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2012-2013 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

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Occupational Therapy - Program Description

For additional information about opportunities your college offers, please refer to the College of Health Professions section of this catalog.

Chair: Grapczynski; Assistant Chair: Truskowski; Weekend Hybrid Program Coordinator: Beasley; Associate Professor: Beasley, Grapczynski; Assistant Professors: Cleghorn, Sisco, Truskowski; Visiting Faculty: Lunsford; Clinical Associate Professor: Meier; Adjunct Faculty: Edick, Herrick, Machnik, Mekkes, Sale.


Degree offered: Master of Science in Occupational Therapy.

Professional Conduct

Because the College of Health Professions prepares students to practice in a variety of health professions, we assume the responsibility to assure the public that our students have met high standards of professional behavior and academic achievement and have demonstrated consistent evidence of response to consumer needs. Criminal background checks may be required prior to participation in certain clinical experiences.
The program requires that students attain a minimum of 84 percent competency in each course, which is reflected in each course syllabus across the professional curriculum.

Occupational Therapy

Learning, growing, playing, working, managing our homes, and caring for our families are among the occupations of life. Unfortunately, physical, emotional, or other challenges often prevent people from fully participating in the job of living. Diseases, injuries, or developmental problems can make it difficult for people to do everyday tasks or be active and independent.

Occupational therapy uses meaningful and purposeful activity as a therapeutic intervention to help an individual with injuries or disabilities to reach his/her highest level of independent functioning. These meaningful and purposeful activities are referred to as occupations. Occupations include work skills, play/leisure activities, rest, and self-care activities such as preparing a meal or taking a shower.

Occupational therapists provide clients with services ranging from prevention/wellness to full rehabilitation, directed toward achieving maximum functional independence in daily life occupations. Occupational therapy may include the use of devices such as, but not limited to, adapted silverware, computer access enhancers, environmental modifications, and writing aids to assist individuals to achieve a desired level of independence in any given occupation.

Occupational therapists interact and practice in collaboration with a variety of health professionals. They also educate the public and advocate for clients. Occupational therapy makes it possible for people to achieve full participation in life. By choosing a career in occupational therapy, you will make a difference, improving the lives of people, from newborns to the oldest adults.

Career Opportunities

Occupational therapy provides excellent employment potential. The field continues to show growth in many areas of clinical and community practice, including private practice. Numerous job opportunities are available in a variety of areas, including acute care facilities; physical rehabilitation; mental health rehabilitation; developmental disabilities centers; nonprofit organizations; school systems, business; industry and organizational settings; home health care; geriatric settings; nursing homes; health and wellness promotion; research centers and universities.

Occupational Therapy at Grand Valley

The occupational therapy traditional program is a two-year curriculum leading to an entry-level Master of Science degree. The weekend occupational therapy program is a three-year curriculum that also leads to an entry-level Master of Science degree. Both programs contain the same content, but the traditional program is intended for full-time students, while the weekend program is intended for students who must maintain full or part-time employment throughout the program. The mission of the GVSU occupational therapy department is to educate and empower students to have a positive impact on the health of individuals and groups in our society through innovation and leadership in occupation-based practice. The occupational therapy curriculum is built around the concept of occupation as the core knowledge base, which is predicated upon the assumption that occupational therapists must operate from a common base of knowledge, skills, values, and philosophy. The curriculum is designed to produce professional practitioners and socially conscious citizens who appreciate the unique perspective of individuals and the cultures that influence them, value a democratic perspective of health care and social services delivery, and apply problem-solving, critical thinking, and lifelong learning toward meeting the needs of society.

All courses taken within the occupational therapy department must be taken for an earned letter grade, excluding fieldwork courses, unless otherwise specified by the occupational therapy program. Degree requirements include a final research project and/or thesis, four Level I Fieldwork and assignments (60-80 hours each), and two full-time Level II Fieldwork assignments (480 hours each). The Level II Fieldwork assignments may be local or they may be in other areas of the country. It is important to note that Level II fieldwork assignments must be completed within 24 months of completion of the didactic curriculum. Part time Level II fieldwork assignments are available if circumstances warrant.

Mission: The mission of the GVSU Occupational Therapy Department is to educate and empower graduates to have a positive impact on the health of individuals and groups in our society through innovation and leadership in occupation-based practice.

Vision: We envision GVSUs occupational therapy department as a leader in developing critical thinking skills and reflective judgment through a transformative approach to education that considers the connection between occupation and health over the lifespan. Through faculty and student scholarship/research and student service in the community, graduates will emerge as professionals prepared to create and lead the future of occupational therapy.

Philosophy: This department embraces a humanistic and progressive educational philosophy that exceeds technical training by encouraging:

  • Active experimentation
  • Independent thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Critical thinking
  • Self-Directed learning
  • Emancipatory learning
  • Transformative learning

Accreditation Status

The occupational therapy (OT) traditional program and the OT hybrid weekend program are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTAs phone number is (301) 652-AOTA. Graduates of the program will be able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist, administered by the certifying body, National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), 800 S. Frederick Ave., Ste. 200, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150. After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). Most states require licensure in order to practice. However, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

Degree Requirements

Completion of 79 to 80 credits in the professional curriculum is required for completion of the masters degree in occupational therapy. General graduate academic policies can be found in the Grand Valley State University Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog. General university degree requirements are in the Academic Regulations section of the catalog and the requirements for undergraduate majors are in the appropriate Academic Program section.

Application Procedures

The most up to date application procedures and forms can be found here.

Incoming freshmen interested in occupational therapy should begin by selecting an undergraduate major in their first year. Suggested majors include health professions, biology, biopsychology, psychology, or sociology. Although these degrees provide a well-rounded background, any undergraduate major may be selected as long as the required occupational therapy preprofessional courses can be completed along with the undergraduate degree before beginning the professional program. Once a selection has been made, students should work with the academic advisor from that department and with an occupational therapy program advisor to ensure that all major requirements are completed, along with the required prerequisite courses. All of these required prerequisite courses must be taken for a letter grade. Students may apply for admittance to the occupational therapy program during the year in which they attain senior status. All students accepted into the occupational therapy program must have a completed baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution of higher learning.

Transfer students from community or four-year colleges must also complete an undergraduate application to Grand Valley State University in preparation for completing a baccalaureate degree, which is required for admission to the occupational therapy program. Transfer students should review with their local academic advisor and an occupational therapy program advisor, the courses that will satisfy Grand Valley State University requirements. Upon acceptance to the University, the student should consult immediately with an academic advisor in their major and an advisor from the occupational therapy program, to ensure they are on the right track.
Students from other institutions who wish only to complete a required prerequisite course at Grand Valley State University may apply for non-degree-seeking status. Those students still needing to complete prerequisite courses must submit an undergraduate application; those students who have completed the prerequisite courses must submit a graduate application. Students are encouraged to meet with an advisor from the occupational therapy department regarding prerequisite course completion to ensure a smooth transition into one of the programs.

Admission to the occupational therapy program first requires completion of the Grand Valley State University graduate application. Applications may be obtained from the Admissions Office or online at Upon return of the completed graduate application the Admission Office will mail supplementary materials for the occupational therapy program application. These forms are also available online at the GVSU OT web site . Admission consideration for either program requires all supplementary materials be submitted to the Admissions Office by January 15 of the calendar year the student wishes to begin the professional program. Applicants may only apply to one program; as such, either Traditional or Weekend must be indicated on the graduate school application. Please call the occupational therapy department to discuss your application and timeline. Late applications will be considered if the prospective class is not full.

Admission decisions for both programs will be made in the first semester of the calendar year. Late applications will be considered, assuming all prerequisite requirements are met and there is space available in the program. Once enrolled in either occupational therapy program, students will take professional courses in clinical reasoning, occupational therapy theory and practice, advanced professional issues, and research.

Professional Program Admission Criteria

Admission to both of the occupational therapy programs is competitive. Application materials are available by contacting the Admissions Office or from the OT website: Maximum class size is 30 in the traditional program and 24 in the weekend hybrid program. The candidates are ranked on a total score basis and our top 30 traditional program candidates (minus early admits from CMU, U of M, and Hope; and deferrals) are sent a letter offering them seats in the program. Each alternate candidate is offered admission. The weekend hybrid program follows the same procedure for the top 24 candidates, however there are no early admits.
The criteria for acceptance include:

  • Academic achievement of a minimum 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale in prerequisite courses and in the last 60 hours of undergraduate work. All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of C or better.
  • Two letters of recommendation, including one from a registered occupational therapist and one from a professor who can comment on your academic performance. Letters of recommendation MAY NOT be provided by: a graduate assistant, teaching assistant, or a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). For non-traditional students an employer may be substituted for the academic professor requirement.
  • An interview and an onsite writing sample.
  • Documented volunteer experience for a minimum of 50 hours under the supervision of an occupational therapist.
  • Completion of Achievement Summary Form detailing student accomplishments that reflect the core values of the program.
  • International student applicants should be able to communicate well in English. The following minimal scores are expected: TOEFL 610 or computer-based TOEFL 253.
  • Transfer students from two or four-year colleges must also complete an undergraduate application to GVSU. It is recommended that students transfer by the beginning of their junior year to ensure completion of all undergraduate degree and pre-professional requirements. Transfer students should consult with an advisor from the occupational therapy program before entering GVSU or shortly thereafter.
  • Potential candidates to the occupational therapy program coming from other educational institutions who wish to complete a required pre-professional course at GVSU may apply for non-degree-seeking status, using an undergraduate application. Once all pre-professional requirements have been completed, then the student will need to submit a graduate application.

Prerequisite Course Name

GVSU Course Equivalent

Anatomy and Physiology Sequence A


AND BMS 208 and BMS 309

Anatomy and Physiology Sequence B

BMS 250 and BMS 251


MOV 300


PSY 303

Lifespan developmental psychology

PSY 364

One of the Following:

Physiological Psychology




PSY 430


PSY 431


BMS 427

One elective from psychology, sociology, anthropology, public health, or related field (200-level or higher)

Retention and Termination

Grounds for Academic Probation

  • Any grade below a B (3.0) in any course in either of the occupational therapy programs will result in academic probation. The course instructor will determine the nature and degree of remediation needed to ensure competency in the course content.
  • A cumulative GPA below a 3.0 for any semester.
  • A grade of NC for any fieldwork experience, Level I or II.
  • Students placed on academic probation due to inadequate performance in a single academic or fieldwork course will be required to fulfill a competency contract or to repeat the course, as determined by the course instructor, the academic fieldwork coordinator, and/or the department chair. A contract will be developed and signed by both faculty and student detailing work to be done and deadlines for completion. Students will be allowed up to one semester to complete the competency contract, and will remain on academic probation until the competency contract is completed and approved by the course instructor.
  • Academic probation could be one of the alternatives imposed, if a student has broken the GVSU Student Code, the university policy on academic dishonesty per the GVSU Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog, or the 2010 Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics.

Dismissal from the Occupational Therapy Department

  • More than one semester of academic probation.
  • Failure to successfully complete the competency contract for removal from academic probation, including adherence to deadlines.
  • The need to repeat two or more courses within the OT curriculum, or the need to repeat any fieldwork experience more than once.
  • Any violation of the GVSU Student Code, the Occupational Therapy Code of Ethics, or University policy related to academic dishonesty as outlined in the GVSU Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog that is deemed flagrant by the course instructor, the academic fieldwork coordinator, or the department chair.

Program Location

Traditional Program: All coursework semesters 1-4 will take place at the Pew Campus Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.
Level I Fieldwork Experiences (semesters 2-4) will be located within a 90-minute drive from the student's place of residence.
Level II Fieldwork Experiences (semesters 5 & 6) may be located throughout Michigan and other selected states based on availability of sites, convenience of lodging, and at the discretion of the academic fieldwork coordinator.

Weekend-Hybrid Program: Each course during semesters 1-7 will primarily take place over distance, in an online format. Classes will meet in a face-to-face format four times each semester, with the meetings occurring at GVSUs CHS building on Friday evenings and throughout the day on Saturday.
Level I Fieldwork Experiences (semesters 4, 6, and 7) will be located within a 90-minute drive from the student's place of residence. Distance students (outside the Grand Rapids area, including out of state) will be asked to assist the academic fieldwork coordinator in finding appropriate locations for the respective placements.
Level II Fieldwork Experiences (semesters 8 and 9) may be located throughout Michigan or the areas surrounding distance students' places of residence. Placement will be based on availability of sites, convenience of lodging, and at the discretion of the academic fieldwork coordinator.

Graduate Outcomes:

Students graduate in 24 months, and then take the national board examination. Over the three-year period from 2009-2011, 98.4% of OT department graduates passed the board exam on the first attempt. 100% passed with subsequent attempts. All graduates of the program who have chosen to work within the field are employed as occupational therapists across the United States.

The following program is available:

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

If you are in need of assistance please submit any questions or comments.