Occupational Therapy (M.S.)

Program Director: Wendy Krupnick, Ph.D., M.B.A., B.S., OTR/L

Campus Location: Main Campus; classes held eight weekends during each semester: Between class sessions, students complete assignments and participate in online learning activities.

Students will be admitted into this program for entrance in the fall semester only.



The occupational therapy (OT) program’s mission is to develop competent, reflective and ethical occupational therapists who possess a commitment to professionalism and lifelong learning. In keeping with the University mission to prepare graduates for successful careers in an evolving and interconnected world, the OT program incorporates interdisciplinary learning and collaboration to enable graduates to practice in diverse environments and changing service-delivery contexts. The curriculum is organized around three themes that reflect the program’s philosophy: enabling participation through being client-centered and grounded in the person-environment-occupation fit; applying evidence and clinical reasoning to enhance practice; and fostering collaboration and innovation in order to contribute to our clients’ well-being and quality of life. 

Program Learning Outcomes

The Philadelphia University entry-level master’s degree in occupational therapy curriculum is designed to prepare competent, reflective and ethical occupational therapists whose practice philosophy is both client-centered and occupation-based, and who possess a commitment to professionalism and lifelong learning.

Graduates from the occupational therapy program will demonstrate the ability to:

  • Provide occupation-based and client-centered care by competently applying and adapting the occupational therapy process.
  • Locate, evaluate and apply evidence-based resources to build knowledge and support occupational therapy practice.
  • Work collaboratively with clients, caregivers and members of the professional team to implement programs and services that enable health and participation.
  • Demonstrate the attitudes, behaviors and responsibilities associated with being a health professional (e.g. therapeutic relationships, respect for diversity, interprofessional behaviors).
  • Develop innovative tools, programs or services to promote participation and well-being.

Program Description

Individuals whose lives are affected by illness, injury or developmental delay can attain their fullest measure of independence and life satisfaction through expert intervention by an occupational therapist. By helping people to build skills and enhancing how they interact in their environments, occupational therapists help people to function and live life to its fullest.

The full time entry-level master’s degree is delivered through a hybrid format that involves intensive on-campus weekend class meetings, scheduled two times per month, and supplemented with online learning activities. Coursework builds on the strengths of the University in the areas of design and health sciences to provide students with unique perspectives on the delivery of occupational therapy services.

The occupational therapy program curriculum is based on a frame of reference that is humanistic and holistic in nature, and which emphasizes optimal functioning throughout the life span. The program is designed to prepare strong entry-level practitioners who employ an evidence-based practice approach with the capacity for creative analysis and sound critical thinking.

One of the unique features of the program involves multiple learning opportunities for students to collaborate with design, architecture or fashion students, as well as practicing health and education professionals.

In addition to course work and fieldwork, students enter into a two-year experience with a client living in the community. Each semester students complete course assignments with their clients to better understand the client’s lived experience and occupational adaptation issues. Students incorporate this information into the Master’s capstone project where they reflect on and chronicle their learning and accomplishments from classroom, fieldwork and client experiences. The master’s portfolio project culminates in a capstone presentation to practicing occupational therapists and representatives of other communities of interest.

Consider some of the following features of the graduate program:

  • First 22 months of program are conducted in weekend format on campus; program may be completed within 28 months, including Level II Fieldwork.
  • Students complete multiple Level I Fieldwork experiences in a range of practice settings.
  • The program focuses on educating practitioners to use evidence to support practice decisions, to work independently and creatively; and to nurture a commitment to lifelong professional development.
  • The program is designed for adult learners who are self-directed and good time managers.
  • Students are exposed to job opportunities in a wide variety of settings: hospitals, long-term care facilities, psychiatric facilities, hand clinics, rehabilitation centers, pediatric hospitals, schools, home care agencies and other community-based settings.

Unique Program Requirements

Successful students in this type of learning program are self-motivated and disciplined. The program will involve extensive reading and online learning activities. Students must enjoy learning through a visual medium. In addition, students must have an ability to express themselves well in written format and a desire to increase their abilities to think and write critically.

All students must have daily access to a computer with camera or webcam and the Internet. It is highly recommended that students also have access to a headset with microphone.

Prerequisite Course Requirements


Anatomy and Physiology I (with Laboratory)   4
Anatomy and Physiology II (with Laboratory)       4
Science (Physics recommended)    4
Developmental Psychology or equivalent (Lifespan)   3
Abnormal Psychology or equivalent      3
Statistics    3
Sociology/Anthropology/Cultural Studies I or equivalent  3


Program of Studies

The coursework is sequenced in a planned progression in order to build upon and develop knowledge and skills at increasing levels of complexity, competence and integration. Upon the completion of the second year of didactic coursework, students must participate in two full-time, Level II fieldwork affiliations. Refer to a typical full-time sequence below

Note: A felony conviction may affect a student’s ability to be placed at a fieldwork setting. 

Program of Studies: MS in OT Sequence (Full-Time)
YEAR Credits
1 - Fall OCC-610  Portfolio Seminar  1
OCC-611  Foundations for Practice  3
OCC-613  Functional Anatomy  4
OCC-621  Occupational Competence  1
OCC-625  Clinical Skills A 3
1 - Spring OCC-616 Assistive Technology Design 2
OCC-623  Applied Neuroanatomy  4
OCC-628 Intro to Evaluation  1
OCC-635  Clinical Skills B  1
OCC-645  Clinical Skills C  1
OCC-741 Interpersonal Relations and Groups
2 - Summer OCC-626 Evidence-based Practice 3
OCC-735  Level I Fieldwork A  1
OCC-738  Psychosocial Interventions  5
OCC-765 Clinical Applications  1
2 - Fall OCC-745  Level I Fieldwork B  1
OCC-748  Assessment and Intervention: Adults  5
OCC-754  Environmental Dimensions of Occupation  3
OCC-766 Older Adults: Enabling Participation 2
2 - Spring OCC-751  Professional Issues and Trends  3
OCC-765 Level I Fieldwork C 1
OCC-757  Innovative Practice in OT  3
OCC-758 Assessment and Intervention: Children and Youth 5
*3 - Summer OCC-768 Specialty Practice: UE Rehab 3
OCC-770  Practice Platform Seminar 2
OCC-784  Mastery  1
3 - Fall OCC-771  Level II Fieldwork A  3
OCC-775 Clinical Reasoning I 1.5
3 - Spring OCC-781  Level II Fieldwork B 3
OCC-785  Clinical Reasoning II   1.5

*Depending on fieldwork site placements, students may be able to begin Level II Fieldwork in the summer, and as a result, would be eligible to graduate in December.


Admissions Criteria

Any individual who has or is about to receive a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university is eligible to apply. The graduate program in occupational therapy leading to the master of science is designed to accommodate students from all undergraduate disciplines. Students in the occupational therapy program will be selected on a competitive basis from candidates submitting complete applications with all required supporting materials.

  • Academic Background: A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0, and completion of all prerequisite foundation coursework with a minimum average 3.0 GPA is required. Candidates may apply for consideration prior to completion of all prerequisite requirements as long as a reasonable plan for completion of required coursework prior to entrance into the program is delineated. All prerequisite foundation courses must be completed prior to matriculation in the program, with no less than a B- in each.
  • Two Letters of Reference: These letters should examine the applicant’s abilities, communication skills, motivation, interpersonal skills and emotional responsibility.
  • Personal Essay: Students should write and submit a career goals essay with their application materials (approximately 500 words). The essay will be examined for written communication skills, knowledge of the occupational therapy field, and motivation for the profession.
  • Standardized Test Score: Students should submit results of either the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) with their application. Candidates’ application packets will be reviewed after the GRE or MAT scores are received by the university.
  • Resume: Students must submit a resume that highlights their background and experience. Faculty believe that enrollment of students with varied cultural, geographic, academic and employment backgrounds enriches the learning experience and helps sensitize occupational therapy program students to the unique characteristics of the diverse patient populations they will work with as health care providers.
  • Clinical Observation Hours: Students should submit documentation of 20 hours of clinical observation under the supervision of an occupational therapist before beginning the professional program. Applicants are encouraged to complete clinical observation hours as early as possible. 

Acceptance Classifications

Students may be admitted to this program under one of the following acceptance classifications:

  • Full Acceptance: Students who have met all admissions requirements with satisfactory performance as judged by the OT program’s Admission Committee are granted full acceptance. Full acceptance is granted only when the student’s file is complete, and all the program-specific requirements for entry have been met. 
  • Conditional Acceptance: Students may be offered a conditional acceptance classification when a student’s file is missing evidence that s/he has successfully completed all prerequisite coursework. Prior to admission under this category, students must show evidence of registration for all outstanding prerequisite courses. Students will not be allowed to take any courses in the program prior to completion of all prerequisite coursework. Upon successful completion of all prerequisite course requirements, students must apply to the Office of Graduate Admissions for a change in admission status.

All students must be fully accepted into the occupational therapy program before they can enroll in any occupational therapy courses.

Accepted Student Requirements

Students in the occupational therapy program are expected to fulfill the following requirements during their student experience at Philadelphia University. 

Participation in clinical and fieldwork experiences is a required part of the curriculum and a requirement for graduation. Many settings require students to be fingerprinted, undergo a drug screening and/or gain clearance from the PA Sex Offender Registry. Students are responsible for the costs of these processes, as well as for transportation arrangements and costs associated with fieldwork experiences. Information regarding how to meet these requirements is provided by the program. 

Note: Clinical and fieldwork sites may deny a student's participation in the clinical or fieldwork experience because of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, failure of a required drug test or inability to produce an appropriate health clearance, all of which would result in delayed graduation or, in the inability to graduate from the program.

Students are expected to obtain materials and/or complete documentation required for Fieldwork:

  •  Health Clearance (by June prior to first academic year)
  •  Annual physical examination 
  •  Annual update of immunizations according to fieldwork site requirements
  •  Annual proof of active health insurance coverage
  •  Legal Clearance: Annual criminal background check and annual child abuse history clearance
  •  CPR certification 

Students are expected to maintain professional organization memberships in the following organizations:

  •  Philadelphia University Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA)
  •  American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
  •  Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association (POTA) (or other state OT association)

Accreditation and Certification

The occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s phone number is 301.652. 2682.

Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. NOTE: a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. Information regarding individual eligibility may be obtained from the appropriate credentialing bodies.

Occupational Therapy Program Academic Standards

The occupational therapy program admission criteria are designed to select candidates who are most likely to succeed both in the University academic environment as well as in OT professional practice. While the program faculty is dedicated to assisting students in their professional education, the student also has responsibilities. Students enrolled in the program must demonstrate achievement in academic and clinical competencies necessary for professional practice, and meet academic standards consistent with graduate school criteria. Students must also demonstrate effective professional behavior as detailed in theFieldwork Readiness Behavior Development form (see OT Student Handbook). In order to remain in good academic standing, students must meet the following standards. These academic standards are in addition to the university academic standards as described in the Graduate Catalog and on the Philadelphia University website.

Retention and Progression

The student’s cumulative academic record is reviewed at the end of each semester, including summer, to evaluate academic standing and satisfactory progress toward degree requirements. The program director will notify the student when problems in academic performance may jeopardize a student’s good standing.

The maximum time for completion of the degree program is 4.5 years from the date of first enrollment. Students who have not earned the graduate degree during this period will have their academic records reviewed and may be asked to meet additional requirements in order to graduate.

Academic & Professional Conduct

In order to remain in good academic standing, students must meet the following standards. These academic and conduct standards are in addition to the university academic standards as described in the University Student Handbook, University Catalog and on the University web site.

  • Maintain a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in Occupational Therapy coursework.
  • Maintain a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 . (Graduation eligibility requires a minimum overall 3.0 GPA.)
  • Receive no more than one grade below B- while in the OT Program. (A second grade below B- will result in dismissal.)
  • Repeat core course when “C” (2.0) grade is earned. While the grade of “C” is regarded as a minimum passing grade, it is judged as unsatisfactory performance. Students who earn a “C” grade in a core course must decelerate , and repeat the course before proceeding in the full time program (see Deceleration below). Students who are unable to earn a minimum “B” (3.0) in a repeat course will be dismissed from the program. A course can be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a minimum “B” (3.0) grade on the second attempt.
  • Demonstrate appropriate professional behavior and conduct (refer to Standards of Professional Conduct).

Competency Grading

  • Each student is expected to pass every competency on the first attempt with a minimum passing grade of 80%. If unsuccessful, the student will be allowed one retake of the competency; the highest grade that can be earned will be 80%.
  • Students must earn a competency grade average of 80% or higher within each course. Students who are unable to earn the minimum 80% average must enter into a remediation program defined by the course faculty. Students must demonstrate competency at the end of remediation, or will be dismissed.
  • Each student is expected to demonstrate proficiency in all safety items in order to successfully pass the competency.



  • Students must attain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA prior to enrolling in Level II fieldwork courses.
  • Students must successfully complete Level II fieldwork within 15 months beyond the date of completion of didactic coursework. In instances where there is more than 12 months of inactivity, faculty may require students to engage in competencies and/or other learning activities to assure fieldwork readiness.
  • Students must receive satisfactory reports and evaluations from all fieldwork educators to receive fieldwork credit (“CR”).
  • Failure to complete a fieldwork, student withdrawal, or having to be removed from a placement may result in a student’s dismissal from the program. Students who need to repeat more than one Level II fieldwork due to unsatisfactory performance will be dismissed from the program.
  • If a grade of “NC” (no credit) is obtained in a fieldwork course, faculty determines whether the student is permitted to repeat the fieldwork, or be dismissed from the program. If permission to repeat the fieldwork is granted, the student must develop a written plan of self-correction prior to being placed in another fieldwork.
  • A fieldwork may be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a “CR” (credit) grade on the second attempt. If a student receives a grade of “NC” in two fieldwork courses, the student will be dismissed from the program. The decision to permit a student to repeat fieldwork is dependent on fieldwork educator verbal or written reports about student behavior with respect to adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct, or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk. (This information will be reviewed by the Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee for action, either probation or dismissal, depending upon the circumstances.)
  • Students receiving a “NC” grade, including “W” (withdrawal”) in fieldwork will be placed on probation. The student must re-register and repeat the fieldwork in order to progress in the program. Repetition of a fieldwork could delay graduation. Withdrawal for medical or personal reasons—and approved by program faculty—will not result in probation.
  • A student must earn a grade of “CR” in all fieldwork in order to graduate.


Probation, Deceleration and Dismissal

Academic probation is a means of emphatically informing students that their records are unsatisfactory, while there is still time to remedy the situation. Students will be placed on academic probation when their records indicate that normal progress toward a degree is in jeopardy. Students on probation should meet with their advisors to discuss a plan for improving their academic performance. They should also consider reducing the number of hours of employment whenever possible and/or limit participation in any other activity that interferes with the performance of their academic work.

1. Probation—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will be placed on academic probation:

  • Semester GPA below 3.0 (OT Program GPA is comprised of all OT courses taken, beginning with the semester that the student enters the professional phase of the OT Program.) 
  • Cumulative grade point average below 3.0.
  • Grade below “B-” in one or more courses
  • Withdrawing from a course for academic reasons (students who need to withdraw from a course for  medical or personal reasons must be first be approved by the Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee prior to withdrawing)
  • While the grade of “C” is regarded as a minimum passing grade, it is judged as unsatisfactory performance. Students who earn a “C” grade in core courses must decelerate, and repeat the course before proceeding in the full time program (see Deceleration below).
  • Verbal or written reports from fieldwork educators indicating non-adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk. (This information will be reviewed by the Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee for action, either probation or dismissal, depending upon the circumstances.) 
  • A student who violates the OT Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior or AOTA Code of Ethics and Ethical Standards will be placed on either academic probation or dismissed, depending on the circumstances.

Students on academic probation will be required to improve their academic performance by the end of the next enrolled semester in order to be removed from academic probation. These details will be provided in writing to the student upon notification of placement on probation.

2. Deceleration—Deceleration means that the student may not progress in the full-time program.

  • Students decelerate when they receive a “C” (2.0) in any core course (Functional Anatomy, Applied Neuroanatomy, Assessment & Intervention courses (Adult, Children & Youth, and Psychosocial Interventions, or their equivalent). Students must repeat courses and earn a minimum “B” (3.0) in order to proceed in the program. Students who are unsuccessful with remediation activities will be dismissed. Students can repeat only one course.
  • Since the program is a lock-step curriculum, courses that were not successfully completed cannot be repeated until the following year. A second deceleration results in dismissal.

3. Dismissal—If the student is placed on probation and remains on probation at the end of the following semester, the student will be dismissed from the program. In addition, students whose academic records include one or any combination of the following will be dismissed from the program:

  • Cumulative grade point average below 3.0 for any two semesters
  • Probation for any three semesters
  • Grade below “B-” in two or more courses
  • Grade of “NC” in two fieldwork courses
  • Grade of “F” or “NC” in a non-fieldwork course.
  • Failure to earn minimum 3.0 grade in a repeated course (a course can be repeated only once).
  • Failure to correct deficiencies outlines in probation notice.
  • Unprofessional behavior and/or conduct that violates the University’s Code of Conduct, the AOTA Code of Ethics and Ethical Standards, or the OT Program’s Standards of Professional Behavior.

Official notification of probation or dismissal will be in writing and sent directly to the student. Students may appeal by submitting a written request for reinstatement to the OT Program Director. The petition should include:

  • An explanation of the poor academic performance that led to the dismissal.
  • An explanation of whether the student worked with OT Program faculty, sought tutoring assistance or accessed other support services to address academic performance.
  • Documentation concerning any mitigating circumstances that may have contributed to poor performance (this includes but is not limited to medical or psychological documentation).
  • A plan for preventing recurrence of academic or professional behavior difficulties and for raising performance to at least the minimum standard required for continued enrollment.
  • Letters of support from faculty or others (optional).

4. Re-entry—Students who are dismissed from the OT program for academic conduct or any other reason are not typically readmitted. In special circumstances, dismissed students may be considered for re-entry. To be considered for re-entry students must have developed and implemented an action plan that would facilitate successful academic performance. Refer to the re-entry policy in the OT Program Student Handbook for further information.

5. Withdrawal—Students who withdraw from the OT program may have their records reviewed for possible readmission by program faculty. Readmission will be determined by the faculty based on this review and any additional criteria required at the discretion of the faculty. Refer to the University catalog for further information regarding procedures.