Occupations are the essence of productive living.  Occupational therapists focus on the occupations used by people to live full, independent, quality lives. Occupations or activities of daily living include work or education, self-care, play/leisure and the effect that rest has on these activities. The goal of this profession is to maximize a person’s ability to perform culturally appropriate daily occupations, which is an important value in today’s health care system. Occupational therapists help persons promote an individualized, self-determined balance of occupations throughout the life-span. Occupational competence is developed by treating the “whole person” including physical, psychological, emotional, social and cultural competencies, as influenced by the occupational environment.

Occupational therapy service delivery contexts are exceedingly diverse. They include but are not limited to acute care, industrial rehabilitation, physical rehabilitation, mental health, long term care, home health, case management, consultation, school systems, early intervention, community services, education, disease prevention and health promotion. Important related concepts such as quality of life, productive function, independent living, full access, social-political integration, multiculturalism, spirituality, and balanced lifestyles are central to practice. As a result, graduates of this program are able to anticipate new practice opportunities, advocate for social justice, participate in research, use critical thinking, cooperate effectively with a variety of groups, and serve as professional leaders and community partners.  These competencies are the essence of occupational therapy service delivery and underscore the principles that guide this program.

The overwhelming majority of students enter our programs as freshment, however, we do accept a few transfer and post-baccalaurete students each year.  The range of paths are listed below. For the post-baccalaureate program starting in January, the bachelor's degree must be completed by the first day of class.

  • A 4½ year pre-professional/professional entry-level program awarding a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences followed by a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.
  • A 5½ year pre-professional/professional/advanced professional entry-level program awarding a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences followed by an Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree.
  • A 2 year post-baccalaureate, professional entry-level program awarding a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.
  • A 3 year post-baccalaureate, professional/advanced professional entry-level program awarding an Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree.

Both the MSOT and the OTD were awarded maximum accreditation. Information regarding the accreditation of these programs can be obtained through the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. (301-652-2682), www.acoteonline.org.

Students in the OT program are encouraged to pursue minors and double majors using their elective coursework to enhance their professional objectives. While all campus minors are available, the minors in Business, Psychology, Assistive Technology and Special Education are specifically appropriate for occupational therapy students.

In addition to the classroom didactic experience, each student completes five experiential components of fieldwork education and a 14-week Doctoral Capstone Experience (DCE). Fieldwork Education and the DCE offer the opportunity to put academic learning into practice. This applied knowledge and critical thinking are paramount to being a successful occupational therapy practitioner. It is necessary to demonstrate proficiency in both the fieldwork and academic components of both entry-level occupational therapy practice and to be certified and licensed as a professional healthcare provider in occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapy Program Outcomes

This program of study within the Department of Occupational Therapy has been designed to provide students with skills necessary to work as an occupational therapist in a range of possible settings. Upon completion of this course of study, graduates of this program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT: www.nbcot.org). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). All require licensure in order to practice and successful completion of the NBCOT Certification Examination.  A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification Examination or attain state licensure.

The curriculum objectives are designed to produce powerful, competent, leading, entry-level practice scholars who innovatively and skillfully use occupation as the mediating influence and integrating energy between the person and environment to:


  • Address the needs of underserved populations with an appreciation of the influence of the social, cultural, political, economic, physical, organizational and systemic environments on opportunities for full participation in meaningful occupations.
  • Collaborate with persons, other professionals, and organizations to advocate for full participation for persons who may experience limitations in their ability to select and engage fully in meaningful occupational roles, tasks  and activities.
  • Educate, motivate and collaborate with persons to empower their participation in health promotion and disease prevention activities.
  • Establish culturally responsive therapeutic relationships with individuals with diverse persons, communities and populations.
  • Influence occupational therapy practice through service to the community and profession.


  • Demonstrate and use their broad knowledge of the role of occupation as therapy to facilitate health, well-being and quality of life.
  • Demonstrate entry-level professional skills in evaluation, intervention design, and implementation.
  • Identify signs and symptoms of patho-physiology and impairment, and analyze their impact on occupational performance throughout the life-span.
  • Practice as educated, moral, ethical citizens who promote their own state of health and the health of local and global communities.
  • Provide knowledge-based, innovative, quality services, which address occupational health needs and utilize current technologies


  • Conduct and utilize research relevant to the practice of occupational therapy.
  • Critically evaluate and utilize a variety of treatment frames of reference relevant to consumer goals, resources and intervention efficacy expectations.
  • Demonstrate a clear understanding of the research process and how evidence is developed, critiqued and applied in occupational therapy practice.
  • Demonstrate entry-level knowledge and skills to effectively participate as a collaborative member of a research team.
  • Incorporate clinical reasoning and continuous self-reflection in pursuit of life-long, goal-oriented professional development.
  • Actively participate in the reflective process.


  • Articulate the interaction between physical, psychological, spiritual, social, moral and ethical issues to guide health care choices, delivery systems, and professional behaviors.
  • Assume leadership roles at the local, state, national and international levels within their profession and in their own communities.
  • Cooperate and collaborate productively as a leading practice-scholar in healthcare, educational or community systems.
  • Demonstrate the capacity to assume leadership roles as practitioners, managers, consultants, educators, advocates and scholars.
  • Influence system access to ensure healthy interdependence, adaptation, and service access for consumers, while decreasing the impact of disability, disease and societal limitations.
  • Practice the highest professional ethics and a true commitment to professionalism and occupational therapy

Occupational Therapy Curriculum

Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences - 131 Credits

Pre-Professional Phase 

Bridges Common Learning Expierence - 27 CREredits
• Writing & Analysis (BRDG 101) 3 cr.
• Writing & Literature (BRDG 102) 3 cr.
• Essential Questions (EQ XXX) 3 cr.
• Intro to Ethical Reasoning (BRDG 105) 3 cr.
• Cultural Fluency & Responsiveness 3 cr.
• Critical Thinking & Problem Solving 3 cr.
• Ethical Reasoning and Moral Responsibility: Healthcare Ethics (PHIL 252, THEO 253, or HCE 255) 3 cr.
• Theology Requirement 3 cr.
• Philosophy Requirement 3 cr.

Science, Math & Humanities - 20 Credits
• Intro to Life Processes (BIOL 101/L) 4 cr.
• Etymology of Scientific Terms (CLSX 122) 3 cr.
• Healthcare & Literature or Scientific Writing (ENG 316W or 302W) 3 cr.
• Introduction to Biostatistics (MATH 225) 3 cr.
• Biostatistics II (MATH 335) 3 cr.
• Physics for Life Sciences I/Lab (PHYS 201/L 4 cr.

Medical Sciences - 8 Credits
• Anatomy & Physiology I/Lab (BIOL 207/208) 4 cr.
• Anatomy & Physiology II/Lab (BIOL 209/210) 4 cr.

RSHS Courses - 18 Credits
• Occupational Therapy Orientation (OCCT 150) 1 cr.
• Foundations & Concepts of Occupational Therapy (OCCT 305) 3 cr.
• Occupational Performance Throughout the Lifespan (OCCT 310) 3 cr.
• Anatomy/Lab (HLTS 315/315L) 5 cr.
• Fundamentals of Practice (OCCT 416) 3 cr.
• Professional Seminar 3 cr.

Open Elective - 3 Credits

Professional Phase

Spring of 3rd Year - 14 Credits
• Neuroscience (HLTS 503) 4 cr.
• Occupational Performance Evaluation (OCCT 535) 3 cr.
• Human Motion & Movement (OCCT 537) 4 cr.
• Evidence Based Practice (OCCT 541W) 3 cr.

Summer of 3rd Year - 9 Credits
• Humans, Groups & Occupations (OCCT 518) 3 cr.
• Occupational Performance Perspectives (OCCT 545) 3 cr.
• Medical Conditions in OT (OCCT 548) 3 cr.

Fall of 4th Year - 16/17 Credits
• Clinical Reasoning & Fieldwork I & II (OCCT 511/511W) 3 cr.
• Neurological & Sensorimotor Function (OCCT 519) 4 cr.
• Biomechanical Function (OCCT 530) 4 cr.
• Scholarship of Practice (OCCT 531) 3 cr.
• Sociocultural Systems & Networks (OCCT 560) 2 cr.
• *Research Project I (Prospectus) (OCCT 610W) 1 cr. (optional)

Spring of 4th Year - 16/17 Credits
• Clinical Reasoning II & Fieldwork III (OCCT 512/512W) 3 cr.
• Neurological & Sensorimotor Function II (OCCT 520) 4 cr.
• Psychosocial Function & Fieldwork II (OCCT 525) 4 cr.
• Qualitative Research (OCCT 532W) 2 cr.
• Environmental Adaptations & Rehabilitation Technology (OCCT 550) 3 cr.
• *Research Project II (Engagement) (OCCT 611W) 1 cr. (optional)
• *Optional/Approval Required

Summer of 4th Year - 16 Credits
• Intervention Seminar (OCCT 522) 3 cr.
• Fieldwork IV (OCCT 555) 6 cr.
• Occupational Therapy Administration (OCCT 561) 3 cr.
• Community & World Healthcare Issues (OCCT 565) 3 cr.
• Doctoral Capstone Seminar (OCCT 602) 1 cr.

Fall of 5th Year- 9/10 Credits
• Professional Seminar II (OCCT 575) 3 cr.
• Fieldwork V (OCCT 556) 6 cr.
• Research Project III- Dissemination (612W) 1 cr.

Advanced Practitioner Phase

Spring of 5th Year - 10 Credits
• Applying Evidence to Practice I (OCCT 620) 3 cr.
• Designing Effective Programs (OCCT 625) 3 cr.
• Practice Scholar Capstone Project I (OCCT 635) 2 cr.
• Doctoral Capstone Experience I (OCCT 640) 2 cr.

Summer of 5th Year - 9 Credits
• Applying Evidence to Practice II (OCCT 261) 1 cr.
• Doctoral Capstone Experience II (OCCT 642) 6 cr.
• Practice Scholar Capstone Project II (OCCT 645) 1 cr.
• Instructions Learning Theory/Technology (OCCT 650) 1 cr.

Fall of 5th Year - 9 CRredits
• Doctoral Capstone Experience III (OCCT 644) 3 cr. 
• Practice Scholar Project III (OCCT 655) 1 cr.
• Transformative Leadership (OCCT 660) 2 cr.
• Critical Analysis of Practice (OCCT 670) 3 cr.

Occupational Therapy Graduation Requirements

Entry-Level Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program

Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences

An undergraduate student in the entry-level master’s or doctoral degree programs who has completed all requirements with the minimum 3.0 cumulative Duquesne University GPA will receive a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree. A student who has already earned a bachelor’s degree will not be awarded a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences degree but will work directly toward the appropriate master’s or doctoral degree.

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

A student who has completed all requirements with a minimum 3.0 cumulative professional phase GPA and successfully completed all clinical education requirements will receive a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree. 

Occupational Therapy Doctorate

A student who has completed all requirements with a minimum 3.0 cumulative professional phase GPA, successfully completed all clinical education requirements and all doctoral coursework and a doctoral capstone project will receive an Occupational Therapy Doctorate degree.

Occupational Therapy Certification & Licensure

In order to practice, occupational therapists must first be certified on a national level, and then may apply for licensure on the state level. To be eligible for the certification examination and licensure, a candidate must be of good moral character and not abuse substances. An individual who has committed a felony or abused substances may not be eligible to sit for the national certification examination and/or licensure. Application for the NBCOT exam includes a background check. Upon graduation from the occupational therapy program, students will be eligible to sit for the certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The approximate cost is $550.00. The NBCOT accepts applications for the examination and maintains the roster of certified occupational therapists. Presently, the test is available at most Prometric Centers. More information is available on the NBCOT website.

Licensure requirements and costs vary state-to-state and graduates must contact their state agency to identify specific requirements for licensure in that state. The national certification exam is used nationwide as the primary factor for determining eligibility for professional state licensure. Some State licensing boards offer temporary licenses, once a candidate has been registered for the national exam.  Students are responsible for understanding the regulations per the state in which they are seeking licensure.  After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be initially certified as an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Occupational therapy practice is regulated in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Typically, state licensure is based on the results from the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a student’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. Failure to inform NBCOT of a felony conviction may result in NBCOT disciplinary action. A student may complete a character review to evaluate eligibility to take the NBCOT certification examination by requesting an Early Determination Review. The student is responsible for costs related to this review which are estimated to be $225.00.