Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Department Chair: Steve Cope, ScD, OT/L


This professional Master of Science program is designed to provide entry-level graduate education in the field of occupational therapy. Students learn entry-level skills and techniques commonly used in the practice of occupational therapy in a variety of areas and with diverse populations. They develop the ability to apply these skills through effective clinical reasoning based on a solid theoretical foundation of human function. The purpose of occupational therapy is to help individuals achieve a maximum level of independence in all areas of their lives. Occupational therapy is needed when an individual's ability to live independently, to care for personal needs, and to participate in work, school, family and community life is disrupted by illness or injury. Occupational therapists also provide education and training for wellness and prevention concerns. Occupational therapists work in schools, skilled nursing facilities, clinics, and hospitals, as well as alternative service delivery models (e.g., prisons, community mental health agencies and business/industry).

Students enter the Entry-level Master of Science (M.S.) in Occupational Therapy (OT) Program after completing a baccalaureate degree (no preferred major) and all OT Program prerequisite courses (see below). Upon entry into the OT Program, students will complete two consecutive years of professional occupational therapy education, plus six months of clinical fieldwork. Students will earn a Master's of Science in Occupational Therapy. The OT Program is offered on a full-time basis only for students matriculating in summer 2018; part-time options will begin in the summer of 2019.

General Information

All occupational therapy practitioners must graduate from an accredited occupational therapy program and pass the national certification examination in order to practice occupational therapy. In addition, all states require certified occupational therapy therapists to be licensed.

The Entry-level M.S. in OT 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 20824-1220. AOTA's phone number is (301) 652-2682. The ACOTE website is

Students in the OT program will be expected to perform a minimum number of Technical Standards and Essential Requirements.

Upon completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements of the OT Program, students are awarded a Master's of Science (M.S.) degree. Graduates of the OT Program are eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for Occupational Therapists administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Information about NBCOT and the certification examination can be found at See the table below for St. Scholastica OT student pass rates over the past three years. Note: A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. An individual, who has a felony background and is considering entering an occupational therapy program, can have his or her background reviewed prior to actually applying for the exam by requesting an Early Determination Review at (There is a fee for this service.)

After successful completion of this examination, the individual will be a registered occupational therapist (OTR). State licensure is required in all 50 states; practitioners must work with licensing boards within states they plan to work in order to obtain initial licensure and maintain their license by acquiring continuing education credits and paying fees.

NBCOT Exam Graduate Pass Rates

Exam Year




3 year total

First-time test takers





 First-time test takers who passed





Percentage of first-time test takers who passed




99% (average)

Cells reflect the number of test takers who passed the exam within one year of graduating regardless of the number of attempts. Pass rate data can be accessed by going to the NBCOT link: 

Application to the M.S. in OT Program

The OT Program has had two methods of application to the OT Program: the First-Year Admission Criteria Track (FACT), which is being phased out, and the Standard Admissions Track.

First-year admission criteria track (FACT) being phased out

FACT was a criterion-based early admission program into the graduate OT Program. The 2015-2016 academic year marked the end of the FACT admission option to the OT Program. St. Scholastica students who are currently in the FACT program for admission in the summer of 2018 or 2019 are guaranteed admission to the OT Program assuming they maintain the necessary criteria (see below).

All St. Scholastica students not on a FACT list who apply to the OT Program for admission will be given priority review. Priority review means that applicants who have earned a degree (or will earn a degree prior to starting the OT Program) from St. Scholastica will be reviewed prior to applicants with degrees from other colleges or universities. Priority review does not mean guaranteed admission.

FACT criteria. Students currently on a FACT list will maintain their status as a FACT applicant by doing the following:

  • complete all prerequisite courses for the OT Program;
  • maintain an overall and a prerequisite grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 (If a student's overall or prerequisite GPA falls below 3.0 at any time, they will be permanently removed from the FACT program.);
  • obtain a grade of 2.7 or better in all prerequisite courses (If a student achieves a grade below 2.7 in any prerequisite, they will be permanently removed from the FACT program.); and
  • obtain a minimum grade of 3.0 on the first year English composition course. (If a student achieves a grade below 3.0 in the first year English composition course, they will be permanently removed from the FACT program.)

If a student is removed from the FACT program for any of the above reasons, they are still eligible to apply to the OT Program and receive priority review as a St. Scholastica student.

Please note: Students in the FACT program are still required to submit the completed Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) application in the fall of senior year. See admission requirements (

Standard Admissions Track

Applicants must follow these admission requirements:

  • complete a minimum of 6 of the 8 required prerequisite courses by the deadline for application (mid-November) and complete the remaining required prerequisites no later than one week prior to the start of classes in June;
  • maintain an overall and a prerequisite grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 with a grade of 2.0 or better in all prerequisite courses and obtain a minimum grade of 3.0 on the first year English composition course; and
  • submit the completed Occupational Therapy Centralized Admission System (OTCAS) application ( by the mid-November deadline.
Prerequisites for Admission

The following prerequisites (or their approved transfer equivalents) are required for admission:

  • BIO 2510 and BIO 2520: Anatomy Physiology I & II (prerequisite - BIO 2001)
  • HSC 2209: Medical Terminology (minimum of 1 semester credit);
  • HSC 2500: Introduction to Occupational Therapy (minimum 1 semester credit; acceptable with a letter grade of C or better, or a "passing" grade);
  • PSY 1105: General Psychology;
  • PSY 2208: Life Span Developmental Psychology;
  • PSY 3331: Statistics;
  • Choice of SOC 1125 (Basic Concepts and Principles of Sociology); SOC 2433 (The Family and Society); HON 2125 (Global Sociology); or HIS/WMS 2231 (Cultural Anthropology).
Recommended Courses:
  • PSC 1501: Physics (or PSC 1201)
  • PSY 3423: Abnormal Psychology
  • PSY 3330: PSY/SOC Research Methods;
  • BIO 3020: Pathophysiology

All but two prerequisite courses must have been completed (with grades on transcripts) at the time of application in mid-November. All prerequisite courses must have been completed with a grade of 2.0 or better. Credits from high school advanced placement (AP) courses will not be eligible* to satisfy prerequisite coursework for the OT Program, as stated in the OT Department Handbook. The St. Scholastica OT Program does not give credit for work experience or credits taken in another occupational therapy program toward prerequisite or in-program courses. Prerequisite courses must be within the past 10 years.

*Any student may request a waiver of admission requirements through a written request to the Graduate Admissions Office. These requests must be received by the Graduate Admissions Office by October 15th to allow ample time for review prior to the mid-November application deadline. The Department Chair may determine prerequisite course equivalencies and grant waivers for time limitations without full admission committee involvement. Other waiver requests may require a committee vote. Waiver of GPA and course grade minimum requirements will not be considered. The Department Chair notifies the applicant and the Graduate Admissions Counselor of waiver decisions in writing.

Minimum Eligibility for Admission

All applicants to the OT Program at The College of St. Scholastica must meet the following minimum eligibility criteria in order for their application to be considered:

  • obtain a B.A./B.S. degree from a regionally accredited institution (No specific baccalaureate major is required.);
  • achieve a minimum cumulative and prerequisite GPA of 3.0;
  • complete all prerequisites with a grade of 2.0 or better and within 10 years of application (FACT applicants must achieve a grade of 2.7 or better in all prerequisites.);
  • submit GRE scores obtained within the 5 years prior to application and sent to the St. Scholastica OTCAS code of 1995;
  • submit three letters of recommendation; and
  • complete a minimum of 40 hours of observation with an occupational therapist.

Note: meeting minimum entrance requirements does not guarantee admission. Exceptions to minimum criteria may be made at the discretion of the admissions committee. Interviews are not typically part of the admission process for the OT Program.

Scoring of Admission Criteria

Applications that meet the above minimum eligibility criteria will be reviewed and scored by members of the admissions committee using a rubric. Applicants are ranked based on both quantitative and qualitative criteria. Quantitative measures include GRE scores (analytic writing, quantitative reasoning, verbal reasoning) and computed GPA for all undergraduate work and prerequisite coursework. Qualitative aspects of the application are scored by members of the admissions committee. Areas that receive scoring include:

  • letters of recommendation: provide three recommendation letters. It is suggested that at least one of the three letters of recommendation be from a professor who knows the applicant well enough to speak to her/his qualification for graduate school. It is also recommended that one or more letters of recommendation come from an occupational therapist or employer who can speak about the applicant's work or volunteering experience with individuals who have a disability;
  • observation hours: all applicants must have a minimum of 40 observation hours (additional points are awarded for greater than 40 hours). Applicants should consider the following when planning observations: observe various practice settings with distinctly different client populations (e.g., pediatrics and adult rehabilitation); all observations must be completed within two years before applying; all observations must be in a setting that offers the student the opportunity to shadow a registered/licensed occupational therapist;
  • previous experiences: applicants should provide details about their work history, community service, honors/recognitions, leadership, teaching, and participation in research activities, as these are awarded additional points; and
  • personal essays: essays that follow the prompts with clear expression of ideas, good organization, and absence of writing errors are awarded additional point.
Application Procedure Using OTCAS

All applicants (those using the FACT or Standard Admission) must use the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) as the only method for applying to the OT Program. Visit the OTCAS website at for more information. The OT Program will consider only those applicants who submit a completed application through OTCAS. The following information is required:

  • official transcripts of baccalaureate and graduate coursework. Applicants must have an overall and a prerequisite GPA of 3.0 with a grade of 2.0 or better in all prerequisite courses;
  • official score from the current (not revised) GRE general test ( on the OTCAS application and submit official documentation of your score to the Graduate Admissions Office at The College of St. Scholastica;
  • three letters of recommendation;
  • record of observation hours;
  • personal essay;
  • record of accomplishments, work history, and service; and
  • international applicants to the OT Program must provide TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) test scores, including the TWE (Test of Written English) essay rating. A score of 550 on the written test, score of 213 on the computer-based test or a score of 79 on the iBT TOEFL test or a four on the TWE essay rating are required for admission. The British International English Test, will also be acceptable, a minimum score of 6.5 is required for admission

The application deadline for the OT Program is mid-November. Applicants will be considered after the application deadline if there are spaces available. The initial acceptance pool consists of up to 16 qualified FACT students and the remainder of qualified St. Scholastica and transfer students for a class of 36.

For information and assistance with applications, students may contact the Office of Graduate and Extended Campus Admissions (Graduate Admissions Office), The College of St. Scholastica, 1200 Kenwood Ave., Duluth, MN 55811-4199. Telephone (218)723-6285 or (866)478-9277, Email

Requirements to Graduate

Students are expected to:

  • successfully complete didactic course requirements;
  • take all courses in sequence; if a student fails a course, he or she must retake that course when it is next available which may require the student to stop out of the OT Program resulting in a delay of graduation;
  • maintain a cumulative and semester GPA of 3.0 while in the OT Program;
  • successfully complete the Level I and II Fieldwork experiences. All Level II Fieldwork experiences must be completed within 24 months of completion of academic coursework; and
  • complete the required number of credits of the OT curriculum.

Additional Requirements of the OT Program

Once accepted into the OT Program, and prior to beginning classes, students must submit the following documentation to the Department of Occupational Therapy:

  • a copy of proof of current certification in CPR for professional providers "Health Care Provider BLS" through the American Heart Association;
  • a health screen through the College's Student Health Services, which includes proof of immunizations (Varicella titer, Rubella titer, and Tdap);
  • an annual Minnesota background study (regardless of state of residency). All students must complete a Minnesota background study and do fingerprints at the beginning of the OT Program. A background study in student's home state, if other than Minnesota, is also required. The background studies must be completed and returned with a "clear" status before the student may participate in clinical fieldwork; and
  • a federal criminal background study. Students will be notified on how to submit the appropriate forms. The cost is paid through course fees.

Additional requirements for participation in fieldwork may include a drug test/screen, additional immunizations or titers, etc. These requirements are site specific.

Fees and Expenses

In addition to St. Scholastica's student services, technology and health services fees, course fees of $300 are assessed each semester for course materials and other expenses during the first 2 years of the academic program. Students can anticipate total charges of $1,200 for course fees and approximately $2,000 for textbooks and resources, during the course of the 2-1/2 year OT Program. During the time a student is completing fieldwork, the student is responsible for living expenses, transportation to and from the site, and other related costs. Level II Fieldwork experiences are full-time (40 hours/week) work experiences that often require homework assignments and outside responsibilities. Fees are subject to change.

Student handbooks are provided to all accepted applicants for specific policies and procedures related to academics and fieldwork.

M.S. in OT Program Curriculum

We aim to give students a solid foundation for implementing the occupational therapy process so they are prepared to enter a variety of practice settings. The scope of the occupational therapy curriculum is intentionally broad in order to prepare students to work with diverse client populations across the lifespan in a wide range of environments. Moreover, the curriculum is designed to familiarize students to traditional practice areas including: children and youth; health and wellness; mental health; productive aging; rehabilitation and disability; and work and industry. Emerging areas of practice introduced include low vision, driving, transitions for older youths, depression in mental health, and new technology for rehabilitation. The courses offer depth of content that progresses from understanding of fundamental facts and concepts to application in dynamic clinic scenarios fieldwork experiences. The curriculum is designed to prepare students by providing the depth of knowledge and skill to be competent entry-level practitioners. 

The courses in the Occupational Therapy program's curriculum are sequenced in a way that allows for integration of course content with experiential application in each semester. Each Level I fieldwork is integrated with content in courses that are occurring simultaneously and allow for application of learned information and the progression of knowledge translation, skill development, and independent clinical thinking. With the exception of summer sessions, semesters have been divided into session I and session II to allow students to focus on fewer courses at one time allowing for reflection about the complexities of clinical practice. Please see the curriculum schema for specific courses and when they appear in the curriculum.

M.S. in OT Program Student Learning Outcomes

The College of St. Scholastica Occupational Therapy graduates will:

1.       utilize occupation-based practice to enhance client performance and participation throughout the occupational therapy process; specifically, students will:

          · design evaluation and intervention strategies for clients that are occupation-based to maximize meaningful occupational outcomes,

          · develop intentional relationships with clients,

          · appraise physical, personal, temporal, virtual, situational, cultural and social contexts and environments that affect occupational performance,

          · support and implement client-centered strategies that promote collaboration with clients, caregivers, and other professionals in the delivery of occupational therapy services.

2.       value the contribution of scholarly inquiry to the profession of occupational therapy; specifically, students will:

           · synthesize information from best research evidence, clinical experience, client choices, and expert consensus to make clinical decisions in collaboration with the client,

           · interpret, synthesize and apply information from a wide range of sources to contribute to and inform professional practice.

3.       demonstrate professionalism during interactions with clients, communities, and professionals; specifically, students will:

           · advocate for the profession, community, and client by demonstrating inclusive excellence and leadership skills throughout clinical experiences and inter-professional interactions,

           · utilize ethical principles as a guide during clinical situations and inter-professional interactions,

           · develop and sustain professional and therapeutic relationships through effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills,

           · justify the concepts and opinions of the profession of occupational therapy while seeking to understand the perspectives of others.

 4.       use various forms of clinical reasoning (such as diagnostic, narrative, procedural, pragmatic, interactive and conditional, and ethical) throughout the occupational therapy process;

           specifically, students will:      

           · integrate learned knowledge with active problem solving to reflect subjective and contextualized knowledge when making decisions,

           · explain how a practitioner's skills and personal life situations can influence decision making,

           · apply an ethical decision making framework to practice situations,

           · understand the meaning of role interruption and change from a client's perspective.

Graduates will:
    • be knowledgeable in specific content areas of the profession, including emerging practice areas;
    • apply the theoretical foundation of the profession to practice;
    • collaborate effectively with COTAs, OT aides and other disciplines in client intervention; and
    • take initiative to direct one's own learning.