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 #13 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 1962 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 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 fieldwork, 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 OTD can be earned by taking 7 courses (21 additional credit hours) on a part-time basis over 6 semesters (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 program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist 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. Prior to passing the exam, eligible candidates are permitted to work under the supervision of an OTR. VCU graduates traditionally perform well on the exam, and, the annual mean score for the class is typically above the national mean. After successful completion of this exam, the individual can and should use the credentials, OTR, to indicate legal status as a registered occupational therapist. Since most states, including Virginia, require licensure to practice, and most state licensing boards require OTR status, successfully passing the NBCOT Certification Examination is a key element in becoming a practicing occupational therapist. All occupational therapy students are required to complete Level II fieldwork within the timeframe established by the program. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.