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Grand Valley State University    
  Feb 20, 2018
2011-2012 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Occupational Therapy - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions  section of this catalog.

Chair: Grapczynski; Weekend Hybrid Program Coordinator: Beasley; Associate Professor: Beasley, Grapczynski, Pearl-Kraus; Assistant Professors; Sisco; Visiting Faculty: Cleghorn, Truskowski; Clinical Associate Professor: Meier.

Degree offered: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.

Web site:

Accreditation Status

The Occupational Therapy (OT) Traditional Program and the OT Hybrid Weekend Program are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTA’s phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. Graduates of the program will be able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist, administered by the certifying body, National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), 800 S. Frederick Ave., Ste. 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states require licensure in order to practice. However, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

Professional Conduct

Because the College of Health Professions prepares students to practice in a variety of health professions, we assume the responsibility to assure the public that our students have met high standards of professional behavior and academic achievement and have demonstrated consistent evidence of response to consumer needs. Criminal background checks may be required prior to participation in certain clinical experiences.

The program requires that students attain a minimum of 84 percent competency in each course which is reflected in each course syllabus across the professional curriculum.

Occupational Therapy

Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families are among the occupations of life. Unfortunately, physical, emotional, or other challenges often prevent people from fully participating in the job of living. Diseases, injuries, or developmental problems can make it difficult for people to do everyday tasks or be active and independent.

Occupational therapy uses meaningful and purposeful activity as a therapeutic intervention to help an individual with injuries or disabilities to reach his/her highest level of independent functioning. These meaningful and purposeful activities are referred to as occupations. Occupations include work skills, play/leisure activities, rest, and self-care activities such as preparing a meal or taking a shower.

Occupational therapists provide clients with services ranging from prevention/wellness to full rehabilitation, directed toward achieving maximum functional independence in daily life occupations. Occupational therapy may include the use of devices such as, but not limited to, adapted silverware, computer access enhancers, environmental modifications, and writing aids to assist individuals to achieve a desired level of independence in any given occupation.

Occupational therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals. They also educate the public and advocate for the clients. Occupational therapy makes it possible for people to achieve full participation in life. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference, improving the lives of people, from newborns to the oldest adults.

Career Opportunities

Occupational therapy provides excellent employment potential. The field continues to show growth in many areas of clinical and community practice, including private practice. Numerous job opportunities are available in a variety of areas, including acute care facilities; physical rehabilitation; mental health rehabilitation; developmental disabilities centers; nonprofit organizations; school systems, business; industry and organizational settings; home health care; geriatric settings; nursing homes; health and wellness promotion; research centers and universities.

Occupational Therapy at Grand Valley

The Occupational Therapy Traditional Program is a two-year curriculum leading to an entry-level Master of Science degree. The Weekend occupational therapy program is a three-year curriculum that also leads to an entry-level Master of Science degree. Both programs contain the same content, but the traditional program is intended for full-time students, which the weekend program is intended for students who must attend part time. The mission of the GVSU Occupational Therapy Department is to educate and empower students to have a positive impact on the health of individuals and groups in our society through innovation and leadership in occupation-based practice. The occupational therapy curriculum is built around the concept of occupation as the core knowledge base which is predicated upon the assumption that occupational therapists must operate from a common base of knowledge, skills, values, and philosophy. The curriculum is designed to produce professional practitioners and socially conscious citizens who appreciate the unique perspective of individuals and the cultures that influence them, value a democratic perspective of health care and social services delivery, and apply problem-solving, critical thinking, and lifelong learning toward meeting the needs of society.

Incoming freshmen interested in occupational therapy should begin by selecting an undergraduate major in their first year. Suggested majors include health professions, biology, biopsychology, psychology, or sociology. Although these degrees provide a well-rounded background, any undergraduate major may be selected as long as the required occupational therapy preprofessional courses can be completed along with the undergraduate degree before beginning the professional program. Once a selection has been made, students should work with the academic advisor from that department and with an occupational therapy program advisor to ensure that all major requirements are completed, along with the required preprofessional courses. All of these required preprofessional courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students may apply for admittance to the occupational therapy programs during the year in which they attain senior status. All students accepted into the occupational therapy programs must have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning.

Admission to the Occupational Therapy Programs is competitive. Maximum class size is 30. The candidates are ranked on a total score basis and our top 30 candidates (minus early admits from CMU and Hope; and deferrals) are sent a letter offering them seats in the Program. Each alternate candidate is offered admission one for one in rank order if any of the original 30 candidates decline admission.

Admission decisions will be made in the first and second semesters of the calendar year. Late applications will be considered, assuming all preprofessional requirements are met and there is space available in the program. Once enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Program, students will take professional courses in human development, clinical reasoning, occupational therapy theory and practice, advanced professional issues, and research.

All courses taken with the Occupational Therapy program must be taken for an earned letter grade, excluding fieldwork courses, unless otherwise specified by the occupational therapy program. Degree requirements include a final research project and/or thesis, four Level I Fieldwork and assignments (60-80 hours each), and two full-time Level II Fieldwork assignments (480 hours each). The Level II Fieldwork assignments may be local or they may be in other areas of the country. It is important to note that Level II fieldwork assignments must be completed within 24 months of completion of the didactic curriculum. Part time Level II fieldwork assignments are available if circumstances warrant.

Application Procedures

High school seniors interested in the Occupational Therapy Program must first complete an undergraduate application to Grand Valley State University  or any accredited four year or higher education institution. They will begin their preprofessional studies and typically declare an undergraduate major in their freshman year.

Transfer students from community or four-year colleges must also complete an undergraduate application to Grand Valley State University in preparation for completing a baccalaureate degree, which is required for admission to the occupational therapy program. Transfer students should review with their local academic advisor and an occupational therapy program advisor, the courses that will satisfy Grand Valley State University requirements. Upon acceptance to the University, the student should consult immediately with an academic advisor in their major and an advisory from the occupational therapy program, to ensure they are on the right track.

Students from other institutions who wish only to complete a required preprofessional course at Grand Valley State University may apply for non-degree-seeking status. Those students still needing to complete preprofessional courses must submit an undergraduate application; those students who have completed the preprofessional courses must submit a graduate application. Students are encouraged to meet with an advisor from the occupational therapy program regarding preprofessional course completion to ensure a smooth transition into the program.

Admission to the Occupational Therapy Program first requires completion of the Grand Valley State University graduate application. Applications may be obtained from the Admissions Office or online at Upon return of the completed graduate application the Admission Office will mail supplementary materials for the occupational therapy program application. These forms are also available online at the GVSU OT web site. For first consideration for admission into the traditional program, supplementary materials must be returned to the Admissions Office by January 15 of the calendar year the student wishes to begin the professional program. For those interested in the weekend program, supplementary materials must be returned to the Admission Office by May 15 of the year the student wishes to begin. Rolling admissions are in effect. Please call the occupational therapy department to discuss your application and timeline. Late applications will be considered if the prospective class is not full.

Professional Program Admission Criteria

Admission to both of  the Occupational Therapy Programs is competitive. Application materials are available by contacting the Admissions Office or from the OT website: Maximum class size is 30 in the traditional program and 24 in the weekend hybrid program. The candidates are ranked on a total score basis and our top 30 traditional program candidates (minus early admits from CMU, U of M, and Hope; and deferrals) are sent a letter offering them seats in the Program. Each alternate candidate is offered admission. The weekend hybrid program follows the same procedure for the top 24 candidates, however there are no early admits.

The criteria for acceptance includes:

  1. Academic achievement of a minimum 3.0 grade point average in preprofessional courses and a 3.0 grade point average in the last 60 credit hours of academic course work. All preprofessional courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better. Students accepted into the Occupational Therapy program must have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher education.
  2. Two recommendation letters. Using the forms provided in the application packet, including one from a registered occupational therapist, and one professor (for current full-time undergraduate students), or an employer (for non-traditional students) who can comment on your study and/or work habits.
  3. An interview and an on-site writing sample.
  4. Documented volunteer experience submitted on the form included in the application packet, for a minimum of 50 hours under the supervision of an occupational therapist. Volunteer hours must be verified by a registered and/or licensed occupational therapist.
  5. Completion of an OT program achievement summary, detailing accomplishments that reflect the core content and goals of the program. Additional education, leadership, scholarly, volunteer, or professional activities are valued and should be documented (form available with admission application). A minimum of 8 points total must be attained.
  6. The prerequisite plan form must be completed in full and submitted.
  7. International student applicants should be able to communicate well in English. Minimum scores of TOEFL 610 or computer-based TOEFL 253 are expected.
  8. All prerequisite coursework must be completed within 5 years of the OT Program start date. Waivers to this policy may be granted on an individual basis. Prerequisites include:

Degree Requirements

Completion of 79 to 80 credits in the professional curriculum is required for completion of the master’s degree in occupational therapy. General graduate academic policies can be found in the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. General university degree requirements are in the Academic Regulations section of the Catalog and the requirements for undergraduate majors are in the appropriate Academic Program section.

The following program is available:

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy