MS in Occupational Therapy
The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program prepares graduates with baccalaureate degrees in disciplines other than occupational therapy to join the profession.
The curriculum is designed to provide preparation for professional roles as an occupational therapy practitioner in traditional settings, as well as in areas of newly identified need. The program involves 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 labs. 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. Our 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 material with concurrent extended Level I Fieldwork (LIFW) in the local Boston community. Students discuss and analyze their LIFW experiences in the seminar and apply lessons 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. Applicants can arrange an observation by contacting the occupational therapy department at a local facility. Observations in a population in which you are interested would be helpful (if you are interested in children, try a school setting). If possible, applicants should chat with the occupational therapist about what they do.
Students in the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program study with outstanding faculty who have made significant contributions to occupational therapy practice, scholarship, and research. The BU faculty are known among occupational therapists and the health care community throughout the world and bring a broad and rich perspective to the education of students in our programs. 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 can apply occupational therapy knowledge and expertise to improve the health and well-being of others in a wide variety of settings. This goal requires students who can 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 who will be able to 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 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 the website is http://www.aota.org/. 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.
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 www.nbcot.org for more information. Upon successful completion of the exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.
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 three years (January 2009–December 2011), our graduates have achieved an overall pass rate of 95.8% on the National Certification Exam in Occupational Therapy.
Because the calendar year of a student’s official graduation may differ from the year in which the exam was taken, these two categories (*) do not overlap 100%.
first-time test takers
who passed the exam
first-time test takers
who passed the exam
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.
We use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) for applications. All official transcripts and letters of recommendation should be sent directly to OTCAS:
Completed applications must be received by January 15 to be assured consideration. Applications received after this date will be considered on a space-available basis, and financial aid availability may be limited. Specifically:
1) OTCAS must receive the application, recommendations, and transcripts by January 15. Once your application is complete, OTCAS will verify your documents before releasing them to Boston University. Please note that Boston University cannot access unverified applications. Applicants should confirm their status as verified on OTCAS, http://www.otcas.org/.
2) Boston University Sargent College’s OT Department must receive official GRE scores (institution code 3028, dept code 0618), two additional essays, and the BU Prerequisite Checklist by January 15.
- For any questions about the receipt, processing, and verification of your application, please contact OTCAS at 617-612-2860, firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.otcas.org/.
- For other questions, please contact the Boston University OT Office at email@example.com (email preferred) or 617-353-2729.
Application Review: There is no rolling admission. In mid-January, the MSOT Admissions Committee will begin to review completed applications. In early March, acceptance letters are mailed. The Boston University MSOT program begins in the Fall Semester only. Courses are sequential, interwoven, and build upon preceding courses; therefore, we offer no options for spring entrance into the program.
Required materials include:
- Official transcript(s) showing evidence of completion of (or intention to complete) a baccalaureate degree. The program does not require a particular undergraduate concentration, and we encourage applicants with a diversity of backgrounds. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0 in undergraduate coursework is required. Prerequisite courses taken after completion of a baccalaureate degree are not counted toward the GPA.
- Scores on the aptitude portion of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test. GREs must be taken within the past five years. We recommend the following minimum GRE scores: verbal 500+, quantitative 500+, and analytical writing 4.5+. With the new GRE scoring system, these scores correspond to verbal 153+ and quantitative 144+. Official scores should arrive by January 15 to Boston University Sargent College (institution code 3028, dept code 0618). Because our program requires strong critical thinking and writing skills, we use the GREs as one indicator of an applicant’s competency in these areas. If GRE scores are below the minimum in any area (especially the verbal), we recommend retaking the exam. There are some excellent study guides available to help students prepare for these exams, and sample test questions are posted on the GRE’s website at www.gre.org. There is no limit on the number of times a student is allowed to retake the GREs. We will use the highest score from each section.
- Two special essay questions are required separately from the OTCAS application. Please send both essays in a single electronic document to firstname.lastname@example.org. Each essay should include the questions at the top, and responses should be double-spaced, one page maximum per question, two pages total. The purpose of the essay is to evaluate the applicant’s understanding of and commitment to the profession, as well as the applicant’s thought process and writing ability. Essay questions are as follows:
- What strengths do you bring that will contribute to the learning environment of our program and to your effectiveness as an occupational therapy practitioner?
- Describe a personally meaningful occupation and how your participation in that occupation has influenced your understanding of occupational therapy.
- Three letters of reference, to be submitted electronically or in paper form, directly to OTCAS. One should be from a person who can address your intellectual and academic abilities. One should be from a supervisor in professional or other work capacity who can address work performance, service commitment, or other areas of your background that may be pertinent. The third reference may be from any category. It is most important that persons providing references know the applicant well so that they can provide specific examples of the applicant’s strengths and accomplishments.
- Official transcripts indicating completion of the six prerequisite courses (described below) at the college level. A minimum grade of B- is required, except for Gross Human Anatomy, where the minimum required grade is C. All transcripts should be sent directly to OTCAS, http://www.otcas.org/.
- At the time of application, prerequisites may be in progress or pending (e.g., planning to take in the summer), but must be completed before starting the MSOT program in September. In these cases, applicants would be accepted conditionally to Boston University.
- All courses must be completed within seven years of matriculation into the MSOT program (otherwise, include a letter explaining how you have kept up to date on course materials).
- Courses taken to fulfill prerequisites may be taken at any accredited university or college (including community colleges) and must have a minimum of 3 credit hours.
If you have questions regarding any of the prerequisites or admission requirements, we encourage you to contact the Boston University OT Office in writing (email@example.com). If your question concerns whether a course fulfills a particular requirement, it is most helpful if you submit a photocopy/attachment of the course description from the appropriate college catalog (please allow at least two business weeks for decision). Electronic versions of course descriptions or syllabi are preferred when possible for ease of processing. Send this information to:
MSOT Admissions Committee
Boston University Sargent College
635 Commonwealth Avenue
Boston, MA 02215
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 617-353-2926
If a preapproval or waiver is granted by the MSOT Admissions Committee, you will receive a written confirmation and should include a copy with your BU Prerequisite Checklist.
A. Human Anatomy (new for Fall 2013 applications): one course with a laboratory section. NOTE: When anatomy and physiology are taken as a combined survey course, a full complete sequence of two semesters (A&P I and II) must be taken to fulfill the two Human Anatomy and Human Physiology prerequisites.
B. Human Physiology: One course (lab section optional)
C. Gross Human Anatomy: Three options for fulfilling the Gross Human Anatomy prerequisite are itemized below. Gross Human Anatomy may have a variety of course titles, but it is a more thorough course and often taught in pre-med or nursing programs. In Gross Human Anatomy, students learn more specific details about each system, with a strong focus on the musculoskeletal system, typically through the use of a cadaver. Students should learn muscle attachments, innervations, and actions of all muscles in the human body as well as muscle palpation. The level of detail in the Gross Human Anatomy course is reflective of what a practitioner in the clinic would need to know in order to effectively evaluate and treat patients.
Gross Human Anatomy option 1 (Boston University course):
We strongly recommend enrolling in Gross Human Anatomy (SAR HS 581) at Boston University. (Course description is as follows: regional approach to the musculoskeletal, peripheral nervous, and circulatory systems of the human body. Lecture content is reinforced by a study of osteology, prosected cadaver laboratories, and live anatomy palpations.) Boston University offers Gross Human Anatomy during the Fall, Spring, and Summer session I (May/June). You need to receive a C or better in this course.
- Visit the Boston University Registrar’s Class Schedule at www.bu.edu/reg to see when SAR HS 581 will be held.
- Download a Registration Form at www.bu.edu/reg, include a note stating that you are registering as a non-degree student (namely, a MSOT applicant taking SAR HS 581 as a prerequisite), and submit to:Academic Services Center
Boston University Sargent College|
635 Commonwealth Ave, Room SR-207
Boston, MA 02215
Gross Human Anatomy option 2 (course at another college):
Enroll in a Gross Human Anatomy course at another college. Please see the Gross Human Anatomy section, above. The course should focus on musculoskeletal anatomy and include the following five items:
- Thorough coverage of anatomy of the head, neck, trunk, back, and limbs
- Cadaver lab (This can be petitioned to be waived if the course used one of the current cadaver computer programs or other alternatives for learning.)
- Arthrology (study of joints)
- General knowledge of muscle origin, insertion, action, nerve supply, and blood supply
- Surface anatomy
You must submit the course syllabus (including course description, objectives, and schedule) for prior approval for this course. If your Gross Human Anatomy course is approved by the Boston University MSOT Admissions Committee, you will receive a written confirmation. Please include a copy of the approval with your MSOT application. You will need to receive a C or better in the approved course. Please submit your Gross Human Anatomy syllabus for review along with your contact information to:
Boston University Sargent College
635 Commonwealth Ave., SAR-553
Boston, MA 02215
email@example.com (email preferred) or Fax: 617-353-2926
Gross Human Anatomy option 3 (self-study):
This option is available only to students who have been accepted conditionally to the Boston University MSOT program. Students must complete a Gross Human Anatomy self-study and pass an online competency exam developed by the Boston University Occupational Therapy Department. To complete the self-study, students:
- receive written confirmation from the OT office to fulfill the Gross Human Anatomy requirement via the self-study option.
- purchase specific texts and DVD (details will be provided in June).
- pass an online multiple-choice competency exam by August 1 before matriculation.
NOTE: Gross Human Anatomy is a challenging course, and even more challenging online as a self-study. Therefore, if at all possible, we strongly encourage you to complete either option 1 or 2 above. However, we understand there may be circumstances where this is not feasible. Therefore, we are offering option 3. Please know that if you choose option 3, you are accepting additional responsibilities for independent learning that will require extra time and effort.
D. Statistics: One course to include descriptive and inferential statistics, correlation, hypothesis testing, analysis of variance (ANOVA), and introduction to regression analysis. A course in research design is also acceptable if it covers the relevant statistics.
E. Abnormal Psychology: One course (Courses titled Psychopathology or Psychology of Deviance may be acceptable.)
F. Developmental Psychology: One course (Courses titled Lifespan Development, Child Development, or Child Psychology may be acceptable; content on child development must be included in the course and the course must address theories of development.)
We encourage applicants (especially those who are unsure if they want to study occupational therapy or what occupational therapy is) to observe or shadow an occupational therapist. Applicants can arrange an observation by contacting the occupational therapy department at a local facility. Observations in a population in which you are interested would be helpful (if you are interested in children, try a school setting). If possible, applicants should chat with the occupational therapist about what they do.
We highly recommend experiences in at least two different service delivery settings (e.g., school, early intervention program, skilled nursing facility, community health center). One experience should be extended (more than several weeks) and one short term. Although health care experiences are not part of the official admissions criteria, they provide additional information about a prospective student’s experience in the field and basis for choosing to pursue occupational therapy. Such experiences will weigh favorably when making admissions decisions.
Any student for whom English is not the first language must demonstrate competence in English through the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and Test of Written English (TWE) or the online version of these tests. The minimum TOEFL scores required to apply are as follows: Writing, 22; Speaking, 23; Reading, 25; and Listening, 21. International students should also visit the ISSO website for additional 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 degree 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 grade point average (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
Please refer to the MSOT Student Manual for further details.
Full participation in the academic and clinical portions of the occupational therapy program requires the ability to perform a set of essential skills. The list of Essential Skills for OT can be reviewed on the program website. Applicants who anticipate difficulty performing one or more of these functions because of a disability are encouraged to consult with Boston University Disability Services to determine eligibility for reasonable accommodations in both classroom and fieldwork aspects of the degree program.
Students register for 16–18 credits each semester. Each course carries 4 credits unless otherwise noted. All courses follow a life-course, case-based structure for assessing and intervening with problems in occupational performance associated with clinical disorders or risk conditions.
First Year (MSOT-1)
- SAR OT 500 Integrative Seminar I and LIFW (2 cr)
- SAR OT 513 Analysis and Adaptation of Occupation
- SAR OT 520 Evidence-Based Occupational Therapy 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)
- SAR OT 501 Integrative Seminar II and LIFW (2 cr)
- SAR OT 524 Introduction to the Occupational Therapy Process
- SAR OT 556 Neuroscience for Occupational Therapy
- SAR OT 562 Learning and Behavior Change
- SAR OT 620 Evidence-Based Occupational Therapy Practice II (2 cr)
Second Year (MSOT-2)
- SAR OT 502 Integrative Seminar III and LIFW
- SAR OT 538 Assistive Technology (2 cr)
- SAR OT 563 Context and Occupational Performance
- SAR OT 564 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice 1
- SAR OT 621 Evidence-Based Occupational Therapy Practice III (2 cr)
- SAR OT 904 Thesis Proposal (2 cr) optional*
- SAR OT 530 Occupation-Based Practice with Groups
- SAR OT 565 Skills for Occupation-Based Practice 2
- SAR OT 566 Client Factors and Occupational Performance (2 cr)
- SAR OT 586 Professional Service Management (prev. HP 650)
- SAR OT 590 Fieldwork Seminar/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 for 2 credits Semester I and for SAR HP 905 Directed Research for 4 credits Semester II. Students cannot begin OT 593/594 LIFW until the thesis is completed. No more than 6 credits of thesis will apply to the MSOT degree.
Level II Fieldwork (LIIFW)
No student may start LIIFW until all academic course work (including the optional thesis) has been completed, a minimum C grade is earned in all required professional courses, the minimum 3.0 MSOT GPA is achieved,y and professional behavior standards are met. Students must complete LIIFW within 24 months of finishing the didactic portion of MSOT program.
- SAR OT 593 Level II Field Experience 1 (0 cr)
- SAR OT 594 Level II Field Experience 2 (0 cr)
- SAR OT 595 Level II Elective Field Experience (0 cr) (optional via petition)