Undergraduate Degree & Course Catalog

Occupational Therapy - Overview

Department of Rehabilitation Sciences

Contact Information

School of Public Health and Health Professions
501 Kimball Tower
South Campus
Buffalo, NY 14214-3079

Phone: 716.829.3141
Fax: 716.829.3217
Web Address: sphhp.buffalo.edu/rehabilitation-science/education/occupational-therapy-bsms.html
Robert Burkard
Janice Tona
Program Director
Kimberly Persons
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
Jo Schweitzer
Associate Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
MaryAnn Venezia
Program Coordinator


The Occupational Therapy Program, as part of the Department of Rehabilitation Science in the School of Public Health and Health Professions at the University at Buffalo (UB) adheres to the philosophical belief that engagement in occupation supports the health and wellness of individuals and populations. Occupation is defined as the meaningful and productive ways in which people use their time. A person's engagement in occupations fulfills four primary functions: (1) to acquire skills and behaviors necessary for insuring one's safety and survival; (2) to achieve a sense of quality in one's life; (3) to promote one's personal physical and mental well-being; and (4) to contribute to the progress and well-being of society. The ability to engage in occupation and realize these four functions may be compromised as a result of illness, disability, environmental contexts, or other life circumstances.

A fundamental principle guiding the occupational therapy program is that human beings learn and adapt through active engagement in occupations when they receive and process information from their senses and compare this information with knowledge and experiences previously obtained. Through repetition of these experiences, new knowledge is constructed and new behaviors emerge. More specifically, the faculty have adopted Fleming's VARK (Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing, Kinesthetic/tactile) theory to describe the various learning styles of learners and promote teaching to all styles (Fleming & Mills, 1992). The faculty have also adopted Bloom's taxonomy (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001) to describe the sequential nature of learning and to structure our curriculum accordingly. Based on Bloom's taxonomy, we have identified three major levels of learning in our curriculum design: Didactic, Apprenticeship, and Creative.

The entry-level professional occupational science/occupational therapy program is a five year combined BS/MS program. Preceding their professional preparation, students receive a liberal arts education in their pre-professional studies. The professional program, structured to prepare students for personal and professional development, is flexible enough to meet the needs and interests of individual students while still ensuring that upon graduation they will be competent to enter the profession.

Professional-level classes begin with Gross Human Anatomy, ANA 407 in the summer of the third year of the program, following successful completion of all prerequisite courses and admission to the professional program. Two academic semesters and a summer at the undergraduate level provide learning experiences structured to integrate theory and practice. In the fall semester of the fourth year, students progress to the MS component of the program, complete professional practice courses, and begin work on their Master's projects. In the first weeks of the spring semester of the fourth year, students continue taking professional practice courses and during the latter part of the semester, complete 12 weeks of full-time supervised fieldwork experience. In the fall semester of the fifth year, students continue taking professional practice courses and complete their master's project. During the first part of the spring semester of the fifth year, students complete their second 12-week full-time supervised fieldwork experience. They then return to the campus for one month to complete a professional development course and an advanced clinical practice course prior to graduation.

Students choose fieldwork sites by a lottery system and in consultation with the fieldwork director. The program maintains clinical affiliation agreements with more than 200 healthcare facilities throughout the United States for student placement. Students should expect to leave the Western New York area to fulfill this requirement. Students must complete all requirements of the professional component of the program, including fieldwork and the graduate research project, within a five-year time period.

The professional entry level BS/MS program in occupational therapy at the University at Buffalo is accredited through the 2016-2017 academic year by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). AOTA is located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. Telephone: 301-652-AOTA. Website: acoteonline.org.

Graduates are eligible to apply to take the National Certification examination for occupational therapy, offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Students must apply directly and pay all required fees. Contact information: NBCOT, located at 12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100, Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150. Website: www.nbcot.org. Phone: 301-990-7979; Fax: 301-869-8492. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

Last updated: August 18 2022 17:03:08