT)

First-year students at The College of St. Scholastica may apply for early application to the Occupational Therapy Program by following the First-Year Admissions Criteria Track (FACT). FACT is a criterion-based early admission program into the graduate Occupational Therapy Program. First-year students who declare their intent to pursue a master's degree in Occupational Therapy will be guaranteed admission to the program, after completing an undergraduate degree, if they meet the plan criteria. FACT is available for up to 16 first-year students who sign up on a first-come first-serve basis, up until Dec. 15 of their first year.

First-year students who have enough credits (when they arrive at college) to make them sophomores (or higher), may apply as early FACT applicants only if there are fewer than the 16 FACT applicants in the class with whom they will apply.

FACT criteria:

  1. Register as a FACT student with the Graduate Admissions Office the first year at the College. (The deadline for application is Dec. 15.) The first 16 qualified applicants will be accepted into the FACT program.
  2. Complete all prerequisite courses for the Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master's 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. By fall 2015, all students entering the program must have completed a bachelor's degree (no preferred major).
  4. Obtain a minimum grade of 3.0 on the first-year English composition course.
  5. Attend FACT advising session each semester.

Submit the completed OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Admission System) application in the fall of the senior year.

Benefits to the FACT applicant include guaranteed admission into the program, continuous access and interaction with a faculty member, and exemption from the application interview.

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.


The Occupational Therapy Program uses the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) for those wishing to apply to the program. Before Dec. 15 of the application year, all students, FACT and Standard Admissions Track, will use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) to apply to the Occupational Therapy Program. Visit the OTCAS web site at AOTA (http://www.aota.org/Educate/EdRes/OTCAS/Applicant.aspx) for more information. The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Program will consider only those applicants who submit a completed application through OTCAS by the application date. Applications include:

  • All official transcripts of baccalaureate and graduate course work.
    • By fall 2015, all applicants must have completed a bachelor's degree from a nationally accredited institution (no preferred major), and have earned a preferred minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all course work and a 2.7 in each prerequisite course.
    • Prerequisite courses must be completed within the past 10 years.
  • Official score from the GRE general test (http://www.ets.org/gre/).
    • 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.
    • The College of St. Scholastica will consider GRE test scores valid for five years from the test date.
  • Documentation of a minimum of 40 hours of observations, preferred at two different locations, completed within two years before application.
    • Observing in more than one setting and with distinctly different client populations (e.g. pediatrics and adult rehabilitation), would contribute to the applicant's understanding of occupational therapy and how their personal skills match the demands of being a care provider and a therapist.
    • The observations must be in a setting that offers the student the opportunity to observe a registered and/or licensed occupational therapist.
    • Additional observations beyond 40 hours will contribute to a stronger application and be viewed favorably by the Admissions Committee.
    • Students will need to plan time for the possibility that individual organizations could have strict requirements for setting up observation hours.
  • Three Letters of Reference
    • Each letter of reference should be from someone who is sufficiently familiar with the applicant to be able to speak to the applicant's qualifications for success in graduate school and offer behavioral examples to support the applicant. Students should consider an employer, professor, volunteer coordinator/supervisor or an occupational therapist or occupational therapy assistant. Directions for submitting letters of reference are available through the OTCAS web site.
  • Submit a TOEFL examination or the Michigan Test score, if applicant is an international student and the applicant's primary language is not English. The minimum TOEFL score of 550 on the paper-based test or 213 on the computer-based text is required. A minimum Michigan Test score of 80 is required.

Completed applications must be submitted by Dec. 15. 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 32.

For assistance with applications, students may contact the Graduate and Extended Studies Office, The College of St. Scholastica, 1200 Kenwood Avenue, Duluth, MN 55811-4199. Phone (218) 723-6285 or (866) 478-9277, Email gradstudies@css.edu.

Note: Meeting minimal entrance requirements does not guarantee admission.

All OTCAS applications will be reviewed for completeness and strength of application. After application review the top applicants will be invited for interviews.


Wait List Policy

  • Upon accepting 32 students, a wait list will be established using the same admissions process outlined above.
  • Qualified students who are not offered a seat after initial application review will be placed on a wait list.
  • Students on the wait list will be rank ordered based on their qualifications and offered a place in the program as openings occur.
  • If vacancies occur, students on the wait list will be notified and given a deadline to make a non-refundable $250 fall tuition deposit and submit an Intent to Enroll form, to secure the offered position.

Additional requirements once accepted into the program

All accepted students must submit evidence (official transcripts) that all prerequisites have been completed before the start of the occupational therapy courses. Transcripts are submitted to the Graduate Admissions Office.

To secure the offered position in the Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master's Program, accepted students will need to make a non-refundable $250 fall tuition deposit and submit an Intent to Enroll form by the given deadline.

Once accepted into the Occupational Therapy Program and before beginning classes, students must submit the following documentation for the Department of Occupational Therapy:

  • A copy of proof of current "Healthcare Provider BLS" CPR/First Aid certification through the American Heart Association. Information will be provided to students accepted into the program.
  • Students must obtain a health screen either through the College's Student Health Services or the student's own physician, including proof of immunizations, Varicella titer, Rubella titer, and Tdap. The Occupational Therapy Health Screen form is available at Student Health Services.
  • All occupational therapy students, regardless of state of residency, are required to submit an annual Minnesota background study. The study must be completed and returned with a "clear" status before the student may participate in clinical/fieldwork. Students will be notified in September to submit the appropriate forms for the Minnesota Background Study and for a background study in the student's home state if other than Minnesota.
  • Occupational therapy students are also required to submit a federal criminal background study. Students will be notified regarding 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. An individual who has a felony background and is considering entering an occupational therapy educational program, can have his or her background reviewed before actually applying for the exam by requesting an Early Determination Review (http://www. nbcot.org/pdf/Early%20Determination% 20Review.pdf.)
  • Additional requirements for participation in fieldwork may include a drug test/screen, finger printing, additional immunizations or titers, etc.


Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy

Vision: Shaped by the Benedictine values, the Department of Occupational Therapy develops thoughtful, innovative, collaborative and practice ready health care professionals who are engaged in lifelong learning and responsive to the occupational needs of a diverse global society.

Mission: Through faculty guided experiential learning, the Department of Occupational Therapy prepares occupational therapists who will:

  •  facilitate participation in life occupations for people of all ages and abilities,
  • provide population-based occupational therapy intervention that addresses identified community needs in multiple contexts, and
  • influence the future of the profession through the use of science-driven, evidence-based practice, scholarship, and ethical leadership.



The 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 20814-3449. AOTA's phone number is (301) 652-AOTA and their web site is  www.acoteonline.org.

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Information about NBCOT and the certification examination can be found at  www.nbcot.org.

All occupational therapy practitioners must pass the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to practice. The graduates of the Occupational Therapy Entry-Level Master's Program at The College of St. Scholastica have a high pass rate on the certification exam:

Results of National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Examination 

Exam Year

Number of program graduates

Number of first-time test takers

Number of first-time test takers who passed the exam

Percentage of first-time test takers who passed the exam

Pass rate on retake

























Total 3-Year






*Further graduation rates will be available at NBCOT.com.


Fees and expenses

Course fees are assessed for course materials and other expenses. Students can anticipate total charges of about $1,200 ($300/4 semesters) for course fees and about $2,000 for textbooks and resources during the course of the 2 1/2-year 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.


Additional information

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


Occupational Therapy curriculum

The occupational therapy curriculum is in the process of revision. The complete and up-to-date curriculum will be detailed on the occupational therapy program graduate catalog web site.