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Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

The application cycle for Fall 2016 is closed.

The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy is a post-baccalaureate entry-level practice degree intended for students who want to study to become practicing occupational therapists.

The entry level MSOT program is a full-time on-campus graduate program offered at the W.A. Lettinga campus. The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy at Davenport University provides practice-based education that prepares students to be exceptional practitioners. Classroom education is supported by extensive hands-on training provided through on-campus practical activities and off-campus immersion experiences in practice settings. Small class sizes and individualized instruction by experienced clinicians and educators assist students master skills needed for contemporary and emerging areas of practice.

Program Mission Statement

The mission of the Occupational Therapy Program at Davenport University is to provide practice-based education that is knowledge-driven and prepares students to be client-centered practitioners who embody the principles of human occupation in their practice. 

Length of Program

The MSOT program (78 credits) is delivered as a full-time on-campus program. Students enter the occupational therapy program in the Fall Semester and progress through the program as a cohort. The typical program is 28 months in length and is conducted over 7 consecutive semesters (including summers).


Fieldwork experiences are important components of Occupational Therapy education.  Davenport University Occupational Therapy students will participate in fieldwork experiences throughout the program.  Some fieldwork will occur in combination with on-campus classes at locations close to Grand Rapids.  Other fieldwork occurs as full-time immersion experiences where students leave campus for extended periods of time.  The full-time fieldwork immersion experiences may occur nationwide.  Students enrolled in the program cannot be guaranteed fieldwork placements in any specific location including the Grand Rapids area.  

Timely Completion of the Program

Alterations to the plan of study must be approved by the Occupational Therapy Department Chair.  Students must successfully complete all Level-II Fieldwork requirements within 18 months of completion of academic coursework.

Occupational Therapy Program Philosophy

The field of occupational therapy is concerned with the ability of individuals, families, and societal groups to participate in activities of daily life and engage in personally meaningful occupations. Occupations are all the activities that give our lives meaning and promote health, well-being, and sense of purpose. Due to human diversity, engagement in occupations at any point in the life span is unique. Occupations are as unique as the individuals themselves. Disruption of occupations can be caused by illness, injury, disease, or life events. In situations such as these, functional abilities and independence may be diminished or lost resulting in loss of well-being and sense of purpose.

The primary objective of occupational therapy is to support persons of all ages and with all levels of ability to fully participate in life. Occupational therapy evaluation and intervention focuses on factors impacting participation such as body structure and function; functional abilities; the nature of the activities to be performed; and the context of participation. Engagement in occupations is not just the goal of therapy, but is also a therapy tool. Participation in meaningful activity is therapeutic in itself.

Participation in education is considered part of the human occupational experience. Occupational therapy education programs have the mission of educating students to become practitioners of the future. Students are likely drawn to the field as an educational choice due to alignment of values and envisioning their future roles as occupational therapists.

The Occupational Therapy Department at Davenport University is an academic program focused on student learning and achievement. The program’s curriculum design, course construction, and instructional approach reflect the belief that learning is strongly influenced by intrinsic motivation and that the motivational needs of students can be addressed through a thoughtfully constructed education program. The occupational therapy program teaching approach is founded on a hierarchical structure that builds on prior knowledge and guides students forward and upward through introduction, reinforcement, and mastery of concepts. Implementation strategies include classroom instruction, experiential learning, self-directed study, and self-reflection. Our goal is to provide practice-based education that is knowledge-driven and prepares students to be team oriented and client-centered clinicians who incorporate principles of human occupation into their practice.

Student Learning Outcomes

Four concepts (curricular threads) are emphasized throughout the Davenport University Occupational Therapy program:

  • Professional identity
  • Professional and social responsibility
  • Effective and exemplary practice
  • Knowledge-driven clinical reasoning

The four curricular threads provide the foundation for evaluation of student performance and overall success of the program. At the conclusion of the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program graduates will:

  • Interpret the importance of purposeful activity and meaningful occupation to consumers, colleagues, administrators, and policy makers;
  • Integrate concepts of human occupation into evaluation, treatment, goals and documentation;
  • Demonstrate professional and social responsibility through socially and culturally competent communication and interaction;
  • Exemplify professionalism through ethical behavior, advocacy, and leadership supporting the diverse needs of individuals, communities, and society;
  • Appraise and recommend effective interactive, adaptive, and technological approaches intended to facilitate communication, enhance function, and promote participation;
  • Implement exemplary practice utilizing depth and breadth of knowledge, skills, and abilities in assessment and treatment;
  • Evaluate options to address challenging issues in practice and the profession through clinical reasoning, creative problem solving, and critical thinking; and
  • Advance best-practice in contemporary and emerging areas of practice by consistently seeking, critically reviewing, and utilizing information from the literature and credible sources.

Application Process:

  1. Apply to the University.  Apply to Graduate Admissions at Davenport University through The DU Graduate Admissions application is separate from and in addition to the OT application. Applications to the Occupational Therapy program will not be reviewed without concurrent application to Davenport University Graduate Admissions.
  2.  Apply to the OT Program Through OTCAS.  Apply to the Davenport University Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program through OTCAS (Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service).    The application process, instructions, required documents, supplemental information, and fees are described on the OTCAS web page:  Note:  Applications will only be accepted through OTCAS.   Entry into the program is competitive – not all applicants who apply will be accepted.
  3. Complete the DU OT Prerequisite Form.  The purpose of the Prerequisite Form is for the applicant to identify completed courses ready for evaluation (regarding DU OT course prerequisite requirements) and identify plans for fulfillment of course prerequisites that have not yet been completed.  Please complete the form and email directly to Davenport University Registrar Office at:  central.registrar@davenport.eduNote:  applications will not be moved forward for review by the Admissions Committee until this form has been received.  Click here for form:  
  4. Assistance.    For assistance with the application process contact the  Admissions Department at Davenport University (800-686-1600 – ask for an Admission Representative regarding Occupational Therapy applications)

 Application Deadlines:

  • Application Deadline for Fall 2016 Admission is February 19, 2016
    • Applications must be COMPLETE and VERIFIED through OTCAS by Application Deadline 
    • Note:  Verification by OTCAS may require 4 – 6 weeks.  Applicants are strongly encouraged to complete and submit their applications in a timely manner in order to meet the verification deadline.  
    • In addition, applicants must apply on-line to Davenport University Graduate Admissions by the application deadline (through  OTCAS applications will not be reviewed without concurrent application to Davenport University Graduate Admissions.
  • Applications verified after the deadline may be considered until the class is filled.

Admission Requirements

At the time of application, students must have:

  • Completed a baccalaureate degree or provide documentation that the baccalaureate degree will be completed prior to the start of occupational therapy classes,

  • A competitive cumulative grade point average - a gpa of 3.0 or better is strongly recommended,
  • A  minimum of 40 hours of documented volunteer or shadow experience with an Occupational Therapist,
  • A personal statement (essay),
  • Two completed letters of recommendation, and 

  • Completed all specific prerequisite courses (with a grade of 'C' or better) or provide documentation that the prerequisite classes will be successfully completed prior to the start of Occupational Therapy classes:
    • Second Level English Composition and Technical Writing
    • Introductory Psychology
    • Abnormal Psychology
    • Introductory Sociology
    • Development Across the Life Span
    • Oral Communication/Speaking Skills
    • Medical Terminology
    • Introductory Statistics
    • Anatomy and Physiology I  (with lab)
    • Anatomy and Physiology II (with lab)

Please note:  Prerequisites will not be officially evalutated until applications are reviewed by the Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee.  At that time, course descriptions, copy of syllabus and/or original transcripts may be requested.

Evaluation Criteria and Selection of Applicants

Entry into the Occupational Therapy program is a competitive process.  Not all students who apply to the program will be selected for admission.  Many factors are considered in the selection process including academic performance (cumulative grade point average, recent gpa, natural science gpa, and social science gpa); personal statement; extent of occupational therapy observation; and letters of recommendation.  Health related experiences, volunteer/community enrichment, and past employment are not required but will be considered as part of the admission review.  Strengths in these areas will strengthen the application.  

Students who are completing their baccalaureate degree and/or course prerequisites after the application has been submitted can only be considered for provisional admission.  Entry into the Davenport University Occupational Therapy Program is contingent upon successful completion of all requirements prior to the start of Occupational Therapy classes.  Applicants will be notified by U.S. postal mail of the Admissions Committee decision.  It is the responsibility of the applicant to respond to an acceptance offer by the designated date of such offer.  Decisions made by the Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee are final.  


The Occupational Therapy Curriculum is a full-time commitment.  Even though many students work while going to graduate school, extensive work commitments may jeopardize academic performance and success in the program. 

Technology Requirements

The Occupational Therapy program at Davenport University frequently uses computers to support in-class learning.  Therefore, students who are admitted to the program are required to have their own portable computing device cable of:

                sending and receiving email
                working with Microsoft processing programs (Word, Excel, and Power Point)
                working with Adobe Acrobat Reader
                navigating internet sites
                interfacing with Black Board (computer-based learning management service)

Information regarding hardware and software requirements can be found on the Davenport University website.

Hardware Requirements

Software Requirements

For more information regarding technology requirements contact:  Davenport University Student Support Center (877-899-1499; ext 1200).

International Students

Students with English as a second language must provide documentation of scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). A Total Score of 89 (or greater) and a Speaking Score of 26 (or greater) on the TOEFL are required.

Criminal Background Check and Drug Screening Policy

Davenport University
All students in the Davenport University College of Health Professions are required to submit to criminal back ground checks (including child abuse and neglect) and drug screenings. The results of the checks/testing, which remain confidential, will be used to determine a student’s eligibility for continued enrollment in the College of Health Professions and the Occupational Therapy program.  Students who refuse to consent to background checks and/or drug testing will be dismissed from the program. The first background check and drug screening occur early in the first semester of the Occupational Therapy program (background checks and drug screenings are not part of the application process).   Applicants who have concerns are encouraged to contact Christy Nelson, Davenport University Occupational Therapy Department Chair, for more  information (; 616-871-6156).  

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
Persons who have been charged with or convicted of a felony may be barred from being certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). NBCOT certification must be successfully completed in order to apply for a state license to practice and work as an occupational therapist. Prior to application to the Occupational Therapy program at Davenport University, applicants with concerns are encouraged to review their specific situation with NBCOT. Questions should be directed to: Credentialing Services at NBCOT, 12 S. Summit Avenue, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, Maryland, 20877. Phone: (301) 990-7979; email:

Faculty and Staff

Department Chair: Christy L.A. Nelson Ph.D, OTR/L, FAOTA

Academic Fieldwork Coordinator: Susan Dee Owens, MS, OTR/L

Core Faculty: 

Jennifer Bingman, OTD, OTR/L

Sharon R. Flinn, PhD, OTR/L, CHT

Theresa Leto, DHS, MOT, OTR/L

Adjunct Faculty:  Kelly McCarron, Ed.D,OTR/L (Associate Dean Online)  


Regional Accreditation

Davenport University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (30 N. LaSalle Street, Chicago, IL 60602-2504).

Occupational Therapy Accreditation

The entry-level Master of Science in Occupational Therapy degree at Davenport University 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 telephone number for ACOTE, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652 - 2682 and the web address is Graduates of the 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).  After successful completion of this examination, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR).  In addition, all 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.

The Occupational Therapy program at Davenport University adheres to all ACOTE requirements including timely notifications to ACOTE of changes within the MSOT program and/or Davenport University.  The members of the Occupational Therapy Department are responsible for demonstrating honesty, integrity, and ethical conduct in all dealings with ACOTE consistent with policies and procedures for honest and ethical behavior. 

For more information about accreditation contact:
The American Occupational Therapy Association, Inc.
4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200 Bethesda, Maryland 20814-3449 
Web address:
Phone 301-652-2682 
Fax:   301-652-1417