MS in Occupational Therapy

Professional Program

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy 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 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 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 (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 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.

Accreditation

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. 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.

Certification

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 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 three years (January 2010–December 2012), our graduates have achieved an overall pass rate of 98.3% on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.

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%.

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
2010 33 33 33 100%
2011 47 46 44 96%
2012 40 40 40 100%
3-year total 120 119 117 98.3%

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.

Admission Requirements

We use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) for applications. All official transcripts and letters of recommendation should be sent directly to OTCAS:

Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS)
P.O. Box 9120
Watertown, MA 02471
617-612-2860
otcasinfo@otcas.org
http://www.otcas.org/

Completed applications must be received by December 15 to be assured consideration. Applications received after this date will be considered on a space-available basis, and will not be considered for merit-based financial aid. OTCAS must receive the application, recommendations, and transcripts by December 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/.

Boston University Sargent College’s OT Department must receive official GRE scores (institution code 3028, dept code 0618), one additional essay, and the BU Prerequisite Checklist by December 15.

  • For any questions about the receipt, processing, and verification of your application, please contact OTCAS at 617-612-2860, otcasinfo@otcas.org, or http://www.otcas.org/.
  • For other questions, please contact the Boston University OT Office at ot@bu.edu (email preferred) or 617-353-2729.

Application Review: In mid-December, the MSOT Admissions Committee will begin to review completed applications. In early February, acceptance letters are mailed.

Required materials include:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 December 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, 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.
  3. One special essay question is required separately from the OTCAS application. Please send this essay in a single electronic document to ot@bu.edu. The essay should include the question at the top, and responses should be double-spaced, one page maximum. The purpose of the essay is to evaluate the applicant’s thought process and writing ability. The essay question is as follows:
    If you were alone on a desert island, what one object would you take with you and why? What one activity would you miss most from your everyday life and why?
  4. 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.
  5. Official transcripts indicating completion of the six prerequisite courses (described below) at the college level. A minimum grade of B- is required. 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 prerequisite must be completed within seven years of matriculation into the MSOT program.
    • 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 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.

If you have questions regarding any of the prerequisites or admission requirements, we encourage you to contact the Boston University OT Office in writing (ot@bu.edu). 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: ot@bu.edu or fax: 617-353-2926

A. Human Anatomy: 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: The summer before matriculation into the MSOT program, students are required to complete an online gross anatomy course. Students must demonstrate competency in this course by earning a grade of 75 or better prior to August 20. Detailed information about how to register for this course and course requirements will be sent to students once they have formally accepted admission into the MSOT program.

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.

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 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

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.

Cognitive/Judgment/Observation

  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.

Communication

  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.

Interpersonal/Attitudinal

  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.

Physical/Sensory Motor

  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.

Curriculum

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.

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

Post-professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD)

In the first semester of the MSOT program, students will learn about our Online Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD). Applications for the OTD program will be accepted early in the second semester of the first year of the program.