Occupational Therapy Assistant

Degree offered

Associate in Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant

Credits required 72


Patricia Dent

Program contact

Johanna Duponte, Department Chair and Professor of Occupational Therapy, ext. 2325

Program Code: OA

Program Goal Statement

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program prepares generalist, entry-level occupational therapy assistants to practice under the supervision of registered occupational therapists in a variety of health care and wellness settings. Occupational therapy helps people of all ages with physical, developmental, social, or emotional challenges regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

Student Learning Outcomes

See Learning Outcomes.

Applications with complete supporting documentation by February 1 receive priority consideration for fall admission.  Applicants are advised to apply well in advance of the deadline.

Program Information

  • BCC graduates are recognized as well prepared entry-level practitioners by the clinical community and employers.
  • One program with two curriculum delivery options: Traditional and eHealth (hybrid i.e. online classes, on-site labs and community and/or clinical fieldwork.)  Both options are located in New Bedford.
  • Traditional option OTA courses are offered primarily during the day, Monday - Friday (schedules change each semester); eHealth program option OTA courses are offered Wednesday - Saturday and may include evenings.  Both options include clinical fieldwork assignments which may include days, evenings and weekends. The traditional program option requires 2-3.5 days/week onsite and the eHealth program option requires 1-2 days/week onsite.  Both program options require 5 days/week (typically M-F) in full time fieldwork in the fourth semester.  Both program options require an additional 20+ hours/week to complete the required reading and assignments.
  • Many General Education courses are available nights, weekends, online and at satellite campuses.
  • Computer technology is integrated throughout the OTA program. OTA courses use online course spaces which necessitates all OTA students have access to a computer that is internet enabled, and have information and computer literacy skills that include using web browsers and other web applications to locate and appropriately use information provided in an online format.  Students should also have the ability to create, edit, save and retrieve documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. 
  • All applicants should review detailed information about technical requirements, time expectations, accessibility and eLearning, and how to succeed in an online classroom: http://dl.bristolcc.edu/wiki/index.php/eLearningBCC
  • Prior to applying, all students should assess their ability to succeed in the online environment by completing the eLearning sample course at http://www.bristolcc.edu/elearning/elearning101/
  • eHealth students must be self motivated to learn independently online.
  • Students develop academic knowledge, clinical skills, and professional behavior through classroom, online, lab, fieldwork, and off-site learning experiences.
  • Once enrolled in the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program students must complete all OTA courses in the required sequence.
  • Students planning to transfer to a Master's program in OT are encouraged to take MTH 119 and HST 111 or HST 112 .
  • Developmental and abnormal psychology, foreign languages, including ASL and deaf studies, are not required, but are beneficial to practice as an OTA.  

After BCC

  • Graduates have taken positions as Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants in area schools, acute care, rehab and psychiatric hospitals, residential and day rehabilitation programs, nursing homes, sub-acute rehab, transitional care, home care and outpatient settings.
  • Graduates may transfer to Occupational Therapy programs at senior institutions. Specific prerequisite requirements and transfer credit are determined by the transfer institution.

Infused General Education Competencies

Ethical Dimensions, Multicultural Perspective, Technical Literacy, CSS 101 (College Success Seminar)

Degree Requirements

General Courses

BIO 233Human Anatomy and Physiology I

4 credits

BIO 234Human Anatomy and Physiology II

4 credits

COM 101Fundamentals of Public Speaking

3 credits

ENG 101Composition I: College Writing

3 credits

ENG 102Composition II: Writing about Literature

3 credits

PSY 101General Psychology

3 credits

SOC 101Principles of Sociology

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:23

Choose one of the following

HLT 106 (Medical Language) or MAA 101 (Medical Terminology) are accepted to meet the HLT course requirement in the OTA program.
HLT 101Medical Language Module I

1 credit

HLT 102Medical Language Module II

1 credit

Total Credit Hours:1

Choose one of the following

MTH 119Fundamental Statistics

3 credits

MTH 125Modern College Mathematics

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:3

Elective Courses

Historic Awareness Elective

3 credits

Total Credit Hours:0-3

See General Education Competency Courses/Historic Awareness for course listings

HST 111 or HST 112 recommended for transfer

Program Courses

OTA 111Introduction to Occupational Therapy

3 credits

OTA 117Psychosocial Performance

4 credits

OTA 121Cognitive and Sensorimotor Performance

4 credits

OTA 125Movement in Human Performance

3 credits

OTA 127Psychosocial Therapeutic Modalities

4 credits

OTA 233Common Conditions of Physical Dysfunction

4 credits

OTA 235Professional Practice Skills

4 credits

OTA 237Developmental/Pediatric OT Practice

4 credits

OTA 241Level II Occupational Therapy Clinical Practice - A

5 credits

OTA 243Level II Occupational Therapy Clinical Practice - B

5 credits

OTA 244Seminar in Occupational Therapy

2 credits

Total Credit Hours:42

Required Preadmission Courses

BIO 233 or BIO 234, ENG 101 or ENG 102, and PSY 101

Preadmission courses must be completed at time of application with grades of B- or better.

Note:  Applicants must also meet the college's arithmetic and introductory algebra competency, or the intermediate algebra competency (via placement test, math placement waiver or exemption as determined by Admissions Office, or developmental course) or have completed MTH 119 or MTH 125 with a grade of C or higher. 

BIO 233 prerequisites: high school chemistry or CHM 090 within the last five years with a grade of C or better; completion of BIO 111 or BIO 121 with a grade of C or better.

Required Course Sequence - Fall Semester 1

BIO 234, ENG 102, OTA 111, OTA 117, HLT 101 or HLT 102, Historic Awareness Elective
OTA courses must be taken in the sequence noted each semester.

Required Course Sequence - Spring Semester 2

MTH 119 or MTH 125, OTA 121, OTA 125, OTA 127, SOC 101

Recommended Course Sequence - Summer

Consider taking any remaining Gen Ed courses to lighten semester load.


Required Course Sequence - Fall Semester 3

OTA 233, OTA 235, OTA 237, COM 101

Required Course Sequence - Spring Semester 4

OTA 241, OTA 243, OTA 244

Note OTA courses are offered only in the sequence noted.


Recommendations for Success

Students are advised to complete most general and elective courses prior to beginning OTA program courses. OTA classes, labs, and clinical fieldwork require two to three days per week in Semester 1, 2, and 3 and 40+ hours/week in Semester 4. Some classes extend into the evening. Students often need to decrease work obligations as program requirements increase.

Program Outcomes 2013-2015

The total number of graduates from the Bristol Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program during the three year period 2013-2015 was 99, with an overall graduation rate of 88%.  Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

 Graduation Year
 Students Entering
 Students Graduating
 Graduation Rate
 2013  40 (F 2011)
 31  77.5%
 2014  40 (F 2012)  36   90 %
 2015  32 (F 2013)
 32  100%
 Total 3-year
 112  99  88%


Admission Requirements

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is a competitive-entry program with selective admission requirements. A limited number of students are admitted. Meeting minimal requirements places the applicant in the selection pool but does not guarantee admission. In order to be considered minimally qualified, applicants must have submitted their application, all supporting documents and have fulfilled the following criteria by the priority application deadline of February 1:

  • Meet the college’s arithmetic and introductory algebra competency, or the intermediate algebra competency (via placement test, math placement waiver or exemption as determined by Admissions Office, or developmental course), or have completed MTH 119 or MTH 125 with a grade of C or higher
  • Completed BIO 233  (Anatomy and Physiology I) or BIO 234 (Anatomy and Physiology II) or equivalent with a B- or higher
  • Completed ENG 101 (Composition I: College Writing) or ENG 102 (Composition II: Writing About Literature) or equivalent with a B- or higher
  • Completed PSY 101 (General Psychology) or equivalent with a B- or higher
  • Demonstrate overall college/university Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
  • Students are required to attend one mandatory health science admissions information session (preregister well in advance as seating is limited).
  • Submit letter of intent as outlined below:

Applicants are required to observe or volunteer in an occupational ther­apy setting or with an organization that provides services for the disabled. Applicants must submit a letter that briefly describes this experience. The letter must also outline the applicant’s interest in, knowledge of, and exposure to occupational therapy and explain how academic studies and life experiences have prepared the applicant for a career as an occupational therapy assistant.  Submit the letter to the Admissions Department with the application materials. 

Students who are admitted typically have a GPA of 3.25 or above, excelled in high school and/or college science and math courses, have completed most general education requirements, and clearly articulate their knowledge of the field and their preparation for it in the application letter. 

It is strongly recommended that students have completed the science courses required for admission and program degree completion within 10 years of application to the program.

Requirements Upon Admission

Grade Requirements

Students must receive a minimum grade of C (73) in all required occupational therapy assistant courses. Failure to earn a C (73) or better will result in program dismissal. Students who fail, do not complete, or withdraw from OTA courses may reapply to the program only once.  Readmission is not guaranteed and is on a space available basis. The readmission decision is based on the recommendations of the faculty and department chair.  Students must successfully complete all required coursework, clinical and program objectives and competencies within five years of initial acceptance into the OTA program in order to graduate. Level II fieldwork must be completed within 18 months of completion of the OTA academic coursework. Readmitted students must resume OTA coursework within one year.

Fieldwork Affiliations

Transportation to the fieldwork sites is the student’s responsibility. Students should be prepared to travel an hour or more from campus. Students are advised to decrease outside work obligations in the first three semesters, then discontinue during full-time fieldwork affiliations in the fourth semester. Fieldwork hours may extend into evenings and weekends and extend beyond the academic year. The availability of clinical affiliations depends on the ability of area healthcare providers to accept students. In some cases, affiliations will be completed in a fifth semester.

Health Requirements

Accepted applicants must have a physical examination, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella (chicken pox) immunizations or titre results (blood test to prove immune status). A 2 step TB test and flu shot is required each year. Students must be certified by the American Heart Association in C.P.R. (Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers). Students are required to maintain health insurance and C.P.R. certification throughout their enrollment. Additional laboratory tests, including drug screening are required, at least annually, by the program and clinical agencies.  All fees are paid by the student.

Additional Costs

Students accepted into the program are responsible for associated costs such as parking, lab supplies, name tag, graduate pin, national certification exam, review course, conferences, professional meetings, membership in the American Occupational Therapy Association, liability insurance, licensing fees, and fieldwork related costs, such as drug testing and travel. Students are required to attend off-campus professional meetings and a variety of community activities.

Once enrolled in the OTA program students are required to complete all courses in the four semesters of instruction in sequence in order to integrate theoretical and clinical education.

Upon admission to the OTA Program students will be required to attend a program information meeting (late spring) and college orientation (late summer). Additionally students must complete an online orientation to the program and online technical training prior to the start of classes.  Physical examination and CPR training must be completed prior to the start of classes or students will not be able to attend clinical fieldwork which will prevent them from completing the program objectives.

Upon admission to the program, all students must undergo a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check and a Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check.  These checks are required due to potential unsupervised contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly during clinical experiences.  Students found to have certain criminal convictions or pending criminal actions will be presumed ineligible for clinical placement.  The College is authorized by the Commonwealth's Department of Criminal Justice to access CORI records.  Sex Offender checks shall be performed pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 6, Sections 178C-178P.  A positive CORI/SORI check may prevent students from participating in clinical assignments in contracted health facilities and prevent students from completing the program objectives. 

For more information regarding the College's CORI/SORI check process, please contact the Human Resource Department at (508) 678-2811, ext. 2194.

The Massachusetts Board of Allied Health Professions requires licensure applicants to report any history of felonies or misdemeanors and may deny licensure to those applicants. Further information is available from the Board at MA Board of Allied Health Guidelines Regarding Applicants with Criminal Records or at (617) 727-3071.

The Disciplinary Action Committee of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) may refuse to administer the certification exam, and/or deny certification to any individual charged with or convicted of a felony. For further information, contact NBCOT, 12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20877-4150; (301) 990-7979.


Essential Functions

OTA students must possess certain cognitive, physical, and psychosocial abilities in order to successfully complete the requirements of the program and ultimately practice in the profession: 

  • Cognitive ability to learn and apply the skills necessary to meet the curriculum requirements of the program and to qualify to take the NBCOT certification examination.
  • Sufficient visual skills to allow accurate reading of a medical record, reading and recording of vital signs, and assessment of patients within a distance of 10 feet.
  • Sufficient hearing skills to successfully interact with all team members, as well as to hear and respond to equipment, monitors, and alarms.
  • Physical abilities to safely meet the multiple needs of various patient populations. This includes sufficient joint mobility, strength, motor control, balance, functional mobility and the ability to lift and move patients from one surface to another.
  • Communication skills to clearly and effectively communicate in English with patients, families, faculty, and healthcare workers in both verbal and written form.
  • Emotional stability to demonstrate professional interactions with faculty, patients, families, and all other professional staff; to demonstrate respect and confidentiality; to demonstrate good judgment and ethical behavior; to deal effectively with conflict situations; and to demonstrate ethical behavior and responsibility for oneself and his/her actions.


The 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, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s phone number is 301.652.2682 and the website is  www.acoteonline.org. Graduates of the program are 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 graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification or attain state licensure.

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