Skip to main
Why you should become an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapy Assistant Overview

Help individuals restore their ability to do the things they need, want or are expected to do. Become an Occupational Therapy Assistant and join an exciting and rewarding field.

Occupational Therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness or disability.

Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) work collaboratively with the Occupational Therapists (OTR) in providing high-quality, cost-effective services, promoting health and wellness by meeting society’s occupational needs (ACOTA, 2012). 

This two-year Associate in Applied Science Degree is a full or part-time evening and weekend program designed to prepare its graduates to apply for certification and licensure as an occupational therapy assistant and to practice as an entry level generalist. The program teaches its students to develop skills to successfully work in a variety of health care settings including: hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, mental health facilities and community centers.

What you can do with an Occupational Therapy degree

Career Opportunities

By choosing a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, you’ll have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives while entering a rewarding profession that has flexible and diverse job opportunities in areas such as:

  • Acute Care Hospitals
  • Rehab Hospitals
  • Schools and Pre-Schools
  • Early Intervention
  • Nursing Homes
  • Sub-Acute Care
  • Adult Day Care
  • Home Care
  • Design and Accessibility Consulting and Home Modification
  • Driver Rehabilitation and Training
  • Ergonomics Consulting
  • Health and Wellness Consulting
  • Low Vision Services
  • Private Practice Community Health Services
  • Technology and Assistive Device Development and Consulting

Faculty Profile
Meet Cristina Dumitrescu

Meet Program Director of Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, Christina Dumitrescu.

Learn more about her story and explore the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Mercy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

When and where are courses held?

Classes are held three evenings a week from 6:15-9:05 pm and one evening (Tuesdays) from 5:00-9:00 pm. Additionally, there are three full weekend lab days (either scheduled for Saturday or Sunday) each semester.

Where can I obtain information about the program?

To find out more about the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, call (914)674-7833 or e-mail the OTA program at

What are the fieldwork requirements of the program?

Level I: Each of the major module application courses (7 Credit - Childhood & Adolescents & 7 Credit - Adulthood & Maturity) has imbedded in the course 1 credit towards a Fieldwork I experience. This experience requires 21 hours of fieldwork time that may be taken on a once-a-week, part-time or consecutive-day basis depending on the site. These fieldwork experiences must be successfully completed over the duration of the appropriate semester in order to pass each 7-credit major module course. Level II: Once all the academic coursework is successfully completed for the program, students are required to complete a minimum of (2) eight to ten-week full-time fieldwork placements. Fieldwork II placements typically are scheduled Monday through Friday; but some may require weekend hours. Requirements are based on the operating hours of the assigned fieldwork site. Fieldwork II placements may be taken in consecutive semesters or in some circumstances, students may have a semester between fieldwork experiences. The fieldwork experiences are arranged by the Associate Director/Clinical Education Coordinator. Every attempt will be made to schedule fieldwork within one hour travel time from your home. Both Fieldwork level II experiences must be completed within 18 months of the completion of academic coursework.

What is the difference between an OT and an OTA?

According to the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants work collaboratively. The occupational therapist evaluates the client, plans therapeutic interventions and completes discharge documents. They also provide clinical supervision of the occupational therapy assistant. The occupational therapy assistant implements and documents the therapeutic interventions, and provides feedback to the occupational therapist on the client's progress during treatment.

Does New York State require a national board’s exam?

Yes. Any person who graduates from an occupational therapy assistant program is required to pass the national certification exam in order to practice as occupational therapy assistant in New York State. The exam is given by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT). A limited permit in occupational therapy allows an individual who has completed an occupational therapy educational program to work, under supervision, between the completion of the program and the time that the licensing examination results are received. A graduate may apply for a limited permit through the New York State Office of Professions and it is valid for one year. It may be renewed once, at the discretion of the Department, for one additional year. To do so you must submit a new application, an explanation as to why you failed to become licensed within the year of the original permit and the appropriate fee.

How long will it take me to complete the program?

The answer to this question depends on your personal situation. The program can be tailored to your personal needs. The OTA program can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. The full-time program consists of two years. In the first year, the student completes all pre-requisite courses. During the second year, the student completes the OTA core courses. Upon completion of the courses, students complete (2) eight to ten week Level II Fieldwork placements. Level II Fieldwork placements must be completed within 18 months upon completion of coursework. The part-time program requires that all coursework (including Level II Fieldwork) must be completed within 5 years from initiation of coursework. Therefore, at the maximum, students have 3 ½ years to complete the core coursework and 18 months to complete Level II Fieldwork.

Program Outcomes

  • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the professional code of ethics

  • Articulate the basic tenets of occupational therapy practice according to the history and the philosophical base of the profession

  • Describe the standards of practice for screening and evaluation as related to occupational performance during all aspects of activities of daily living (ADL) and using occupation for the purpose of assessment

  • Exhibit competency in culturally sensitive treatment interventions through the use of client centered occupations, tasks and activities based on theory and evidence

  • Assist with the development of occupation based intervention plans and strategies which are culturally relevant reflective of current occupational therapy practice, based on available evidence

  • Document occupational therapy services to ensure accountability of service provision and to meet standards for reimbursement services, adhering to the requirements of any applicable governmental service and or agency

  • Identify professional responsibilities and explain the importance of involvement within the associations at a state or national level

  • Demonstrate understanding and knowledge of legislative and regulatory changes and their implications in occupational therapy practice

  • Discuss strategies for ongoing professional development to ensure that practice is consistent with current and accepted standards

  • Explain the role delineation between an occupational therapist and an occupational therapy assistant

  • Demonstrate knowledge and appreciation of the role of sociocultural, socioeconomic, and diversity factors, lifestyle choices in contemporary society

Program Details & Curriculum

Curriculum Overview

General Education Requirements: 26 Credits

Health Science Requirements: 3 Credits

Occupational Therapy Requirements: 39 Credits

Total: 68 Credits

See full list of courses in the catalog

The Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). ACOTE contact information is: ACOTE, c/o Accreditation Department, American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. Phone number is (301) 652-2862. ACOTE's website is and email is Graduates of the program are eligible to sit for the national certification examination of the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) in most states (including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut). Please refer to the "Practice Acts" of each state for the licensure requirement of a particular state.

NOTE: A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure. 

NOTE: Students must be in good academic standing with a grade point average of 2.75 or higher in all major courses (all those courses that begin with OCTR) in order to advance to the full-time advanced clinical component of the program. All Occupational Therapy Assistant students are required to complete all Level II Fieldwork within 18 months following completion of academic coursework. All required coursework and fieldwork must be completed within five years from the initiation of coursework in the major concentration of occupational therapy.

Essential Performance Standards 

The program has an "Essential Performance Standards" form that outlines the necessary affective skills and professional behaviors, communication/interpersonal skills, psychomotor skills, cognitive skills and self-care skills deemed essential for completion of the program and performance as a competent occupational therapy assistant. This form is reviewed at the time of the interview and is signed by all accepted students stating whether they are or are not capable of performing the skills and abilities that are listed. Information regarding the Office of Accessibility is discussed at the time of the interview.

Occupational Therapy Assistant Objectives

The Mercy College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is organized around a developmental model, which examines the impact and effect of life challenges and occupations throughout the life span. Consistent with its philosophy, the program is designed to utilize the stages of human development. The developmental approach provides the students with a learning framework from which to develop their skills and abilities as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. The program is divided into four modules which are presented in an evening/weekend format. These modules focus on application of material in a variety of settings and with different populations in a developmental sequence so that the students learn to generalize the information and are able to use it to solve problems as they develop their own knowledge base.

The pediatric and adult major module courses require 21 hours of Level 1 Fieldwork for each course. These Level I Fieldwork experiences are designed to provide practical application of classroom work.

Upon completion of all course requirements, students complete two full-time Level II Fieldwork experiences for eight to ten weeks each. All Level II Fieldwork experiences must be successfully completed within 18 months of the academic coursework in order to satisfy degree requirements.

Fast Facts

  • Full or part-time program
  • Program designed for working adult learners who are seeking a career change or who have a desire to enter the field of occupational therapy
  • Classes held Monday - Thursday evenings
  • 75% of 2018 and 2019 graduates secured positions as occupational therapy assistants within three months of graduation


The Mercy College Occupational Therapy Assistant 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 c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA. 

Graduates of the Occupational Therapy Assistant 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 Certified Occupational Therapist Assistant (COTA). 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, One Bank Street Suite 300 Gaithersburg, MD 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.


NBCOT Certification

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

Degree Completion

Degree Completion

The total number of graduates from the Mercy College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program during the 3-year-period of 2017 - 2019 was 88, with an overall graduation rate of 94%

Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2017 33/31 94%
2018 25/24 96%
2019 36/33 92%
TOTAL 94/88 94%



Overall, employer surveys indicated that employers are satisfied with Mercy College occupational therapy assistant program graduates. 100% of employers indicated satisfaction with Mercy College occupational therapy assistant program graduates as entry-level generalist practitioners in terms of professional skills and behaviors, interpersonal communication and critical thinking. 

75% of the students who graduated in 2019 and sought employment within the occupational therapy profession began working within three months of graduation. One hundred percent of employers stated they would hire a Mercy graduate in the future.

Mandatory NBCOT Exam Preparation

Students must attend mandatory meetings during OCTR 209 (1st Level II FW Experience) in order to discuss the expected NBCOT exam preparation and to practice answering practice exam questions. During OTCR 210 (2nd Level II FW Experience) students will participate in at least four sessions of exam prep activities and a mandatory 4 hour practice exam. The practice exam will be conducted by a faculty member at no cost. FW II grades will be released only if students attend both sessions. Student's attendance and feedback will be documented. Fieldwork grade/degree conferrals will not be released unless the student attends both sessions and any other exam preparatory events scheduled by the program. 

Degree Requirements

Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Policies:

  1. Students are expected to attend all class sessions. No more than three absences are allowed without risk of failing a major course. Documentation may be requested by the Program Director for any absence/s. Absence on a weekend lab day counts as 3 class absences.
  2. Professional behavior is expected at all times in both the classroom and the clinical placement settings. The program Director and the faculty will address any demonstration of unprofessional behavior. 
  3. Students must earn a grade of C or better in all general education Prerequisite courses.
  4. Any student who receives a grade of C- or below in any prerequisite general education course will be required to repeat the course.
  5. Students must receive a B or better in all OTA core courses. Students who receive less than a grade of B are required to repeat the course. OTA core courses may only be repeated once.
  6. Any student who receives a grade below B in two or more OTA core courses or if the student’s GPA, within the OTA major, fails below 2.75, the student may be dismissed from the program after a faculty review.
  7. Students must take all courses in the sequence according to the curriculum design of the program.
  8. If a student must repeat a course for any reason, they must wait to do so until the course is offered the following academic year. A grade of F in any occupational therapy assistant course may be grounds for dismissal. The faculty will discuss the situation and the Program Director will make the final decision regarding whether dismissal from the program is warranted. These situations will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and would require appropriate documentation (medical, legal, etc.)
  9. Students who receive a rating of “Unsatisfactory” in any category in any Fieldwork I Experience will have their records reviewed by the Program Director and Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. The student will then be discussed with the faculty who will decide if the student may repeat the experience, or if the student will be permitted to repeat the entire major module course. In either case, the student will receive an educational plan that is designed by the faculty that addresses the student’s particular issues.
  10. Students may not take any Fieldwork II experiences until they have successfully completed all Fieldwork I experiences.
  11. Should a student fail a Fieldwork II experience, the faculty will discuss the reasons for the failure and a decision will be made as to whether the student will be given an opportunity to repeat the fieldwork experience. Reasons for the decision will be shared with the student during a face-to-face or telephone meeting with the Program Director and the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator. An “Educational Contract” for the repeated FW II assignment will be created by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and signed by the student and also by the Program Director prior to the student repeating the failed experience. Failure to uphold the specifications of the educational contract will result in failure of the repeated fieldwork placement and an automatic dismissal from the program. The student must register and pay tuition for any repeated Fieldwork course (OCTR 209 or OCTR 210).
  12. Failure in any two Fieldwork experiences, Fieldwork I or II, may result in dismissal from the program.
  13. During clinical fieldwork experiences, student work schedules may not interfere with the hours they spend at the fieldwork site.
  14. National boards exam preparation: Students must attend all scheduled mandatory exam preparatory activities and class meetings during OCTR 209 Occupational Therapy Practice for the Assistant: Advanced Clinical Education I, OCTR 210 Occupational Therapy Practice for the Assistant: Advanced Clinical Education II and OCTR 214 Occupational Therapy Practice for the Assistant: Adulthood and Maturity. Students will review and practice certification exam style questions in preparation for their licensing exam with the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT). FW Level II grades will be released only if students attend both mandatory sessions and any other preparatory events that are scheduled by the program.

Clinical Simulation Lab Hours

The Clinical Simulation and lab hours are scheduled in alignment with courses. Students are informed at the start of each semester of these hours.

How to Apply to the Occupational Therapy A.A.S.

Applying for Full- or Part-Time Study

To take the program on a full-time or part-time basis, all candidates must:

  1. Be admitted to Mercy College.
  2. Submit official transcripts from all high schools and colleges attended to the Mercy College Admissions Office.
  3. Have a minimum GPA of 2.75 in order to be interviewed or accepted into the program. Admission is based on a preference for applicants who have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above.
  4. Place at the ENGL 111 level.
  5. Complete a personal interview with the OTA Program Director or OTA designee.
  6. Complete the OTA Program Application and a written on-site essay at the time of the interview.
  7. Submit the three “Recommendation Forms” that are distributed at the time of the interview. These forms serve as references (no separate written reference letters will be accepted or reviewed). Preferably, one “Recommendation Form” will be completed by an Occupational Therapy Assistant or a Registered Occupational Therapist, Work Supervisor or an instructor of a Prerequisite course. The recommendations must be recent (not over six months old). All “Recommendation Forms” must be submitted in a sealed envelope with the reference’s signature over the seal. Any file that does not have the Recommendation Forms completed by the end of the application period deadline will be considered “incomplete” and will not be reviewed by the Admissions Committee.

Deadlines for Applications into the Program

  • March 31 for the fall semester.
  • October 31 for the spring semester.

Admission Decision

  • Admission decisions will be based on a ranking of composite numerical scores of an applicant’s GPA, interview, on-site essay and recommendations.
  • Decision letters will be mailed to applicants no later than April 15 (fall semester) and November 15 (spring semester).