Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (GRAD)
The Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy in the Department of Health Sciences offers two graduate programs: a master of science (M.S.) degree with a major in occupational therapy and a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in occupational science. The M.S. in occupational therapy program is a two-year program designed for individuals with a baccalaureate degree in a field other than occupational therapy. It is an entry-level program for individuals who wish to become occupational therapists. The Ph.D. program in occupational science accepts applicants with an earned master's degree in occupational therapy or a related field (see admission requirements below). The doctoral program prepares individuals who wish to pursue academic careers that could include teaching, research, and other scholarly activities related to occupational science and occupational therapy.
Requirements for Admission into the M.S. Program in Occupational Therapy
- Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution
- Academic record that demonstrates potential to do work at the graduate level
- Completion of the occupational therapy supplemental application
The M.S. program has eight prerequisite courses, four of which are fixed (core body of knowledge) and four of which fall into categories that are "flexible," meaning that a variety of courses can fulfill the requirement in that category. All prerequisites except the occupation course must be taken for credit in an accredited academic institution of higher learning and must be no more than five years old at the time of application. The occupation prerequisite must be no more than three years old.
- Human anatomy with a laboratory1
- Human physiology1
- Abnormal psychology
- Introductory statistics
A two-semester sequence of combined anatomy and physiology; parts I and II may be substituted for separate courses.
- Human/individual behavior (for example: developmental psychology; child development; adulthood and aging; cognitive psychology; neuro-psychology)
- Modes of reasoning (for example: philosophy; ethics; statistics or data analysis [beyond the introductory course]; comparative religion, art, or music; literature taught in a foreign language; research design or methods)
- Study of social relationships, institutions, and systems (for example: linguistics; cultural/social anthropology; sociology [beyond intro level]; public health; public policy; leisure studies; political science; minority studies)
- Occupation: Complete a course in either an academic or community-based setting that requires the skills of your body as well as your mind. The occupation prerequisite must have the following characteristics:
- new learning/challenge (not something you already do or know how to do)
- formal (structured) learning context, but does not have to be a "for credit" course
- at least once a week for a minimum of six weeks
- social context (other learners present in person; online courses are not accepted)
- results in an end product or performance
- learners must be active (not just recipients of information)
- course content is not designed to be used to benefit, teach, or communicate with others
Examples include creative writing, poetry writing, studio art class, woodworking, jewelry making, theater, dance, music, and some sports.
The master of science program requires a minimum of 63 semester credit hours. The program is 24 months in length and includes substantial field work experience.
Occupational therapy courses are available only to graduate students enrolled in the M.S. program at the University.
Requirements for Admission into the Ph.D. Program in Occupational Science
The Ph.D. program in occupational science accepts academically qualified applicants who have completed master degrees in occupational therapy, relevant social and behavioral sciences, or related health fields. Applicants receive a thorough review for evidence of potential success in a doctoral program in The Graduate School at UNC–Chapel Hill. In order to achieve closely mentored research experiences, only applicants with expressed interests consistent with existing programs of research and scholarly work of the faculty are admitted. Final selection among qualified applicants will be based on an interview with core faculty members in the Ph.D. program in occupational science. Review the UNC–Chapel Hill website for information about applying to The Graduate School. In addition to the formal application to The Graduate School, the following information is required:
- Copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts
- Results of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language, if applicable)
- Academic statement describing applicant's interest in and/or understanding of occupational science
- Personal statement describing applicant's background, identities, and life experiences
- Three letters of recommendation from individuals who support the applicant's potential as an educator and scholar
The Ph.D. program requires a minimum of 45 semester credit hours beyond the master's degree. This course of study covers four domains:
- Occupational science
- An interdisciplinary cognate area that complements occupational science
- Research design and methodology
- Competencies for an academic career
All graduates must complete a doctoral dissertation in occupational science. Students are also expected to reach satisfactory competence in teaching and research as determined by their career goals.
With approval from the instructor, occupational science courses are open to graduate students interested in
- The study of people engaged in everyday activities in different situations and
- How various experiences in an activity or patterns of engagement influence development, health, and quality of life across the lifespan
Susan Coppola, Aging, Interprofessional Education, International Practice, Humanities in Health Care
Jenny Womack, Aging, Community-Based Practice, Assistive Technology, Universal Design and Environmental Modifications
Nancy Bagatell, Adolescents and Adults with Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities: Independent Living and Community Participation
Antoine Bailliard, Social Justice, Mental Health, Sensory Processing
Linn Wakeford, Occupation-Centered Services for Infants and Preschoolers with Developmental Delay, Diversity and Inclusion
Khalilah Johnson, Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities, Racial and Ethnic Disparities
Bridgette LeCompte, School-Based Practice
Raheleh Tschoepe, Physical Rehabilitation, Spinal Cord Injury and Other Neurologic Rehabilitation, Seating and Positioning, Community Reintegration
Katie Sorensen, ADA, Disability Rights and Advocacy, Fieldwork
Associate Professors Emeritae
OCCT (Occupational Therapy)
Examination of research approaches and issues within occupational science and occupational therapy. Development of skills in writing research proposals and applying research results to insure evidence-based practice.
Direct experience with clients/patients in varied service treatment settings. Experience will include adult disabilities.
Direct experience with clients/patients in varied service treatment settings. Experience will include adult disabilities.
An introduction to the structures, functions, and processes of the human body that support participation. Mental and sensory processing, digestion, reproduction, endocrine, and immune responses that support occupation are explored.
An introduction to the structures, functions, and processes of the human body that support participation. The focus is on motor and somatosensory capacities and the structures related to those functions.
An exploration of the biological and phenomenological aspects of specific mental and physical health conditions that may be experienced by children, adolescents, and young adults.
This course addresses the biological and phenomenological aspects of specific mental and physical health conditions that may be experienced by adults.
Complex health conditions and changes affecting older adults' capacity to engage in meaningful occupations. Biomedical and narrative perspectives.
Overview of OT practice settings, professional organizations, and regulatory bodies. Factors influencing practice, including legislation, reimbursement, documentation, and culture of communities. Ethics, confidentiality, self-awareness, teamwork, and professionalism in practical settings.
Introduction of core foundations for occupation-centered occupational therapy practice. Students learn fundamentals of professional communication and behavior, therapeutic use of self, clinical reasoning, activity analysis, theory, and evidence-based practice.
Occupational therapy majors only. This course focuses on occupational therapy practice with children, adolescents, and young adults who have disabilities or health problems that inhibit occupational performance and/or social participation, across a variety of situations.
A focus on occupational therapy practice with adults that have physical and/or mental health conditions that impact their participation in occupations.
Provides opportunities for students to practice and begin developing key clinical skills in observation, analysis, interpersonal interactions/communication, documentation, and applying concepts related to theory-based and evidence-based practice.
Occupational therapy majors only. Provides opportunities for students to practice and begin developing key clinical skills in assessment, intervention planning, intervention strategies, and documentation in practice with children, adolescents, and young adults.
This applied lab addresses the content and technical skills of practice with adults who encounter occupational therapy due to various life and health conditions.
Introduction to the philosophical tenets of occupational science and their application to occupational therapy. The course highlights the multiplicity of interconnected factors which generate participation in occupational situations.
Changing capacities for engagement with occupations and occupational opportunities during childhood, adolescents, and early adulthood.
Examination of the patterns of participation through occupational engagement with families, communities, workplace, and other social structures in the middle years of the life course.
Changing capacities for engagement with occupations and occupational opportunities during older adulthood. Strategies for compensation and adaptation.
Occupational therapy majors only. Exploration of environmental dimensions of performance. Learn to use assistive and rehabilitation technologies in practice. Students assess situational impact on performance, modify the environment for therapeutic effect, and utilize technology.
This course develops the students' understanding of social systems, how they function, and are perpetuated through everyday practices. Students partner with community entities to identify strengths, resources, and service gaps and develop a response.
Professional understanding and skills to assess practice context, plan programs, and management of profession interpersonal relationship for collaboration and service delivery.
Elective. Independent study to pursue specific interests and topics. Faculty supervision. May be repeated for credit.
Applied Research Seminar with particular focus on the application of the scientific process to address an identified clinical problem.
Collaborative research projects in occupational science or occupational therapy. Emphasis on data collection, analysis, and professional communications of research findings.
Permission of the department.
OCSC (Occupational Science)
Deconstruction of the original precepts of occupational science while examining several works from other disciplines. Study of early and recent trends and critiques of occupational science to develop an assessment of the state of the discipline and future directions.
A reading and discussion of major theories of action from various disciplines. Works read will also entail associated issues such as identity, place, culture, and social relations.
Discussion and critical evaluation of philosophy, theory, and scientific issues associated with the study of people's activities in the context of their everyday lives. Topics differ each semester.
Independent study to pursue specific interests and topics under faculty supervision.
Doctoral dissertation in occupational science.