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.

The Department of Occupational Therapy at Duquesne University has a 27-year history of preparing practice scholars. The occupational therapy faculty are excellent teachers and scholars. Collectively, our teaching philosophy emphasizes active and transformative learning experiences. Community engaged learning and a wide array of excellent clinical fieldwork and doctoral experiential placements are standard teaching practices in our program and students know that they will be expected to immediately transform classroom learning into practice competencies. Our programs equip graduates who exhibit competencies as a generalist as well as in depth knowledge and skills to lead in practice and professional settings.

Visit the Department of Occupational Therapy Page

Program Information

Both Masters and Doctoral degrees are offered. Once admitted, students are guaranteed admission to their chosen degree program. Along the way, all freshmen-entry students earn a BS in Health Sciences in the Spring of their 4th year.

Program Type

Major

Degree

Masters, Doctorate

Duration

Masters - 4.5 years, Doctorate - 5.5 years

Required Credit Hours

Masters - 156, Doctorate - 183

Meet the OT Faculty

Dr. Amy Mattila, Ph.D., OTR/L

Dr. Amy Mattila, Ph.D., OTR/L

Department Chair and Assistant Professor

Dr. Elizabeth DeIuliis, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Elizabeth DeIuliis, OTD, OTR/L

Program Director and Clinical Associate Professor

Dr. Jeryl Benson, Ed.D., OTR/L

Dr. Jeryl Benson, Ed.D., OTR/L

Associate Professor

Dr. Retta Marie Martin, Ed.D., OTR/L

Dr. Retta Marie Martin, Ed.D., OTR/L

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Michelle McCann, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Michelle McCann, OTD, OTR/L

Doctoral Capstone Coordinator and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Richard Simpson, Ph.D.

Dr. Richard Simpson, Ph.D.

Associate Professor

Dr. Ann Stuart, OTD, OTR/L

Dr. Ann Stuart, OTD, OTR/L

Community Engaged Learning Coordinator and Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Kimberly Szucs, Ph.D., OTR/L

Dr. Kimberly Szucs, Ph.D., OTR/L

Associate Professor

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 School 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 MSOTor 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 prerequisites 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 about the post-baccalaureate admission pathway

Program Mission, Philosophy, and Curriculum Design

Mission: Inspire practice scholars that serve, question, and lead.

Program Philosophy of Teaching and Learning: Three pedagogical approaches serve as the foundation for the department's philosophy and curriculum design: engaged learning, transformative learning and professional identify formation. A variety of interactive teaching methods are utilized including active learning approaches, self-reflection, interprofessional activities, community engaged learning, and experiential learning. Alongside structured faculty mentorship, students are expected to be intrinsically motivated acting as agents of their own learning and professional identity development through full engagement in the curriculum. These core pedagogical approaches of the Department of Occupational Therapy guide key instructional practices throughout our curriculum. These include:

  1. an intentional use of engaged, active learning educational pedagogies that embeds learning in context and seeks to establish opportunities for transformative learning experiences that promote critical thinking and reflection.
  2. concentration on professional identity formation as a practice scholar with the values, ethics, and professional behaviors associated with being an occupational therapist.
  3. a graded developmental approach to acquiring the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be a practice scholar who reflects on and engages in the scholarly application of occupational therapy and has a skill set to deliver person-centered, evidence-based occupational therapy.
  4. a central focus on occupation, on humans as occupational beings, and on the complex processes by which people find meaning and health through the interactive person-environment process of ʻdoingʼ or engagement in occupations.
  5. a comprehensive understanding of both personal factors and context or environmental influences on occupational performance and function in the areas of occupation

The Department of Occupational Therapy designed a schematic using a "bridge" to illustrate the curriculum design, pedagogical approaches and curricular threads of our programs. Our practice-scholar initiative and outcomes are demonstrating an energizing, leading force that bridges practice, education and research agendas. Given that Duquesne University is in a region with over 2,000 bridges more than 8 feet long, it is a symbol that fits our environmental context. The symbolic representation of a bridge is an effect way to signify how the components of our curriculum work together to create entry-level professionals in occupational therapy. Further, the symbolism of the bridge also represents an important goal of our curriculum: "to bridge the gap between education, practice and research."

The curriculum is designed to ensure that students develop their professional philosophy and requisite practice knowledge, skills and attitudes to enter practice in the profession of occupational therapy. Students in the MSOT program are prepared as generalists, while students in the OTD program develop in-depth knowledge and skills, which may allow the pursuit of advanced roles or future specialization in practice.

This curriculum is sequenced to challenge our students to integrate knowledge and skills from the pre-professional phase into the professional then advanced profession phases. The sequence for the curriculum is organized into six major curricular threads that reflect the "pillars" of our curriculum design. You can also read detailed explanations of each curricular thread.

  1. Practice Foundations
  2. Person-Occupation-Environment Interaction and Performance Across the Life-Span
  3. Health Care Delivery Systems and Equitable Population-Focused Services
  4. Practice-Scholarship
  5. Community Engaged Learning, Fieldwork Education and Doctoral Capstone Experience
  6. Servant Leadership, Advocacy and Occupational Justice

Illustration of DU OT's curriculum design using one of the Pittsburgh bridges.

Course Descriptions

Find out more about what is covered in each occupational therapy course throughout the curriculum. You can view the course sequence for each admission type by clicking on your chosen admission pathway above.

This course explores the core values, philosophy, and scope of practice of the occupational therapy profession and provides an introduction to information literacy skills. Profession focused learning outcomes target a student’s ability to define occupational therapy practice, articulate core concepts of the profession, describe the distinct value of OT within interprofessional teams, and identify a variety of practice settings in which occupational therapists work. Students explore the connection between occupation and health through examination of their own and others’ occupations. Information literacy learning outcomes emphasize a student’s ability to define information needs, use strategic approaches to search a variety of resources and research databases, and learning to effectively manage and evaluate research results with a focus on evidence specific to the occupational therapy profession. Students also learn about ethical issues relevant to using sources in projects and papers, including academic integrity, copyright, and APA citation.
Overview of the profession's history, philosophies, roles and functions, scholarship activities, current issues, and future directions.
Occupational performance across the lifespan in activities of self-care, work/education, play/leisure, and person-occupation-environment interaction.
Introduction to practical aspects of occupational therapy including documentation, observation, client interaction skills. 
In this course you will reflect on the knowledge and skills that you have gained in previous courses in preparation for beginning the professional phase of your training and your career as an occupational therapist. Knowledge, skills and attitudes required for success in the program and in future community-based, fieldwork education and doctoral capstone experiences. This seminar extends foundational learning for entry into the profession and content is organized into 3 learning modules; 1) professional development; 2) clinical and community education and 3) practice scholarship and information literacy. You can expect each module to include a variety of active learning exercises, reflective self-assessments, problem-based case scenarios and expectations for professional development planning. You will be expected to learn and use organizational strategies that facilitate time and project management, help you synthesize information and data from disparate sources and self-author your own learning.
Transformation of didactic learning into clinical reasoning with a focus on further establishing therapeutic interactions, clinical observation, and intervention strategies. Includes 40 hours of fieldwork plus 20 hours of community engaged learning.
Transformation of didactic learning into clinical reasoning with a focus on further establishing therapeutic interactions, clinical observation, and intervention strategies. Includes 40 hours of fieldwork.
Analyzing and directing individual and group participation in occupations. Introduction to the teaching-learning process in occupational performance. This course includes labs practicing delivery of group interventions.
Application of sensory, motor, and developmental theories in pediatric practice.
Application of sensory, motor, and developmental theories in adult and geriatric practice. Includes 3 hours of an interprofessional seminar.
Psychodynamic, behavioral, developmental, and volitional theories and intervention strategies for life span psychological conditions. Includes 40 hours of fieldwork to encompass 20 from the community FW and 40 in another practice setting.
Theories and intervention strategies related to strength, endurance, joint function, and voluntary control over movement. Orthotics, prosthetics, biofeedback, mobility equipment, ergonomics, and human factors are discussed.
Introduces students to each phase of the research process. Discussions focus on the design, conduct, analysis and interpretation of clinical research studies.
An introduction to the theoretical frameworks, research designs, and methods of data analysis that characterize qualitative research.
Introduction to measurement and interpretation of occupational performance areas and performance components.
Analysis of movement using motor learning, motor control, motor development, kinesiological theories, and applied principles that contributes to functional human motion.
Analysis and synthesis of the research evidence that supports occupational therapy practice.
Analyzing and directing individual and group participation in occupations. Introduction to the teaching-learning process in occupational performance. This course includes labs practicing delivery of group interventions.
Overview of medical conditions typically seen in occupational therapy practice.
Assessment and modification of the physical environment to enhance occupational performance including computer resources, assistive technology, home health, environmental controls, and environmental accessibility.
Fieldwork education including exposure to a wide range of diagnoses and treatment in a variety of settings that will be supervised by a registered occupational therapist. The fieldwork site specific objectives will be designed for the development of specialized clinical skills. The purpose of the fieldwork experience is to provide students with the opportunities to integrate the theory and skills learned in the classroom within the clinical setting. Upon completion of the fieldwork experiences, the student is expected to perform at or above the minimum skill level of the entry-level occupational therapy professional. Each student must successfully complete a minimum of 940 hours of Level II Fieldwork experience.
Fieldwork education including exposure to a wide range of diagnoses and treatment in a variety of settings that will be supervised by a registered occupational therapist. The fieldwork site specific objectives will be designed for the development of specialized clinical skills. The purpose of the fieldwork experience is to provide students with the opportunities to integrate the theory and skills learned in the classroom within the clinical setting. Upon completion of the fieldwork experiences, the student is expected to perform at or above the minimum skill level of the entry-level occupational therapy professional. Each student must successfully complete a minimum of 940 hours of Level II Fieldwork experience.
Therapeutic considerations in all aspects of multicultural diversity and implications for health care service delivery.
Introduction to the basic principles of organization and management of occupational therapy programs.
Overview of community-based, population-focused and global approaches to service delivery and program development related to the profession.
This graduate seminar is part of the servant leadership, specialty roles and occupational justice curriculum thread. Specific focus on continued professional development as a practice scholar, leader, and future fieldwork educator are emphasized. The course is intended to support students’ success as a level II FW student, a future fieldwork educator, future servant leader, an entry-level credentialed practitioner, and to reinforce professional identity development and lifelong learning in these roles. This graduate seminar uses asynchronous class activities and discussion to integrate the relationship between essential curriculum concepts, fieldwork education, leadership theory and professional practice expectations. Guided reflections and assignments are designed to address professional issues and the professional development of the occupational therapist.
Students pursuing an occupational therapy doctoral degree (OTD) are required to complete a 14-week doctoral capstone experience (DCE) and dissemination of an individual capstone project. This 1-credit seminar course is used introduce the occupational therapy doctoral student to the components and responsibilities associated with the Doctoral Capstone, including the doctoral capstone experience and the capstone project. The capstone coordinator will provide guided support as students explore opportunities for their capstone experience and project and apply person-centered principles to the origination of their doctoral capstone. Key concepts and learning objectives: - Understand intricacies between the doctoral capstone experience and project - Compare key differences between the doctoral capstone experience and academic fieldwork - Exposure to ACOTE focus areas - Establish personal mission statement as a doctoral student and align to OTD curriculum design - Create an empathy map to gain deeper insight into capstone site population of focus - Develop a student infographic reflecting focus area, capstone site, and population of interest - Identify key team members and increase knowledge of roles within the doctoral capstone team throughout the experience and project.
This is the first course in the elective 3-course research project sequence. Working with a faculty research mentor, the student designs a research proposal using quantitative and/or qualitative research methods, and submits the proposal to the University's Institutional Review Board. Students should expect to add 3-5 hours of instruction/research time each week throughout the semester. Instructor permission is required to enroll.
This is the second course in the elective 3-course research project sequence. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, the student collects data for the research project approved by the university Institutional Review Board. Students should expect to add 3-5 hours of instruction/research time each week throughout the semester. Instructor permission is required to enroll.
Third and final course in the elective research project sequence. Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, the student analyzes the data and completes a dissemination project. Students should expect to add 3-5 hours of instruction/research time each week throughout the semester. Instructor permission is required to enroll.
This is the first of two courses that builds upon foundational research skills and knowledge on evidence-based practice to use data in support of research/practice in a specific area of clinical interest. This course helps students evaluate the effect(s) of occupational therapy intervention on client outcomes. In this initial course, students develop the necessary skill sets to define researchable practice-based questions, identify current and relevant research literature, and find occupation-centered measures to support their Doctoral Capstone Experiences (DCE) project. Students also enhance their proficiency at conducting self-directed database searches and determining the quality of published research to guide clinical practice decisions. Several products from this course support the development of the OTD capstone project.
This is the second of two courses that builds upon foundational research skills and knowledge related to evidence-based practice to support an OTD Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE). In AEP II, students draw upon concepts/products from AEP I in order to measure outcomes and collect data at their DCE site. Through a series of labs, AEP II encourages students to identify appropriate outcome measures, organize data collected at their DCE, use quantitative and qualitative methods to manipulate and analyze that data, and create a final program evaluation product for dissemination.
Critically examines and discusses models and processes to systematically plan and evaluate occupational therapy intervention programs. Students develop skills in needs assessment, program planning, and evaluation by reading and discussing literature in the field, working individually and in small groups on in-class activities and outside assignments. Students apply program development principles and methods to explore, envision, and propose creative models of OT services in existing or emerging practice settings including marketing, and budgeting strategies necessary to implement programs that promote participation and performance of the populations served. Students generate a comprehensive plan for measuring program outcomes that support evidence-based practice related decisions and improvements. Grant writing is introduced, as well as the process of locating and securing grants. Students learn how grants can serve as a fiscal resource for research and practice.
OTD candidates register for a Practice Scholar Capstone for 3 consecutive semesters. In this first course, participants begin integrating knowledge and skills developed in this program and work closely with their faculty advisor to plan and develop a practice scholar project that can be implemented within a selected practice setting, in a chosen specialty area, or within the community. This initial course guides OTD candidates through the process of doctoral studies, designing their Capstone Project and defining final dissemination products.
This 2-credit course 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. Students may participate in learning experiences that include a focus on theory development, research, policy, advanced clinical practice, advocacy, program development, teaching, administration, and/or leadership projects. Each OTD student must successfully complete a minimum of 16 weeks (640) hours of Practice Scholar Residency.
Students pursuing an occupational therapy doctoral degree (OTD) are required to complete a 14-week Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE). The goal of this capstone experience is to develop occupational therapists with in-depth skills (those beyond a generalist level), and it is integral to acquiring deeper practice-scholar competencies as reflected in the program’s curriculum design. This 6-credit course provides an in-depth, customized experience specific to the doctoral pursuit of the occupational therapy student, and the opportunity to extend and refine knowledge and skills acquired in the curriculum. Students will participate in learning experiences that include a focus on delivery of the doctoral capstone project or program. Each OTD student must successfully complete a minimum of 14 weeks (560 hours) of the DCE as per the objectives of this course.
A continuation of DCE I & II, This 2-credit course 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. Students may participate in learning experiences that include a focus on theory development, research, policy, advanced clinical practice, advocacy, program development, teaching, administration, and/or leadership projects. Each OTD student must successfully complete a minimum of 16 weeks (640) hours of Practice Scholar Residency. Online.
This course supports the preparation and delivery of a practice scholar capstone project as the culminating product of the student’s doctoral studies. The capstone project reflects the student’s synthesis of knowledge, reflective practice and application of occupational therapy concepts and analytic and leadership skills developed throughout the OTD program. This second course in the series assists the student to focus on the development, implementation, and evaluation of a scholarly project related to a self-selected area of practice, specific practice site setting, particular specialty area, or specific community-based setting. All projects will be evidenced-driven and consist of project development, implementation, and evaluation.
This course explores the fundamentals of instructional design, including principles of learning theory, and instructional strategies relevant to instructional design. It also includes examination of instructional models, technology, organizational paradigms, interaction schemes, processes and assessments. The instructional design theories that are introduced are equally applicable to education, clinical training, and learning in general.
Blending the theories presented in ILTT I, along with empirical research data, students design instructional materials that address their target population's learning strengths, and help their learners master the material. Students will learn the purpose and approach to completing each phase of the instructional design process and will produce a set of outputs from each of these phases in accordance with requirements specified in a final course project.
This course supports the delivery of a final practice scholar capstone project as the culminating product of the OTD candidate’s doctoral studies. This third course in the series assists the doctoral candidate to finalize products for dissemination of their capstone project.
Students explore and apply advanced theories of leadership, administration, and advocacy in healthcare in relation to current and future practice settings and develop advanced skills in healthcare policy and engaged citizenry. Students apply ethical practices to leading change, improving quality, and resolving conflicts related to their future practice. Local, national, and global health issues will be examined through an occupational justice framework in the context of social, cultural, genetic, economic, gender, and Health-system influences on health and health policy. Through self-exploration and a leadership development plan, the student integrates learning into the leadership journey of advocating for justice, transformation and change.

Meet the DU OT Advisory Board

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L

Amy Baez, MOT, OTR/L

Founder of Playapy

Chris Chovan, MOT, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS, ECHM

Chris Chovan, MOT, OTR/L, ATP, CAPS, ECHM

Occupational Therapist and Home Accessibility Specialist at UPMC

Courtney Walker, BASW

Courtney Walker, BASW

Director of Education and CPS Programs at CLASS

Emily Drnach, OTD, OTR/L

Emily Drnach, OTD, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist at Genesis Rehab Services

Erica Glaneman, BS

Erica Glaneman, BS

Current OTD Student at Duquesne University

Ingrid Kanics, MOT, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPSI

Ingrid Kanics, MOT, OTR/L, FAOTA, CPSI

President of Kanics Inclusive Design Services

Rebecca Lord, OTD, OTR/L

Rebecca Lord, OTD, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist at Blind and Vision Rehabilitation Services

Sara Lindsay, MOT, OTR/L

Sara Lindsay, MOT, OTR/L

Chief Program Officer at Catholic Charities West Virginia (CCWVa)

Sierra Dollard, OTD, OTR/L

Sierra Dollard, OTD, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist at Amedisys Home Health Care

Tammy Divens, OTD, OTR/L

Tammy Divens, OTD, OTR/L

Associate Teaching Professor and OTA Program Director at PA State University - Shenango

Taylor Martin, OTD, OTR/L

Taylor Martin, OTD, OTR/L

Pediatric Fellow at Creighton University

Traci Herc, MOT, OTR/L

Traci Herc, MOT, OTR/L

OT at UPMC Home Healthcare and Study Interventionist at the University of Pittsburgh

Esme Wang, OTD, OTR/L

Esme Wang, OTD, OTR/L

OT at East End Behavioral Health Hospital and Case Manager at East End Cooperative Ministry

Accreditation

Duquesne University's OT programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE's telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301.652.AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org. ACOTE accredited our programs for the maximum initial accreditation periods on August 5, 2016. Information regarding the accreditation of Duquesne University's OT programs can be obtained by contacting the American Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) provides program data results for Duquesne University. Our own summary of program outcomes reflect the strong success of our graduates.

Graduates of our program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for occupational therapists administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Complaints to ACOTE require this complaint form. Information about the complaint program.

View the Occupational Therapy Program Cost of Attendance

Contact us!

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

Kelly Kovalsky

Administrative Assistant II

Teresa McGuire

Administrative Assistant I