Home of Sidney Kimmel Medical College

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 prepare competent, reflective and ethical occupational therapists whose practice philosophy is client-centered, occupation-based, and grounded in evidence. In keeping with the University mission to prepare graduates for successful careers in an evolving and interconnected world, the OT program incorporates interprofessional learning 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:

  • Participation encompasses client-centered practice and is framed by the person-environment-occupation perspective.
  • Evidence and Professional Reasoning inform practice decisions and contribute to the profession’s distinct value.
  • Collaboration and Innovation reflect the University and Program’s unique teaching-learning philosophy that

It is further enriched through a curricular thread, Professional Identity, which is integrated within the student’s program of study. Students are supported in the development of a professional identity through a series of regular processes that are grounded in advocacy, volunteerism and professionalism.

Program Learning Outcomes

The entry-level master’s degree in occupational therapy program prepares graduates to:

  • Provide occupation-based and client-centered care by competently applying and adapting the occupational therapy process.
  • Apply and integrate evidence-based methods to facilitate outcomes, build knowledge, and inform occupational therapy practice.
  • Partner with stakeholders to address the health and participation needs of individuals, groups, and populations.
  • Demonstrate the attitudes, behaviors and responsibilities associated with being a health professional (e.g. effective communication, respect for diversity, ethical practice).    
  • Develop innovative tools, programs or services to promote participation and well-being.

Program Description

Occupational Therapy is a health care profession that maximizes health, well-being, and quality of life for all people, populations, and communities through effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living. 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 blended learning 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 the perspective that the unique purview of the profession is to enable participation in life, the desired outcome of occupational therapy services. 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. A unique feature of the program involves multiple interprofessional learning opportunities. Occupational therapy students collaborate on joint projects with design, architecture and/or fashion students, as well as students who are studying to become health professionals such as physician assistants and counselors.

In addition to course work and fieldwork, students enter into a multi-semester experience with a client living in the community, referred to as the client-educator. Students complete course assignments with their client-educators to better understand their lived experiences and challenges with participation. Students document their professional growth and achievements through reflective journaling that is completed at intervals over the program. During the final didactic semester, students link their experiences to overall program outcomes in a personal portfolio that demonstrates their professional identity development.  The master’s capstone project showcases students’ abilities to meaningfully integrate evidence into practice, and culminates in a presentation to 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 potential employment opportunities in a wide variety of settings: hospitals, long-term care 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 a laptop computer with camera or webcam that they can bring to class, and daily access to the Internet. The laptop must be compatible with the program’s online testing vendor (current information is provided by the program). 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 strongly recommended)    4
  • Developmental Psychology or equivalent (Lifespan)    3
  • Abnormal Psychology or equivalent    3
  • Statistics    3
  • Sociology/Anthropology/Cultural Studies or equivalent    3


Program of Studies
The MSOT coursework is sequenced in a planned progression that builds upon and develops 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 1 Fall
OCC 610. Evolving Professional Seminar  (1 cr)
OCC 611. Foundations for Practice  (3 cr)
OCC 613. Functional Anatomy   (4 cr)
OCC 621. Occupational Competence   (3 cr)
OCC 625. Clinical Skills A   (1 cr)

Year 1 Spring
OCC 616. Assistive Technology Design  (2cr)
OCC 623. Applied Neuroanatomy    (4 cr)
OCC 628. Intro to Evaluation  (1 cr)
OCC 635. Clinical Skills B   (1 cr)
OCC 645. Clinical Skills C   (1 cr)
OCC 741. Interpersonal Relations and Groups   (3 cr)

Year 2 Summer
OCC 626. Evidence-Based Practice    (3 cr)
OCC 735. Level I Fieldwork A   (1 cr)
OCC 746. Psychosocial Interventions   (4 cr)
OCC 766. Older Adults: Enabling Participation   (2cr)

Year 2 Fall
OCC 745. Level I Fieldwork B     (1 cr)
OCC 748. Assessment and Intervention: Adults     (5 cr)
OCC 749. Children and Youth A     (3 cr)
OCC 754. Environmental Dimensions of Occupations     (3 cr)
Year 2 Spring
OCC 751. Professional Issues and Trends    (3 cr)
OCC 755. Level I Fieldwork C      (1 cr)
OCC 757. Innovative Practice in OT    (3 cr)
OCC 759. Children and Youth B     (3 cr)
OCC 767. Critical Inquiry I     (2cr)

Year 3 Summer
OCC 764. Specialty Practice: UE Rehab    (2cr)
OCC 784. Mastery  (1 cr)

Year 3 *Summer/Fall or Fall/Spring
OCC 778. Level II Fieldwork A   (5 cr)
OCC 779. Level II Fieldwork B     (5 cr)
*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 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 competion 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, and a prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  • Two Letters of Reference: These letters should examine the applicant’s abilities, communication skills, motivation, interpersonal attributes and emotional resilience.

  • Personal Essay: Students should write and submit an essay (approximately 500 words) that will be reviewed for written communication skills, knowledge of the occupational therapy field, personal insight, 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 documents their work and volunteer experiences, and highlights their experiences in health care, community, social and/or human services. 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 a minimum 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 proof of successful completion of all prerequisite course requirements, students will be moved to full acceptance.

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 component 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:

  • Annual Health Clearance (in May, 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 and web access is www.acoteonline.org.

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, all 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 the Fieldwork 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

Students’ academic records and professional behavior are reviewed at the end of each semester, including summer, to evaluate academic standing and satisfactory progress toward degree requirements.  The OT 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.

The occupational therapy curriculum is designed to be completed in sequential fashion. Students must complete coursework within each given semester and remain in good academic standing in order to progress to the next semester. Students are advised that dropping a course will result in a delay in the completion of the program, and, depending on the circumstances, an academic alert. Students must have completed all academic coursework and be in good academic standing to progress to Level II fieldwork. Students must successfully complete the academic and fieldwork portions of the curriculum to qualify for graduation. Graduates are eligible to sit for the NBCOT national certification exam and apply for state licensure, both of which are required to be able to practice as an occupational therapist.

Academic and 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).


  • 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 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.
  • 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.

Academic Alerts, Deceleration and Dismissal

Academic alerts are isued to students when their records are unsatisfactory, while there is still time to remedy the situation. Students receive academic alerts when their records indicate that typical progress toward a degree is in jeopardy. Students should meet with their advisors to discuss plans for improving their academic performance.

1.     Academic alerts—Students whose academic records include one or more of the following will recieve an academic alert:

  • 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 course
  • Withdrawing from a course for academic reasons (students who need to withdraw from a course for medical or personal reasons must 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 the student’s non-adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk. (This information may 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 Conduct or AOTA Code of Ethics (most recent edition). This information may be reviewed by the Academic and Professional Standards Review Committee for action, depending on the circumstances.
  • Students who receive academic alerts will be required to improve their academic performance by the end of the next enrolled semester. These details will be provided in writing to the student upon academic alert notification.

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 and Youth, and Psychosocial Interventions, or their equivalent). Students must repeat the course 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, a course that was not successfully completed cannot be repeated until the following year. A second deceleration results in dismissal.

3.     Dismissal— 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

  • Academic alerts in two consecutive semesters

  • Grade below “B-” in more than one course

  • 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 outlined in academic alert.

  • Unprofessional behavior and/or conduct that violates the University’s Code of Conduct, the AOTA Code of Ethics, or the OT program’s Standards of Professional Behavior.

  • Official notification of 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 appeal should be in writing and include the following:

    • 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.

    • 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 and who wish to return must submit a letter to the program director. The letter must state the student’s rationale and readiness for return to full-time coursework. It should include information about the student’s activities since leaving the program that have prepared him/her to return. Readmission will be determined by the faculty based on a review of records and any additional criteria required at the discretion of the faculty. Refer to the University catalog for further information regarding procedures.