Jun 01, 2020  
2015-2016 Academic Catalog (Jan 2016) 
2015-2016 Academic Catalog (Jan 2016) [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Occupational Therapy, MOT

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Anne Zachry, Ph.D., OTR\L, Chair

Program Objectives

The Master of Occupational Therapy Program is designed to prepare competent entry-level occupational therapists who can meet the present practice demands of the profession. Based in a strong foundation of liberal arts, biological and behavioral sciences, students develop expertise in the analysis and therapeutic use of a wide variety of occupations. Students learn to understand and appreciate the role of occupation in the promotion of health, well-being, and participation in life. The program promotes both professional and academic development and seeks to graduate future leaders in healthcare. Graduates are eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification exam and become licensed.

Curriculum Description

The curriculum in occupational therapy is a full-time program that leads to an entry-level master’s degree. Students matriculate into the occupational therapy program following successful completion of 90 credit hours of pre-professional coursework. The full-time 27-month program includes 18 months of academic coursework followed by 9 months of fieldwork. Students are expected to graduate in May of their third year.

Courses cover occupation-centered practice, perspectives of development across the lifespan, evidence-based practice, biomechanical and neurological aspects of occupational performance, leadership in healthcare, and the basic sciences. To provide active learning experiences instructors use small group activities, hands on labs, and Level I fieldwork that may include mental health, pediatric, adult and geriatric practice areas.

Three Level II fieldwork placements provide students the opportunity to apply and synthesize knowledge and skills in a variety of settings. Level I and II fieldwork sites are available nationally. The department’s Academic Fieldwork Coordinator arranges and monitors the fieldwork experiences. All students are expected to complete fieldwork in multiple geographic locations. The student is financially responsible for all expenses incurred.


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 telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.


A bachelor’s degree is not a requirement for admission to the Master of Occupational Therapy Program.  To be eligible, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. Completion of the following 90 credit hours of prerequisite coursework from an accredited institution of higher education with a grade of “C” or better in each course. The anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and kinesiology courses must be taken within the last five years, and the anatomy and physiology and chemistry courses must include a laboratory component. Higher level science courses may be substituted if current. Prerequisite courses may include on-site or online content. No credit is awarded for prior experiential learning to meet the prerequisite requirements. All prerequisite courses must be completed by August preceding the January start date.
Prerequisite Requirements Credit Hours
General Biology (or Zoology) 8
Anatomy & Physiology 8
General Chemistry 4
Kinesiology 3
English Composition 6
Oral Communication 3
General Psychology 3
Lifespan Psychology (or Human Growth and Development)* 3
Abnormal Psychology 3
General Sociology 3
Anthropology 3
Humanities** 9
Statistics 3
Medical Terminology 1
Electives*** 30
Total 90

*Course content MUST cover conception to death. Two psychology courses may be required to fulfill the across the lifespan requirement at some institutions.
**Recommended courses to complete the nine credit hours include foreign language (Spanish preferred), philosophy, logic, ethics, literature, and/or fine arts.
***Recommended courses include: computer/technology skills, kinesiology, education, technical or critical writing, logic, fine and performing arts, language and communication systems, philosophy, and industrial arts or activity-based courses (e.g., woodworking, ceramics, photography). No more than four credits in activity-based courses are acceptable.

  1. Minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 3.0. A lower GPA may be considered with an exceptional score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). If a required course is repeated both grades are used in the GPA calculation for the cumulative GPA. The credit hours assigned to the course may be counted only once in fulfilling the required number of hours.
  2. Satisfactory score on the GRE taken within the last five years. The highest score in each category will be considered if the test has been taken more than once. A minimum of a 3.5 on the analytical writing is required.
  3. Completed application through the OT Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) www.otcas.org on or before January 5 for early admissions, or March 5 for standard admissions of the year prior to the January start date. The student will submit all official transcripts to OTCAS. In addition to coursework completed, the student will report the following information on OTCAS on or before March 5:
    1. Plan for completion of remaining prerequisite coursework
    2. GRE Scores
    3. Three professional or academic references (occupational therapist preferred)
    4. Volunteer observation hours
    5. Leadership experiences
    6. Essay
  1. A personal interview (based on GPA and GRE scores) is required for admission.
  2. Official transcripts and GRE scores must also be submitted to the UTHSC OT Admissions Committee along with proof of at least 40 observation hours in a minimum of two different (OT) settings on or before application due date of January 5, or March 5.
  3. All application materials should be submitted to the OTCAS website at www.OTCAS.org. Applicants seeking assistance with the application process should be made to otcasinfo@otcas.org.
  4. Proof of the following is required by October 1 prior to January start date:
    1. Ability to meet published technical standards of the College of Health Professions and the Master of Occupational Therapy degree program,
    2. Background check
    3. Health insurance
    4. Transcripts showing completion of all prerequisites with a “C” or better grade
    5. Official copy of GRE scores
  5. Coursework from another occupational therapy program may not be transferred to meet the requirements for admission to or graduation from the program..

Application Deadline: Early Admission - January 5, with March 15 notification, and Standard Admission - March 5, with May 15 notification, for the following January start date.

Health Requirements

Students must demonstrate good physical and mental health consistent with the demands of the educational program and the professional field of occupational therapy. Immunization against Hepatitis B virus is required. Some fieldwork sites have additional requirements for health screening and/or further immunization. A description of the university’s current health requirements can be accessed at www.uthsc.edu/admissions/university-level_reqs.php

Technical Standards

Occupational therapy students must have or acquire certain essential skills, functions and professional attitudes and behavior as described in the Technical Standards document.  Prior to matriculation, students are required to indicate in writing they have reviewed and are able to meet the college-wide and program specific technical standards.  Additional information regarding technical standards, and potential accommodations if deemed appropriate, is provided in the college-wide portion of the catalog.

Motor Skills:
Candidates for admission to the Occupational Therapy Program must have sufficient motor function to elicit information from patients by touch, through hand held instruments to meet the goal of palpation, auscultation, percussion, and other standardized and non-standardized evaluative procedures. Candidates must be able to execute motor movements reasonably required to provide general occupational therapy, including the strength to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation, lift and transfer patients, and be able to stand/sit long periods of time.

Occupational therapy procedures require coordination of both gross and fine muscular movements, equilibrium, and functional use of the senses. For this reason, candidates for admission to occupational therapy must have manual dexterity including function of wrists, hands, fingers, and arms. Candidates must have the ability to engage in procedures involving grasping, manipulating, pushing, pulling, holding, extending, and rotating.

Sensory/Observational Skills:
Candidates must be able to observe demonstrations and participate in laboratory experiments as required by the curriculum. Candidates must be able to observe patients and be able to obtain an appropriate past and present history directly from the patient/family. Such observation necessitates the functional use of the senses. Candidates must have the ability to listen and read patients’ vital signs and visual perception, including depth and acuity to observe patients’ ability to utilize skills being taught and to be able to instruct patients in how to adjust those movements for safe body mechanics and activities of daily living.

Communication Skills:
Candidates must be able to communicate in English effectively and sensitively with patients. In addition, candidates must be able to communicate in English in oral and written form with faculty, allied personnel, and peers in the classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings. Such communication skills include not only speech, but also reading and writing. Candidates must be able to acquire information developed through classroom instruction, clinical experiences, independent learning, and consultation. Candidates must have the ability to complete reading assignments and search and evaluate the literature. Candidates must be able to complete written assignments and maintain written records. Candidates must have the ability to complete assessment exercises. Candidates must also have the ability to use therapeutic communication, such as attending, clarifying, coaching, facilitating, and touching. These skills must be performed in clinical settings, as well as the didactic and laboratory environments.

Intellectual/Conceptual, Integrative, and Qualitative Skills:
Candidates must have the ability to measure, calculate, reason, analyze, and synthesize data. Problem solving and diagnosis, including obtaining, interpreting and documenting data are critical skills demanded of occupational therapists, which require all of these intellectual abilities. These skills allow students to make proper assessments, sound judgments, appropriately prioritize therapeutic interventions and measure and record patient care outcomes. Candidates must have the ability to access computers for searching, recording, storing, and retrieving information. In addition, candidates must be able to comprehend three-dimensional relationships and understand the spatial relationships of anatomic structures.

Behavioral/Social Skills and Professionalism:
Candidates must demonstrate attributes of empathy, integrity, concern for others, interpersonal skills, interest, and motivation, as such qualities are assessed not only during the admissions process but throughout occupational therapy education. Candidates must possess the emotional well-being required for use of their intellectual abilities, the exercise of care of patients, and the development of mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients. Candidates must be able to adapt to ever- changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties and stresses which are inherent in the educational process, as well as the clinical problems of many patients. Candidates must have the ability to be assertive when required, delegate responsibilities when desirable, and function as part of a multidisciplinary treatment team. Such abilities require organizational skills necessary to meet deadlines and manage time.  Students seeking accommodations should contact the Student Academic Support Services and Inclusion (SASSI) https://www.uthsc.edu/sassi/ prior to the Program’s start date.

Scholarships and Added Expenses

The following scholarships are available to students enrolled in the Master of Occupational Therapy Program:

  • UTNAA Scholarship
  • Lori Maloy Scholarship

Information about these scholarships is available in the college section of the catalog.

Fieldwork and State Authorization

Level I and Level II fieldwork sites are located in Memphis, throughout Tennessee, and in other states. Due to the limited number of fieldwork sites in Memphis, it is necessary for students to accept the financial impact of traveling and living out of town for a number of their fieldwork assignments.  As described in more detail in the UTHSC overview portion of the catalog  as well as the college-wide section of the catalog, state authorization is mandated for any fieldwork experiences to be completed in locations outside of Tennessee.  The UTHSC is responsible for securing the necessary authorizations for any out of state experiences to be completed. Students are to work closely with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator to ensure the necessary authorizations are in place prior to finalizing any out of state fieldwork experiences.

Program-Specific Policies

Attendance Requirement

Occupational therapy students are expected to attend all scheduled classes, student labs, and fieldwork assignments. In the case of absence due to illness or emergency, the student should notify the course instructor. The COHP has a policy of mandatory attendance and therefore there are no excused absences. Appointments for health services should not be made during scheduled class time.

Grading Policy

Written and practical examinations and performance evaluations are a part of the educational program throughout the curriculum. All courses in each term must be passed before the student is allowed to progress to the next term. All courses that receive an incomplete (I) must be resolved by the end of the subsequent term. No credit for any course is awarded until the end of the term. The point-grade conversion scale used for all courses taught by occupational therapy faculty is as follows:

Below 70


Grades of Pass/Fail are used for grading Level II Fieldwork. These grades are not included in calculating the grade point average (GPA). Information about grading related to incompletes and withdrawals is covered in the general college section of the catalog. Students should reference this information about grade assignment in these situations.

Curriculum Summary

Total Hours for Term I: 23 credit hours

Total Hours for Term II: 24 credit hours

* Level I fieldwork is typically two weeks

Total Hours for Term III: 19 credit hours

** Level II fieldwork is typically twelve weeks

Fourth Term (June-Dec)

Total Hours for Term IV: 10 credit hours

Fifth Term (Jan - May)

Total Hours for Term V: 5 credit hours

Optional Course

Total Hours in the MOT Curriculum: 81 credit hours

Progress, Promotion and Graduation

Students are evaluated on both professional development and academic achievement. Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in each term in order to progress to the next term in good standing. Any student who earns a grade of C or less in any course or whose GPA falls below a 3.0 may be placed on academic probation or dismissed. All students must complete all coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to be eligible for Level II fieldwork. Guidelines for progress and promotion are outlined under the General Information section  in the catalog for the College of Health Professions. Each student’s academic and professional development will be carefully evaluated by the Progress and Promotions Committee of the Master of Occupational Therapy program to determine the course of action which is best for the student and for the program.

Requirements for Graduation

The following requirements must be satisfied to earn the Master of Occupational Therapy degree:

  1. Satisfactory completion of 81 credit hours of professional curriculum course work, including satisfactory performance in 15 credit hours of Level II Fieldwork. Level II Fieldwork requirements must be completed within the 24 months following completion of on-campus academic coursework
  2. Completion of all courses in the MOT curriculum with a cumulative GPA of a 3.0 or higher.
  3. Demonstration of the level of professionalism necessary for the professional practice of occupational therapy.
  4. Ability to meet the minimal technical standards or essential skills necessary for the professional practice of occupational therapy.
  5. Submission and satisfactory completion of all assignments related to fieldwork and the Professional Development Evaluation.

Attendance at graduation is mandatory. Those unable to attend the commencement must obtain permission to receive the degree in absentia by filing a written request with the Dean of the College.


Achievement Award in Occupational Therapy
Each year the faculty selects a graduating student who has been outstanding in both the didactic and fieldwork aspects of his or her education.

Leadership Award in Occupational Therapy
For this award faculty and students select a graduating student who has demonstrated the professional characteristics of outstanding leadership in both didactic coursework and during the fieldwork rotations.

Rosemary Batorski Community Service Award in Occupational Therapy
For this award faculty select a graduating student who has demonstrated outstanding service to their class, UTHSC or the community at large.

Certification Examination and Licensure

Graduates with a master of occupational therapy degree qualify to sit for the national certification examination administered through the National Board of Certification for Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Information regarding this process may be found at their website http://www.nbcot.org/. Students must consult the licensure board in the state where they plan to practice to determine licensure requirements.

Student Professional Organization Membership

Occupational therapy students are eligible for membership in the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA).

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