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Why you should become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapy Overview

Nationally recognized faculty prepare you for a rewarding career in a high-demand field. Help individuals achieve professional and personal growth, and develop skills to lead to more self-sufficient, satisfying lives.

If you want an endlessly rewarding career in Occupational Therapy, Mercy College's Graduate Occupational Therapy (OT) weekend program is for you. We offer a 60 credit two year full-time weekend program with classes scheduled every other weekend. The program incorporates a variety of learning methods including a mixture of lecture, discussion, small group problem solving, hands-on experiences, problem based learning (PBL) and our innovative "learning by doing" philosophy. Our faculty is comprised of occupational therapy practitioners with various specializations, providing Mercy students with first-rate, well rounded instruction. Most faculty members have published within the field and are nationally recognized for their expertise. Students with a bachelor's degree and the required prerequisite courses can directly enter into the MS degree program. Students without a bachelor's degree can apply for a B.S. in Health Sciences which includes prerequisites or pre-professional occupational therapy courses. Students can apply up to one year in advance of entry into the program.

Occupational Therapy

Career Opportunities

Graduates apply for licensure and entry level work. From there you’ll be working in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, regional schools and elsewhere, with people with spinal cord injuries, cancer, strokes, autism, cerebral palsy or developmental problems, and many other conditions and illnesses.

Many of our alumni hold leadership roles where they work, and have returned to the OT program as PBL facilitators, teaching associates, guest lecturers, and lab assistants.

18% Growth

Career Outcomes
Job growth expected to
rise 18% through 2028* 

$88K Salary

Average Pay
For occupational therapists
in the New York region 

60 Credits 

Total Credits to Earn Your Degree 
Classes in therapy practice, assessments
& research methods

What We Offer
The Mercy Advantage

•  Program can be completed in 20 months

•  Classes are held on weekends

•  We have an 24 week full-time clinical fieldwork

•  State-of-the-art simulation and learning labs

•  Relationships with clinics in NYC
    and Westchester

•  National accreditation from ACOTE 

Medical Mission to Ecuador
Service Learning @Mercy
Mavericks Making a Difference—School of Health & Natural Science

Program Outcomes

  • Formulate an assessment plan that demonstrates the integration of basic tenants of occupational therapy practice.

  • Formulate an evaluation report that synthesizes client information with data from evaluation tools and clinical observation, using basic tenants of occupational therapy practice.

  • Develop an occupation-based, client-centered intervention plan based on evaluation results and current research literature.

  • Integrate professional ethics and values into their daily role as an occupational therapist.

  • Demonstrate written and verbal communication skills in keeping with a professional setting (e.g. documentation, team communication).

  • Establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship with their clients.

Frequently Asked Questions

May I speak to students in the program to gain their perspective?

Yes. Many of our current students and alumni have volunteered to speak to prospective students about our program. Please contact the Occupational Therapy program at 914-674-7815 or or for the student contact sheet.

What are the weekends like?

Intense. The amount of information covered in one weekend is equivalent to four to five classes in a traditional program. There are lectures, discussions, small group problem solving and active hands on practice.

What is the admission decision based on?

Your grade point average, interview, recommendation forms and written essays. All acceptances are provisional and require successful completion of prerequisites at Mercy College with a grade of C or better and a minimum GPA of 3.0. All prerequisite courses must be completed prior to entering the program.

What type of student is well suited for a weekend program?

The adult learner who is motivated, self-directed and takes charge of his/her own learning.

Program Details & Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

Professional Courses: 48 Credits

Clinical Education: 12 Credits

Total: 60 Credits

Occupational Therapy Fast Facts

  • Published, nationally-recognized faculty
  • Weekend classes
  • High job placement
  • Strong national pass rates



Occupational therapy is a health, education and rehabilitation profession that helps people maximize potential and build skills that are important for independent functioning, health, well-being and participation in communities. Occupational therapy practitioners work with people of all ages who may need specialized assistance in learning skills to enable them to lead independent, productive and satisfying lives.

Occupational therapy includes: (1) administering and / or interpreting standardized and non-standardized assessments for the purpose of identifying areas of function and/ or dysfunction; (2) evaluation and treatment of motor, cognitive, sensory, psychosocial impairments contributing to difficulty in daily living; (3) customized treatment programs aimed at improving abilities to carry out daily life activities within the home, community, school, or work; (4) comprehensive evaluation of home and job environments and recommendations on necessary adaptations and environmental modifications to prevent injury or enhance independent functioning; (5) design, training and recommendations in the use of specialized tools, adaptive equipment, assistive technology and orthotics; (6) teaching methods that prevent injury or promote and maintain healthy habits and routines; and (7) the provision of consultative, educational or research services.

Occupational therapists work with people experiencing daily living problems that may result from the effects of normal aging, disability or illnesses such as stroke, spinal cord injuries, cancer, autism, cerebral palsy or developmental problems, congenital conditions, and mental illness. Occupational therapists work in a wide range of practice settings including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, nursing facilities, home health agencies, outpatient rehabilitation programs, psychiatric facilities, private and public schools, community centers and private practices. There are expanding opportunities for occupational therapists in the areas of health promotion and prevention within private practices, industry, social and public or community agencies. 

Program Design

The program incorporates a variety of learning methods including a mixture of lecture discussion, small group problem solving, hands on experiences and problem based learning (PBL). In PBL, students meet in small groups with a faculty facilitator to discuss clinical cases. The case context drives learning, required students' active participation and involvement in the learning process and reflects the actual process occupational therapists engage in within practice. The cases require students to call upon precious learned knowledge from pre-requisite courses, engage in independent and self-directed learning and use a variety of learning resources. PBL allows students to learn the content specified for the course by applying clinical reasoning and inquiry skills.

Occupational Therapy Objectives

The Graduate Program in Occupational Therapy is a full-time 60-credit weekend program designed to prepare graduates to apply for licensure in Occupational Therapy and practice at an entry level. Classes are completed in 20 months and are followed by twenty-four weeks of full-time clinical fieldwork. Entry into the M.S. degree program requires a bachelor degree and prerequisite courses. Students without a bachelor degree can apply for a B.S. in Health Sciences that includes prerequisites or pre-professional occupational therapy courses. 

The Occupational Therapy Program is organized around development stages and incorporates three strands of knowledge within the curriculum. The strands are 1) the importance of engagement in occupation in promoting health and participation; 2) client centered occupational therapy evaluation and intervention approaches focused on the interaction of the person, environment and occupation; and 3) exploration and application of available evidence based knowledge and information to support critical thinking and clinical decision making. All three strands contain themes that are reflective of the program's philosophy and mission. The program provides students with entry-level proficiency in occupational therapy practice with people of all ages, cultures and disabilities. The program places a strong emphasis on encouraging clinical reasoning and critical thinking and is designed to reinforce the self-directed learning style inherent in the professional role. The Occupational Therapy Program is committed to preparing practitioners who can competently fulfill fulfill responsibilities of the professional role within a changing health care world.

Course Load

The Master of Science Degree Program in Occupational Therapy is a full-time weekend program that takes approximately two years, three months to complete. The student is required to take nine - eleven credits per trimester. Course work may be completed in six trimesters. During the final two trimesters while completing the Level II fieldwork, the student registers for 4.5 - 5 credits and is considered a part-time student. The required 24 weeks of fieldwork must be completed within 24 months following the completion of the didactic component of the program unless the program Faculty Review Committee grants and extension for extenuating circumstances.

Occupational Therapy Program Goals

  • Students are expected to master entry-level proficiencies in occupational therapy knowledge and practice skills with individuals of all ages. 
  • Students are expected to display professional behaviors, cultural competence, ethical values and a commitment to maintaining currency with professional knowledge and practice. 
  • Students are expected to use a dynamic process of inquiry to guide evidence based clinical decisions to competently fulfill the responsibilities of the occupational therapists role within a complex and changing health care environment.
  • Students are expected to demonstrate a commitment to advocate with professional colleagues for diverse populations of clients' access to health, education and rehabilitative services to foster life and community participation.


The Mercy College Occupational Therapy program is 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. Graduates of the Occupational Therapy program will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). 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. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

For further information on these limitations, you can contact NBCOT at: National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, 1 Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878, (301) 990-7979. Applicants are also encouraged to contact the State Board of Occupational Therapy in the state they anticipate practicing to investigate any limitations.

Admission Requirements


Please refer to the How to Apply link for details on the program's admission process and pre-requisites. Additional information can be obtained from the Program Information Sheet.


Program Outcomes

The total number of graduates from Mercy College Graduate Occupational Therapy Program during the three-year period 2018-2020 was 106, with an overall graduation rate of 93%.

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2018 35/31 97%
2019 36/34 94%
2020 35/31 89%
TOTAL 106/96 93%


Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at:


Overall, employer surveys indicated that employers are satisfied with Mercy College graduates. Ninety-five percent of employers rated graduates as average or above average. Eighty-five percent indicated that preparation for the current position was good or excellent, with no ratings of "poor." One hundred percent of employers stated they would hire a Mercy graduate in the future.

Essential Functions

The program has adopted a list of Essential Functions that outlines the necessary communication, motor, intellectual/cognitive, and behavioral/social attributes deemed necessary for program completion and clinical practice in the field. The list of these essential functions is available upon request from the program. Students are expected to review this list and sign a form stating that they are or are not capable of performing the skills and abilities listed.


Incomplete grades will be granted only under extenuating circumstances and for no more than 25 percent of total course assignments or examinations within a term. Students will contract, in writing, with the course instructor regarding the completion of coursework within a time specified by the program Faculty Review Committee. Students may not register for any further occupational therapy courses without permission from the program director. Failure to complete the work in accord with the contract-specified time will automatically result in failure for the course.

Clinical Education Grades

If a student fails any clinical education course, the decision to allow the course to be repeated will be determined by a Faculty Review Committee. If the student is allowed to repeat the clinical experience, matriculated status will be withdrawn. A student may only withdraw from a clinical education experience and fails again, he/she will be dismissed from the program. If the student is not allowed to repeat the clinical experience, matriculated status will be withdrawn. A student may only withdraw from a clinical education experience for extenuating circumstances approved by a Faculty Review Committee.

Students who are not meeting required standards or competencies of a Level II clinical education experience will be required to suspend work towards the completion of their master's capstone project to enable them to focus their efforts on successful completion of the clinical experience. This will require the student to register for OCTR 890 Capstone Continuation and possibly delay their graduation date.

Fieldwork I

Each life-span module is linked to a Level I Fieldwork course designed to connect theory to practice. Students are assigned to various clinical and community settings for a minimum of seven weekdays each fall and spring trimester. Level I Fieldwork in Pediatrics is completed in settings such as children's specialized hospital and rehabilitation centers, private schools, school based practices, special education schools, pediatric units in general hospitals and outpatient clinics. Level I Fieldwork in Adolescence is completed in residential care facilities for children and youth with emotional disabilities or after school programs for impoverished and "at-risk" youth that are located primarily in the counties surrounding the college. Accommodations may be made for students outside of the tri-state area. Level I Fieldwork in Adults is completed with a physically disabled population in hospitals and rehabilitation centers, private practices, outpatient clinics. The final Level I Fieldwork course in Geriatrics is completed in community settings typically in social based adult day programs for individuals with dementia.

Fieldwork II

A total of 24 weeks of Level II Fieldwork experiences is required for students to graduate and be eligible for national certification and state licensure. This fieldwork is usually completed at the end of the curriculum sequence as two full-time 12-week unpaid placements. Modifications, such as part-time (i.e., 3 day a week schedule) or placement in three practice sites (e.g., 12 weeks in physical disabilities, 8 weeks in pediatrics and 8 weeks in mental health) may be possible depending on a student's GPA, work schedule and availability of fieldwork sites with contracts with Mercy College. Part-time fieldwork experiences may limit the populations and settings in which the fieldwork can be completed and will lengthen the time needed to complete the program, but for some students offers the opportunity to balance education requirements with work or family responsibilities. Specialty or third affiliations are offered in focused areas such as hand rehabilitation or pediatric early intervention after the student completes the basic fieldwork experiences. All fieldwork placements must be successfully completed within 24 months of didactic course work unless the program Faculty Review committee grants and extension for extenuating circumstances. Participating in a Level II Fieldwork frequently involves a commitment commensurate to a full-time job.


Fieldwork Level I Attendance Policy

Absences of more than one fieldwork day (even if rescheduled) are considered excessive and may result in a non-passing grade for the fieldwork course. Students are expected to attend fieldwork for the entire scheduled day unless they are ill or have extenuating circumstance. Students who are ill should use their judgment when deciding if they should attend fieldwork. Students are required to complete a total of at least seven days of fieldwork each fall and spring term. Students must meet the minimum required hours (forty-two hours) to successfully complete each Fieldwork Level I experience. Students assigned to fieldwork sites that have less than a six hour workday must complete a minimum of 42 hours. Students assigned to sites with six or more hour workdays must complete seven days.

How To Apply to the Occupational Therapy M.S.

Applications for fall 2021 will be accepted between April 1, 2020 - June 1, 2020. Communicating with a graduate advisor is strongly recommended. Please contact or call (914) 674-7822 for information.

1st Step - Completion of Bachelor's Degree

Students must have one of the following in order to apply:

  • An undergraduate degree, with a cumulative prerequisite grade point average of 3.0. Higher grade point averages (General Prerequisites and Cumulative), will make a stronger application portfolio. 
  • At least 90 credits toward an undergraduate degree and completion of the first level of prerequisites, as described in Step 2 below. NOTE: Students must complete their bachelor's degree before beginning the OT Graduate Program. 

2nd Step - Prerequisite Information and Preparing to Apply

There are two levels of prerequisites that must be completed before a student can begin the graduate program.

  • General Prerequisites (1st level of prerequisites completed prior to application) – can be taken as part of other undergraduate coursework and can be taken at any institution.  All General Prerequisites must be completed prior to application with a minimum grade of “C” (exception: a “B” or better in Anatomy and Physiology I & II).  These are listed in the first table below.
  • Mercy-specific Prerequisites (2nd level completed prior to beginning the graduate program, if provisionally accepted). Students choose to begin taking Mercy-specific prerequisites before they actually apply to the program.  Students interested in this option must speak with the Occupational Therapy Graduate Advisor, who can be contacted at

Please note: Students must apply to the graduate program one full year before they want to begin graduate coursework. During that year, all of the Mercy-specific prerequisite courses must be completed. Please contact the program's graduate advisor at for assistance.

General Prerequisite Coursework*

General Prerequisite Coursework

Course Name/Content Credits Special Requirements Mercy College Equivalent
Anatomy/Physiology I&II
(Must have at least one campus-basedlab with vertebrae dissection)
8 Grade of "B" or higher to enter Mercy's Anatomy with Cadaver and taken within last 5 years. If less than "B" or over 5 years, a Faculty Review required.  BIOL 130/130A

BIOL 131/131A
Abnormal Psychology 3 Online is acceptable PSYN 312
Developmental Psychology 3 Must cover the entire lifespan; online is acceptable PSYN 233
Statistics for Social and Behavioral Sciences 3 Statistics course must be at the 200 level or above; online is acceptable BHSC 370
Social & Behavioral Sciences 3 Introduction to Sociology, Anthropology, or Cultural Diversity; online is acceptable  


*There are specific requirements for prerequisite course content. Acceptance of the above courses as meeting prerequisite requirements is determined by the Graduate Occupational Therapy Program only, and may be different than what is accepted for credit as part of a typical admissions process at Mercy. The OT Program graduate advisor can answer questions regarding course content. Please contact if you have questions. 

3rd Step - Completing Application Materials

There are two processes in the third step: 

3a)  General Mercy College Graduate Application

Apply online to Mercy College to be a graduate student. The Mercy College Graduate Application may be completed online. Graduate application portfolios with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher, and a prerequisite of GPA of 3.4 or higher, are more competitive. 

  • When completing the online general Mercy College application, indicate “Occupational Therapy” as the area of interest.
  • Once the application is submitted, students will receive an email confirming receipt of the application.  This email will contain additional occupational therapy materials for the application portfolio. 
  • Important: An application to the Occupational Therapy program will not be considered unless the student has submitted an application to Mercy College first.

3b) Occupational Therapy Application Materials

Submit the application portfolio materials to the Graduate Occupational Therapy Program.  Important: Although applicants must have a 3.0 GPA to apply, a 3.4 GPA or higher in prerequisite coursework is strongly recommended for a more competitive application.

It will be important to follow the directions carefully, and include all of the required materials.  Failure to do so may result in your portfolio not being reviewed.

The following information is required:

  • Prerequisite Table completed with the following:
    • General prerequisites: Identify the institution and term each course was completed, along with final grade
    • Mercy-specific prerequisites: Identify dates for completion OR anticipated dates for completion for each course, along with final grades, as applicable.
  • A short paper (2 pages) in which the applicant describes and discusses his/her understanding of occupational therapy, and connection to the profession. Cite three current and relevant references. Please use one-inch margins, double spacing, and Times New Roman 12 font. Failure to do so may result in an incomplete review of the applicant’s portfolio.
  • Two references (using Mercy Occupational Therapy Recommendation form)
  • Official transcripts (unofficial is acceptable only if student has a course in progress)
  • Updated résumé

Incomplete application may not be considered for admission to the program, as all materials must be present in order for an accurate and fair review to occur.

Click “here” for a copy of the application portfolio materials.  Students must first have completed the online Mercy graduate application, as stated earlier in the “Overview of the Application and Admission Process,” before submitting application portfolio materials.


Applications submitted during the application window will be processed and evaluated. Once all portfolios have been evaluated, select students will be invited for an on-campus interview and an onsite writing sample. After interviews are completed, students are either provisionally invited into the program, put on a waitlist , or not invited. Students will be informed of the Admission Committee decisions by the end of August. 

The Application Review/Provisional Acceptance Process

  • Application portfolios will be presented to the program’s Admission Committee.  The final admission decision is based on a combination of GPA, references, interview and written essays.
  • Candidates will be notified regarding their provisional acceptance into the next year’s occupational therapy class by late August. 
  • All acceptances will be provisional, and will not be finalized unless students complete remaining Mercy-specific prerequisites and/or bachelor’s degree courses with a minimum GPA of 3.0, and a grade of C or better prior to the Fall semester into which they were accepted. 
  • Students accepted into the program will be required to pay a non-refundable deposit of $250 at the time of acceptance, which will be applied to the fall graduate tuition payment. 
  • Students must enter the program in the year for which they were accepted.  Any divergence from this policy must be approved through a faculty review.

Prerequisite Courses

General Prerequisites

  • BIOL 130** and BIOL 131** Anatomy and Physiology I and II with a Lab including vertebrae dissection
  • Intro to Sociology, Anthropology or Cultural Diversity
  • PSYN 212 Abnormal Psychology
  • PSYN 233 Dvlpmntl Psych Across Lifespan
  • BHSC 370 Stats Socl/Behv Sciences or a statistics course at the 200 level or higher

Program Specific Prerequisites

  • HLSC 344 Group Process Health Profes
  • HLSC 210 Ovrview Occup Therapy Practice
  • HLSC 303/303A Hum Anatomy w/Cadaver Lecture
  • HLSC 302 Pathology for Rehabilitation
  • HLSC 314 Clinical Kines/Applied Physics
  • HLSC 410 Applied Neurosci/Rehab Prof
  • HLSC 205 Stnd Sfty Precaut/Hlth Care Pr
  • HLSC 225 Intro to Access and Reading Scholarly Lit 
  • HLSC 402 Scientific Writing
  • HLSC 420 Intro to Occupational Therapy

** General  Bio I or II (4 credits with a lab) including with a grade of B or higher from a four-year institution, can substitute for A&P II for students with a bachelor degree.

The prerequisite courses are offered at Mercy College days, evenings and weekends. Please note that students must qualify to take ENGL 111 to be admitted into a prerequisite science course. 

The grades of any repeated program specific prerequisite courses will be averaged together into the GPA. Students currently repeating a program specific prerequisite course will have the standing grade for that course included in their admission GPA until the new grade is averaged with he existing grade. Grades lower than C in prerequisite courses are not accepted.

Mercy-Specific Pre-Requisites

  • After a provisional acceptance into the OT Graduate Program, students must complete Mercy-specific prerequisites listed below in the year prior to beginning the graduate program.
  • Students may choose to begin taking Mercy-specific prerequisites before they actually apply to the program to improve the competitiveness of their application.  Students interested in this option must speak with the Occupational Therapy Graduate Advisor, who can be contacted at
  • Acceptance into the program is competitive.  Achieving the minimum prerequisite grade point average, or completion of the Mercy-specific prerequisites does not guarantee program admission.  
Mercy-Specific Course Terms Offered
HLSC 205 Safety Precautions for the Health Care Professional Fall, Spring and Summer
HLSC 210 overview of Occupational Therapy Fall, Spring and Summer
HLSC 225 Intro to Accessing and Reading Scholarly Literature (optional if >3.5 in bachelors or master's degree) Fall, Spring and Summer
HLSC 402 Scientific Writing (optional if >3.5 in bachelors or master's degree) Fall and Spring
HLSC 344 Group Process for Health Professionals (must obtain a "B-" or better) Fall and Spring
HLSC 302 Pathology for Rehabilitation Fall, Spring and Summer
HLSC 303/303A Human Anatomy with Cadaver Fall, Spring and Summer
HLSC 314 Clinical Kinesiology Fall and Spring
HLSC 410 Applied Neuroscience Spring
HLSC 420 Foundations of Occupational Therapy Spring and Summer


Transfer Credits

Up to six credits of graduate occupational therapy degree if equivalent in content, to Mercy College occupational therapy courses. Permission to transfer credits must be requested at the time of admission and official transcripts and course descriptions must be submitted to the program director for evaluation of equivalency. Students may be required to provide a copy of the course outline and required assignments for review by the Occupational Therapy Program Admissions Committee.

Additional Information

Additional information can be obtained from the Program Information Sheet, the Prerequisite WorksheetLetter of Recommendation Form and our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)