The foundation of the occupational therapy program philosophy is a deeply held set of beliefs about:
- The profession
- Experiential learning
- Interprofessional collaborative practice
- Cultural competence
- Civic engagement
These beliefs correlate closely with the stated mission of both the university and the College of Health and Human Services. The occupational therapy program faculty support the university and school missions by engaging students in dynamic experiential learning methodologies, student-faculty scholarship activities, intentioned personal interactions, facilitated leadership opportunities, and service activities in the culturally diverse local community throughout the curriculum. To further operationalize its mission and philosophy, the program is designed to create a learning environment in which the curriculum itself maximizes the fit between students, their environments, and meaningful occupations through civic engagement.
Coursework, field experiences, and mentorship programs are designed to enable students to become ethical, contemporary occupational therapy practitioners who adopt the values necessary to:
- Work interprofessionally to contribute to the vitality and well-being of the community or individual served.
- Utilize evidence to inform professional reasoning and decision-making.
- Practice using a client-centered, occupation-based approach.
- Collaborate with individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations to identify culturally relevant personal and communal goals.
- Strive to maximize the fit between the individual and their personal, social, cultural, physical, virtual, and community environments.
- Serve as leaders in their community.
Aligned with the mission of the University, the mission of the Occupational Therapy Program is to:
- Promote excellence by holding our graduates and ourselves to the highest standards of ethical, evidence-informed, and client-centered practice. We are committed to working interprofessionally to provide others in our diverse community to achieve what they want and need to do in their daily lives. This approach will maximize the fit between individuals, groups, and populations and their environments enabling all to engage in meaningful activities that create better futures. Our graduates will be innovative critical thinkers and evidence-based practice scholars who are prepared to serve as leaders within their communities and the profession.
- Engage, inspire, and empower our students to act with integrity to demonstrate ethical, professional, and civic leadership through:
- Multisensory teaching and learning approaches.
- Modeling and mentoring by faculty and mentors.
- Fieldwork and doctoral experiences in interprofessional community programs as well as traditional clinical settings.
- Experiential learning and leadership opportunities in student-run pro-bono clinics to help build graduates’ professional skill sets throughout their academic years.
- Respect the Chester and surrounding community by caring, honoring, and contributing to the vitality and well-being of our community through leadership in the client-centered pro-bono health and wellness clinics, civic engagement, and community-based fieldwork experiences.
Upon completion of the program, graduates will:
- Demonstrate competency to practice as a client-centered entry-level occupational therapists in a wide array of delivery models and systems whose practice supports an enhanced fit between the person, their environments, and their engaged occupations. This perspective is consistently used in settings in which occupational therapy is currently practiced, as well as where it is an emerging service.
- Engage in evidence-based evaluations, select and apply appropriate occupational theory, and utilize client-centered interventions to achieve expected outcomes.
- Collaboratively plan and utilize client-centered, evidence-based occupational therapy interventions to address the physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory, and other aspects of performance in a variety of contexts and environments to support engagement in everyday life activities that affect health, well-being and quality of life.
- Articulate and apply client-centered therapeutic use of occupations with culturally diverse individuals, groups, or communities for the purpose of facilitating performance and participation in activities, occupations, roles, and situations in home, school, workplace, community, and other settings.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the distinct roles and responsibilities of the occupational therapist and the occupational therapy assistant; and engage in client-centered collaborative service delivery with appropriate supervision of personnel.
- Communicate and engage with interprofessional teams to provide client-centered, culturally sensitive health and human services programs for persons, groups, and populations.
- Embrace the value of lifelong learning to engage in evidence-based client-centered contemporary occupational therapy practice.
- Uphold the ethical standards, values, and attitudes of the occupational therapy profession.
- Advocate for access to client-centered occupational therapy services that enhance the fit between humans, their environments, and the occupations in which they engage.
- Demonstrate active involvement in professional development, civic and community engagement, service learning, and advocacy.
The design of the Widener University occupational therapy curriculum identifies the major themes and threads of the program’s mission and philosophy, while demonstrating the close alignment between the program’s, school’s, and university’s missions. The desired outcome is the transformation of students into concerned practice scholars who think critically about human services issues and are engaged citizens who serve as leaders in their professional and civic communities. The curriculum is organized around five client-centered themes that reflect the program’s philosophy.
- Interprofessional collaboration
- Community/civic engagement
- Evidence based practice
- Professional reasoning
It is further enriched through two curricular threads:
- Understanding and maximizing the person, occupation, and environment fit
- Client centeredness
Additionally, the curriculum model for the doctor of occupational therapy layers foundational knowledge sequentially—semester-by- semester—drawing on concepts explored from previous courses and student experiences. An emphasis on active scholarship and community involvement creates a well-rounded, comprehensive, and dynamic academic experience for students. A culture of leadership is woven throughout the curriculum, introducing students to topics ranging from professional identities and missions to codes of ethics and skills building.
The American Occupational Therapy Association defines the role of the occupational therapist as assisting people across the lifespan to participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Occupational therapists are skilled health care professionals who use research and scientific evidence to ensure their interventions are effective.
Occupational therapy enables people to function in all of their environments, including home, work, school, and community, by addressing the physical, psychological, and cognitive aspects of their well-being through engagement in occupation and utilizing a holistic perspective. This includes assisting people to regain function after illness or injury through retraining and adaptations as part of an interprofessional or intraprofessional team. Services include evaluations in any or all of the client’s environments that could lead to further intervention and education for family members or caregivers to maximize independences in all areas of activities of daily living (ADLs).
Occupational Therapy Entry Option
At this time, there is are three entry options into the doctor of occupational therapy program at Widener University.
Applicants holding a bachelor’s degree in any discipline from Widener or another university may apply to the program under the entry-level OTD track. Students often include recent graduates and students seeking a career change. Students are encouraged to contact the program early to assess the need for completion of prerequisite coursework. Courses taken in preparation for entry may be completed at Widener or at another university or college.
Accelerated 3+3 Program
Undergraduates who are admitted to the gradaute occupational therapy program after their junior year are considered to be 3+3 students. The courses they take in their senior year count toward both their fourth undergraduate year and their first year of the graduate degree. Applications for the graduate program are completed in the fall of junior year. A baccalaureate degree is conferred upon a successful completion of the first year of graduate study.
This option is only available to students majoring in anthropology, fine arts, psychology, and sociology. Students wishing to be considered for the 3+3 program must identify their interest by the end of their first undergraduate year.
The 4+3 option allows students to complete all required courses for their academic major and all pre-requisite courses for the graduate program in four years. It provides a less intense class schedule for students as they finish undergraduate study in the traditional four year span. Applications for the graudate program are completed in the fall of senior year. Students who complete their undergraduate study at Widener University will be given preference on admission to the graduate program.
Admission guidelines are established by the faculty in compliance with university standards for graduate programs. Admission to a graduate program of study will be restricted to students who demonstrate the capacity for graduate-level studies through a satisfactory grade point average (GPA), faculty and clinical supervisor evaluations/recommendations, interview outcomes, and submitted essay.
Students are required to have a 3.0 cumulative and prerequisite GPA and a ‘C’ or better in all the prerequisite courses.
The program will only accept applications via the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS), www.otcas.org. The soft deadline for completing applications via OTCAS is November 15 of each year, with a firm deadline of January 15 of each year. Applicants will receive notification of the receipt of application materials from OTCAS and will be kept apprised of the status of any outstanding materials. The review of applications takes place from November to April. Applicants will be notified when the decisions are made.
The following prerequisite courses are required for all domestic applicants:
- Anatomy & Physiology I w/ Lab (human preferred), 4 credits
- Anatomy & Physiology II w/ Lab (human preferred), 4 credits
- Statistical Methods, 3 credits
- Lifespan–Human Development (or equivalent), 3 credits
- Abnormal Psychology (or equivalent), 3 credits
- Sociology (any course) or Anthropology (preferably cultural), 3 credits
Three letters of recommendation are required:
• At least one from an occupational therapist
• At least one from a professor/faculty member
Only three letters are required, and any supplemental letters will not be included with your application. We do not accept recommendations from family members. You must submit your letters of recommendation in the OTCAS system.
The program requires a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer or paid experience in an occupational therapy setting in which the student is supervised by a licensed occupational therapist. We recommend that students have experienced at least two different clinical settings. Volunteer hours should be reported in the OTCAS system.
The program requires students to obtain criminal and child abuse clearances in each year of enrollment. A prior felony conviction may make a student ineligible for occupational therapy licensure and, therefore, ineligible for admission to the program. Prospective students who have had felony or other convictions should consult the Pennsylvania State Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners in Harrisburg (or other relevant licensure state boards) for licensure specifics.
Submission of health requirements, clearances, and successful completion of Professional Rescuer CPR and First Aid will be required prior to the start of the fall semester of the first year. Prior to matriculation, those admitted to the program must attest to their ability, with or without reasonable accommodation, to perform all essential functions described in the program’s “Essential Functions” document.
International students should consult the International Student Services web page at www.widener.edu for international graduate student guidelines or contact the Office of International Student Services at Widener University, One University Place, Chester, PA 19013; phone: 610-499-4499.
No transfer credits will be accepted in the doctorate in occupational therapy program.
To qualify for the doctor of occupational therapy degree, the candidate must:
- Comply with all general requirements of Widener University relating to the governance of graduate programs.
- Complete at least 111 credits of graduate coursework in the Widener occupational therapy program.
- Complete all of the degree requirements within a total of five calendar years from the date of first enrollment in the occupational therapy program.
- Complete all courses in a sequential fashion. Students must successfully complete coursework within each given semester and remain in good academic standing in order to progress to the next semester. Students must have completed all academic coursework and be in good academic standing to progress to Level II fieldwork.
- Successfully complete the academic and fieldwork portions of the curriculum.
- Maintain a minimum semester grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 in all occupational therapy coursework.
- Have a cumulative overall 3.0 GPA.
- Demonstrate appropriate professional behavior and conduct throughout all academic and fieldwork components.
- Successfully complete Level II fieldwork and doctoral capstone experience within 24 months beyond the date of completion of didactic coursework. In instances where there is more than 12 months of inactivity, faculty may require students to engage in competencies and/or other learning activities to assure fieldwork readiness.
- Must receive satisfactory reports and evaluations from all fieldwork educators to receive fieldwork credit (“Pass”).
- Notify advisors in writing of intented graduation date.
- Pass all comprehensive examinations.
- Petition to graduate within the appropriate time frame specified by the registrar’s office.
Please note that a waiver of any requirement for the degree must be approved in writing by the associate dean.
Taking more than 18 credits in any semester will need the approval of the associate dean and faculty.
Summer Session (7 Credits)
Fall Semester (18 Credits)
Spring Semester (17 Credits)
Summer Session (12 Credits)
Fall Semester (17 Credits)
Spring Semester (18 Credits)
Summer Session (6 Credits)
Fall Semester (7 Credits)
Spring Semester (9 Credits)
Total Credits: 111
*Cross-listed PT course.
The program of study that appears here applies to students who were admitted for the summer session of this catalog year and later. Students admitted prior to that term should select the appropriate catalog year of their admission. Choose previous catalogs from the Home, Graduate, or Undergraduate Catalog Page at http://Catalog.widener.edu.
Academic Policies and Standards in Occupational Therapy
In addition to the policies and standards previously noted, the following are required in Widener’s occupational therapy program:
- Any student who earns a semester GPA below a 3.0 will automatically be put on academic probation. If a student has 12 a second semester on probation at any time in the program, the student will be required to meet with the Academic Standards Review Committee. The committee will discuss performance issues and may dismiss the student from the program. This decision is made after careful consideration of the student’s overall performance in the program. If a student has any additional semester on probation in any subsequent semester, he or she will be required to again meet with the Academic Standards Review Committee, which will determine if the student can continue in the program.
- If a student fails a course, that course may be repeated only once with permission of the Student Recruitment and Retention Committee. The student may also be prohibited from moving forward in the lock-step program until those courses in which the student received a failing grade are repeated successfully. Successful completion of any repeated course requires a grade of B or better. After the student successfully repeats a failed course, both grades are recorded on the transcript but only the most recent grade is used in calculating the GPA. However, when a student is convicted under Widener’s academic fraud policies, that student is prohibited from exercising the repeat-of-course option to remove the F grade (given as a result of fraud) from the GPA calculation. To graduate, students must achieve an overall GPA of 3.0 on a standard 4.0 system. No student will graduate from the occupational therapy program with an incomplete grade.
- If a student fails to meet the degree requirements in a timely manner, the school may dismiss the student. Once a student has been dismissed, he/she may no longer enroll in graduate programs of the university and may not apply for admission into another division of the university.
- If a student repeatedly fails courses, the school may dismiss the student. A student will be dismissed from the program when his/her cumulative average is below 3.0 and when a grade of C is received in a second course in the same semester. The student may petition the Student Recruitment and Retention Committee for readmission. The committee may require the student to repeat those and other courses. Successful completion of a repeated course will require the student to achieve a grade of no less than a B. Failure to achieve a grade of B will result in dismissal from the program.
- Conduct inconsistent with the ethical and professional standards of the discipline, whether it occurs before or after matriculation, is grounds for dismissal from the program.
- The code of responsible conduct for graduate students requires that each student maintain academic integrity and act according to this code in all academic matters. Students are asked to read and sign the policy on academic integrity upon entering the program. They are also expected to abide by the code of ethics and uphold the standards of practice for occupational therapy as published by the American Occupational Therapy Association. Clinical integrity should model academic integrity. Students should refer to standards for clinical behavior published in the program’s clinical education manual.
- After acceptance and prior to enrollment in the program, all students will receive the “Essential Functions” document to review and sign. This document outlines the essential functions of a occupational therapy student in the program at Widener. Students will attest to their ability to perform these essential functions with or without reasonable accommodations. If the student needs accommodation, more information about reasonable accommodations can be obtained by contacting Disabilities Services.
- Misconduct outside the program that results in a felony conviction may make a student ineligible for licensure as a occupational therapist; hence, students who are convicted of a felony may be dismissed.
Fieldwork and Doctoral Experiential Component Standards
Fieldwork Education Experience
Level I Fieldwork
- At the conclusion of each Level I fieldwork experience, the student’s performance will be assessed using the Philadelphia Region Fieldwork Consortium’s Level I Fieldwork Evaluation Form (Green Form). The student will also rate his/her individual performance using a separate copy of the form to enhance the student’s ability to assess his or her own performance. Experience with self-assessment is critical for students to assist them with future development of professional goals.
- Students will also be asked to evaluate the fieldwork experience using the Philadelphia Region Fieldwork Consortium’s Student Evaluation of Level I Fieldwork Form (Blue Form).
- Once the final evaluations are completed, reviewed and signed by the student and the fieldwork educator, the student will submit the evaluations to the academic fieldwork coordinator.
- Students who do not successfully complete a Level I fieldwork placement will be required to appear before a subgroup of the OT program faculty that includes, at a minimum, the academic fieldwork coordinator, program director, and faculty advisor. This faculty group will determine whether the student is permitted to repeat the fieldwork and/or may impose sanctions which can include probation, suspension, or dismissal from the program; and/or delay the student from engaging in the Level II fieldwork experience portion of the curriculum.
Level II Fieldwork
- A student must attain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA prior to enrolling in the Level II fieldwork experiences.
- At the midterm and final evaluation of each of the Level II fieldwork experiences, the student will also rate his/her individual performance using a separate copy of the AOTA Fieldwork Performance Evaluation (FWPE) tool as a method of facilitating the student’s continued growth in developing professional goals.
- Students will be asked to evaluate the fieldwork education experience using the AOTA Student Evaluation of Fieldwork Experience (SEFWE) form. These evaluations will provide helpful information to the academic fieldwork coordinator regarding the site, fieldwork educator and practice setting.
- Once the final evaluations are completed, reviewed and signed by the student and the fieldwork educator, the fieldwork educator will submit the evaluations to the academic fieldwork coordinator.
- Based upon the ratings and comments provided by the fieldwork educator(s), the academic fieldwork coordinator will assign a final grade for each experience completed by an individual student. The grades will be recorded as Pass or No Pass.
Doctoral Experiential Component (DEC)
- A student must attain a minimum overall 3.0 GPA prior to enrolling in the DEC.
- At midterm and final of the DEC, the faculty mentor and on-site mentor(s) collaboratively complete an assessment of the doctoral student’s performance using the Collaborative Mentor Evaluation of the OTD student.
- At the midterm and final evaluation of the DEC, the student will also rate his/her individual performance using a separate copy of the Collaborative Mentor Evaluation tool as a method of promoting discussion regarding performance and the learning process.
- Students will be asked to evaluate the DEC using the “SEDEC” form. These evaluations will provide helpful information to the DEC coordinator regarding the site, onsite mentor, and practice setting.
- Once the final evaluations are completed, reviewed, and signed by the student, on-site mentor, and faculty mentor, the faculty mentor will submit the evaluations to the DEC coordinator.
- Based upon the ratings and comments provided by the faculty mentor and on-site mentor, the DEC coordinator will assign a final grade for each experience completed by an individual student. The grades will be recorded as Pass or No Pass.
Level II Fieldwork and Doctoral Experiential Component (DEC)
- If a No Pass grade is received for Level II fieldwork or the DEC, the academic fieldwork coordinator or DEC coordinator will determine if a student is entitled to remediate by completing additional learning activities, another Level II fieldwork or DEC, and/or if further time at that particular facility will meet the needs of the student. If the student is required to complete an additional experience, the respective coordinator will determine when and where the student will repeat the experience.
- Students who frequently display unprofessional behavior and/or judgment, or who are unable to address professional behavior concerns that have been identified by faculty, will be required to appear before a subgroup of the OT program faculty that includes, at a minimum, the academic fieldwork coordinator or DEC coordinator, program director, and faculty advisor. This faculty group may impose sanctions that can include probation, suspension, or dismissal from the program, and/or delay the student from engaging in the Level II fieldwork and/or DEC portion of the curriculum.
- Students must successfully complete Level II fieldwork and the DEC within 24 months beyond the date of completion of didactic coursework. In instances where there is more than 12 months of inactivity, faculty may require students to engage in competencies or other learning activities to assure readiness for Level II fieldwork and/or the DEC.
- Students must receive satisfactory reports and evaluations from all fieldwork educators/DEC mentors to receive fieldwork/DEC credit (Pass).
- Failure to complete the Level II fieldwork or DEC, student withdrawal, or having to be removed from a placement may result in a student’s dismissal from the program. Students who need to repeat more than one Level II fieldwork and/or DEC due to unsatisfactory performance will be dismissed from the program.
- If a grade of “No Pass” is obtained in a fieldwork or DEC, a subgroup of OT faculty that includes, at minimum, the academic fieldwork coordinator or DEC coordinator, program director, and faculty advisor will determine whether the student is permitted to repeat the fieldwork or be dismissed from the program. If permission to repeat the fieldwork is granted, the student must develop a written plan of self-correction prior to being placed in another fieldwork.
- A fieldwork may be repeated only once, and the student must achieve a “Pass” grade on the second attempt. The decision to permit a student to repeat fieldwork or DEC is dependent on the fieldwork educator’s/DEC mentors’ verbal or written reports about student behavior with respect to adherence to site regulations, site schedule, ethical standards of conduct, or engagement in behavior that puts patient/client safety at risk.
- Students receiving a “No Pass” grade, including “Withdrawal” in fieldwork or DEC will receive an academic alert. The student must re-register and repeat the respective experience in order to progress in the program. Repetition of a fieldwork or DEC could delay graduation. Withdrawal for medical or personal reasons, approved by program faculty, will not result in an alert.
- A student must earn a grade of “Pass” in all fieldwork and the DEC in order to graduate.
A matriculated student is one who meets all entrance requirements and is pursuing an approved program that leads to a graduate degree.
Students enrolled in graduate courses are considered to be mature students. For this reason, there is no general policy for attendance in graduate courses. However, with certain courses, it is appropriate for the instructor to make regular class attendance mandatory. Such policies will be announced during the first class meeting and included in the course syllabus.
Grading in Occupational Therapy
Graduate students in the occupational therapy program are expected to maintain satisfactory progress toward their graduate degree. The graduate record for a student begins with the first course in which he/she enrolls and includes all subsequent courses.
|94 and above
|90 - 93
|87 - 89
|83 - 86
|80 - 82
|77 - 79
|75 - 76
|74 and below
Note: For specific information on grades, see “Grading System ” in the “School of Human Professions Information” section.
Pass/No Pass—Almost all graduate courses in occupational therapy will give standard letter grades. The special nature of some courses will require that they be graded on a Pass/No Pass basis.
Students who elect to withdraw from a required occupational therapy course may not continue with the program unless permission is granted following review by the Academic Standards Review Committee.
Students can officially graduate at the end of the fall, spring, and summer terms. Only one graduation ceremony is held each year. Commencement is in May following the spring semester. Students planning to graduate must file a petition. (For more information, see section titled “Degree Requirements.”)
The entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301)652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org.
The program must have a pre-accreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR).
In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examiniation. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.