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Occupational Therapy Combined Programs

B.S. in Health Sciences/M.S. in Occupational Therapy checksheet

B.S. in Psychology/M.S. in Occupational Therapy checksheet

Occupational therapy is a health care profession that helps people to maximize their functional independence after illness or injury, or develop the social and emotional skills necessary to participate fully in everyday life. Occupational therapists assist children with motor, social and learning needs to be successful in school activities and family life. They help adults to develop strategies to address the physical and emotional changes associated with rehabilitation or long-term health needs. Therapy frequently involves assisting individuals to relearn old skills, develop new ways of doing or adapt the environment to enable them to live satisfying and independent lives.

The Combined B.S. in Health Sciences/M.S. in Occupational Therapy program or B.S. in Psychology/M.S. in Occupational Therapy program is designed for students who know early on that they want to become occupational therapists. These dual degree programs allow students to seamlessly complete undergraduate and graduate degrees in less time than would be required to complete both of the degrees separately. Undergraduate courses and extra-curricular experiences provide students with a foundation to develop the knowledge, values and interpersonal skills needed for success as an occupational therapist.

The Combined B.S./M.S. is a cohort program that requires uninterrupted enrollment. Once accepted, students may not accelerate (i.e. take additional courses during summer semesters to shorten program length) or decelerate (i.e. take a reduced course load in a semester and add another year to undergraduate study). Students who are unable to meet progression criteria within three consecutive years may not continue in the B.S./M.S. program and must change their majors in order to earn the undergraduate degree.

During the first three years of undergraduate coursework, students complete major requirements for the bachelor degree, including Hallmarks Core courses and occupational therapy program prerequisites. Students who meet the graduate occupational therapy program progression criteria can enroll in first-year Occupational Therapy graduate coursework during Year 4 of undergraduate studies. At the end of Year 4, students are awarded the bachelor degree in Health Sciences or Psychology, and are eligible to participate in the May commencement ceremony. Upon completion of graduate occupational therapy program requirements in Year 6, the master’s degree in Occupational Therapy will be awarded. Students receive their graduate degrees in either December or May, depending on fieldwork completion, and can participate in the May commencement ceremony.

For more information about the M.S. in Occupational Therapy, refer to the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts Graduate Programs section of the Catalog.

Freshman Admission

Freshmen applicants who demonstrate the following academic profile will be considered for admission to the program (there may be additional requirements such as observation hours and an essay related to knowledge of and motivation to become an occupational therapist; contact the admission’s office for further information): 

  • Minimum overall high school grade point average (GPA) of 3.0
  • Minimum combined SAT score of 1000 for Critical Reading and Math, or 22 on the ACT
  • Four years of science—strongly encouraged

Transfer Credit for B.S./M.S. in Occupational Therapy Programs 
Students can transfer with less than 16 credits. All of the Occupational Therapy program’s prerequisite courses must be completed at the University, unless special permission has been granted from the program. Students may not transfer any of the program’s prerequisite courses with grades lower than “B-.” Program prerequisite courses include Anatomy & Physiology I and II, Lifespan Human Development, Abnormal Psychology, Statistics, one Sociology/Anthropology/Cultural Studies course and Physics (non-calculus based).

Internal Transfer Policy (For undergraduate students interested in transferring into the undergraduate portion of the B.S./M.S. in OT program)
Students may be eligible to transfer at one point only: during the fall semester of the junior year (Year 3), dependent of seat availability. Students should submit a letter to the OT Program Director as soon as they are interested and no later than May 1 of the year that the student meets sophomore status. Students will be notified of acceptance during the fall semester of Year 3.No internal transfers will be permitted in years where there are 15 or more current undergraduate pre-professional phase OT students in good academic standing who anticipate moving into Year 3.

Progression Criteria
Students who demonstrate the following profile are guaranteed matriculation into the M.S. in Occupational Therapy program:

  • Completion of undergraduate major and Hallmarks Core requirements within the first three years of undergraduate study.
    • Students may opt to take any of the program's prerequisite courses or any of the major's courses as credit/no credit.
  • Overall minimum 3.0 GPA for all college coursework (including transfer courses).
    • Students must earn a semester grade point average of 3.0 or above during Years 1, 2, and 3.
    • Students whose semester GPA falls below the required 3.0 will receie an academic alert from the program.
    • Students are dismissed from the BS/MS program if academic alerts are issued for two consecutive semesters, or any three semesters.
  • Overall minimum 3.0 GPA in Occupational Therapy program prerequisites (minimum grades of “B-” or better in all Occupational Therapy program prerequisite courses).
    • All Occupational Therapy program prerequisite courses must be completed by the end of spring semester, Year 3.
    • Students may repeat only one program prerequisite course to improve their overall prerequisite GPA, and must earn a minimum B- on the second attempt in order to progress in the BS/MS program. Both grades will be included in the –prerequisite GPA calculation (i.e., first time and repeat time.)
    • Students who earn below a B- in more than one prerequisite course will be dismissed from the BS/MS program.
    • Students may not repeat a course once Year 3 (spring) has been completed.
  • Approval of the OT program’s Admission’s Committee

By October 15 of Year 3 of undergraduate study, students should submit the matriculation documents identified below (available from the Occupational Therapy Department or on the program’s webpage: www.PhilaU.edu/OT):

  • Submit the matriculation documents identified below (available from the Occupational Therapy Department or on the program’s webpage: www.PhilaU.edu/OT)
  • Academic Standards Statement
  • Clinical Observation Document: Documentation of at least 20 hours of clinical observation under the supervision of an occupational therapist (students may enroll in HSCI 230 to complete this requirement)
  • Program Prerequisite record
  • Current resume
  • One letter of recommendation from University faculty
  • Career goals essay describing motivation and preparation for OT educations (2-3 typed pages, double-spaced)

Students who are unable to achieve the standards listed above are not eligible to matriculate into the M.S. in Occupational Therapy program. They may be able to remain at the university but must change their majors to reflect either the BS in Health Sciences or BS in Psychology (or other major, as appropriate). These students cannot continue in the BS/MS in OT program. Students who wish to apply to the OT graduate program after receiving their bachelor degrees will be considered along with external applicants and must apply through OTCAS (see www.philau.edu/ot for more information regarding admission into the graduate OT program).