The Occupational Therapy Department offers an entry-level master’s degree program for persons with various backgrounds and levels of education who wish to become occupational therapists. Fully encompassing Springfield College’s humanics philosophy, the occupational therapy program emphasizes that health and learning are best gained through an approach that unifies spirit, mind, and body. The overarching goal of the programs is to foster in each student a strong sense of professional identity embracing the basic tenets and ethical practices of the profession.
The entry level course of study includes occupational therapy theory, skills and administration in working with individuals across the life span. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, telephone 301-652-2682, www.acoteonline.org). Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, 12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD 20877, telephone 301-990-7979, www.nbcot.org). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states also require licensure in order to practice.
Interested students are encouraged to contact the Occupational Therapy Department at (413) 748-3581 to attend an information session or to meet with a faculty member before or while applying for admission to the program. General criteria for admission are included in the Graduate Catalog, and specific criteria are included under the program description that follows.
Entry-Level Master of Science Degree Program in Occupational Therapy
Students in the entry-level program in occupational therapy learn to work with individuals whose abilities to engage in the everyday tasks of living or the mastery of self and the environment are challenged by developmental delays, mental or social disabilities, physical dysfunction, chronic illness, or age. The curriculum closely integrates academic course work with lectures, seminars, group projects, and hands-on practice in supervised laboratories, and work with clients in service delivery settings under the direction of experienced therapists. Such collaborative activities facilitate the learning of essential technical and clinical skills, critical problem-solving techniques, leadership skills, and the development of self-confidence and professional identity.
Students pursue the Master of Science degree, which requires successful completion of eighty-five credits of graduate study. Students with prior occupational therapy course work and/or experience may apply to waive and/or transfer up to twelve credits.
Certified occupational therapy assistants with a bachelor’s degree in another major and at least two years clinical experience in OT may be eligible to waive certain program requirements and/or to substitute elective, independent study, or post-professional courses for some program requirements. (Inquiries about these program modifications should be directed to the Occupational Therapy Department Chair.)
Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in another major who have taken professional-level courses within another accredited occupational therapy program within the past three years may apply for advanced standing. A maximum of 18 credits may be transferred or waived under this option, leaving a minimum of 49 credits of graduate academic courses (not including Level II fieldwork) that must be completed at Springfield College to earn the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy. Applicants must present all materials required for advanced standing waivers by January 1 for fall entry. Interested applicants may contact the Occupational Therapy Department Chair for supplemental materials to apply as an advanced standing candidate.
Full-time students pursuing the Master of Science degree may complete the program’s academic and clinical requirements in twenty-eight months. Part-time study is possible until the start of the six month fieldwork requirement. Although most classes are scheduled during the day, they are often offered in blocks (i.e., one three-hour class per week) for the convenience of part-time students. All requirements for the degree must be completed within five years of entry into the program, and the required six months of fieldwork must be completed within two years of finishing the academic requirements of the program. Sample part-time course plans may be obtained from the Occupational Therapy department.
Entry-Level Program Admission Requirements
Students who will have earned a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university by the time they enroll in the program may apply to the entry-level master’s degree program in occupational therapy as graduate students. There are also entry points at the undergraduate level, which are described in further detail in the Springfield College Undergraduate Catalog.
Transfer applicants, including certified occupational therapy assistants and others with associate degrees in related fields, as well as internal transfers, may be accepted to the Health Science - Occupational Therapy program as space is available, and will earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Science and a Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy.
Graduate applicants must submit their complete applications and all required credentials through OTCAS by January 1 to be considered for acceptance the following fall. The web address for OTCAS is https://otcas.liaisoncas.com. Applicants must also have observed, volunteered, and/or worked in an occupational therapy setting prior to application. Additional experience working with people in an educational or health care setting, especially in the capacity of full-time employment, is also highly valued. Reference to these experiences will strengthen the applicant’s personal statement. One letter of reference from an occupational therapist is also strongly recommended.
The following prerequisite courses with satisfactory grades are required of all candidates:
Physical Sciences, which must include:
- Anatomy and Physiology with labs, taken within the last five years 6-8 credits
- One elective physical science with lab (physics, chemistry or kinesiology is strongly recommended) 4 credits
Social Sciences, which must include:
- Introduction to Sociology or Anthropology 3 credits
- Introduction to Psychology 3 credits
- Abnormal Psychology 3 credits
- Human Development or Developmental Psychology 3 credits
English, including one composition course 6 credits
Introduction to statistics 3 credits
To receive consideration for admission, applicants must have a minimum grade point average of at least 3.0 in both the physical and social science prerequisite courses, as well as a 3.0 overall cumulative average. Applicants must have completed at least two courses in the physical science and two in the social science categories at the time of application. Candidates may be accepted while still taking prerequisite courses, but enrollment, if accepted, is contingent upon successful completion of the remaining prerequisites. CLEP examinations to fulfill prerequisites are also acceptable. Those applicants with exceptional qualifications in all areas except meeting the academic standards may be considered on a conditional basis.