Apr 22, 2024  
2006-2007 Springfield College Graduate Catalog 
2006-2007 Springfield College Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Click to view FlashPoint.

Occupational Therapy

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs

The Occupational Therapy Department offers master’s degrees at two different levels, for those entering the profession and for post-professional study. It also offers for post-professional students practice certificates (inquiries about the practice certificate program should be directed to the Occupational Therapy Department). The master’s degree programs are designed for persons with various backgrounds and levels of education who either wish to become occupational therapists or who wish to further their education in the field. Most students choose to earn a master of education (M.Ed.) in Occupational Therapy. The master of science (MS) option requires three additional research related courses to be taken beyond the standard program requirements.

Fully encompassing Springfield College’s humanics philosophy, the occupational therapy programs emphasize 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 entry-level curriculum meets the requirements of the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc. (4720 Montgomery Lane, P. O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220, telephone 301-652-2682, www.aota.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, 800 S. Frederick Avenue, Suite 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150, 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.

The post-professional degree programs are designed for students who have already achieved national certification in occupational therapy at the professional level. The curriculum focus is on theoretical foundations of occupational therapy practice, advanced clinical competency, and professional leadership ability. Each post-professional degree program requires a minimum of thirty-two semester hours of credit and may culminate in the master’s degree (for students who enter with a baccalaureate degree). Full time students may complete the post-professional master’s program in one year, including two academic semesters and the summer term, unless they choose a research project or thesis option, which typically requires one additional semester.  Part-time study is also possible.

Interested students are urged to contact the Occupational Therapy Department at (413) 748-3581 to meet with a faculty member before or while applying for admission to either program level. General criteria for admission are included on page 6 of the Graduate Catalog, and specific criteria are included under each of the program descriptions that follow.

Entry-Level Master’s 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 may choose to pursue the master of education degree, which requires successful completion of seventy-seven credits of graduate study including a research requirement, or the master of science degree, requiring successful completion of a three-credit independent research project and five credits of graduate study beyond the master of education requirements, generally completed in one additional semester. Students with prior occupational therapy course work and/or experience may apply to waive and/or transfer up to twelve credits.  Students in the Dual Degree and Advanced Senior Programs must complete forty-eight credits at the graduate level for the master of education degree, or fifty-six credits for the master of science degree.

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 waived under this option, leaving a minimum of 39 credits of graduate academic courses (not including Level II fieldwork) that must be completed at Springfield College to earn the Master of Education in Occupational Therapy degree, or a minimum of 47 credits for the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.  Applicants must present all materials required for advanced standing waivers by April 1 for fall entry, by October 1 for spring entry, and by February 1 for summer 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 education degree may complete the program’s academic and clinical requirements in twenty-two months. Part-time study is possible until the start of the six- to nine-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 several entry points at the undergraduate level, which are described in further detail in the Springfield College Undergraduate Catalog. These programs include options for:

* Undergraduate applicants, who may enter the Occupational Therapy Dual Degree Program as first-year students, simultaneously enrolling in a separate undergraduate major and the graduate program in occupational therapy to earn both a bachelor of science or arts degree in a field of study related to occupational therapy and a master’s degree in occupational therapy in five years.

* Transfer applicants, including certified occupational therapy assistants and others with associate degrees in related fields, as well as internal transfers, who may be accepted to the dual degree program as space is available.

* Qualified students currently enrolled in an undergraduate major at Springfield College, who may apply during their junior year to enter the occupational therapy program as Advanced Seniors.

Graduate applicants must submit their complete applications and all required credentials by January 1 for guaranteed consideration for acceptance the following fall, though applications received after this date will be reviewed on a space-available basis. The application must include transcripts, references, a resume, completed prerequisite and experience worksheets, and a strong statement of personal and professional objectives. 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 (physics or kinesiology is strongly recommended) 3 credits

Social Sciences, which must include:

  • Introduction to Sociology 3 credits
  • Introduction to Psychology 3 credits
  • Abnormal Psychology 3 credits
  • One elective social science 3 credits
    (Human Development is strongly recommended)

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. In some cases a student may be conditionally accepted to a three-year accelerated entry track that includes several prerequisite courses during the first year. Full acceptance will be considered once prerequisites are successfully completed. 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.

Curriculum Sequence for the Entry-Level Master’s Degree Program in Occupational Therapy

Students pursuing the Master of Education and Master of Science degrees follow similar course sequences for the first four semesters of the program:

First Winter Term - (3 credits)

Master of Education candidates

After the second fall semester the two tracks diverge.  Students pursuing the Master of Education degree leave for fieldwork on the following schedule:

* Note: Dates listed depend upon availability and preferences of clinical sites and clinical site supervisors.

Second Winter Term (Jan. through March)*

Second Spring (April through June)*


  • OCTH 587 - Clinical Education III continues with 1 week seminar on campus Credits: 0

Master of Education candidates are then eligible to receive the Master of Education in OT degree in August, and to apply to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy examination as soon as all degree requirements are completed.

Master of Science candidates

Students pursuing the Master of Science degree stay for an additional semester to complete their research course work, and then move on to their fieldwork, as shown:

Second Spring (9 credits)

  • MS students attend pre-fieldwork seminar Credits: 0

Second Summer (June through Sept.)*

* These dates depend upon availability and preferences of clinical sites and clinical site supervisors.

Third Fall (Sept. through Dec.)*

* These dates depend upon availability and preferences of clinical sites and clinical site supervisors.

November or December

  • OCTH 587 - Clinical Education III continued with 3-day seminar on campus.

Master of Science candidates are then eligible to receive the Master of Science in OT degree in December, and to apply to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy examination as soon as all degree requirements are completed.

Additional Fieldwork Options for Students in Either Degree Track

  • Credits: 1-6
  • May be elected by students at any time during program, subject to approval of Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and to site availability.

  • Credits: 0
  • Typically elected by M.Ed. students in their second summer, and by MS students in their third winter, subject to approval by Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and to site availability. (3 credit fee)

    * These dates depend upon the availability and preferences of clinical sites and clinical site supervisors.

Practice Certificate Option

Students enrolled in the entry-level master’s program may focus on a specific area of practice beyond the entry level training by completing an additional twelve credits, generally in one additional semester, and receiving a specialized practice certificate.  Working closely with his/her academic advisor, a student will develop an individualized course plan designed to meet individual career goals.  Specific courses must include one of the post-professional core seminars, and nine credits of elective coursework within or outside the occupational therapy department, to include fieldwork experience beyond the minimum required for the master’s degree.

Post-Professional Graduate Degree Programs in Occupational Therapy

The post-professional degree programs have three components within the curriculum: professional, research, and practice. Students complete nine semester hours of academic course work in the professional component, a minimum of five credits in the research component, and the remaining credits in the practice component of the program.

The professional component consists of three Occupational Science and Clinical Practice seminars which form the foundation of the program:

  • OCTH 601: Theory and Practice of Human Occupation Credits: 3 credits
  • OCTH 650: Understanding, Evaluating and Improving Clinical Practice Credits: 3
  • OCTH 682: The Challenge of Contemporary Practice Credits: 3

These seminars address current issues in occupational therapy theory and practice, with the general objective of helping advanced level practitioners become most effective in their multiple service roles, as consultants, direct service providers, educators, trainers, research or clinical team members, administrators and advocates. Each seminar uses an informal group process model for class instruction. Participants review the most current and relevant professional and popular literature in preparation for class discussion and assignments. During seminar meetings, faculty present participants with carefully constructed case studies, stories, and simulations to facilitate participant engagement in active learning, using an adult educational model believed to enhance learning and promote critical thinking. Students are expected to demonstrate effective synthesis of theoretical and practical information in particular topic areas through participation in group projects, individual study and presentation of final projects during the seminar.

The specific requirements for the research component depend upon the student’s choice of the master of education or master of science, according to the Graduate School’s degree requirements (Plans A, B, or C) described earlier in this catalog. All options require students to complete RSCH 610: Foundations and Methods of Research, and to participate in a research endeavor. Each plan has different requirements for fulfilling the research background and endeavor, however:

* The master of education (Plan A) requires students to participate in a research project, such as a written scholarly project, a community service project, an advanced clinical practicum in a specialty area, or OCTH 620, for a minimum of two credits.

The master of science may be fulfilled in one of two ways under Plans B or C and requires the following additional course work:

Plan B

  • RSCH 612: Proposal Design Credits: 2
  • RSCH 620: Educational and Psychological Statistics I Credits: 3
  • RSCH 635: Thesis Credits: 4

This is a traditional thesis option that requires each student to develop and implement a research study independently with advisement by a thesis committee.

Plan C

  • RSCH 612: Proposal Design Credits: 2
  • RSCH 620: Educational and Psychological Statistics I Credits: 3 
  • RSCH 626: Research Project* Credits: 3

* This research project may be completed independently or in collaboration with one or two other students, and is advised by an OT faculty member.

Students in the certificate of advanced study program are required to complete a graduate level research methods course and a research endeavor, but may be able to waive these requirements if they present evidence of completion of comparable coursework within a previous master’s degree program. Guidelines for course waiver and transfer are available through the Occupational Therapy Department.

The practice component of the program is the most flexible, allowing students to direct their study toward a particular practice area in which they wish to expand their knowledge. Working closely with his or her adviser, a student assembles a career development plan that includes eleven to eighteen credits of focus on a specialty area of practice. This plan may include:

  • selected course work within the entry level program (for those making a shift to a new area of practice),
  • selected related courses from other programs on campus (e.g., Education, Health Care Management, Exercise Science, Physical Therapy, Psychology, Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, Therapeutic Recreation),
  • preparation for nationally-recognized specialty practice certification (e.g. HTCC’s Certified Hand Therapist, RESNA’s Assistive Technology Practitioner, or AOTA’s specialty certifications in geriatrics, neurorehabilitation, or pediatrics),
  • independent study (which may incorporate approved professional education workshops or materials with focused assignments),
  • supervised fieldwork, and/or
  • new advanced and special topics courses offered by the Occupational Therapy Department.

In certain specialty practice areas, completion of six credits of approved course work in the practice component, three credits of course work in the professional component, and RSCH 610 will qualify the student for a practice certificate. Please contact the Occupational Therapy Department for more information about the practice certificate programs.

Post-Professional Program Admission Requirements

Decisions concerning admission to the Post-Professional Program in
Occupational Therapy are made year-round, with applications accepted
and decisions made on the following schedule:

To begin classes in the Fall            -    Submit application by June 15th

To begin classes in the Spring        -    Submit application by November 1st

To begin classes in the Summer     -    Submit application by April 1st

Educational background: Applicants must have graduated from an accredited entry level program in occupational therapy. This includes U.S. programs accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association, as well as international programs recognized by the World Federation of Occupational Therapy. The program must have been accredited at the time of the student’s graduation. Included within the applicant’s educational preparation must be an introductory course in statistics, completed with a grade of B or better, either prior to enrollment or during the first semester of study.

Professional certification: Applicants must have been initially certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT; formerly the American Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy), as evidenced by a copy of the certificate. Certification need not be active at the time of application, but must not have been revoked. Internationally educated therapists must either be initially certified by the NBCOT, or must provide evidence of eligibility to sit for the NBCOT examination.

Professional experience: Applicants must have at least one year of full-time experience (or its equivalent in part-time experience) as an occupational therapist at the professional level.

References: Applicants must include three letters of reference that collectively address the applicant’s intellectual curiosity, creativity and problem-solving skills, responsibility, initiative, communication and interpersonal skills, and commitment to professional ideals and values. At least one reference from a supervisor in a recent professional work setting is required. Additional references may be submitted from professional colleagues, faculty members, or others who are qualified to provide an appraisal of the applicant’s suitability for admission.

Resumé: A current resumé highlighting the applicant’s paid and volunteer work experiences both within and outside the field of Occupational Therapy is also required. Applicants are encouraged to include any specialty certifications or awards and recognition earned, continuing education activities, presentations and publications, and professional and community service.

Personal statement: The personal statement forms the core of the application, providing the applicant with the opportunity to weave together the many strands of his or her personal, academic, and professional lives. Applicants are encouraged to describe how their understanding and philosophy of the profession have evolved with their experiences in the field, and what they hope to achieve in pursuing advanced study. Examples of specific information applicants may wish to include are descriptions of projects or programs they have initiated or developed, how they have used their occupational therapy skills or education within community service activities, or ways in which they have demonstrated leadership at work or in professional or community organizations. The personal statement should be limited to two or three pages in length, and should represent the applicant’s best efforts to express himself or herself clearly and succinctly.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs