MS in Occupational Therapy

Note: In April 2014, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) recommended that entry-level occupational therapists complete doctoral degrees. Beginning Fall 2016, the OT Department is leading the way by transitioning the Master of Science Program (MSOT) to an Entry-level Doctoral Program in Occupational Therapy (OTD).

Professional Program

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program prepares students with baccalaureate degrees earned in a range of health and behavior disciplines to join the profession.

The curriculum is designed to provide an excellent education for students planning for professional roles as occupational therapy practitioners in traditional settings, as well as in areas of newly identified need. The program requires successful completion of academic courses and integrated fieldwork.

The MSOT program includes two years (four semesters) of academic work, plus completion of 24 weeks of internship (Level II Fieldwork). The program is full time, and consists of daytime, weekday classes with some evening application sessions. Fieldwork hours are completed after the academic portion of the program, extending the program’s official end by a minimum of six months, dependent upon fieldwork site availability. The MSOT program begins in the fall semester, and courses are sequential. Therefore, we offer no options for spring entrance into the program. There are no summer courses.

Clinical courses make extensive use of case examples, which are followed across the life course—rather than the traditional divisions by diagnosis (mental health, physical disabilities) or age group (pediatrics, geriatrics)—and guide the introduction of relevant assessment, intervention, and systems issues as they would typically occur in relation to each part of the life course.

Each semester, students participate in an Integrative Seminar that links academic course content with concurrent extended Level I Fieldwork (LIFW) in the local Boston community. Students discuss and analyze their LIFW experiences in the seminar and apply learning from other courses to these clinical situations.

We encourage applicants (especially those who are unsure if they want to study occupational therapy or what occupational therapy is) to observe or shadow one or more occupational therapists. An applicant may be able to arrange an observation by contacting the occupational therapy department at a facility in his/her hometown.

Students in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program study with outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions to occupational therapy practice, scholarship, and research. The BU faculty is known among occupational therapists and the health care community throughout the world and brings a broad and rich perspective to the education of students in the occupational therapy program. They are passionate about the profession, enthusiastic about teaching, and committed to making a positive difference in occupational therapy and health care at the state, national, and international levels.

The MSOT program produces leaders who desire to be agents of change through the application of occupational therapy knowledge and expertise to improve the health and well-being of others in a wide variety of settings. This goal requires that students understand the experiences of others; assume responsibility for their own personal and professional development; appreciate the complex systems involved in human occupation and health; and communicate, interact, and collaborate effectively with clients, families, professional colleagues, and the larger community.


Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College’s professional entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree programs are 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 301-652-2682, and their website is In December 2011, ACOTE awarded Boston University Sargent College full re-accreditation for 10 years through academic year 2021/2022 for substantial compliance with the Accreditation Standards for a Master’s-Degree-Level Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist.

Institutional Accreditation: Boston University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. The University was most recently granted continuing accreditation in October 2009.

Graduation Rates

The total number of graduates from the Boston University Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program during the three-year period of 2013–2015 was 136, with an overall graduation rate of 97%.

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2013 47/45 95%
2014 49/49 100%
2015 44/42 95%
Total 140/136 97%


Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Visit the NBCOT website at for more information. Upon successful completion of the exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states require licensure and/or initial certification to practice.

NBCOT Eligibility: The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) may disqualify students with felony convictions/charges from becoming certified. The Qualifications Review Committee (QRC) will review the qualifications of examination candidates who have been convicted of or charged with a felony to determine if the circumstances appear to relate directly to the safe, proficient, and/or competent practice of occupational therapy. For students entering an OT program, the QRC may give an early determination for approval to take the certification exam. For more information, contact the NBCOT directly.

NBCOT Success Rate: Over the past two years (2013–2014), Boston University graduates have achieved an overall pass rate of 100% on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy can be found online at the NBCOT website.

More than 80 percent of our graduates seeking employment last year had jobs within three months of completing the program. Boston University graduates consistently rate themselves as very well prepared for practice, and many have taken on leadership roles in practice and education.

Degree Requirements

The program is designed for full-time study. In the unusual event that a student is approved by faculty for a part-time or extended program due to extenuating circumstances, the student must complete at least one semester of coursework on a full-time basis (minimum of 12 credits).

Summary of MSOT requirements:

  • A minimum grade of C in all professional courses (students may not repeat more than two courses, and no course may be repeated more than once)
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • A minimum of 64 graduate-level credits from courses numbered 500 or above
  • Successful completion of 24 weeks of supervised Level II Fieldwork (SAR OT 593/594) within 24 months after finishing didactic work
  • Completion of all requirements within five years of initial matriculation
  • Demonstration of appropriate professional behaviors as described in the Occupational Therapy Student Manual

Technical Standards

The following technical standards have been formally adopted by the Boston University College of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences: Sargent College, Department of Occupational Therapy.

Applicants and students for the MSOT must have abilities and skills in the areas of cognition/judgment/observation, communication, interpersonal/attitudinal attributes, and physical and sensory motor skills as described below. These technical standards are necessary for full participation in the academic and fieldwork/clinical aspects of the Occupational Therapy Program at Boston University and must be demonstrated on a consistent basis. Applicants and students should review the technical standards for the MSOT program carefully and identify if additional supports are needed to meet these standards consistently for any portion (classroom and clinical/fieldwork) of the MSOT program.

Students who have a disability may request reasonable accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Students are encouraged to contact the University’s Disability Services Office to arrange an individualized consultation to discuss any support services or accommodations they may need.

  1. Problem-solving ability sufficient to organize and complete multiple tasks (such as projects and assignments and interventions relating to client care) from multiple courses and/or fieldwork/clinical, accurately and within assigned time frames.
  2. Adherence to safety precautions and ability to use appropriate judgment with clients, family members, and other stakeholders during lectures, application sessions, and clinical/fieldwork experiences (including independent studies and fieldwork/clinical).
  3. Ability to handle possible stress and anxiety of an intensive curricula including the academic (classroom and independent studies) and fieldwork/clinical (Level I and Level II fieldwork/clinical and special programs such as service learning experiences) aspects by demonstrating effective and adequate coping and time-management skills.
  4. Ability to self-reflect and apply feedback to academic and fieldwork/clinical situations in order to develop appropriate strategies for professional growth.
  5. Ability to generalize and apply academic knowledge to fieldwork/clinical situations.
  6. Ability to initiate and attend to a task until completion.
  7. Ability to observe and participate in application sessions and fieldwork/clinical experience settings determined essential by the faculty. Observation necessitates the functional use of the sense of vision and other sensory modalities. Student must be able to observe a patient accurately both at a distance and close at hand, noting nonverbal as well as verbal signals.

  1. Ability to speak and write the English language intelligibly, hear sufficiently, and observe patients closely to elicit and transmit information; describe changes in mood, activity, and posture; and perceive nonverbal communication as well as possess reading skills at a level sufficient to accomplish curricular requirements and provide fieldwork/clinical care for clients. Capable of completing appropriate medical records, documents, and plans according to protocol, in a thorough and timely manner. Comprehend and use the English language in an understandable manner both verbally and in writing, including grammar and organization in an efficient time frame specific to the task.
  2. Ability to communicate sensitively, effectively, efficiently, and appropriately with peers, faculty, supervisors, other professionals, clients, and their significant others on a one-to-one basis, in a small group, large classroom setting, and large group and to respect the confidentiality of client/patient information.
  3. Ability to initiate and actively participate in classroom and fieldwork/clinical settings.

  1. Ability to use intellectual capacity, exercise good judgment, and promptly respond and adapt to the client’s needs under potentially stressful circumstances. Must be flexible in being able to adapt to changing environments and client factors, and respond in the face of uncertainties inherent in fieldwork/clinical practice.
  2. Ability to work within fieldwork/clinical environments that involve exposure to persons with physical and mental disabilities. Must also be able to appropriately deal with situations involving pain, grief, death, stress, communicable diseases, blood and body fluids, and toxic substances.
  3. Ability and willingness to work with a diverse client population including persons of various ages, disabilities, sexual preferences, ethnic, racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
  4. Ability and willingness to modify behavior/performance in the classroom or the fieldwork/clinical setting after feedback from the instructor or fieldwork/clinical supervisor.

  1. Manual dexterity and motor planning sufficient to manipulate evaluation and intervention equipment.
  2. Hearing and visual acuity and visual field sufficient to respond independently to an emergency situation signaled by a change in an individual’s appearance, pulse, blood pressure, an individual’s verbal, nonverbal, or physical communication of distress, and/or environmental event.
  3. Ability to lift 20 lbs. independently and to place objects of this weight at various levels including floor and overhead.
  4. Ability to perform 50% of a physical transfer of a patient/client up to 200 lbs. with assistance or with assistive devices; i.e., from a wheelchair to toilet or tub while maintaining good body mechanics.
  5. Capacity to attend and actively participate in all lecture and application sessions including real-time tests and fieldwork/clinical situations.


Students register for 16–18 credits each semester. Each course carries 4 credits unless otherwise noted. The sequence of courses for the MSOT program is fixed. Professional courses are sequential and offered only once a year.

First Year, MSOT-1

Fall Semester

  • SAR OT 500 Integrative Seminar I and LIFW (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 513 Analysis and Adaptation of Occupation
  • SAR OT 520 Evidence-Based OT Practice I (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 526 Functional Movement: Analysis and Assessment
  • SAR OT 529 Occupation Across the Life Course
  • SAR OT 589 Orientation to Practice (0 cr)

Spring Semester

  • SAR OT 501 Integrative Seminar II and LIFW (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 524 Introduction to the OT Process
  • SAR OT 556 Neuroscience for Occupational Therapy
  • SAR OT 562 Learning and Behavior Change
  • SAR OT 620 Evidence-Based OT Practice II (2 cr)

Second Year, MSOT-2

Fall Semester

  • SAR OT 502 Integrative Seminar III & LIFW
  • SAR OT 538 Assistive Technology (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 563 Context and Occupational Performance
  • SAR OT 564 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice I
  • SAR OT 621 Evidence-Based OT Practice III (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 904 Thesis Proposal* (2 cr) optional

Spring Semester

  • SAR OT 530 Occupation-Based Practice with Groups
  • SAR OT 565 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice II
  • SAR OT 566 Client Factors and Occupational Performance (2 cr)
  • SAR OT 586 Professional Service Management (prev HP 650)
  • SAR OT 590 Level II Field Experience Fee (0 cr)
  • XXX XX 500+ Graduate-level elective (2 cr) or SAR HP 905 Thesis: Directed Research* (4 cr)

* A thesis is an option for students who are in good academic standing and accepted by a faculty reader/advisor (thesis project must be in an area of current faculty research). If approved, the student registers for SAR OT 904 Thesis Proposal (2 credits) in Semester I and for SAR HP 905 Directed Research (4 credits) in Semester II. Students cannot begin OT 593/594 LIFW until the thesis is completed. No more than 6 credits of thesis will apply toward the MSOT.

Level II Fieldwork (LIIFW)

No student may start LIIFW until all academic coursework (including optional thesis) has been completed, an acceptable grade (C) is earned in all required professional courses, the minimum cumulative GPA (3.0+) is achieved, and professional behavior standards are met. All students must complete LIIFW within 24 months of finishing their academic coursework.

  • SAR OT 593 Level II Field Experience I (0 cr)
  • SAR OT 594 Level II Field Experience II (0 cr)
  • SAR OT 595 Level II Elective Field Experience (0 cr) optional via petition

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Awarded