Effective Fall 2020

Occupational Therapy provides opportunities to assist people facing challenges in everyday life. Through guided and goal-directed participation in occupations of leisure, work and activities of daily living, individuals can restore their ability to do the things they need, want, or are expected to do. Occupational therapy practitioners contribute to improving independence and quality of life for people of all ages in a variety of settings concerned with health care, education, community and social services. Occupational therapy assistants work in collaboration with supervising occupational therapists to serve individuals or groups who experience impairment, loss of activity or ability to participate fully in meaningful occupations due to genetic disorders, chronic conditions, illness, accidents, mental impairment, or social conditions such as poverty and violence. Study in the major includes topics in biological science, social science, communications, mathematics and technologies. These studies are integrated with core requisites in the major and with community and clinical fieldwork experiences. The major uses a wide variety of state-of-the-art equipment and tools that are reflective of current practice in occupational therapy. Through extensive hands-on laboratory experiences, the student has opportunities for application of knowledge learned in the classroom. Level I Fieldwork experiences provide exposure and practice within clinical environments, schools and community settings. Level II Fieldwork provides a full-time working experience under the supervision of an occupational therapy practitioner in a variety of practice areas, following successful completion of academic course work.

Career Opportunities

Occupational therapy assistants work in highly diversified settings. Examples include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing homes, home health agencies, community mental health centers and inpatient psychiatric units, vocational rehabilitation programs, sheltered workshops, drug and alcohol programs, prison systems, adult day care centers, programs for children with developmental disability, and public school systems.

Special Admissions Requirements

Acceptance into this competitive major is based on an admissions ranking process. Students accepted to Penn College will take related courses, earning points that will be applied toward the selective admissions process. Completion of related courses does not guarantee acceptance into the major. To be eligible for selections into the professional level of the program, students are required to complete BIO115 and BIO125 OR BIO115 and MTH151 (or higher) with a grade of C or better. Selections for the professional level of the program are made in June for the following fall. For details, see the OTA Admissions Ranking System information.

Remediation Strategies

Students are expected to remediate all deficiencies prior to being eligible for the admission ranking process.

Transfer Procedures

Transfer students must have their transcripts submitted by June 1 to be ranked for selection.

Graduates of this associate degree major are also eligible for admission to the College's Applied Health Studies (BAH) program. See the program director for details.

International health credentials/licensure, sciences courses, and most math courses will not be accepted to satisfy requirements of this major. Please see additional information for international students applying to Health Sciences majors.

Program Goals

Upon completion of the Occupational Therapy Assistant major, graduates should possess the knowledge, skills and attitudes to effectively perform those OTA roles defined in documents published by AOTA and the PA Licensure Board. General goals of the major should enable the student to:

  • demonstrate accurate and effective written and oral communications adaptive to the demands of the profession.
  • evaluate and utilize effective interpersonal communication skills.
  • establish and maintain effective relationships and work cooperatively as a member of a team.
  • integrate therapeutic use of self into practice.
  • demonstrate ability to use teaching-learning processes with consumers, health care practitioners, and the public.
  • appreciate and adapt to diverse/alternative cultures, processes, and ideas.
  • appreciate the need for and produce work that is accurate, thorough, and organized.
  • demonstrate intellectual curiosity.
  • investigate and critique current professional and community resources and synthesize information for application to OT practice.
  • demonstrate resourcefulness and creativity.
  • value and participate in plans for personal and professional growth.
  • foster the philosophy of occupational therapy and serve as an effective role model for the profession.
  • define and integrate the Principles of Occupational Therapy Ethics, as defined by the American Occupational Therapy Association, into practice.
  • understand and appreciate the role of occupation in the promotion of health and the prevention of disease and disability for the individual, family, and society.
  • identify and differentiate the roles of occupational therapy practitioners and other health care providers.
  • evaluate and apply the principles of group process to therapeutic settings.
  • integrate and apply theoretical principles to OT practice relevant to the role of a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
  • analyze activity demands, performance skills, performance patterns, and client factors within the context of occupational performance.
  • evaluate positive and adverse effects on occupational performance throughout the lifespan.
  • recognize and describe pathology of selected physical, psychosocial, and developmental dysfunctions.
  • demonstrate competence in administration of selected assessments relevant to the role of a COTA.
  • record relevant data and prioritize for clinical decision-making.
  • collaborate with patients, caregivers, occupational therapists and other health professionals in assessment, program planning, and implementation.
  • select, prioritize, and sequence occupations, purposeful activity, and treatment techniques relevant to the goals and interests of individuals served in OT settings.
  • demonstrate competence in instruction, application, adapting, and grading of activities and techniques to meet the needs of clients and their sociocultural context.
  • evaluate the need for and demonstrate applications of compensatory strategies when desired life tasks cannot be performed.
  • evaluate and consistently demonstrate principles and techniques to ensure safety of the patient, and oneself in clinical settings.
  • explore and employ community resources to promote occupational function of clients in least restrictive environments.
  • understand the effectiveness of health care delivery and the past and present roles of OT as it serves individuals in a varied and changing environment.
  • assume roles of leadership and management of OT services relevant to the role of an entry level COTA.
  • understand federal and state regulatory and legislative actions and their effect on delivery of health services.
  • demonstrate maturity and professionalism in response to the supervisory process.
  • explore employment opportunities and environments and develop processes for employment acquisition.

Performance Standards

Students enrolled in the major must earn a minimum final grade of "C" in BIO115, BIO125, and in each of their occupational therapy assistant courses. Failure to do so will result in the inability to continue in the program. See the program manual for details. The grading scale for OCT courses is A, B, C, F.


First SemesterCreditsNotesLectureLab/ClinicalM/SType
FYE101First Year Experience 1.50 1.50 SREQ
OCT100Foundations of Occupational Therapy 43 3 MREQ
OCT101Human Occupations 21 3 MREQ
BIO115Human Anatomy and Physiology I 43 3 MREQ
ENL111English Composition I 33 SREQ
MTR100Medical Terminology Survey 11 SREQ
PSY111General Psychology 33 SREQ
Second SemesterCreditsNotesLectureLab/ClinicalM/SType
OCT121Analysis of Movement 21 3 MREQ
OCT122Developmental Habilitation Theory 43 3 MREQ
OCT124Developmental Habilitation: Level I Fieldwork 21 MREQ
OCT203Clinical Conditions 33 MREQ
BIO125Human Anatomy and Physiology II 43 3 MREQ
PSY203Developmental Psychology 33 SREQ
Third SemesterCreditsNotesLectureLab/ClinicalM/SType
OCT201Physical Rehabilitation Methods 21 3 MREQ
OCT204OT Practice Skills 21 3 MREQ
OCT205Physical Rehabilitation Theory 33 MREQ
OCT206Physical Rehabilitation: Level 1 Fieldwork 21 MREQ
CSC124Information, Technology, and Society 33 SREQ
PSY201Abnormal Psychology 33 SREQ
SPC101Fundamentals of Speech 33 SREQ
Fourth SemesterCreditsNotesLectureLab/ClinicalM/SType
OCT221Psychosocial Rehabilitation Methods 2Writing Enriched Requirement1 3 MREQ
OCT224Clinical Reasoning in Occupational Therapy 33 MREQ
OCT226Psychosocial Rehabilitation Theory 33 MREQ
OCT227Psychosocial Rehabilitation: Level I Fieldwork 21 MREQ
OCT228Occupational Therapy Management Issues 21 3 MREQ
OCT229Professional Issues in Occupational Therapy 11 MREQ
MMMMath Elective (MTH151 or Higher) 3 SMMM
FITFitness and Lifetime Sports Elective 1 SFIT
Summer SessionCreditsNotesLectureLab/ClinicalM/SType
OCT251Level II-A Fieldwork 3 MREQ
OCT252Level II-B Fieldwork 3 MREQ

OCT 251 & OCT 252 - Students must complete Level II fieldwork within 18 months of completion of academic coursework.

Additional Information

Graduates will be eligible to sit for the National Certification Exam that is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). For further information, contact: NBCOT, One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, (301) 990-7979, www.nbcot.org Following successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states, including Pennsylvania, require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on results of the NBCOT Certification Exam. Students interested in pursuing the bachelor degree should refer to the Applied Health Studies information listed in the bachelor's degree section of the catalog. In addition, it is advised that a meeting be arranged with the occupational therapy assistant program director to discuss this option. For further information, refer to the OTA website.

Notice of Conviction

Child abuse clearance and criminal background checks are required by some agencies involved in fieldwork and/or capstones. Agencies can bar students from their sites if a criminal record exists or a positive drug test is noted. By virtue of contract for Penn College students to be at clinical sites, drug testing is required for admission and students will be subject to drug testing while in program. The Pennsylvania State Board of Education and Licensure and NBCOT advise that a drug-related conviction and/or conviction of a felonious act may result in denial and/or revocation of a license to practice occupational therapy. Inability to gain clinical or fieldwork or intern education experiences results in inability to meet program objectives and outcomes. For additional clarification, students can speak with their program director.


The Occupational Therapy Assistant major is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). For further information, contact: ACOTE, c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. Telephone c/o AOTA 301-652-AOTA. www.acoteonline.org