Francine M. Seruya, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA Program Director
Occupational therapy is a health, education and rehabilitation profession that helps people, groups, and populations maximize potential and build skills that are important for improving health, well-being and participation in every day life. Occupational therapists work with people of all ages who may need specialized assistance in learning skills to enable them to lead independent, productive, and satisfying lives.
Occupational therapy services includes: (1) administering and/or interpreting standardized and non-standardized assessments for the purpose of identifying areas of function and/or dysfunction; (2) evaluation and treatment of motor, cognitive, sensory, psychosocial impairments contributing to difficulty in daily living; (3) customized treatment programs aimed at improving abilities to carry out daily life activities within the home, community, school, or work; (4) comprehensive evaluation of home and job environments and recommendations on necessary adaptations and environmental modifications to prevent injury or enhance independent functioning; (5) design, training and recommendations in the use of specialized tools, adaptive equipment, assistive technology and orthotics; (6) teaching methods that prevent injury or promote and maintain healthy habits and routines; and (7) the provision of consultative, educational or research services.
Occupational therapists work with people experiencing daily living problems that may result from the effects of normal aging, disability or illnesses such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, cancer, autism, cerebral palsy or developmental problems, congenital conditions, and mental illness. Occupational therapists work in a wide range of practice settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, home health agencies, outpatient rehabilitation programs, psychiatric facilities, private and public schools, community centers and private practices. There are expanding opportunities for occupational therapists in the areas of health promotion and prevention within private practices, industry, social and public or community agencies.
The Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy is a full-time 60-credit weekend program designed to prepare graduates to apply for licensure in Occupational Therapy and to practice at an entry-level. Weekend classes are completed in 5 trimesters and are followed by twenty-four weeks of full-time clinical fieldwork. Students must also plan for attendance at Level I Fieldwork and other required curricular events scheduled during the week during the didactic trimesters.
The Occupational Therapy Program is organized around lifespan stages and incorporates three strands of knowledge within courses in the curriculum. The strands are 1) the importance of engagement in occupation in promoting health and participation; 2) client-centered occupational therapy evaluation and intervention approaches focused on the interaction of the person, environment and occupation; and 3) exploration and application of available evidence-based knowledge and information to support critical thinking and clinical decision making. All three strands contain themes that are reflective of the program’s philosophy and mission. The program provides students with entry-level proficiency in occupational therapy practice with people of all ages, cultures and disabilities. The program places a strong emphasis on encouraging clinical reasoning and critical thinking and is designed to reinforce the self-directed learning style inherent in the professional role. The Occupational Therapy Program is committed to preparing practitioners who can competently fulfill responsibilities of the professional role within a changing health care world.
Occupational Therapy Program Goals
Upon completion of the program, graduates are expected to:
- Master entry-level proficiencies in occupational therapy knowledge and practice skills with individuals of all ages.
- Display professional behaviors, cultural competence, ethical values and a commitment to maintaining currency with professional knowledge and practice.
- Use a dynamic process of inquiry to guide evidence based clinical decisions to competently fulfill the responsibilities of the occupational therapist’s role within a complex and changing health care environment.
- Demonstrate a commitment to advocate with professional colleagues for diverse populations of clients’ access to health, educational, and rehabilitative services to foster life and community participation.
College Admission Procedures
- Prospective students are required to meet with an admissions counselor for evaluation of transfer credits prior to submitting an application to the Occupational Therapy Program.
- All candidates for the Occupational Therapy Program must first be admitted into Mercy College. General information regarding eligibility for the Master of Science Degree Program is available online from the Admissions Office, or the Occupational Therapy Program Office at the Dobbs Ferry Campus. Prospective students must complete the Graduate Application for admissions to Mercy College available online, and must indicate Occupational Therapy as their area of interest.
Program Specific Admission Procedures
The Occupational Therapy Graduate Program begins in the fall of each academic year. Applications are accepted for consideration from April 1st through June 1st for entrance to the Occupational Therapy Program during the fall trimester one year later.
Students needing to complete the Mercy Specific Occupational Therapy Prerequisite courses are admitted provisionally and have the upcoming academic year to complete all outstanding Mercy specific Occupational Therapy prerequisite courses in order to begin the Graduate Occupational Therapy Program the following Fall Term. Please see Program Specific Admissions Requirement section for specific information regarding general and Mercy specific prerequisite courses.
Students that have completed the Mercy Specific Occupational Therapy Prerequisite courses will wait an academic year and begin the Graduate Program in the following Fall academic year. Students may be allowed to audit Mercy Specific Occupational Therapy Prerequisite courses as per the College policy in order to maintain currency with materials while they await entrance into the Graduate program.
To apply to the occupational therapy program, students must follow the following procedures:
- Application materials must be completed via the online submission system between April 1st and June 1st. Applications from qualified applicants may continue to be processed after the application deadline if there are available spaces in the program.
- As part of the Occupational Therapy application materials, students must submit the following:
- A completed graduate program application.
- Two references on the Mercy College Occupational Therapy Recommendation Form; (one from a work supervisor and one from faculty of a prerequisite course). The recommendations must be less than six months old. Recommendations are completed via the electronic submission system. No paper copies or personally emailed letters will be accepted.
- A one page written essay with 3 citations.
- A resume of professional, educational, and volunteer experiences, if appropriate.
- Official transcripts from all colleges attended.
- A bachelor’s degree transcript from an accredited college or university or a minimum of 90 undergraduate credits (including general education requirements).
- Students with a minimum of 90 undergraduate credits can apply to the program for provisional acceptance up to one year in advance of entry into the program. The bachelor’s degree must be completed before beginning the master’s program. The prerequisite GPA, as well as the overall GPA or GPA from the last degree, will be considered in the admission process.
- A written plan for completion of remaining prerequisite courses, using the Prerequisite Checklist to indicate courses taken, courses to be completed along with dates of expected completion.
- Selected applicants will be invited to interview with representatives of the Graduate Program Admissions Committee at which time an onsite writing sample will be required.
- Each applicant’s records will be presented to the Admission Committee of the program. The final admission decision is based on a combination of GPA, references, interview, and written work. Candidates will be notified as to their acceptance in August into the next Graduate Occupational Therapy class for the following year or Provisional Acceptance for the upcoming academic year to allow the student to complete the Mercy specific Occupational Therapy prerequisite courses. Entrance into Graduate program requires the successful completion of the Mercy Specific Prerequisite courses during the provisionally accepted year. If a student is unable to complete the Mercy Specific Prerequisite courses during the provisionally accepted academic year with required grades, the applicant will lose their provisional acceptance and will need to reapply into the program in the following admission cycle.
- Students accepted into the program will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $250 at the time of acceptance. This fee will be applied to the fall tuition payment of the first fall trimester of the graduate program.
- Acceptance may be deferred up to one admission cycle under extenuating circumstances. The student must submit a written request for deferral and supporting documentation to the Program. The PD and Admission Committee will review the request and notify the student of the decision.
Program Specific Admission Requirements
- Requirements for admission include completion of 20 credits of the general prerequisite courses (see general prerequisite section below) by the end of the spring term of application and a prerequisite GPA of 3.0. Students taking general prerequisite course work in a summer term must have the course work completed with a grade prior to applying to the program. Coursework in progress will not be considered as acceptable for the admission process.
- Preference is given to students who have a higher prerequisite GPA and have completed additional Mercy-specific prerequisite coursework, particularly HLSC Science courses (HLSC 303, HLSC 314, HLSC 410).
- All students must present a realistic plan to complete Mercy-specific prerequisite courses prior to enrollment into the program (admission prerequisite completion checklist form must accompany application). Students are required to complete all Mercy-specific prerequisite courses prior to starting the Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy (see below).
- Acceptance is provisional upon successful completion of all general prerequisite with an average minimum GPA of 3.0, a grade of B or better in A & P I and II (BIO 130/130A and 131/131A) and a grade of C or higher in all other general prerequisites. Mercy Specific prerequisites courses require a grade of B- or higher in HLSC 344 Group Process and a grade of C or higher in all other prerequisites for acceptance.
- A maximum of 35 students will be accepted into each class.
- Anatomy & Physiology I and II with a Lab including vertebrae dissection (BIOL 130/130A and 131/131A)** Credit(s): 8
- Social and Behavioral Sciences (Intro to Sociology, Anthropology or Cultural Diversity) Credit(s): 3
- Abnormal Psychology (PSYN 212) Credit(s): 3
- Developmental Psychology (PSYN 233) Credit(s): 3 **This course must cover the entire lifespan to satisfy this requirement
- Statistics for the Social and Behavioral Sciences (BHSC 370) or a Statistics course at the 200 level or higher Credit(s): 3
** General Biology I or II (4 credits with a lab) including with a grade of B or higher from a four-year institution, can substitute for A&P II for students with a bachelor’s degree.
Mercy-Specific Prerequisites (26 Credits)
- Group Process for Health Professionals (HLSC 344) Credit(s): 3
- Overview of Occupational Therapy Practice (HLSC 210) Credit(s): 1
- Human Anatomy with Cadaver Lab (HLSC 303 / 303A) Credit(s): 4
- Pathology for Rehabilitation (HLSC 302) Credit(s): 3
- Clinical Kinesiology and Applied Physics (HLSC 314) Credit(s): 4
- Applied Neuroscience for the Rehabilitation Professional (HLSC 410) Credit(s): 4
- Standard Safety Precautions for the Health Care Professional (HLSC 205) Credit(s): 1
- Introduction to Accessing and Reading Scholarly Literature (HLSC 225) Credit(s): 1
- Scientific Writing (HLSC 402) Credit(s): 2
- Foundations in Occupational Therapy (HLSC 420) Credit(s): 3
The Mercy-specific prerequisite courses are offered at Mercy College various terms during a variety of days, evenings, weekends, and online. Please note that students must qualify to take ENGL 111 to be admitted into a prerequisite science course.
The grades of any repeated program-specific prerequisite courses will be averaged together into the GPA. Students currently repeating a Mercy-specific prerequisite course will have the standing grade for that course included in their admission GPA until the new grade is averaged with the existing grade. Grades lower than B in BIOL 130/130A and 131/131A, B- in HLSC 344, and C in all other prerequisite courses are not accepted.
(Courses listed above are at the undergraduate level. Please refer to the undergraduate catalog for course descriptions).
Course Substitutions/Transfer Credits
General prerequisite courses may be taken at Mercy College or at other colleges. Students are responsible for ensuring courses taken at other institutions are considered equivalent for use as part of the admissions process. Course equivalency is determined by College admissions in conjunction with the OT Admissions Committee. Students will be required to provide syllabus, assignments, and transcripts with final grade to determine equivalency.
Mercy-specific prerequisites should be taken at Mercy College within the last five years. Students may request a waiver of Mercy Specific Prerequisite courses via written request to firstname.lastname@example.org. Students will be provided a Waiver Request Form detailing the process for course waiver. Included in process are provision of syllabi, assignments, and transcript including final grade in course being used for waiver. Students will also be required to pass a competency exam and/or practical exam to ensure mastery of the course content.
Up to six credits of graduate occupational therapy coursework taken at another institution may be credited towards the occupational therapy degree, if equivalent in content, to Mercy College occupational therapy courses. Permission to transfer credits must be requested at the time of admission and official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the program director for evaluation of equivalency. Students may be required to provide a copy of the course outline and required assignments for review by the Occupational Therapy Program Admissions Committee. Students may also be required to pass a competency exam and/or lab practical to ensure mastery of content for transfer credit to be granted.
Students Without a Bachelor’s Degree
All of the required Occupational Therapy Program prerequisite courses can be used to fulfill the requirements for the Bachelor of Health Science Degree. In addition,90 undergraduate credits must be completed (including general education). For further information, please refer to the Undergraduate Catalog Pre-Occupational Therapy track.
To be eligible for a bachelor’s degree in Health Science, students must complete a minimum of 30 undergraduate credits at Mercy College and 18 credits in the major concentration of Health Sciences.
The professional program in Occupational Therapy is a full-time weekend program that takes approximately 7 trimesters. The student is required to take nine to eleven hours per trimester in the designated sequence.
The program is divided into five consecutive (inclusive of summer trimester between the 1st and 2nd year) trimesters of academic work followed by 2 trimesters of Fieldwork. Classes are typically held every other weekend from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday evenings and 9 a.m. to 5:00 or 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The summer weekend courses are scheduled between May and July and do not follow the alternating weekend schedule. The final two trimesters are allocated to full-time Fieldwork II which follows typical clinical hours established by the Fieldwork site. During the first FW II, students will also complete their final Capstone course.Since the program involves a full-time graduate course load, it is recommended that students work no more than 20-25 hours per week.
The curriculum is organized around the life-span stages of childhood, adolescence, adulthood and geriatrics. Concepts related to health, learning, the impact of illness and occupational therapy practice are integrated within each life-span stage. The program provides an intense learning experience and is specially designed for the motivated adult learner.
The program incorporates a variety of learning methods including a mixture of lecture, discussion, small group problem solving, hands-on experiences, clinical simulations, and problem-based learning (PBL). In PBL, students meet in small groups with a faculty facilitator to discuss clinical cases. The case context drives learning, requires students’ active participation and involvement in the learning process, and reflects the actual process occupational therapists engage in within practice. The cases require students to call upon previously learned knowledge from prerequisite courses, engage in independent and self-directed learning, and use a variety of learning resources. PBL allows students to learn the content specified for the course by applying clinical reasoning and inquiry skills.
Each life-span module is linked to a Level I Fieldwork course designed to connect theory to practice. Students are assigned to various clinical and community settings for a minimum of seven full-time weekdays for the completion of a minimum of 42 total hours each fall and spring trimester. Level I Fieldwork in Pediatrics is completed in settings such as children’s specialized hospital and rehabilitation centers, private practices, school-based practices, special education schools, pediatric units in general hospitals, and outpatient clinics. Level I Fieldwork in Adolescence and Young Adulthood is completed in settings such as residential care facilities for children and youth with emotional disabilities or after-school programs for impoverished and “at-risk” youth that are located primarily in the counties surrounding the college. Level I Fieldwork in Adults is typically completed with a physically disabled population in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, private practices, or outpatient clinics. The final Level I Fieldwork course in Geriatrics is completed in typically community settings such as social-based adult day programs for individuals with dementia.
A total of 24 weeks of Level II Fieldwork experiences is required for students to graduate and be eligible for national certification and state licensure. This fieldwork is usually completed at the end of the curriculum sequence as two full-time 12-week placements. Modifications, such as part-time (i.e., three-day-a-week schedule) or placement in three practice sites (e.g., 12 weeks in physical disabilities, eight weeks in pediatrics, and eight weeks in mental health) may be possible depending on a student’s GPA, work schedule and availability of fieldwork sites with contracts with Mercy College. Part-time fieldwork experiences may limit the populations and settings in which the fieldwork can be completed, and will lengthen the time needed to complete the program, but for some students offers the opportunity to balance educational requirements with work or family responsibilities. Specialty or third affiliations are offered in focused areas such as hand rehabilitation or pediatric early intervention after the student completes the basic fieldwork experiences. All fieldwork placements must be successfully completed within 24 months of the didactic course work unless the program Faculty Review Committee grants an extension for extenuating circumstances. Participating in a Level II fieldwork involves a commitment commensurate to a full-time job.
Requirements for the Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy include:
* Including completion of Comprehensive Capstone Project