Graduate Catalog

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Belkis Landa-Gonzalez, Ed.D., O.T.R./L., FAOTA Professor and Program Director

Occupational therapy is a health and rehabilitation profession that helps people regain or develop skills important for independent functioning, health, security, and happiness. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who, because of illness, injury, developmental, or psychological conditions, need specialized assistance in learning skills that would enable them to care for themselves, work, and participate in school, play or leisure. The settings in which occupational therapists practice include hospitals, schools, skilled nursing facilities, community service agencies, private clinics, and homes.

Barry University offers one of a few full-time programs in the U.S. in which classes are scheduled on weekends, so that students may work and/or raise their families while they advance their education and complete a Master of Science degree in occupational therapy. The Occupational Therapy Program was founded in 1989 and originally led to a bachelor’s degree. The M.S. degree was established in 2000. The program offers a rigorous, yet flexible, blended curriculum designed to prepare rehabilitation professionals that would assume leadership roles in a multicultural community. The program is accredited by the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Program Mission

The mission of the occupational therapy program is to make quality entry-level master’s education accessible to working adult students from diverse cultural and experiential backgrounds. We challenge ourselves to prepare graduates who:

  • Value occupation as the means and end goal of client centered practice;
  • practice competently through the use of theory, technology and evidence-based principles in both traditional and innovative community settings;
  • model the ethical principles and professional behaviors espoused by the university and the profession; and
  • assume leadership roles for responsive and effective service delivery in their facilities and communities.

Curriculum Structure

Classes in the program are scheduled two weekends per month year round. The program integrates face to face with distance education. The curriculum is organized in two sequences of courses, the Clinical Foundations and the Advanced Professional Skills. The Clinical Foundations sequence comprises three semesters of clinical coursework.The clinical foundation courses must be taken in sequence. They are followed by the Advanced Professional Skills sequence, which includes three semesters of coursework in advanced topics, leadership and research, including a capstone project. Students then complete 2 semesters of full time equivalent level II clinical experiences. Students with bachelor’s degrees in fields other than occupational therapy complete all coursework in a total of 2½ to three years, and are then eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist. Certified occupational therapists (O.T.R.s) with bachelor’s degrees join the program for the Advanced Professional Skills sequence, and may complete the program in thirteen months. All students are required to submit a graduate project that synthesizes their educational and clinical experiences.

Educational Outcomes

At the completion of the Occupational Therapy Program, students are expected to demonstrate the following entry level knowledge and professional skills:

  1. Evaluation

    Appraise and administer standardized and non-standardized assessments to determine the needs and priorities for intervention with multicultural clients and populations.

  2. Planning

    Apply clinical reasoning to formulate intervention plans and goals based on theory and current research in traditional and emerging practice areas.

  3. Intervention

    Select, grade, and apply methods and activities that are occupation-based and address client centered occupational dysfunction across the lifespan for individuals, groups and populations.

  4. Professionalism

    Demonstrate ethical behaviors, cultural competency and attitudes that evidence good moral character and advance the values of the profession and lifelong learning.

  5. Leadership

    Assume leadership and managerial skills for effective service delivery.

  6. Evidence-Based Practice

    Develop and implement a scholarly project and demonstrate critical reasoning at the novice-intermediate level when appraising the research literature and making clinical decisions.

Admission Requirements

A maximum of forty five students are typically admitted to the Occupational Therapy Program each year to start in the Fall. The program participates in the Centralized Occupational Therapy System-OTCAS ( Therefore, applications and all documents required for admission consideration are submitted via the OTCAS system. Prospects may contact the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Admissions office for questions or additional information. All application materials including statement of purpose, official transcripts, references, and GRE scores must be received by the deadline of March 1st for consideration. Application is encouraged early as admission into the program is a competitive process!

Applicants who are not certified occupational therapists are screened for admission to the program based on the following prerequisite criteria:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited or internationally recognized college or university;
  • minimum 3.2 cumulative college GPA, including all institutions attended (exceptions may be made for individuals with significant experience in health-related disciplines);
  • Prerequisite courses:
Human Anatomy or Anatomy and Physiology I, 3 credits
Human Physiology or Anatomy and Physiology II, 3 credits
Kinesiology (taken within the last 5 years and not online), 3 credits
Sociology or Anthropology, 3 credits
Psychology (Developmental or Abnormal), 3 credits

***All prerequisite courses must have a grade of B or above to be accepted;

  • Two professional recommendations from employers or professors;
  • Documented observation or volunteer work in an occupational therapy clinic (40 hours minimum) signed by an occupational therapist;
  • Statement of purpose describing knowledge of occupational therapy, and plan for meeting the challenges of a non-traditional full time graduate program;
  • GRE examination report; and
  • An interview may be required.

International students must also submit scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) of 79 or higher for the internet-based test (IBT).

Applicants who have bachelor’s degrees in occupational therapy must meet the following admission criteria for entrance in the Advanced curriculum track:

  • Certification to practice as an O.T.R. in the US;
  • 3.2 cumulative college GPA; and
  • Two professional recommendations from employers or professors


Admission to a previous matriculating year does not guarantee admission to the new academic year. Those applicants who defer admission will be reconsidered for admission along with the applicant pool for the next academic year. Additional prerequisites may apply in order to update the application.

*Admission to the program is on a competitive basis for a limited number of positions. As a result, meeting the minimum requirements does not guarantee acceptance.

Transfer of Credits

The Program’s sequential design prevents transfer of credits from coursework outside of the curriculum. Only 6 credits of graduate work from another occupational therapy program may be evaluated for transfer equivalence. No credit is awarded for work experience.

Progression Requirements

A graduate student is in good academic standing if his/her cumulative grade point average (GPA) is 3.0 or above. Occupational therapy students are placed on academic probation if their GPA falls below 3.0. Students on probation must achieve a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 the following semester, in order to continue in the program.

  • Students who receive a grade below a C in any class are withdrawn from the program.
  • Students may not earn more than 12 credits of C grade or no more than 3 Cs in the foundation courses.
  • Students who receive an Incomplete grade in a foundation sequence course must complete the requirement by the start of the following semester.
  • In addition, students must achieve a passing score in the Comprehensive Examination (COMPs exam) administered by the end of the Foundations sequence. One opportunity for re-take after remediation work must be completed successfully.

Students dismissed from the program may petition the Program Director in writing to repeat a failed course the following year.

If readmission into the program is granted, the student will be considered on academic probation until the repeated course is completed in the program with a grade of B or above. If the student fails to achieve a grade of B or better in that course after one repeat attempt, the student is considered to have failed the conditions for reinstatement and will be permanently suspended from the program.

  • Only one repeat attempt is granted for fieldwork level II. If a student fails a repeated fieldwork experience, he will be dismissed from the program. A student who is on academic probation must pass the fieldwork experience in order to progress in the program.
  • Students enrolled in OTR-660: Graduate Project must show continuous enrollment for at least 1 credit until they have completed the requirement. They will receive a grade of ‘IP’ (In Progress) until a final graduate project is completed and accepted.

Graduation Requirements

Satisfactory completion of all courses, fieldwork experiences, and graduate project with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher is required for graduation. To qualify for the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy, entry-level students must complete a minimum of 74 credits of required coursework, in the curriculum sequence. O.T.R.s must complete a minimum of 35 credits in the Advanced Professional Skills sequence. Course requirements are individualized for O.T.R.s through meetings with the Program Director and faculty mentors.

Grading Policy

The grading policy for students in the Master of Science Program in Occupational Therapy is as follows:

A 90%–100%
B 80%–89%
C 70%–79%
F 0%–69%

No letter grades are issued for Level II Fieldwork or Advanced Practicum. Fieldwork performance is evaluated on a credit/no credit (CR/NC) basis.

Students enrolled in OTR-660: Graduate Project will receive an IP (In Progress) grade until the graduate project requirements are completed.


Participation in Level I and Level II Fieldwork is a required part of the curriculum and a requirement for graduation for all entry-level occupational therapy students. Fieldwork is completed on weekdays, to ensure that students experience all aspects of service delivery.

Level I Fieldwork

Level I Fieldwork offers students practice-related experiences and is integrated with the Clinical Foundations courses. The purposes of Level I Fieldwork experiences is to expose students to the values and traditions of occupational therapy practice, and provide opportunities to build skills in observation, activity analysis, and clinical reasoning for assessment and intervention in traditional and non-traditional/innovative settings. The program’s Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) will coordinate the three,  5 weekdays experiences during each of the first year Fall, Spring and Summer semesters. Students work closely with professional personnel who provide services to children with special needs, adults with psychosocial or cognitive limitations, and aged persons.

Level II Fieldwork

The goal of Level II Fieldwork is to develop competent, entry-level, generalist occupational therapists. Level II Fieldwork promotes clinical reasoning and reflective practice, transmits the values and beliefs that enable ethical practice, and develops professionalism and competence as career responsibilities.

Fieldwork is arranged by the program’s AFWC in collaboration with the student. Entry-level students are required to complete 2 full-time equivalent fieldwork experiences each for twelve weeks Level II placements. The placements include general rehabilitation setting and special interest areas. Fieldwork experiences are a commitment commensurate to a full-time job. The program's Academic Fieldwork Coordinator (AFWC) will coordinate the placements. No part of level I experiences count towards level II experiences. All Level II Fieldwork must be successfully completed within twenty-four months after academic coursework is completed.

Requirements for Participating in Fieldwork

Barry University contracts with fieldwork centers which require that students be in good health before beginning a placement. The program contracts with Castle Branch ( to monitor students’ compliance with health information requirements. Students are required to submit a Health Information Form signed by their physician to Castle Branch by the first Fall semester in the program. Students are also responsible for maintaining the required current health, immunization information and drug screening with Castle Branch. Failure to meet this requirement may result in inability to complete fieldwork or withdrawal from the program.

Fieldwork centers also require evidence of training in health and safety topics including HIV/OSHA /infection control, CPR and HIPPA regulations. Occupational therapy students receive initial CPR certification and training in these areas in the first year of the curriculum.Other setting specific requirements may have to be met (i.e. interviews) for fieldwork participation.

All students must complete a level II background check before fieldwork placement. An individual with a felony or misdemeanor conviction or positive finding in the drug screening tests may be denied participation in fieldwork.

Advanced Practicum for Certified O.T.R.s

O.T.R.s enrolled in the Advanced Professionals Skills sequence of the program complete an advanced practicum during the last semester of the program. Ninety hours of work are required, in a setting appropriate to the student’s area of interest in occupational therapy. The practicum may be completed on a full or part-time basis.

Financial Aid and Housing

The Financial Aid Office at Barry University offers students help in obtaining assistance with educational expenses. Students who will need financial aid should contact the office as soon as they are admitted to the program. Many students in the Occupational Therapy Program apply for Subsidized and Unsubsidized Federal Stafford Loans (see Tuition, Fees, and Financial Aid section of the Graduate Catalog).

Students may apply for competitive scholarships offered by the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF).

Students accepted in the occupational therapy program may qualify for a HRSA scholarship for disadvantaged students

Graduate Assistantships may also be available. Students should consult with a financial aid advisor for eligibility

Loan forgiveness programs and resources are available to assist healthcare workers with loan repayment.

Students who travel to Barry University on weekends must obtain their own housing. The program maintains a list of local hotels used by occupational therapy students; some hotels offer seasonal discounts to students. Students wishing to apply for University housing may do so by contacting the Housing and Residence Life dept.

Responsibilities of Students

Readiness for Learning

All prospective and current students in the occupational therapy program must possess the intellectual, physical, and emotional capabilities necessary to undertake the full curriculum and to achieve the level of competency required by the faculty and the occupational therapy profession. Students with documented special learning needs must contact the Barry University Office of Student Services for Students with Disabilities to request accommodations.

Attendance and Participation

Occupational therapists believe that people learn best by doing. Occupational therapy faculty and students are members of a teaching/learning team, and all team members must be present and actively involved, in order to make the process of education work. Communication among teachers and students is encouraged, because interaction in class builds skills that will be necessary in the future for relating to clients and families, collaborating with other professionals, and articulating the purpose and goals of occupational therapy. Because of this educational philosophy, and because each class weekend is very intensive, occupational therapy students are expected to be prepared for each weekend, participate actively in class and field experiences, avoid missing class time, and manage absences in a professional manner. Make-up assignments may be required for missed sessions. If a student misses more than two days of class (equivalent to two weeks in a traditional program), he or she must meet with the Program Director, and the student may be required to withdraw from the program.

Professional Behavior

All aspects of the Program’s and Barry University’s Policy on Dishonesty as described in the Student Handbook apply to students in the Occupational Therapy Program. Students aspiring to become occupational therapists must also conduct themselves in accordance with the principles of the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics.

Students completing assignments in health-care facilities are required to comply with the facility’s policies regarding privacy and confidentiality of patient information. In addition, all students are expected to follow the Program’s Dress Code guidelines.

Computer Access

Access to and competency in basic use of a computer is a requirement for all students to complete the Occupational Therapy Program successfully. Students are expected to have a computer, web cam, maintain current Microsoft Office software, and an Internet connection at home. The program incorporates a blended instructional format which includes distance education. Some class modules are offered on-line only and assignments require computer use. In addition, assignments and official program correspondence is often required between weekend sessions via e-mail and/or the University Learning Management system. Students may use computers while on campus in the computer lab and library.

Health Insurance and Liability Insurance

Health insurance coverage is required for all students enrolled in Level I and II Fieldwork. Students may enroll in the insurance policy offered through Barry University.

Students must purchase liability insurance each year through Barry University, in order to participate in fieldwork experiences. Some sites require liability insurance coverage in addition to the general policy purchased through Barry University.

Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure

The Barry University 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. The AOTA’s telephone number is (301) 652‑AOTA.

After successful completion of the Master of Science program in Occupational Therapy, students are eligible to sit for the Certification Examination for the Occupational Therapist, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Upon successful completion of the certification exam, graduates are eligible to apply for a license to practice occupational therapy in their state. Graduates should contact the licensing boards in their states for application procedures.

Students should be aware that applicants for certification and licensure are required to answer questions about legal history, including any felony charges (see “Requirements for Participating in Fieldwork” section above). An individual who has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor may be denied certification or licensure as a health professional.

Sample Course Sequence

Master of Science (74-75 credits)

Entry Level Students – 74-75 credits

Occupational Therapists – 35-36 credits

Clinical Foundations Courses (36 credits)

Fall (13 credits)













Spring (11 credits)











Summer (12 credits)











Advanced Professional Skills Courses (30 credits)

Fall (9-12 credits)









Spring (9-12 credits)









Summer (12 credits)











Fieldwork II (8-10 credits)

Fall (4-5 credits)







Spring (4- 5 credits)



Sample Schedule of Weekend Courses

Summer Prerequisite Course (If Needed)

Summer Semester
May to August (eight weekends)
Saturday or Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Clinical Foundations Courses

Fall Semester Yr1
September to December (nine weekends)
Saturday & Sunday 9:00 to 5:30 p.m.
+ 36 hrs. Level I Fieldwork
Spring Semester Yr1
January to April (nine weekends)
Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
+ 36 hrs. Level I Fieldwork
Summer Semester Yr1
May to August (eight weekends)
Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
+ 36 hrs. Level I Fieldwork
Fall Semester Yr2

September to December (nine weekends)

Saturday & Sunday 9:00 to 5:30 pm

Advanced Professional Courses

Spring Semester Yr2

January to April (nine weekends)
Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Summer Semester Yr2
May to August (eight weekends)
Saturday and Sunday 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Graduate project (independent study)
Fall Semester Yr3
Twelve weeks full time Level II Fieldwork
Graduate project (independent study)
Spring Semester Yr3
Twelve weeks full-time Level II Fieldwork
(entry-level students only)
Advanced Practicum full or part-time
(O.T.R.s only)
Graduate project (independent study)