Skip to main content

2023-2024 Undergraduate & Graduate Catalog

Search Help

Occupational Therapy

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


Degree Offered

Master of Science (M.S.) in occupational therapy


The mission of the GVSU Occupational Science and 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.

Occupational Science

Occupational science is an interdisciplinary field in the social and behavioral sciences dedicated to the study of the daily activities (known as occupations) of human beings. The word "occupation" refers to the goal-directed activities that are part of daily human life as well as the habits and patterned routines of purposeful activity that occur over the lifespan. The study of occupations includes how these various purposeful and productive patterns, habits, and activities affect health and well-being.

Occupational science began as an effort by several scholars in different disciplines, in order to understand better how people used their time, and how they made decisions about time use. The field was named and given additional credibility in 1989 by Elizabeth Yerxa, a visionary leader of occupational therapy and her team of faculty at the University of Southern California (USC). The vision of Dr. Yerxa was that occupational science would be the unique scientific and research base for evidence-based practice in occupational therapy.

Occupational science now includes many other university-based academic programs leading to undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field. The disciplines that incorporate occupational scientists include architecture, education, marketing, psychology, sociology, anthropology, economics, occupational therapy, leisure science, public health, and geography. There are several national, regional, and international societies dedicated to promoting the continued evolution of occupational science, and several academic journals devoted heavily to occupational science including the Journal of Occupational Science, Occupational Therapy Journal of Research: Occupation, Participation and Health, The Journal of Leisure Research, Journal of Happiness Studies, Quality of Life Research, Applied Research in Quality of Life, and numerous international journals of occupational science and therapy.

Occupational Therapy

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.

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 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 assistive devices such as, but not limited to, adaptive 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 the 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.


The occupational therapy (OT) traditional program and the OT hybrid program are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE's phone number is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is 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.

Program Requirements

The following programs are available:

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