Occupational Therapy Assistant

OTA program specific coursework is composed of lecture, laboratory, collaborative experiences, community activity, a baccalaureate project, and offsite fieldwork experiences. This degree educates students to work under the supervision and in cooperation with an occupational therapist (OT) to help people across the lifespan engage in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities called occupations.


Graduates are prepared to work in various settings that include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, sub-acute facilities, psychiatric and community-based programs, schools, nursing homes, private practice and other emerging practice areas.

Accreditation status a may be viewed at: www.acoteonline.org and on the CMU OTA webpage.


OTA Mission, Philosophy, & Curriculum Design

The curriculum design embraces that humans learn through experience, are motivated by occupation, and that learning occurs best when sequenced through scaffolding.  The overall mission of the OTA program is to prepare students as confident entry-level practitioners who understand the importance of both leadership and service in the communities they serve.  CMU and the OTA program share the vision to, prepare students for making a living and living a life. Our students not only learn how to help others achieve success in their daily lives, they also learn how to support themselves through the acquisition of skills and characteristics needed to support success.


At CMU we are committed to academic excellence by promoting communication, curiosity, and community. These academic threads guide the OTA program curriculum and direct development of character goals including a healthy therapeutic use of self, client-centered practice, life-long learning habits, professionalism, engagement, and service. The philosophy of OT is to help people across the lifespan participate in the therapeutic use of occupations, better known as activities of daily living and it aims to assist people with getting back to the job of living their lives. These values combined with our commitment to serve others is reflected in the OTA curriculum design. This holistic focus is at the very heart of the CMU OTA mission and philosophy; to make a difference in our world through service to others.


This philosophical foundation forms the foundation of our curriculum design. The curriculum explores occupation through the lens of human development and engagement.  Evidence-based literature supports that participation in meaningful occupation results in the ongoing human pursuit for a sense of wellbeing and meaning. By understanding the development of humans and its impact on occupational choice and engagement, students will be able to articulate their roles as practitioners within the lifespan progression and act as advocates of the occupational therapy profession. CMU students will learn how to be professional advocates as they grow into the role of client-centered practitioner. Further, CMU students will explore their role as change agents through service-learning activities designed to engage and inspire clients to reach wellness through meaningful occupations (The Commission on Education, 2017).


This philosophy directs the programs belief regarding how students learn. We recognize the connection between the occupation of education, occupational performance, and the student role. The OTA faculty endeavor to provide students with supportive educational environments by providing opportunities and activities needed to facilitate learning and participation. We believe students learn best when they construct knowledge and meaning from their experiences (Sithara & Marikar, 2017). Since humans learn in diverse ways we embrace multiple educational philosophical approaches to meet the learning needs of our diverse student population (Blooms Taxonomy, The Miller Pyramid Model, and Constructivism). These frameworks support teaching students through a series of knowledge-building phases reinforced through experience.


The OTA curriculum is designed as a progressive learning ladder with integrated scaffolding techniques to promote content mastery. OTA students progressively build upon their knowledge through evolving levels of general and professional coursework, integrative activities, and fieldwork education. The OTA student education is grounded in the liberal arts and sciences, is specialized through advising complimentary coursework individual to each learner and culminates with occupational therapy focused programmatic coursework made practical by real-world experiences. Curricular themes are organized sequentially, including Practice Foundations, Fundamentals in Development & Functional Intervention, Principles & Practice, and culminates with Clinical and Professional Preparation.  


OTA Program Outcomes


Upon successful completion of the OTA program the OTA graduate will: 

  1. Have acquired an educational foundation in the liberal arts and sciences and be educated as a generalist OTA practitioner (ACOTE, 2018).
    1. Be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).
  2. Demonstrate the ability to synthesize in-depth knowledge in a practice area through the development and completion of a baccalaureate project in one or more of the following areas: clinical practice skills, administration, leadership, advocacy, and/or education (ACOTE, 2018).
  3. Demonstrate clinical competence as an entry-level practitioner by successful completion of fieldwork practicums (AOTA, 2002).
    1. Demonstrate understanding of the basic tenets of occupational therapy and fundamentals of practice.


Requirements for Licensure

  1. Graduation from an accredited OTA program and passing the certification examination.
  2. An arrest or conviction may disqualify a candidate for licensure examination. The State Board of Occupational Therapy has the authority to refuse the issue of a license (Reference: Occupational Therapy Practice Act RS MO 324.086.1)



Associated Fees and Expenses

In addition to tuition, housing, books/supplies, and transportation costs students in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program will incur additional expenses. A full list of OTA student expenses can be viewed on the CLAS Health Profession Program Fee page.


Non-Discriminatory Policy

The OTA Department does not discriminate based on race, color, sexual orientation, religion, sex, national origin, age, or federally defined disability in its recruitment and admission of students.


Application and Admission Criteria for Selection of Students

The OTA program accepts 16 students each year. Admission to the Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program is on a selective basis; qualified applicants will be accepted on a case by case basis into the OTA program during each Spring semester. Each new cohort begins in the Fall semester. Program applications are due April 15th of each year. Priority deadline for CMU students, March 15th of each year. Applications are accepted and reviewed through OTACAS, or the online CMU OTA application form.

Students may apply to be admitted to the OTA program at the end of their Sophomore year if the following criteria are met:

  1. Meet all admission requirements to CMU and be fully admitted. This includes all high school and college transcripts. CMU Application
  2. Applicants submit the application for admission to the OTA program by the deadline.
  3. Applicants submit and ACT with cumulative score of 20 or above or ATI TEAS score of 60 or above.
  4. Applicants who have earned a bachelor of science degree are eligible for consideration for acceptance into the program without submitting an entrance exam score.
  5. Applicants with college level or dual credit courses must have earned a 2.75 cumulative GPA for all college level coursework.
  6. Students have the right to petition for consideration of alternative courses. Contact the OTA Program Director for instructions regarding petitioning.
  7. Applicants must meet certain academic standards, as the OTA curriculum prepares graduates to take a national certification examination. Students are eligible to enroll in occupational therapy courses after formal acceptance into the program. The following General education requirements and prerequisite science coursework requirements must be met for application into the program:
    1. OTA preadmission and science coursework criteria:
      1. Applicants must achieve a grade of B-(2.67 out of 4) or better in all prerequisite courses. Prerequisite courses include Human Anatomy with lab, Physiology with Lab, Introduction to Occupational Therapy, General Psychology.
      2. Human Anatomy with Lab and Human Physiology with Lab must be completed within the last five years.
      3. Introduction to Occupational Therapy (OTA100) must be taken at CMU. Students who have not completed this course may still apply, applicants may be offered “pending” or “provisional” acceptance contingent upon completion of this course. Students will be provided the opportunity to complete this course in an online format during the summer session prior to the fall program start.
      4. All prerequisite coursework must be completed or in progress before or during the semester of the deadline. Students that are accepted on a provisional basis may take a course during the summer semester prior to the fall semester. Courses with a grade of "D" or "F" will not count towards any Allied Health program.
      5. General Education Coursework: All general education courses must be completed with an earned grade of "C" or higher
    1. Other courses:
      1. Students may transfer a Kinesiology or Human movement course to meet the Anatomy and Kinesiology course requirement. This course must be completed with a grade of C or better. This course must be completed prior to or during the first semester of the OTA program coursework sequence.
      2. Questions about course equivalencies for transfer purposes may be directed to the registrar's office or directly to the OTA Program Director prior to submission of your packet.
      3. Additional required general admission courses include Medical Terminology, Introduction to APA, and Statistics. These courses may be completed within the OTA program course sequence.
  1. OTA Candidates will complete an interview upon request from the OTA department.


Selection Process

  1. A maximum of sixteen (16) students are accepted each year. The accepted cohort starts each Fall semester.
  2. The program director and faculty members shall review all applications to the OTA program.
  3. Applicant files are reviewed and sorted into tiers based on interviews, examination scores, essay scores, and GPA values.
  4. Applicant files in each tier are divided into two groups: “current, active CMU applicants” and “transfer applicants”. Applicant files for “current, active CMU applicants” are considered first for admission in each tier.
  5. Applicants may be accepted either "fully" or "pending successful completion of pre-requisite requirements” or accepted “provisionally” if courses are in progress. In addition, applicants may be admitted as an alternate. There will be at least two alternates per cohort. Students that are ranked as #17 and #18 will be offered the position of alternate. All applicants accepted or on the wait list are notified of their status and are provided information regarding their responsibilities in completing mandatory requirements, including carrying out criminal background check, urine drug screens, and other mandatory items of applicant responsibility. Please note, additional cost to the student may be incurred.
  6. All applicants accepted or placed as alternates/wait list candidates will be notified of their status and will be provided with information regarding their responsibilities in completing mandatory requirements, including urine drug screens, and other mandatory items of applicant responsibility.
  7. An applicant forfeits her or his reserved seat in the program if she or he
    1. Has not completed the mandatory requirements (other than coursework) prior to August 15th of each year.
    2. Does not meet the minimum requirements encompassed by the criminal background check and urine drug screen; or
    3. Drops out of any required pre-requisite coursework or does not meet the academic requirements for that coursework (accepted pending).
  8. Forfeited seats will be awarded to the next applicant or alternate from the applicant group who has completed the mandatory requirements.
  9. Applications are considered only in the year in which they are submitted.
  10. If two applicants are tied for placement an admissions committee will be responsible for making the final decision regarding the applicant selection. The committee may be comprised of (1) faculty member, (1) advisory board member, and an administrative official from within CMU, i.e. provost, department chair, or dean.


After Acceptance

  1. Students will be notified of their acceptance in the OTA program during the same term they applied.
  2. Students accepted with provisional criteria will enroll in and complete OTA100 Introduction to Occupational Therapy over the summer session prior to the Fall semester.
  3. Students must provide vaccination records for Rubella, Tetanus, Mumps, Polio, Chicken Pox, and submit proof of or waiver of Hepatitis B vaccination.
  4. CPR: Students must have a current CPR certification through application date. Certification is acceptable through The American Heart Association.
  5. Students must provide proof of physical examination to ensure that they are physically capable of performing the required minimum physical standards of the occupational therapy assistant student.*
  6. A criminal background check must be completed-students will be notified via mail or email regarding the process of completing this requirement. Students are responsible for the cost of this process. **
  7. A drug screen will be completed prior to clinical participation- students will be notified via mail or email correspondence regarding the process of completing this requirement. Students are responsible for the cost of this screen.

*Students are required to be covered by a personal health insurance.

**An unsatisfactory result on the criminal background check or drug screen may result in an individual's inability to participate in clinical education experiences. Clinical education experiences are required for successful completion of the program. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's eligibility for certification and credentialing.


Students must earn a 75% (C) in all OTA courses to pass the course, to progress to the next semester, and thus remain in the OTA Program.  OTA specific courses are only offered one time per year.  Failure to pass the course with the required criteria will result in withdrawal from the program or delay in program completion.   

** Students cannot pass a course containing a lab if you do not pass the lab portion of the course. ** 

Lab practical examinations will be given in OTA courses introducing technical skills.  All lab practical examinations must be passed with a minimum of 75% (C).  If a student is unsuccessful on the initial attempt remediation will be provided.  The student must earn a minimum of 75% on the second attempt.  75% will be recorded as the score regardless of score achieved on second attempt.  Failure to achieve the 75% required minimum score on the second attempt will result in failure of the course.  This will result in withdrawal from the program.   

Clinical performance will be evaluated using Fieldwork Performance Evaluation for the Occupational Therapy Assistant Student © AOTA.  Additional assignments will be required as noted in Clinical Education Syllabi.   Clinical Grades will be recorded on a pass/fail basis, with consideration for the Fieldwork Performance Evaluation and assignment completion.  Failure of a clinical will result in withdrawal from the program.  

Students who successfully complete 120 credit hours (including 54 hours of OTA Coursework) and maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.75 or greater will be awarded a Bachelor of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy Assistant. Students will be eligible for application to sit for the National Board Certification Occupational Therapy Examination (NBCOT). **  

Majors and Minors

Major Minor

Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant

OTA100 - Introduction to Occupational Therapy - 2 Semester Hours

OTA300 - Foundations: Introduction to Health Issues and Occupational Performance - 3 Semester Hours

OTA301 - OT Foundations- Foundations in Neuroscience - 3 Semester Hours

OTA302 - OT Foundations - Therapeutic Media and Design - Practice Framework - 3 Semester Hours

OTA304 - OT Fundamentals and Practice 1 - Early Development - 4 Semester Hours

OTA305 - OT Fundamentals and Practice II - Adult Development - 3 Semester Hours

OTA306 - OT Fundamentals in Development and Functional Intervention III Behavioral Health - 4 Semester Hours

OTA307 - OT Fundamentals and Practice IV - Physical Dysfunction and Rehab - 4 Semester Hours

OTA308 - Baccalaureate Project 1 - 1 Semester Hours

OTA330 - Clinical Education and Professional Preparation I Fieldwork 1 - 2 Semester Hours

OTA409 - OT Principles and Practice I Settings and Emerging Practice - 3 Semester Hours

OTA410 - OT Practice - Professional Skills and Transitions - 3 Semester Hours

OTA411 - OT Principles and Practice III Ethics, Management, and Leadership for the OTA Practitioner - 3 Semester Hours

OTA412 - Baccalaureate Project 2 - 1 Semester Hours

OTA413 - Professional Preparation Licensure and Certification - 1 Semester Hours

OTA431 - OTA431 Clinical Education and Professional Preparation I Fieldwork 1 - 2 Semester Hours

OTA432 - Clinical Education and Professional Preparation III Level IIA, Fieldwork 3 - 6 Semester Hours

OTA433 - Clinical Education and Professional Preparation IV Level IIB, Fieldwork 4 - 6 Semester Hours

Last updated: 08/07/2023