Misericordia University Launches Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program

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DALLAS TWP., Pa. – The Department of Occupational Therapy at Misericordia University is introducing an entry-level occupational therapy doctoral program beginning with the 2019 fall semester in response to the Accreditation Council of Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) mandate that all entry-level practitioners graduating after July 2027 must have a doctoral degree.


ACOTE has been providing accreditation for occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs since 1923. ACOTE currently accredits 406 programs in the United States and its territories. Misericordia utilized ACOTE’s entry-level doctorate accreditation standards in the development of the curriculum for the new doctoral program.


Misericordia University’s newest doctoral program in the health sciences features a six-year sequence that combines the foundation of a liberal arts education with professional occupational therapy coursework to produce a holistic practitioner. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational science in 3½ years before working toward their doctorate in occupational therapy with 2½ years of coursework. By maintaining established academic standards, students automatically matriculate to the graduate portion of the program.


“The decision was made to implement a Bachelor of Science in occupational science in order to begin to shape the professional behaviors and enhance the foundational knowledge of an occupational therapy student prior to entering into the doctoral phase,’’ said Lori Charney, O.T.D., O.T.R./L., chairperson of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “A six-year, entry-level program offers students the confidence that they will have a seat in the graduate program, which is notably something that prospective students look for when comparing programs.’’


The inaugural class will begin the pre-professional phase in the 2019 fall semester. The class will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in occupational science in December 2022 and enter the doctoral phase of the entry-level occupational therapy doctoral program in January 2023.


The Misericordia University Department of Occupational Therapy received its first ACOTE accreditation in 1985. Since then, the academic program has been preparing practitioners to utilize theory-based, occupation-focused assessment and intervention strategies to assist individuals improve functional performance. In recent years, the curriculum has been refined with an increased focus on occupations, evidence-based practice, community leadership and dynamic reasoning to promote professionals who provide meaningful and effective occupational therapy practice.


Current students who enrolled in the five-year Master of Science in occupational therapy program with projected graduation dates of May 2019 through 2023 will receive their master’s degrees and be eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination and apply for state licensure. Upon receiving licensure, the students can apply to the post-professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program at Misericordia, which has been in existence for more than 10 years.


The last cohort of the traditional occupational therapy program will graduate in May 2023, while the last class in the part-time weekend program will graduate in August 2024.


For more information about the entry-level occupational therapy doctoral program at Misericordia University, please call (570) 674-6400 or visit www.misericordia.edu/ot. Founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1924, Misericordia University is Luzerne County’s first four-year college and offers 56 academic programs on the graduate and undergraduate levels in full- and part-time formats. Misericordia University ranks in the top tier of the Best Regional Universities – North category of U.S. News and World Report’s 2018 edition of Best Colleges. The Princeton Review recognizes MU as a 2019 Best Northeastern College and MONEY Magazine includes Misericordia in its 2018-19 “Best Colleges” list.