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Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA)

Program Option: A.A.S.

St. Catherine University founded the first two-year occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program in the country more than 40 years ago and has more experience educating certified occupational therapy assistants (COTAs) than any other program in the Twin Cities. Our two-year associate of applied science degree program will help you master occupational therapy skills and develop and refine leadership, interpersonal and communication skills.

You will benefit from personal attention in classroom and fieldwork experiences, including the guidance of a fieldwork educator. Each student completes more than 700 hours of directed fieldwork experience in a variety of healthcare and community settings. Students have practical experience opportunities at more than 70 sites in the Twin Cities, plus some out-of-state options.

As a COTA, you will make a difference in people's lives. Occupational therapy assistants work in collaboration and cooperation with registered occupational therapists to help people engage in human occupations or "day-to-day" activities that contribute to their physical, psychological and spiritual health, well-being and overall quality of life.

You can interact with individuals and groups, including well populations and those with physical, psycho-social or developmental disabilities; work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, nursing homes, schools, rehabilitation facilities, community centers and clients' homes; and practice your profession in collaboration with other healthcare team members.

St. Catherine University's occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. ACOTE's number at AOTA is (301) 652-2682.

Graduates of the OTA program are able to sit for the national certification examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). NBCOT is located at 12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD, 20877-4150. The phone number for NBCOT is (301) 990-7979, the fax number is (301) 869-8492, and the website is www.nbcot.org. After successful completion of this exam, you will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Many states have some form of regulation in order to practice, and in Minnesota occupational therapy personnel must be licensed with the Minnesota Department of Health www.health.state.mn.us. Generally, state regulations are based on the successful completion of the NBCOT certification examination.

When graduates apply to take the certification examination with the NBCOT, they are asked to answer questions related to the topic of felony convictions. Graduates will also be asked questions about felony convictions as they apply for state licensure. 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, contact NBCOT.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services requires that all students going into a clinical setting have a criminal background check. Background checks are done within the first two weeks of class each year and the University provides all forms. Any identified problems on a background check may have an impact on a student's ability to participate in fieldwork, and therefore progress in the program.

All OTA program students must be certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). This must be an American Heart Association certification and must be completed by March 1 of your first year in the OTA program. No other CPR certifications will be acceptable in meeting this requirement.

Students interested in entering the OTA program come to the University as Pre-Occupational Therapy Assistant students one or two semesters before applying to the OTA program. Pre-Occupational Therapy Assistant students take prerequisite and liberal arts and science core and CIL requirements before beginning OTA courses.


Once in the OTA program, students take two years to complete their studies. Students take liberal arts and science and OTA courses concurrently both years as needed, and Level II Fieldwork is completed in the same semester following the appropriate course work in accordance with the curriculum design and the program policies.

See also: Occupational Science: Pre-Occupational Therapy, Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy (graduate catalog)

Major Requirements:

OSOT 1020 Role of the OTA
OSOT 1030 Human Occupations I
OSOT 1040 Clinical Conditions
OSOT 1050 Human Occupations II
OSOT 1210 Client Support Skills
OSOT 1250 Aging
OSOT 1270 Level I Fieldwork
OSOT 1300 Therapeutic Applications I
OSOT 2300 Therapeutic Applications III
OSOT 2330 Therapeutic Applications II
OSOT 2350 Level II Fieldwork
OSOT 2360 Level II Fieldwork
OSOT 2400 Practice Models and Professional Issues I
OSOT 2410 Practice Models and Professional Issues II
OSOT 3250 Group Dynamics and Leadership

Liberal arts & sciences core and CIL requirements:

NOTE: PSYC 1000 or BIOL 2400 must be completed before beginning OTA courses.

ART elective
BIOL 2400 General Anatomy & Physiology*
Community Integrated Learning course (CIL)
ECOL 2000 Human Ecology or other science elective
ENGL 1100 Composition
ENGL elective
HIMP 1020 Medical Terminology*
PHIL 2000 Ethical Problems in Healthcare
PSYC 1000 General Psychology
PSYC 2020 Lifespan Developmental Psychology*
SSCS 1000 Power and Social Change
SSCS elective
THEO elective

*Must have been completed no more than five years prior to entering the University to be considered for transfer.

Students admitted to St. Catherine University Fall 2013 or later:
The OSOT course curriculum remains unchanged, however the policy for admission to the major and the prerequisite requirements changed as noted below:

Admission to the Major:

After admission to the University, students must meet the following requirements to be eligible to submit the application to be considered for admission to the Associate Degree OTA program.

 --An overall GPA of 2.5
 --A cumulative prerequisite GPA of 2.5

All required Foundation (FNDN) coursework must be in process or completed with a C or better at the time of application; all students will take the COMPASS test at the point of admission to the University to determine if foundation (FNDN) coursework is required.

The following are considered prerequisite courses. They must be in process or completed at the time of application, and must be completed with a grade of "C" or better prior to beginning the program.

BIOL 2400 General Anatomy and Physiology*
ENGL 1100 Composition
HIMP 1020 Medical Terminology*
PSYC 1000 General Psychology

Any of the above four courses, in which a grade less than a "C" is earned, must be repeated. Note that there is allowed a maximum limit of ONE repeat per each of these four courses. A grade of "W" (withdraw) DOES COUNT as a repeated course.

Students should strive for more than the minimum grade of C for all prerequisites. It is also recommended that students plan to have most if not all Liberal Arts and Sciences (LAS) coursework completed before entering the program.

Liberal arts & sciences core and CIL requirements (minimum grade of C required):
ART elective
Community Integrated Learning course (CIL)
ECOL 2000 Human Ecology or other science elective
ENGL elective
PHIL 2000 Ethical Problems in Healthcare
PSYC 2020 Lifespan Developmental Psychology*
SSCS 1000 Power and Social Change
SSCS elective
THEO elective

*Must have been completed no more than five years prior to entering the University to be considered for transfer.

Students are strongly encouraged to research and understand the profession before beginning the program. Information regarding the profession and career options can be found on the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) website www.aota.org.