*Please note: The new BS program in Behavior and Health has replaced the undergraduate program in Therapeutic Studies (BS/MSOT). Contact us for updated information about this program.

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) curriculum provides integrated preparation for a variety of professional roles as an occupational therapy practitioner, both in traditional settings and newly identified areas of need.

The curriculum has three organizing threads that guide all instruction:

  • A clear focus on occupation as the central concern of the profession
  • A commitment to client-centered practice
  • A strong belief that practice must be guided by the best scientific evidence available.

We have adopted a life-course perspective in all of our clinical courses rather than organize teaching by the traditional divisions of diagnosis (mental health; physical disabilities) or age group (pediatrics; geriatrics). Clinical courses make extensive use of case examples, which are followed across the life course. These cases also 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, MSOT students participate in an Integrative Seminar that links academic course material with concurrent extended Level I Fieldwork (LIFW) experiences in the Boston community. Students discuss and analyze their LIFW experiences in the Seminar to integrate learning from other courses into these clinical situations. We have a large network of clinical fieldwork sites for students to choose from.

Professional Program Curriculum

Students register for 16–18 credits each semester. Each course carries four credits unless otherwise noted.

First Year (MSOT-1)

Fall Semester

SAROT500: Integrative Seminar I and LIFW

This graduate course in occupational therapy is the first integrative seminar in a 4-seminar sequence designed to enhance clinical reasoning processes by integrating knowledge from previous educational and work experiences with current courses and weekly fieldwork experiences. Using problem-based case scenarios, class discussion, classroom activities, fieldwork experiences and reflective journaling this seminar focuses on learning the foundations for professional socialization, group processes, therapeutic relationships, ethical practice and other professional issues for working with persons and populations of all ages with a variety of needs for occupational therapy services. Self-directed, collaborative learning and class participation are essential aspects of this seminar. (Credits: 2)

SAROT513: Analysis and Adaptation of Occupation

This course introduces students to the Occupational Therapy Practice Framework: Domain & Process (OTPF) 2nd edition (AOTA, 2008), an official document for the profession. Through lecture and participatory activities, students investigate the domain of and "the dynamic occupation and client-centered process used in the delivery of occupational therapy "(AOTA, pg. 626). Employing logical thinking, critical analysis, problem solving, and creativity students learn how to analyze and adapt occupations and activities. Students will be able to explain the meaning and dynamics of occupation and activity, including the interaction of areas of occupation, performance skills, performance patterns, activity demands, context(s), and client factors. Through community service projects, such as National School Backpack Awareness Day, students will articulate to consumers and the general public the value of occupation to support participation. Using small group presentations, students will gain an understanding of the importance of the history and philosophical base of occupational therapy. (Credits: 4)

SAROT520: Evidence-Based Practice I

The first course in a sequence designed to develop knowledge and skills for using scientific evidence in clinical decision-making. The course focuses particularly on analysis and application of descriptive, relational, and qualitative research evidence. (Credits: 2)

SAROT526: Functional Movement: Analysis and Assessment

This occupational therapy course examines changes in gross and fine movement skills across the life course, and the relation of these changes to occupational performance. In addition, students learn biomechanical, ecological systems, and dynamical systems' principles underlying human movement and their application to functional activities including seating, transfers, and mobility. Principles covered in lecture are applied through practical experiences and discussions during the application sessions. (Credits: 4)

SAROT529: Occupation Across the Life Course

This course examines current theory and research related to the development of human occupation throughout the life course. Human development is viewed from occupation-based and ecological perspectives, emphasizing the inextricable links among person, environment, and occupation. The performance of activities of daily living, instrumental activities of daily living, work/education, play/leisure, and social participation, especially as potentially affected by health and disability, will be examined across the life course. Students are required to observe, interpret, and describe occupational performance, and to apply relevant theories and constructs to understand the development of human occupation. Students will begin to develop a base of knowledge about different types, administration, and interpretation of assessment methods and measures. (Credits: 4)

SAROT589: Orientation to Practice

This graduate course in occupational therapy is designed to orient and introduce students to current and emerging areas of practice. Guest faculty and practitioners will share their experience and expertise for various areas of practice to aid students in understanding the typical contexts of fieldwork experiences that will be an integral part of the curriculum. This course is intended to introduce students to common types of client populations across the lifespan and typical interventions and goals for areas of practice addressing mental health, pediatrics, and physical disabilities occupational needs and services. Goals, guidelines, policies and procedures for participating in the academic program's Level I (LIFW) and Level II (LIIFW) fieldwork programs will be reviewed. Training in confidentiality/privacy laws will be provided to support students in abiding by professional ethics and behaviors. Additionally, opportunities for professional development within and outside of the University will be highlighted. (Credits: 0)

Spring Semester

SAROT501: Integrative Seminar II and LIFW

This course is the second in a four-seminar sequence designed to develop and enhance professional reasoning processes by integrating knowledge and skills from previous educational and work experiences and from concurrent OT courses with weekly fieldwork experiences. This seminar focuses on reasoning related to theories of learning and behavior change; the assessment, intervention, and documentation process; use of theory and research evidence in practice; therapeutic rapport and communication; and other professional topics and issues as they relate to working with persons and populations of all ages in a variety of OT practice contexts. Self-directed and collaborative learning, class participation, reflective writing for application and analysis of learning, case-based learning, and ongoing development of a professional portfolio are essential aspects of this seminar. (Credits: 2)

SAROT524: Introduction to the OT Process

This course is designed to introduce students to the Occupational Therapy process as described in the OT Practice Frameworks II. The course is organized around the "Paired Cooperative Learning" (PCL) experience. This is a collaborative student relationship designed to provide a practical context for developing skills in evaluation, planning, implementing, and documenting client-centered, occupation and evidence-based occupational therapy assessment and intervention. Students will learn to apply theory to the OT Process in developing and implementing intervention. Professional topics related to therapeutic use of self, interviewing, clinical reasoning, use of theory to guide practice, professional development and wellness-oriented practice are addressed. Course principles are applied to all areas of OT practice. (Credits: 4)

SAROT556: Neuroscience for Occupational Therapy

In this foundation neuroscience course, the student will be presented with topics including histology of the central nervous system, gross anatomy and organization of the central nervous system, cross-sectional anatomy of the brainstem and spinal cord, autonomic nervous system anatomy and function, ascending sensory pathways, descending motor pathways, cranial nerves: location, fibers course and function, vasculature of the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord, visual system, vestibular system, auditory system, cerebellum, basal ganglia, cerebral cortical structure and function, limbic system: learning and memory, and development and normal aging of the nervous system. In addition to an in depth discussion of the neuroanatomy of each of the above systems and structures, each topic will have an applied component in which students will investigate the impact of these systems and structures on function. Students will be presented with case studies in class and in the lab portion of the course which reinforce the clinical application of the course topics. In lab, students will also conduct exercises related to the testing of neurological function and investigate neuranaotmic structures using brain atlases and images. (Credits: 4)

SAROT562: Learning and Behavior Change

This course examines interdisciplinary theories of learning and behavior change that underlie current OT theories and practice. The course explores the impact of various clinical conditions and cognitive function on learning and behavior change. The course provides foundation knowledge underlying occupational therapy theories and frames of reference. (Credits: 4)

SAROT620: Evidence-Based OT Practice II

This second course in the evidence-based practice sequence focuses on critical analysis of research on intervention effectiveness. Students examine issues of internal, external, and statistical validity as they relate to the appropriate use of evidence for clinical decision-making. (Credits: 2)

Second Year (MSOT-2)

Fall Semester

SAROT502: Integrative Seminar III and LIFW

This is the third course in a sequence designed to develop clinical reasoning by integrating course-related knowledge with weekly fieldwork experiences. The course uses problem-based case scenarios and fieldwork experiences to practice reasoning about evaluation and intervention for person of all ages with a variety of disabling conditions. Students apply client-centered, occupation and evidence-based practice concepts to their evaluation and intervention plans. (Credits: 4)

SAROT538: Assistive Technology

This course provides a lecture and laboratory-based introduction on the use of assistive technologies and related issues, such as funding and legislation. It is designed to provide a basic understanding of various types of technologies, assessment procedures, user populations, environments, and the impact of assistive technology on occupation. (Credits: 2)

SAROT563: Context and Occupational Performance

This graduate course in occupational therapy is designed to be taken concurrently with two other complementary courses: OT 564 and OT 503. This course focuses on knowledge and resources needed for effective clinical reasoning about occupation-based evaluation and intervention. Topics covered include diagnostic conditions and disorders, practice contexts/environments, models and theories of practice, research evidence, healthcare/education regulations and policies, and interdisciplinary practitioner roles. Content is applied particularly to individuals living with long-term conditions who are most likely to benefit from compensatory and adaptive interventions to enable performance of meaningful occupations such as ADL/IADLs, work, education, play, leisure, and social participation. Classes consist primarily of lectures, group discussions, audiovisual presentations, and case study discussions. A high level of self-directed learning is expected. (Credits: 4)

SAROT564: Skills for Occupation Based Practice I

This companion course to OT563 Context and OT502 Integrative Seminar III emphasizes the development of assessment and intervention skills for working with individuals living with long-term conditions likely to benefit from compensatory and adaptive strategies. Students will have opportunity for hands-on practice in selecting, administering, and interpreting assessments, as well as choosing and implementing occupation-based interventions. Best practice is promoted by requiring students to support their assessment and intervention choices through theoretical and empirical evidence. (Credits: 4)

SAROT621: Evidence-Based OT Practice III

This is the third course in a sequence that develops skills and knowledge for evidence-based occupational therapy practice. The course focuses on generating evidence for one's own practice. The course introduces students to methods to examine generating group level (program evaluation) individual outcomes (single subject design). (Credits: 2)

SAROT904: Thesis Proposal Development

Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, the student develops a written research proposal. (Credits: Var)

Spring Semester


Level II Fieldwork

No student may start LIIFW until all academic course work (including optional thesis) has been completed, a minimum “C” grade is earned in all required professional courses, the minimum 3.0 MSOT GPA is achieved, and professional behavior standards are met. Students must complete LIIFW within 24 months of finishing didactic portion of MSOT program:

SAROT593: Level II Fieldwork I

Full-time, on-site clinical experience. (Credits: 0)

SAROT594: Level II Fieldwork II

Full-time, on-site clinical experience. (Credits: 0)

SAROT595: Level II Elective Fieldwork

Optional (via petition) full-time, on-site clinical experience. (Credits: 0)

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy awarded.

* 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, please contact the NBCOT.

MSOT to OTD Option

MSOT students interested in continuing on directly into the on-line post-professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) program may apply during the second academic semester of the entry-level MSOT program. Accepted students will take 37 credits beyond the entry-level MSOT program; the majority of coursework is completed on-line. Each student will work closely with an academic mentor to complete a doctoral project. For more information about the OTD program, visit http://www.otdegree.com/ or contact OTD Program Director Karen Jacobs (kjacobs@bu.edu or 617-353-7516).