What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists are experts in doing. We prescribe therapeutic occupations, including everyday life activities to support a person's performance and function in the multiple life roles they engage in at home, school, work, and community environments. Occupational therapists are trained to address physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory-perceptual, and other aspects of performance. Occupational therapy interventions can be designed to develop skills, prevent illness and promote health and wellness. Interventions can also rehabilitate when an illness, injury or disease results in impairment, disability, activity limitation, or a restriction in a person's ability to participate in their daily occupations. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages and ability levels in many settings. Occupational therapy services may be provided in individual or group sessions, or on a broader scale at the system or population level.

Why choose Duquesne Occupational Therapy?

Our program is designed to:

  • Give you a choice. We are the only program in Western Pennsylvania that is dually-accredited to award the entry-level Master's (MSOT) and entry-level doctorate (OTD) degree.  All of our students have the CHOICE of completing the MS degree or the OTD track.
  • Enhance your skills. Our students complete ~80-100 hours of Community Engaged Learning- this means that our students apply their OT skills in settings that don't typically have an OT on staff such as community organizations that serve veterans, homeless youth and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and more!
  • Learn in Practice from the Experts. Our School has over 1,000 affiliated sites that can be used for fieldwork learning. These include nationally recognized settings inside and outside the Pittsburgh area... such as Kessler Institute for Rehab, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Nemours Children's Hospital and many more!
  • Mentor you. We have 11 dedicated full-time faculty members with various expertise in areas of pediatrics, acute care, gerontology and emerging practice settings such as the criminal justice system who will provide you with mentorship from your first semester.

Visit the Occupational Therapy Program Details Page

Admission Pathways

Duquesne offers multiple admission pathways to earn your occupational therapy degree. The majority of our students begin their OT journey with us as freshmen, however, there is always room for transfer or post-baccalaureate students to join along the way!

Our accelerated pathways to the MSOT and OTD degrees provide you with a BS in Health Sciences after 4 years of full-time study. 

If you chose the MSOT pathway, you will receive your MS degree after an additional 9 months of full-time, post-baccalaureate study.

If you chose the OTD pathway, you will receive your OTD after an additional 19 months of full-time, post-baccalaureate study. Students who pursue the OTD program do not earn a Master's Degree.

All freshmen admitted to Duquesne University's Occupational Therapy program enter the Master's of Occupational Therapy degree tract.  In the Fall of the 4th year, students are given the option to declare their intent to earn an Occupational Therapy Doctorate.  No additional application to enter the professional phase for either degree is required for students who have declared occupational therapy as their major. Students in the accelerated programs who achieve a a ‘C' or better in all courses and a 3.0 cumulative GPA in the math and science courses by the end of the pre-professional phase are guaranteed a place in the professional phase of the occupational therapy curriculum beginning in January of the third year of study.

This graphic reflects the progression through our program for a freshman.

Find out more information about the freshmen admission pathway

Our accelerated pathways to the MSOT and OTD degrees provide you with a BS in Health Sciences after 4 years of full-time study. 

If you chose the MSOT pathway, you will receive your MS degree after an additional 9 months of full-time, post-baccalaureate study.

If you chose the OTD pathway, you will receive your OTD after an additional 19 months of full-time, post-baccalaureate study. Students who pursue the OTD program do not earn a Master's Degree.

If you are interested in applying as a transfer student and have not earned your baccalaureate, please visit the Rangos Schoolf of Health Sciences transfer page. Please be advised that space in our program is extremely limited and in most semesters we do not offer admission to transfer students. Prospective transfer students must also have a  minimum GPA of at least a 3.0, a composite math and verbal SAT score of at least 1,170; or a composite ACT score of at least 24.

Find out more information about the transfer admission pathway
You may be considered for entry into the Post-Baccalaureate MSOT or OTD program if you've already received a Bachelor's degree in a field other than OT and have satisfied all admission requirements. You can complete the MSOT program in just under 2 years of full-time study, or the OTD program in just 3 years of full-time study.

Our MSOT and OTD programs afford post-baccalaureate students the opportunity to jumpstart their program with pre-requisities and foundational courses in the Rangos School of Health Sciences beginning in the Fall. Following that semester, students immediately articulate into the occupational therapy program in the Spring. 

Please note, the overwhelming majority of our students enter our program as freshmen; however, we do accept a few transfer and post-baccalaureate students via OTCAS each year as space allows. The post-baccalaureate programs are rolling admission - we accept qualified applicants throughout the year, and until the class is filled. The sooner you apply, the better your chances will be of gaining admission. Only complete applications can be reviewed. We seek applicants who have demonstrated strong academic performance, active engagement in their community, and a solid record of servant leadership.

It is recommended that you submit your application by our priority deadline of June 30 each year. After that, applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, based upon availability.

Find out more information about the post-baccalaureate admission pathway

What Makes DU OT Stand Out From The Rest?

We are the ONLY Freshman Admit Program in Western PA

Once accepted into the OT Program, meeting academic standards means that there is NO need to re-apply in the professional or doctoral phase. Students engage in OT coursework in each level of the program.

All Duquesne OT students have a CHOICE for degree level

We are the only OT program in Western PA that offers both accredited Entry-Level Degree Programs. All students will have the option to declare your terminal degree (MSOT or OTD) during your first semester of your senior year. Students earn their Bachelor's of Health Science Degree at the end of year four, and then continue on to earn their terminal degree of choice (either MSOT or OTD).

Each program is accelerated which allows our graduates to enter the workforce at a quicker-rate. The MSOT program is complete in 4.5 calendar years, and the OTD program is complete in 5.5 calendar years.

Right-Sized Cohorts allow for more Personalized Attention with Classroom Learning and Professional Development

Faculty/Student ratio in labs is no more than 1:15 which facilitates more student-centered learning. Students will have the opportunity to learn in a personalized teaching-learning environment (~30 students) from a diverse team of 11 full-time faculty who are experts in diverse teaching practices such as interprofessional education (IPE), flipped classroom, simulation, community-engaged learning and more. Several of our faculty continue to maintain clinical practice roles as direct practitioners, ensuring relevance and modernization within our classrooms and labs.

Superior Graduation Rate

The Occupational Therapy Programs at Duquesne University demonstrate strong student progression and retention rates among our cohorts. Students declare their terminal degree within the Fall semester of the 4th year in the program. OTD students begin the advanced phase of the curriculum after Level II Fieldwork. A three-year graduation rate from the Department of Occupational Therapy at Duquesne University is 100% for the MSOT program and 98% for the OTD program. Students who did not earn the OTD degree were successful in achieving the MSOT terminal degree and completing eligibility requirements for NBCOT certification exam.

 MSOT Graduation Rate

Graduation Year # Started Professional Phase # Graduated Graduation Rate
2019 22 22 100%
2020 19 19 100%
2021 8 8 100%
2022 * * *

OTD Graduation Rate

Graduation Year # Started in Advanced Phase # Graduated Graudation Rate
2019 10 10 100%
2020 7 7 100%
2021 15 14 93%
2022 * * *

* - students still enrolled in degree program

Exceptional Board Certification Pass Rate

Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found on the NBCOT website. (To locate Duquesne University results, search for Pennsylvania, then select OT Doctoral or OT Masters level Program and choose year).

The NBCOT Board of Directors has approved the implementation of background checks as part of the exam process. This enhancement offers the unique opportunity to apply a national standard to all entry-level practitioners in support of NBCOT's mission of public protection.

Background checks will be completed as part of the exam application process for all first-time applicants beginning January 1, 2018. Students and prospective students are advised that a felony conviction may affect one's ability to sit for the certification examination or attain state licensure.

Exceptional Employability

The vast majority (99%) of our graduates responding to employment surveys reported that they took their first job within 1-6 months of graduation.

Structured Faculty / Student Mentorship Program

All students in the program are assigned a faculty mentor. Semesterly meetings allow more personalized support for academic and professional growth as students progress from pre-professional, professional and doctoral phases of the curriculum.

Faculty and Student Mentorship is also uniquely available via the research project sequence. This optional 3-credit course sequence, is offered in the professional phase. Students are provided the opportunity to apply to serve as research apprenticeships and work closely with DU OT faculty in their area of scholarship. Most research students have the opportunity to disseminate their work at state and national conferences such as the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), or engage in the process of writing a publication. These are some great resume builders and help make DU OT students stand-out in the job market upon graduation!

Flexibility to Supplement OT Curriculum & Engage in Study Abroad

The DU OT curriculum has space built-in to allow students to explore other interests that might augment their training as an occupational therapist; More than half of all OT students pursue a minor in fields like psychology, special education or sociology, public health, global health and notably assistive technology, which is taught by OT faculty.

Students have opportunities to study abroad for a semester in our Rome or Dublin campus (during the Spring of their 2nd year) and there are a number of short-term opportunities as well some of which are led by OT or other health science faculty.

A Plethora of Affiliated Sites for Fieldwork Education and Doctoral Capstone Experiences

Across the curriculum, DU OT Students complete 5 fieldwork experiences, which accrues over 1200 hours of clinical training as a generalist. The doctoral curriculum includes an additional 560 hours designed to develop in-depth knowledge in a focused area of study. The Rangos School of Health Sciences is affiliated with over 1,000 practice settings around the US. These include nationally recognized settings inside and outside the Pittsburgh area... such as Kessler Institute for Rehab, Sheppard Pratt Health System, Nemours Children's Hospital and many more. In collaboration with our Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, DU OT students receive access to a clinical database that allows them to search affiliated sites as well as have the opportunity to assist with setting up new affiliations to create a well-balanced and student-centered plan for experiential learning.

Numerous Opportunities for Community-Engaged Learning

A key component of our curriculum; hands-on learning with community as classroom. This means that DU OT students have unique opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills in settings that don't typically have an OT on staff such as community organizations that serve veterans, homeless youth, refugees, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. DU OT students receive direct community-based practice experience across several courses, which aim to develop unique skills in program development, grant writing and consultative skills.

Check out the winning video from the 2022 Undergraduate Research Symposium created by OT students who completed a community-engaged learning experience at Shepherd's Heart Fellowship & Veterans Home. 

Student Service and Leadership Opportunities

Rangos School of Health Sciences and the Department of Occupational Therapy have a robust model for student engagement and leadership. Our Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA), Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD) chapter, the OT honors society Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE) chapter, and eventually a DU Alumni Association offered a number of opportunities for students to get involved in OT! 

Current students were asked "How has DU OT encouraged your heart?"

DU's OT program has encouraged my heart during my academic journey by always celebrating our victories which creates a spirit of community. Everyone is so close, tight knit, and there for each other. This makes me feel supported by both my professors and my peers and helps me to be a successful student. I really love that we can all hold each other accountable and encourage each other to be better practitioners each and every day.

One aspect of Duquesne’s OT program which has encouraged my heart is the meaningful relationships I have been able to develop through COTAD, SOTA, and PTE [student organizations]. It has been so helpful meeting people in the cohorts above me who are always available to give me advice, provide encouragement, or answer questions about future steps in the program.

At Duquesne, there has been a lot of challenging moments throughout the curriculum. One of the hardest things, however, was not curriculum-based; I had an emergency with a friend during the academic year. One of the faculty from Duquesne's OT program actually sat down with me and talked to me about what was going on. She was able to supply me with the resources I needed to go forward and continue to balance school with what was going on with my personal life. She also reminded me of why occupational therapy was important to me and further encouraged me by noting that the way I was responding to the emergency outside of school showed that I was going to be a good OT in the future.

One way that the OT program at Duquesne has encouraged my heart is that the faculty and my classmates know me by name. It seems like such a small thing, but it is indicative of the strong relationships I have built over the past 4.5 years. To be known and understood while also having the opportunity to learn about what I love has been a true blessing in my life.

Since I was a transfer student in the Westminster-Duquesne Occupational Therapy program, I entered into a class that had already been together for three years. I was nervous, but as I began the program, I realized how kind and welcoming the individuals in the Duquesne program are. The individuals in my cohort have encouraged my heart by providing public praises for all the small accomplishments that I have achieved.

Occupational Therapy Student Involvement

 
Students in SOTA gather around in a classroom for a group picture.

Student Occupational Therapy Organization (SOTA)

The Student Occupational Therapy Association encourages ALL OT students to become more involved in the world of occupational therapy. Upperclassmen act as mentors to underclassmen and offer support, answer questions, and foster a closeknit DU OT community. SOTA meets every two weeks and meetings often include updates from state and national student OT associations, opportunities to volunteer in campus activities, introductions to faculty, fundraising for important causes, guest lecturers from a variety of OT contexts, and “days in the life” videos from current fieldwork and doctoral capstone students. SOTA Officers also have the opportunity to build their leadership skills. SOTA won Student Organization of the Year 2018-2019!

OT students behind a table for COTAD at 2022 Homecoming.

Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity (COTAD)

Our Duquesne Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity chapter works to educate and share resources with future occupational therapists on how to fight systemic racism, inequities, and injustices in our health system so that OTs can be more culturally responsive in their support of all clients, communities, and populations. COTAD meets twice a month and creates a safe space for students to reflect on and discuss social justice topics impacting marginalized communities. COTAD aims to create a welcoming environment where students from different life trajectories and cultural backgrounds can meet each other and build connections!

OT students stand behind boxes they created for PTE fundraiser.

Pi Theta Epsilon (PTE)

Pi Theta Epsilon is the national honor society for occupational therapy students and practitioners. The mission of this organization is “to support the practice of occupational sciences and the practice of authentic occupational therapy by promoting research and other scholarly activities by its members.” Our local chapter, Beta Theta, has engaged in a number of activities to meet this mission. Since 2012, our members have hosted a monthly journal club for students in all cohorts of the OT program. In 2020 and 2021, our chapter collaborated with two chapters from other regions in the country to develop and host an online webinar series on issues of diversity, equity and inclusion and trauma informed care. Our members are constantly identifying and engaging in activities to promote occupational therapy and occupational science.

Meet our OT Student Ambassadors

Rachel DeStefano

Rachel DeStefano

5th Year OT Student

Lauren Rose

Lauren Rose

4th Year OT Student

Nathan Pearson

Nathan Pearson

4th Year OT Student

Erica Glaneman

Erica Glaneman

5th Year OT Student

Hannah Clark

Hannah Clark

3rd Year OT Student

Brooke Foundas

Brooke Foundas

4th Year OT Student

Ivan Del Toro

Ivan Del Toro

2nd Year OT Student

Rachel Alexander

Rachel Alexander

1st Year OT Student

Isabella Bien

Isabella Bien

3rd Year OT Student

Shannon Russell

Shannon Russell

4th Year OT Student

Johnna Estep

Johnna Estep

3rd Year OT Student

Lauren Beck

Lauren Beck

2nd Year OT Student

Julie Downs

Julie Downs

5th Year OT Student

Kelly Gregoire

Kelly Gregoire

2nd Year OT Student

Experiential Learning

Active & engaged learning is a crucial aspect of occupational therapy education. Our faculty strongly embraces the concepts of Engaged and Transformative Learning and recognizes their value in developing practitioners that can be the leaders within our profession. We have integrated the core concepts of these learning theories within many aspects of our curriculum.

A student mentor working with another student with an intellectual/development disability (IDD) on their schoolwork to prepare for their Level I Fieldwork.

Level I Fieldwork

Level I Fieldwork is integral to our program's curriculum design, as it is a key learning experience within both Clinical Reasoning courses and Psychosocial course. Students complete three 40-hour fieldwork placements in their 4th year: 1) 1 full week in December, 2) 1 full week in April/May, 3) Weekly two-hour visits to community sites throughout the Fall and Spring semesters.

OT students practicing their pediatric therapy skills to prepare for Level II Fieldwork.

Level II Fieldwork

Level II Fieldwork is a natural continuation of our curriculum in the 5th year of the program. The primary purpose of Level II Fieldwork is to provide students with the opportunities to integrate the theory and skills learned in the classroom within the clinical setting. Shortly after graduating with their Bachelors degree in May, students complete two 480-hour, 12-week fieldwork placements from June-September and September-December.

An OT student practices independently treating a mobility issue to prepare for their Doctoral Capstone Experience.

Doctoral Capstone Experience

Following the successful completion of Level II Fieldwork, OTD students partake in a 14-week doctoral capstone experience. The doctoral capstone experience provides an in-depth, customized experience specific to the doctoral pursuit of the occupational therapy student, and the opportunity to extend and refine knowledge & skills acquired in the curriculum.

Contact Us!

Still have questions? Reach out to one of our adminsitrative assistants for answers!

Kelly Kovalsky

Administrative Assistant II

Teresa McGuire

Administrative Assistant I