Admission Requirements

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

The Occupational Therapy program participates in the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Applicants for the program must submit an OTCAS application. A completed application must be received by the program from OTCAS A completed application must be received by the program from OTCAS between August 1st and December 15th. Deadline for application submission is extended until December 15th. Applications will not be accepted past the December 15th deadline.  Information can be found at

For specific questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Dr. Melanie Austin-McCain, OTD, MPA, OTR/L at or 516.686.1131.

To be eligible for admission into the occupational therapy master’s program, applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college, with an academic record that includes a balance of coursework in the humanities, social sciences, mathematics and life sciences, as well as competence in written and spoken English. Basic computer skills (preparation of documents, spreadsheets, graphs, databases, research and presentations) are required. To be competitive, applicants should have an overall grade point average of at least 3.0, with no science or math grade below C+.

Additional admission requirements include:

  • Proof of 100 hours of volunteer work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist
  • An essay detailing the desire to pursue occupational therapy as a career
  • Two professional letters of recommendation on letterhead, including one from a licensed occupational therapist. Recommendations must be dated within the past six months. Both references should be sent in sealed envelopes with the referee’s signature over the seal.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary schools attended
  • Course Descriptions for all pre-requisite courses (see below)
  • A personal interview (for those applicants who qualify)
  • An on-site essay on an assigned topic

Required Prerequisites

Students must have satisfactorily completed the following courses at an accredited college with a grade of C+ or higher in all math and science courses and atleast a grade of a C in all other prequisite courses. Note that all science courses must be for science majors:

Required Prerequisite Courses Credits
One (1) course in General Biology with Lab 4
One (1) course in General Chemistry with Lab 4
One (1) course in General Physics with Lab 4
One (1) course in Human Physiology with Lab or Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab 4
One (1) course in Human Anatomy with Lab or Anatomy and Physiology II with Lab 4
One (1) course in General/ Introductory Psychology 3
One (1) course in Developmental or Child Psychology 3
One (1) course in Abnormal Psychology 3
One (1) course in Statistics 3
One (1) course in either Anthropology or Sociology 3
One (1) course in Ethics 3
One (1) recommended course in Scientific Writing 3

Students with a bachelor’s degree who have not completed all prerequisite courses for admission, may be provisionally accepted to the occupational therapy programs. After completion of these prerequisite courses and satisfaction of all other academic and professional standards, these students will be admitted into the professional phase of the program. Prior to entering fieldwork courses, students must show evidence of:

  • Required immunizations and health clearance (including history and physical examination)
  • Basic life support, first aid certification

(Expenses incurred are the student’s responsibility)

Applicants to the School of Health Professions should be aware that certain legal issues and/or convictions may preclude a student from being accepted by clerkships, internships and/or fieldwork and impact the student’s ability to successfully complete the program and achieve certification and/or licensure.

Technical Standards for Admission and Matriculation to the Occupational Therapy Program

Technical standards are nonacademic admission requirements, related to the essential nature of the program, which must be met by all students admitted to the program. The standards include personal and professional traits. Some of these requirements include skills and experiences, physical, sensory, medical and emotional competencies and safety issues. The criteria may be objective or subjective but are the same for all applicants. The standards must:

  • Be nonacademic
  • Be requisite for admission
  • Be related to essential function of the program
  • Apply to all students
  • Not be established to discriminate for or against a person with disability
  • Ensure that the student can benefit from the program.

The ability to function in a job as an occupational therapist is not relevant; rather, the student must be able to succeed in the course of study. An occupational therapist must have the knowledge and skills to function in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of therapeutic interventions. In order to perform the activities required of the profession, the student must be able to learn, integrate and synthesize data quickly, accurately and consistently. The multiple skills and abilities required include observation, communication, motor, conceptual, integrative, qualitative, behavioral and social. Reasonable accommodation can be made for persons with disabilities in some of the areas, but the student must be able to perform independently.

A student entering the professional phase of the program (the fourth year of the B.S./M.S. program or the first year of the post-baccalaureate M.S. program) must be able to learn through action, experience and communication, as guided by the philosophy of pragmatism that underlies our program design. In addition, the applicant must meet the following technical requirements:

  • Documentation by letter of reference of one hundred hours of volunteer work under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist; a second letter of reference; a personal statement describing the applicant’s interest in occupational therapy; participation in the admission process, requiring three to five hours on the college campus.
  • The commitment to work in an intense setting that challenges the individual to meet the needs of people of diverse cultures and age groups who are ill, severely injured, limited by cognitive, emotional and functional deficits, and whose behavior may create, at times, an aversive reaction. The ability to interact with these individuals without being judgmental or prejudiced is critical in establishing a therapeutic relationship.
  • The ability to communicate verbally and in writing, using appropriate grammar and vocabulary, in order to build relationships with faculty, advisors, fellow students, coworkers and clients and their significant others. Proficiency in communication includes transactions with individuals and groups in learner, collegial, consultative, leadership and task roles. Students must be able to elicit information, gather information, describe findings and understand non-verbal behavior.
  • The ability to travel independently to and from classes and fieldwork assignments on time, and possess the organizational skills and stamina for performing required tasks and assignments within allotted time frames. (This travel is at the student’s expense.)
  • Commitment to adherence of policies of the college, of the occupational therapy program and of the fieldwork sites. These rules include matters relating to professional dress and behavior, and confidentiality.
  • Professional competence and moral character, which meet state licensure guidelines.
  • Emotional health for full utilization of intellect, the exercise of good judgment, prompt completion of responsibilities and the development of mature, sensitive and effective relationships with others. Working with persons in need often requires taxing workloads and adaptation to changing and challenging environments requiring flexibility and a spirit of cooperation.
  • Critical thinking skills in order to be able to problem solve creatively, to master abstract ideas and to synthesize information in order to handle the challenges of the academic, laboratory and fieldwork settings.
  • Physical coordination and strength to be able to handle moving clients and to direct clients in varied practice settings. Visual acuity and independent mobility, fine and gross movements, equilibrium, and the use of touch (touching and being touched) are essential to assure safety of clients, significant others and staff.
  • Commitment to the code of ethics of the profession and behavior, which reflects a sense of right and wrong in the helping environment.

Program Format

The master’s degree program in occupational therapy is 85 credits covered in five academic semesters, one summer. The program is daytime, with all professional academic coursework taught on the Old Westbury campus. Students may opt for part-time academic study, which will usually double the duration of the program. There is a total of 32 weeks of full-time fieldwork at selected sites.

While on fieldwork, the student will work the same hours as the staff at the site. Students may have to travel or relocate during the fieldwork phase of the program. Transportation and housing are the responsibility of the student. All students are required to pass an infection control course that is given at the college.

Students must show proof of purchase of professional liability insurance (less than $100 per year) prior to fieldwork assignment. It is recommended that students join professional associations as student members: the American Occupational Therapy Association and the Long Island District of the New York State Occupational Therapy Association. Student dues for the two organizations are less than $100 per year. Students are required to submit bound copies of the thesis; this binding is done at the student’s expense.

Academic Standards

Because of the rigor of the program, students cannot expect to work while enrolled full time.

Academic Criteria

The following criteria must be met throughout the professional phase of the occupational therapy program:

  1. Maintain a 3.0 grade point average each semester.
  2. Have no grade below C in any course. Students who score below a C are given an F in the course.
  3. Absent extenuating circumstances, student may repeat a failed course only once.
  4. Students receiving more than one F in a semester may be dismissed from the program.
  5. Professional behaviors are considered in this decision.

Academic Probation

Automatic academic probation is imposed under the following circumstances:

  1. GPA falls below 3.0 in any semester.
  2. Cumulative GPA falls below 3.0.
  3. Incomplete or failure in fieldwork.


A student on academic probation during the previous semester may be dismissed from the occupational therapy program after review by the department academic review committee if:

  1. Semester GPA falls below 3.0 in two consecutive semesters.
  2. Overall GPA falls below 3.0 in two consecutive semesters.
  3. The student receives a grade of F in any course, including fieldwork.
  4. Unprofessional behaviors have not been corrected after intervention by the instructional staff. Aspects of professional conduct are defined in the Occupational Therapy Student Handbook.

Graduation Requirements

Students are recommended for graduation upon satisfactory completion of all academic and clinical education requirements. The following are required:

  1. Satisfactory completion of all required courses.
  2. Overall GPA of 3.0.
  3. Filing of a completed application for graduation with the Student Enrollment Center.
  4. Bursar account clearance.
  5. Recommendation of the occupational therapy faculty and the academic review committee.
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Occupational Therapy
Old Westbury
Riland Academic Health Center, Room 333
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