Worcester State University
Occupational Therapy Department


About the Department

Occupational therapy is a health and rehabilitation profession that helps people regain, develop, and build skills that are important for independent functioning, health, well-being, security, and happiness. Practitioners of occupational therapy work with people of all ages who, because of illness, injury, developmental or psychological impairment, need specialized guidance  in acquiring or learning new skills to enable them to lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

The goal of occupational therapy is to maximize quality of life for the individual, family members, and caregivers while simultaneously reducing the cost of health care. Occupation-based interventions can prevent injury or the worsening of existing conditions or disabilities and facilitate independent functioning in individuals who may otherwise require institutionalization or other long-term care.

Worcester State University offers programs that lead to a Bachelor of Science Degree in Occupational Studies and a Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT). Undergraduate students in the BSOS program who maintain required academic standards are eligible to apply for entry into the MOT program the summer before their senior year. Criteria for admission to the graduate program are determined by the Occupational Therapy Department and the WSU Graduate Office. Post-baccalaureate students apply to the Master of Occupational Therapy program through the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education.  

Students who enter as freshman and maintain academic standards to transition directly into the graduate year may complete both coursework and fieldwork components of the BSOS and MOT programs within five years, including two summers. Students who enter as transfer students with required prerequisite course already completed, and who maintain academic standards to transition directly into the graduate year may complete both coursework and fieldwork components of the BSOS and MOT programs within four years, including two summers. Post baccalaureate students may complete both the coursework and fieldwork components of the MOT program within three and one half years.   

Graduates of the Masters of Occupational Therapy Program are eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification Examination for Occupational Therapists. A passing score on this examination is required to practice as an occupational therapist.


About the Department



The Occupational Therapy Program at Worcester State University began in 1983 in response to the need for a public baccalaureate occupational therapy program in Massachusetts.  At that time, there were only two private institutions in the state offering baccalaureate degrees in the field and three institutions offering an associate‚Äôs degree in occupational therapy.  Worcester State University was chosen to meet this need because of its public nature and location.  Dr. Donna McIvor Joss, Professor Emeritus, was appointed director of the fledgling program and was given the task of designing the curriculum and shepherding it through the lengthy process of obtaining approval from the College governance system, the Board of Trustees, and the Massachusetts Board of Regents.  A two-track curriculum was designed; one for traditional freshmen just entering the professional education process and one for certified occupational therapy assistants seeking a baccalaureate degree in the field.  The Program received its initial accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) in January of 1988 and in May of that year, the first class of fifteen occupational therapy students graduated from the College.


In early 1994, the Occupational Therapy Program became the Department of Occupational Therapy and moved to the new Science and Technology building in the fall of 2000. A ten-year reaccreditation was granted in the spring of 2001.  As mandated by ACOTE, the final class to earn a baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy graduated in May of 2005.  The Bachelor of Science in Occupational Studies Program was instituted as a foundation to the Master of Occupational Therapy Program.  Students were still able to enter the curriculum as traditional freshmen or transfer students, but were required to apply for acceptance into the Master of Occupational Therapy Program during the senior year.   Post-baccalaureate students with degrees in related fields were also accepted into the MOT Program.  The first class of the Master of Occupational Therapy Program was awarded degrees in May of 2006. 


Throughout its history, the Department of Occupational Therapy at Worcester State University has enjoyed an ongoing partnership with schools, hospitals, mental health facilities, home health agencies, outpatient clinics, and nursing homes of Central Massachusetts.  The fieldwork educators working within these sites, many of whom are graduates of this program, have contributed greatly to the process of Worcester State University students becoming competent and caring occupational therapists.


Inquiries regarding accreditation may be made to the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association, 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449 or by phone at 301-652-2682 or online at www.acoteonline.org. 

Mission of the Occupational Therapy Department:


The mission of the Occupational Therapy Department is to offer students access to high quality and affordable professional education.  The combination of professional studies and liberal arts education enables students to develop a strong foundation for making career and life choices.  The Department provides a learning environment for students to assume an occupation-based perspective on life that positions them to live their lives as creative, responsible, capable, and contributing professionals and citizens of the world.  The Master of Occupational Therapy Program includes occupation-based community service projects to enrich student learning and to fulfill the University's goal to be responsive to community needs of the greater Worcester area.


Adopted: September 2000
Revised: May 2007; May 2009



Related Links :
  American Occupational Therapy Association
  Massachusetts Association of Occupational Therapy
  HIPAA Training and Exams
  OT Picture Gallery

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