Francine M. Seruya, Ph.D., OTR/L, FAOTA Program Director
Occupational therapy is a health, education and rehabilitation profession that helps people maximize potential and build skills that are important for independent functioning, health, well-being and participation in communities. Occupational therapy practitioners 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 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 or from the Admissions Office, or the Occupational Therapy Program Office at the Dobbs Ferry Campus. Perspective 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 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. To apply to the occupational therapy program, students must follow the following procedures:
- After applying to the College, students will receive an email containing the Occupational Therapy Application materials. Application materials must be completed and returned with an application fee and must be submitted between April 1st and 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 with the admitted cohort. Please see Program Specific Admissions Requirement section for specific information regarding general and Mercy specific prerequisite courses. 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. Each reference should be in a sealed envelope with the referee’s signature over the seal.
- 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 into the next Occupational Therapy class for the following year in August or Provisional Acceptance for the upcoming academic year to allow the student to complete the Mercy specific Occupational Therapy prerequisite courses.
- 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 at least 20 credits of general prerequisite courses (see general prerequisite section below) by the end of the spring term of application and a prerequisite GPA of 3.0.
- 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 College 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): 3
- 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) Credit(s): 3
- a Statistics course at the 200 level or higher
** 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).
Students may transfer general prerequisite courses from other colleges that are considered equivalent as evaluated by the occupational therapy admissions committee, and may be required to provide a copy of the course outline and required assignments for review. Mercy-specific prerequisites should be taken at Mercy College within the last five years. Students who take courses outside of the above guidelines may be required to complete a competency exam and/or provide additional documentation at the time of application.
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 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, ninety 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 program is divided into five trimesters of academic work followed by 2 trimesters of Fieldwork. Classes are held every other weekend from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Friday evenings and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. The student is required to take nine to eleven hours per trimester in the designated sequence. The student is also required to complete a research seminar, splinting course, and assistive technology course during the summer between the first and second years and a capstone project during the second year of the program. The summer weekend courses are scheduled between May and July and do not always 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. 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 especially 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 previous 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 weekdays 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 is completed in 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. Accommodations may be made for students outside of the tri-state area. Level I Fieldwork in Adults is completed with a physically disabled population in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, private practices, outpatient clinics. The final Level I Fieldwork course in Geriatrics is completed in community settings typically in 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
First Year - Fall Term
(Every other Friday 6–8:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)
First Year - Spring Term
(Every other Friday 6–8:30 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)
First Year - Summer Term
(May-August, 15 weekend days 8:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.)
Second Year - Fall Term
(Every other Friday 6–8:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m.; Sunday 9 a.m.–5 p.m.)
Second Year - Spring Term
(Every other Friday evening 6–8:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m.–5:00 p.m.)
Second Year - Summer Term
(Fieldwork Hours Arranged at Site)
Second Year - Fall Term
(Fieldwork Hours Arranged at Site)
Occupational Therapy Program Policies
Incomplete grades will be granted only under extenuating circumstances and for no more than 25 percent of total course assignments or examinations within a term. Students will contract, in writing, with the course instructor regarding the completion of coursework within a time specified by the program Faculty Review Committee. Students may not register for any further occupational therapy courses without permission from the program director. Failure to complete the work in accord with the contract-specified time will automatically result in failure for the course.
Clinical Education Grades
If a student fails any clinical education course, the decision to allow the course to be repeated will be determined by a Faculty Review Committee. If the student is allowed to repeat the clinical experience and fails again, he/she will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not allowed to repeat the clinical experience, matriculated status will be withdrawn. A student may only withdraw from a clinical education experience for extenuating circumstances approved by a Faculty Review Committee.
Students who are not meeting required standards or competencies of a Level II clinical education experience will be required to suspend work towards the completion of their master’s capstone project to enable them to focus their efforts on successful completion of the clinical experience. This will require the student to register for OCTR 890 - Capstone Continuation and possibly delay their graduation date.
Attendance and punctuality in all classes and clinical education assignments is required, unless the student is excused for extenuating and extraordinary life circumstances (documentation may be required). If absence is due to illness, a note signed by a M.D. may be required. Missing one weekend day per trimester is equivalent to missing three to four classes in a traditional program and may jeopardize a student’s standing in the program. Course instructors or clinical instructors must be notified in advance regarding absences. Failure to do this will result in a review of the situation by the faculty and program director. Possible results may include a written warning, additional assignments and/or lower grades on missed assignments. Absence from courses for an entire weekend, or from more than one course meeting over the trimester, may result in a non-passing grade for a course, delayed graduation, and/or dismissal from the program regardless of the circumstances. If a student misses a test or exam without previous approval of the instructor, the situation will be reviewed by the faculty and may result in a grade of F for that test or exam. Supplemental Policies may be found in the OT Program Student Handbook.
Fieldwork Level I Attendance Policy
Absences of more than one fieldwork day (even if rescheduled) are considered excessive and may result in a non-passing grade for the fieldwork course. Students are expected to attend fieldwork for the entire scheduled day unless they are ill or have an extenuating circumstance. Students who are ill should use their judgment when deciding if they should attend fieldwork. Students are required to complete a total of at least seven days of fieldwork each fall and spring term. Students must meet the minimum required hours (forty-two hours) to successfully complete each Fieldwork Level I experience. Students assigned to fieldwork sites that have less than a six-hour workday must complete a minimum of 42 hours. Students assigned to sites with six or more hour workdays must complete seven days.
A student will be classified as a matriculant in the professional program upon full-time enrollment at Mercy College and admission to the program by the Admissions Committee of the program. Students must maintain an overall 3.0 or better in the program.
The Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), ACOTE’s contact information is: ACOTE, c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), is 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. ACOTE’s website is www.acoteonline.org and e-mail is email@example.com. Graduates of the Occupational Therapy Program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination of the occupational therapist administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (O.T.R.). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results 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.
Upon acceptance into the program, an assigned faculty member will advise the student in the Master of Science Degree Program in Occupational Therapy. The program director or associate director is available to meet with students to counsel them on their standing in the program, the requirements necessary for the completion of the program, and to develop long-term plans of study and future professional directions.
The Master of Science Degree Program in Occupational Therapy is a full-time weekend program that takes approximately two years, four months to complete. The student is required to take nine–eleven credits per trimester. Course work may be completed in five trimesters. During the final two trimesters while completing the Level II fieldwork experiences, the student registers for 4.5 – 5 credits and is considered a part-time student. The required 24 weeks of fieldwork must be completed within 24 months following the completion of the didactic component of the program unless the program Faculty Review Committee grants an extension for extenuating circumstances.
Maintenance of Matriculation
It is expected that students will fulfill the requirements for their graduate degree by registering over successive sessions. For cohort programs, registration is required during summer session(s). For non-cohort programs, summer registration is not required. Registration is accomplished by either enrolling in classes or maintaining matriculation. The Maintenance of Matriculation fee is $100 per session and is processed as a registration.
Students who have not maintained matriculation and wish to return to their program within one year after their last course will be charged the Maintenance of Matriculation fee of $100 for each missed session. Maintenance of matriculation without attending classes is limited to one year. After three terms, a student is required to reapply for admission and if accepted come under any new regulations. Activated U.S. Military Reservists are not required to pay the Maintenance of Matriculation fee.
Occupational therapy students register for the Advanced Topics course series that leads to the completion of the capstone requirement. This course series ends in summer of the second year. After this semester is over, a Capstone Continuation fee (equal to the cost of one graduate credit) will be charged for each additional term required to complete the project. Students can only register for Capstone Continuation for two terms.
A student’s degree will not be released until all Maintenance of Matriculation and Capstone Continuation registration and fees are recorded appropriately on a student’s record.
Maintenance of Good Academic Standing
The cumulative GPA for both good academic standing and degree conferral is a 3.0. Students admitted as a special matriculant are required to achieve a 3.0 average or better, after completing a certain number of credits as stipulated by their respective program.
Students who are taking graduate occupational therapy courses are required to achieve a 3.0 cumulative grade point average or better. If the academic average falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation. Please see the “Academic Probation” section below for more detail. Grades are subject to review by the faculty advisor and program director at the end of each term.
Students who receive a grade of less than B in a course may be required to repeat the course. If a student receives a grade of C or lower in any course, the course must be repeated before permission to continue the curriculum sequence is granted. Students will be allowed to repeat a course only once. If a student receives a grade of F or FW in any course the student may be subject to dismissal from the College. If a student fails any Clinical Education course, a decision to allow the course to be repeated will be determined by a Program Faculty Review Committee.
If the scores from any category of the Professional Development Form (PDF) fall in the “Unsatisfactory” category, or the student’s total score is a 27/30 or below, the student must meet with his or her advisor to discuss their plan for improvement. This plan will be reviewed by the program director and will be placed in the student’s file in the Occupational Therapy Program office. Additional details on the Professional Development Form and process are located in the Program Student Manual.
If the program notes a pattern of inappropriate or unprofessional behavior, these behaviors will be brought to the student’s attention through professional development feedback forms, faculty memos, advising notes, or fieldwork evaluations. The student will develop a professional plan to demonstrate improved professional behaviors. This plan may include recommendations such as self-reflective journaling, professional counseling, etc. If the student fails to develop the required plan, follow through with the recommendations, or remediate the problematic behaviors, the student will be reviewed by occupational therapy faculty. The student may be prohibited from participating in future fieldwork experiences until he/she demonstrates consistent appropriate professional behaviors. Students whose behaviors are potentially disruptive to therapeutic client relationships, or are potentially disruptive to the operation of the clinical facility may be dismissed from the Occupational Therapy Graduate Program.
Any student who has a cumulative GPA of below 3.0 (without rounding) will be placed on academic probation. While on academic probation, the student is required to achieve a term GPA of 3.0 or higher in the next term of enrollment and a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher by the second term after probation. If the student is not able to achieve a cumulative program GPA of 3.0 within two terms, the student will be dismissed from the program. If a student receives less than a 2.8 during any term, a faculty review will determine whether the student will be allowed to progress in the program. Students on academic probation will not be allowed to progress to Level II fieldwork. For all students on probation, future registrations must be reviewed and approved by the program director as well as the school dean.
Program Dismissal Review
In cases which a student has been dismissed from the Occupational Therapy Program, the student may request a dismissal review when he/she believes that extenuating circumstances effected his/her academic performance in the program. The student must follow the SHNS Program Dismissal Review Policy detailed at the beginning of the School of Health and Natural Sciences section.
To be eligible for graduation students must complete all required course work with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The coursework includes the completion of capstone and clinical education requirements.
The program has an Technical Standard Form that outlines the necessary behavioral/communicative, psychomotor, cognitive and self-care skill deemed essential for completion of the program and performance as a competent occupational therapist. This form is signed by the student stating they are or are not capable of performing the skills and abilities that are listed.