Entry Level MSOT Program
The Department of Occupational Therapy is proud of its Entry-Level Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program and the US News and World Report ranking of #15 among OT programs in the country. VCU and its predecessor, the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) have been offering OT education since 1942. When the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) celebrates the Centennial of the founding of the profession in 2017, we will celebrate our Diamond Anniversary - 75 years of OT education at this institution! As of 2007, the AOTA and the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) raised the educational requirement for entry into the profession from the baccalaureate degree level to the master's degree level. While other programs have recently converted their undergraduate programs to graduate programs, the VCU Department of OT has offered an Entry-Level Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy since 1964 and has offered graduate-level OT education exclusively since 2000.
The Entry-Level MSOT program is a seven semester, two and a half year program. It is a fulltime, face-to-face program, with classes generally scheduled from 9 AM to 4 PM, Monday through Friday. Classes begin in the summer. See the Curriculum. The first year is made up of three semesters - summer, fall and spring. There are no classes during the second summer. The second year classes occur over two semesters in the fall and spring. Students participate in the School of Allied Health graduation exercises in May of their graduating year, before completing their required clinical education of two 12-week fieldwork placements (480 hours) from May-December. VCU offers fieldwork placement at sites across the United States. Students officially graduate in December, after completing their second fieldwork. Students return to campus for the Department's final requirement, "Connecting the Dots," the first week in January. These two days allow students and faculty to share in the significant learning that took place during their took place during their Fieldwork II educational experiences, and culminates on Saturday with the traditional class designed and organized Pinning Ceremony.
An advantage to earning the MSOT degree at VCU is application of four courses from the masters program applied to the credits required for the post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) for students who enroll within 5 years of graduation from the MSOT program. The post-professional OTD can be earned by taking 7 courses (21 additional credit hours) on a part-time basis over a three year period (6 semesters of 3-6 credits/semester).
Accreditation, Certification, and Licensure
The Entry-Level Masters Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA):
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Graduates of the VCU MSOT program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc (NBCOT). Students generally take the Certification Exam during the spring following official graduation in December. A graduate of an accredited occupational therapy educational program may practice with the designated title of "Occupational Therapist, License Applicant" or "O.T.L.-Applicant" for up to six months from the date of graduation until he or she has taken and received the results of the licensure examination from NBCOT, whichever occurs sooner.
If a candidate does not pass the exam he or she is not permitted to work until he or she passes the exam. Typically, VCU graduates perform well on the exam, and meet or exceed the national mean score. After successful completion of this exam, the individual is permitted to use the trademarked credentials, OTR, to indicate status as a registered occupational therapist. Most states, including Virginia, require licensure to practice, and most state licensing boards require successfully passing the NBCOT Certification Examination to become a practicing occupational therapist. All occupational therapy students are required to complete Level II fieldwork within 24 months of completing academic courses. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.