The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) curriculum at Boston University 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, Boston University 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.

Our students also participate in many extra-curricular activities, volunteer locally and abroad, and engage in leadership roles. Click here to learn more about the many diverse opportunities to develop your OT skills outside the classroom.

MSOT Professional Curriculum at Boston University

    Boston University students register for full-time study (16-18 credits) each semester.   MSOT courses are on-campus, weekdays, sequential, interwoven, build upon preceding courses, and offered only once a year.  Most of the MSOT classes will include a lab, application, or discussion section.  In addition to in-class time, students will also have a weekly off-campus fieldwork experience (LIFW).

      MSOT-1 Fall Semester (First-Year)

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      MSOT-1 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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      MSOT-2 Fall Semester (Second Year)

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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.

      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).

      SAR-OT904 Thesis Proposal (optional)

      Thesis option: Students wishing to gain research experience may choose a Thesis elective (SAR-OT904 and HP905) during their MSOT-2 year.  Please review a list of Boston University OT faculty and their research interests.

      MSOT-2 Spring Semester

      SAROT530: Occupation Based Practice with Groups

      This Level I Fieldwork Practicum and Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy is the culminating course in a four-semester course sequence. It is designed to enhance clinical reasoning by integrating knowledge and skills from current and previous courses with a weekly fieldwork experience. Students use principles of program development, needs assessment, group intervention planning and implementation, along with theory and research evidence, to design and co-lead occupation-centered groups in a variety of practice settings and contexts with child, adult and elder populations. Readings, independent learning, and group supervision are combined with assignments specific to planning and leading a group. Class participation and independent learning are an essential aspect of this course.

      SAROT565: Skills for Occupation Based Practice II

      This companion course to OT566 Client Factors emphasizes the development of assessment and intervention skills for working with individuals living with conditions likely to benefit from remedial interventions directed toward performance skills and client factors. Students will have opportunity for hands-on practice in selecting, administering, and interpreting assessments, as well as choosing and implementing interventions. Best practice is promoted by requiring students to support their assessment and intervention choices through theoretical and empirical evidence.

      SAROT566: Client Factors and Occupational Performance

      This graduate course in occupational therapy is designed to be taken concurrently with two other complementary courses: OT 565 (Skills for Occupation Based Practice 2) and OT 586( Professional Service Management). This component of the course sequence focuses on knowledge and resources needed for effective clinical reasoning about occupation-based evaluation and intervention for the Biomechanical and Neurorehabilitation theoretical perspectives. Topics covered included diagnostic conditions and disorders, theoretical perspectives, research evidence, and practice contexts/environments. Content is applied to individuals living with chronic conditions who are most likely to benefit from remediation interventions to enable performance of meaningful occupations, e.g., ADLs/IADLs, work, education, play, leisure, rest and sleep, and social participation. Classes will consist primarily of lectures, group discussions, audiovisual presentations, and case study discussions. Considerable self-directed learning is expected.

      SAROT586: Professional Service Management

      This required graduate course provides a fundamental, critical overview of health care management principles. Detailed discussions, teamwork, practical case study experiences, as well as oral and written assignments will guide the soon-to-be entry-level occupational therapist to effectively manage people and resources, and to understand political, regulatory, economic, and social forces that are affecting a constantly changing and often complex health and rehabilitation environment. Major emphasis is on advocacy and legislation, reimbursement, financial planning, personnel management, leadership, negotiation skills, conflict resolution, ethics, grant writing, starting up a new program, business or practice, entrepreneurship, and marketing.

      SAROT590: Fieldwork Seminar/Field Experience Fee

      Fee is equal to the cost of two credits. The Fieldwork Seminar is for students completing the didactic coursework in the program. Topics preparing for the transition from the academic setting to the practice setting, program policies and procedures, criteria for evaluating student performance, supervision issues, fieldwork experience responsibilities and information on certification, licensure and the job search.

      XXX-500+ Practice Elective (2 cr) or SAR-HP905 Thesis Directed Research (optional)

      Level II Fieldwork (LIIFW)

      No student may start LIIFW until all academic coursework (including optional thesis) has been completed, an acceptable grade (“C” or higher) is earned in all required professional courses, the minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 is achieved, and professional behavior standards are met. All students must complete LIIFW within 24 months of finishing their didactic work. Please see our section on Level II Fieldwork for more information.

      Boston University students do not pay tuition while on Level II Fieldwork.  The OT clinical affiliation fee is paid during the MSOT-2 Spring semester (via registration of OT590 Fieldwork Seminar/Fee) and keeps students on the university roles as full-time special students during internships.

      SAROT593: Level II Fieldwork I

      Full-time, on-site clinical experience.

      SAROT594: Level II Fieldwork II

      Full-time, on-site clinical experience.

      SAROT595: Level II Elective Fieldwork

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

      Earn entry-level Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree from Boston University after completion of Level II Fieldwork requirements.

      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. The QRC may give students entering an OT program an early determination for approval to take the certification exam. For more information, please contact the NBCOT.