Are you interested in helping people regain the skills they need every day to live? Do you want to help people facing life with major health obstacles?

The MS in occupational therapy is designed to prepare you for practice in many diverse settings. You should anticipate working with a variety of individuals of all ages, and will be competent in all types of practice. The program focuses on teaching clinical reasoning skills and evidence based practice a therapist can use when approaching novice experiences.

You will need to select a major that will prepare you for the graduate level professional program. Recommended majors are psychology, health-services management, recreational therapy, sociology, anthropology, biology, child development and family relations, exercise science, and rehabilitation studies. However, students are welcome from any major as long as they meet the occupational therapy course work required for entry.

Some beginning graduate students may not know what area of research they would like to pursue. The faculty members will share their interests and encourage you to explore interest areas and learn the research process in progressive steps. All students graduate completing a thesis or a project in which they have an expressed interest.

The degree program is 27 months, including summers. The last six months is spent completing fieldwork during which you can apply the skills and knowledge that you have learned through your readings, research and classroom activities and to learn directly from providers and recipients of service.

ECU Advantage

The College of Allied Health Sciences is the largest university-based allied-health provider in the state of North Carolina. The college has eight departments: Addictions and Rehabilitation Studies, Biostatistics, Clinical Laboratory Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders, Health Services and Information Management, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Studies, and offers degrees on the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels.

Delivering a comprehensive professional education that will prepare allied-health graduates to make a difference in the health of the region, state, and nation was the primary reason for the creation of the College of Allied Health Sciences and its departments. Fueled by the growth and aging of our population, the demand for these highly skilled specialists is expected to greatly increase as health care continues to be a priority for our citizens.

What You Will Study

Program Coordinator: Denise Donica (3305-G Health Sciences Building; 252-744-6197; donicad@ecu.edu)

The occupational therapy program offers the professional (entry-level) master's degree and offers preparation for certification for individuals with baccalaureate degrees in fields other than occupational therapy. Students who complete this program are eligible to sit for the national certification exam with National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy.


Application for admission to the graduate program in occupational therapy must be initiated through the Graduate School. The department requires that the applicant meet the following minimum admission requirements: a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, satisfactory Graduate Record Examinations, and acceptable TOEFL or TSL score for non-English foreign students. At the time of application, the applicant must submit two letters of reference, and a completed statement as specified in the Graduate School application.

For the professional (entry-level) master's degree, the applicant must present evidence that the required prerequisite course work will be completed and an undergraduate degree (other than occupational therapy) conferred before the start of the program in the fall. Required undergraduate prerequisite courses include anatomy, physiology, statistics, developmental psychology or other course with emphasis on human development across the lifespan, abnormal psychology, introduction to anthropology or sociology, and a reasoning course such as logic, ethics, or research inquiry in social sciences. Students must demonstrate a proficiency in medical terminology or take a course in medical terminology.

Minimum degree requirement is 69 s.h. for project-based students and 75 s.h. for thesis students.

    1. Professional (entry level) courses:
    • OCCT 6000 - Foundations of Occupational Therapy
    • OCCT 6001 - Occupation and Movement
    • OCCT 6002 - Occupation and Movement Laboratory
    • OCCT 6003 - Dyadic and Group Skills in Occupational Therapy
    • OCCT 6004 - Dyadic and Group Skills in Occupational Therapy Laboratory
    • OCCT 6005 - Health Impairments and Occupational Therapy I
    • OCCT 6006 - Health Impairments and Occupational Therapy I Laboratory
    • OCCT 6007 - Health Impairments and Occupational Therapy II
    • OCCT 6008 - Health Impairments and Occupational Therapy II Laboratory
    • OCCT 6009 - Neurological Foundations of Occupational Therapy
    • OCCT 6080 - Environmental Contexts and Systems of Occupational Therapy
    • OCCT 6100 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation I
    • OCCT 6150 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation I Laboratory
    • OCCT 6200 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation II
    • OCCT 6250 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation II Laboratory
    • OCCT 6300 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation III
    • OCCT 6350 - Therapeutic Use of Human Occupation III Laboratory
    • OCCT 6400 - Fieldwork I
    • OCCT 6410 - Psychosocial Fieldwork I
    • OCCT 6450 - Fieldwork II
    • OCCT 6500 - Managing Occupational Therapy Services
    • OCCT 6550 - Managing Occupational Therapy Services Laboratory
    • OCCT 6600 - Concepts and Practice of Research in Occupational Therapy
    • OCCT 6650 - Conducting Research in Occupational Therapy
    • Note:

       OCCT 6450 must be repeated once for a minimum of 12 s.h.

      2. Research options - 3-9 s.h.

      (Choose one.)

        a. Master's project - 3-6 s.h.:
        • OCCT 6660 - Master's Project
        b. Thesis - 6-12 s.h.:
        • BIOS 7021 - Biostatistics for Health Professionals I or
        • OCCT 7100 - Qualitative Research: Analysis and Interpretation

        • OCCT 7000 - Thesis 6-9 s.h.

        Successful completion of a professional presentation in a public venue of the master’s project or master's thesis serves as a comprehensive examination.

        Standard grading policies will follow Graduate School guidelines. Verification by the department chair of the completion of the professional (entry-level) master’s degree requirements is necessary to meet occupational therapy practice licensure statutes of the North Carolina Board of Occupational Therapy. Verification by the registrar for completion of the professional (entry-level) master’s program is required to take the national certification examination.


        The occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3349. ACOTE's telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-2682. Graduates of this program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) located at 12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100 Gaithersburg, MD 20877, 301-990-7979. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an occupational therapist, registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. However, a felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

          For more information about this degree visit the university's academic catalogs.

          Careers With This Degree

          Graduates with this degree are successful in many fields and careers, including the following:

          • Occupational Therapy/Therapist
          • Health Specialties, Postsecondary
          • Education and Training
          • Health and Human Services
          • Occupational Therapy/Therapist

          Career Opportunities

          ECU has developed resources to help you learn more about career opportunities and job market outlook. In addition, the websites below provide specific information on careers in the various majors from which students may choose:

          NC Tower

          This website provides graphs and tables of in-depth information on employment rates, wages and ongoing higher education enrollment of graduates from the North Carolina Community College System and from the University of North Carolina system schools. NC Tower includes data on former UNC students who are working in roughly 90% of all jobs in North Carolina. This database excludes information for graduates who are:

          • Self-employed;
          • Work for the federal government, including the military: or
          • Work outside of North Carolina.

          US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook

          This website also provides in-depth information regarding pay, projected new jobs, required education, growth rate and on-the-job training information on various occupations.

          Degree-specific internships

          For information on internship information for specific majors, go to the home page of the department in which the major is located and, as available, find the link to the information on internships in that major.