Curriculum

Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy

The professional occupational therapy program leads to the degree of Master of Science and is directed toward the development of master practitioners and leaders in the field by providing an opportunity for the establishment of a generic foundation followed by the acquisition of basic concepts of administration, supervision, and education; and by development of concepts and techniques in evidence based practice and in the scientific method.

Graduates of our professional program can identify human and environmental problems, can independently and collaboratively search for and create resources to develop solutions, and through a process of clinical reasoning based on evidence based practice determine and implement optimal intervention strategies. Mastery of these skills is achieved through a curriculum model that simultaneously provides a variety of clinical and academic resources and teaches students to seek these out.

The program provides a foundation for graduates to assume responsibility for lifelong learning and for contributing to the growth and evolution of occupational therapy.

Coursework

The average student can expect to complete this program in twenty-four calendar months of full-time study in the classroom and in fieldwork experiences.

The program is planned to enable the student to gain a mastery of knowledge in occupational therapy, and to practice skills and competencies required of the practicing therapist in this field. Students complete coursework and clinical experiences in all the major practice areas:

  • Mental health
  • Physical disabilities
  • Pediatrics
  • The older adult

In addition, the student examines:

  • The principles and methods of leadership roles in health policy
  • Supervision
  • Education
  • Research

Faculty members work with the students as developers of learning environments and as resource people in collaborative problem-solving.

The program overall is focused on the development of the practitioner’s role, but also provides basic education leading to leadership skills in administration, supervision, research, and education. Students also have the opportunity to select occupational therapy elective courses which provide more specialized knowledge in a variety of areas. Selected students can also participate in international service learning opportunities.

Full listings of courses and course schedules can be found in our program bulletin.

Fieldwork

Fieldwork is a critical component of our program, and is threaded throughout the two-year experience.

Level I, part-time fieldwork, is scheduled each term as concurrent experiences with the academic learning of a particular course. Two different patterns are followed, depending on the objectives and/or content of a course: students are assigned individually or in pairs to a facility throughout the term; or students are assigned to a setting where they assume greater responsibility in determining the need for occupational therapy services. Each Level I fieldwork pattern is designed to demand sequentially higher skills of application.

Students complete Level 1 fieldwork in Mental Health, Physical Disabilities, Pediatrics, and with Older Adults.

Level II fieldwork is generally scheduled as a full-time experience following completion of all academic work for each school year. The first level II experience is typically completed between years one and two and the second after the completion of their academic coursework.

Level II fieldwork must include a minimum of three months in a mental health setting, and three months in an adult physical rehabilitation setting. An optional level II fieldwork experience can be pursued in an additional area of interest, including pediatrics, hand therapy, or national policy.

Graduating from our program requires successful completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements.

Research

Evidence-based research is part of our curriculum, and a unique approach to completing this requirement has been developed by the program faculty. Students may follow two paths. In one path, students work collaboratively in a small team of students on a faculty-driven research study. In the second path, students participate in a sequence of research courses, within which a research study is embedded.

In addition, students interested in our research doctoral program may begin a research inquiry that can be further developed in the doctoral program. For all students, the research sequence begins during the first semester, as students are prepared in the foundation of research methods and scientific inquiry, as well as reading and evaluating research reports. During the second semester, students begin one of the two paths.

Students of both paths participate in an Interdisciplinary Research Symposium before graduation, where they are expected to present their research.

Faculty-Student Research

Students in the master’s program engage in research design, data collection, data analysis, and research study reporting throughout the curriculum. Students have the opportunity to be mentored by faculty and participate as research assistants in faculty-driven research studies. Many faculty-student collaborations have resulted in publications and national and state conference presentations.

Below are some examples of current research topics and recent scholarship derived from faculty-student research projects.

Homeless and Formerly Homeless Adults

  • Gutman, S. A., Douglas, D., Carmiencke, A., Freudman, L., Huerta, M., McCaa, M., . . . Schreibman, D. (2018). Assessing environmental safety modifications in the chronically ill sheltered homeless: A pilot study. Annals of International Occupational Therapy. https://doi.org/10.3928/24761222-20180620-04
  • Gutman, S. A., Barnett, S., Fischman, L., Halpern, J., Hester, G., Kerrisk, C., . . . Wang, H. (in press). Pilot effectiveness of a stress management program for sheltered homeless adults with mental illness: A two group controlled study. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health.
  • Gutman, S. A., Raphael-Greenfield, E. I., Berg, J., Agnese, A., Gross, S., Hashmi, S., . . . Weiss, D. (in press). Feasibility and satisfaction of an apartment living program for homeless adults with mental illness and substance use disorder. Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes.
  • Gutman, S. A., Amarantos, K., Berg, J., Aponte, M., Gordillo, D., Peery, A., . . . Schluger, Z. (2018). Home safety fall and accident risk in the prematurely aging, formerly homeless. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 72, 7204195030.https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2018.028050

Women with ADHD

  • Gutman, S. A., Balasubramanian, S., Herzog, M., Kim, E., Swirnow, H., Retig, Y., & Wolff, S. (in press). Effectiveness of a tailored intervention for women with ADHD and ADHD symptoms: A randomized controlled study. American Journal of Occupational Therapy.

Cerebral Palsy

  • Hester, G., & Dimitropoulou, K. (2018). Chair Yoga for Cerebral Palsy and Hemispherectomy: An Applied Research Study. Poster presentation at the Annual Conference at the American Occupational Therapy Association.

Community-Based Programming

  • Grajo, L., Simon, P. Stoner, M., Hogan, M., Miller, C., Peery, A.,… Miller, J. (September, 2017). Developing skills in community-based programming. OT Practice, 22(17),19-2

Occupational Therapy Lab

Our program opened a dedicated occupational therapy lab space in 2017 in the Hammer Health Science building. The lab also serves as classroom space and contains kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom modules to practice with, as well as a store and pediatric area.

Licensure

Graduates of our 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). Successful completion of the examination qualifies the graduate to be nationally certified as an Occupational Therapist, and use the designation OTR. Each state has its own regulatory mechanism, such as state license. State licenses are usually based on the results of the certification examination. This examination is held throughout the country at designated times each year.

NBCOT has additional eligibility requirements, including the requirement that applicants meet standards of professional conduct. For example, a felony conviction may impact one’s ability to be certified and subsequently licensed to practice occupational therapy. Please refer to NBCOT’s website for details, including how to request an early determination review of professional conduct.