Univ of Southern California
University of Southern California
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Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Master of Arts

The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy offers a Master of Arts degree with two routes of entry. Those with a baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy will begin graduate course work. Those with a baccalaureate degree in a field other than occupational therapy take additional 400-level courses before beginning graduate work. Eligibility to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy examination occurs when all course work is completed, including the equivalent of 24 full-time weeks of clinical fieldwork, and the M.A. degree has been awarded.

Admission Requirements

Those with a baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy: prerequisites are a bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from an accredited college or university or World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT) approved program; certification (or eligibility for certification) by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy; a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (A = 4.0); total score of 1000 or higher on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examinations taken within five years of enrollment; three letters of recommendation and an autobiographical sketch/statement of purpose. A satisfactory score on the TOEFL within two years of enrollment is a requirement for international students who have graduated from a non-English speaking college or university.

Those with a baccalaureate degree in a field other than occupational therapy must have completed all prerequisites:

  • Within five years of enrollment
  • Prior to the start of the program with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (pass/fail or grades below a C are not accepted)
  • From an accredited junior college, college or university
  • Either in a classroom setting or online; however anatomy must be completed in a classroom setting
  • With each course totaling three or four semester units (with exception of medical terminology which may be 1 or 2 units) as follows (course numbers refer to USC courses, but prerequisites can be taken at any accredited college or university):

    Medical Terminology for Health Professions (OT 200)
    Human Anatomy with Laboratory* (EXSC 301L or OT 260)
    Human Physiology* (OT 261 or BISC 307L)
    Introductory Statistics (PSYC 274)
    Developmental Psychology or Human Development (PSYC 336L)
    Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 360)
    Introductory Sociology or Cultural Anthropology (SOCI 200 or ANTH 201)
    Gerontology or Adult Development (recommended but not required)

*If anatomy and physiology are combined, students must take two sequential semesters with a laboratory each semester (6-8 units).

Four-week intensive courses in human anatomy with lab and human physiology are offered from mid-May to mid-June (just prior to the start of the program) for those students who have been unable to complete them earlier.

Courses prerequisite to master’s degree work for students entering the M.A. program with a degree other than occupational therapy include two of the following three: OT 401L, OT 402L, OT 403L, and all of the following: OT 405L, OT 410, OT 411, OT 430, OT 440L, OT 441L, OT 451, OT 470 and OT 480

Application Procedure

For those with a baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy: applications are accepted at any time, preferably by February 15 for fall admission and October 15 for spring admission.

For those with a baccalaureate degree in a field other than occupational therapy: applications for early decisions are due by November 30; all other applications are due February 15.

Applications received after the February 15 deadline are considered on a space-available basis. Application materials include: 1) USC Online Graduate Application; 2) division online Supplemental Application for Graduate Admission; 3) three letters of recommendation; 4) transcripts from all colleges/universities attended; 5) results of the aptitude test of the Graduate Record Examinations; and 6) TOEFL scores if required. A personal interview may be requested.

International Students

Students educated outside the United States must have their credentials evaluated by the Office of Admission before application to the division can be reviewed. See the Admission section of this catalogue. International students must demonstrate competency in English, as measured by the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).

Degree Requirements

The M.A. degree is under the jurisdiction of the USC Graduate School. Students should also refer to the Graduate School section of this catalogue for general regulations. All courses applied toward the degree must be courses accepted by the Graduate School.

Requirements include: GPA of 3.0 in all course work attempted and all course work applied to the degree; at least two-thirds of units applied to the degree must be at the 500 level or higher.

OT 451Neuroscience of Behavior,4
OT 470Qualitative Research for Evidence-Based Practice,4
OT 401 or OT 402 or OT 403(Practice Immersion Courses)8
OT 504Health Promotion and Wellness4
OT 570Occupation-Centered Programs for the Community, or
OT 581Quantitative Research for the Practicing Clinician4
OT 580Leadership Capstone2
OT 585Advanced Seminar in Occupational Science2

Thesis Option
A minimum of 28 units is required: 20 units of required courses, 4 units of elective at 500 level or above, and 4 units of OT 594ab Master’s Thesis. Acceptance of the thesis by the guidance committee and the university completes the degree.

Comprehensive Examination Option
A minimum of 32 units is required: 20 units of required courses, 4 units of elective and 8 units of occupational therapy electives. All electives must be 500 level or above. Successful performance on a written comprehensive examination administered on campus each fall and spring semester completes the degree.