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First and Second Year

Five students posing with a handcrafted timeline.

Students in the Introduction to Occupational Therapy course complete their history of occupational therapy timeline.

You may begin taking occupational therapy courses as early as your first semester. In your first two years as an undergraduate, you complete a set of prerequisite courses including:

  • Introduction to occupational science, where you are introduced to the occupational therapy profession, complete an activity analysis using cooking, and hear from community members about personal illness experiences.
  • A two-course sequence in human development that emphasizes development of motor skills and occupations across the life span. In the first semester, you participate in a child play lab to observe motor, social, language, and cognitive skills. In the second semester, you focus on young adult relationships as well as cognition, physical, emotional, relationships, career/work, and leisure in older individuals.

Alongside your occupational therapy coursework, you will complete liberal arts, writing, diversity, and other courses required of all students under the Integrated Core Curriculum.

Junior Year

A group of students working together in a classroom

Students in the Applied Occupations course engaging in activities such as knitting, leatherworking, and sewing to understand the teaching-learning process.

Your coursework in the junior year emphasizes building a thorough understanding of the body and the psycho-social needs of individuals, including:

  • A course on individual and groupwork where you construct protocols for groups such as a sensor group for children experiencing challenges processing sensory information; a group of individuals living in a homeless shelter learning how to fill out an online job application and interview for a job; or a group of individuals challenged with paraplegia to socialize, dance, and play games. 
  • The applied occupations course where you conduct activity analyses and learn about the teaching-learning process.

The Level I fieldwork is part of the fall semester, during which you accumulate 10 hours of on-site observation and participation at a community-based location.

Summer Following Junior Year

You study functional human anatomy on campus for five weeks during this summer. In this course, you conduct palpation on your peers to learn how to locate anatomical landmarks on a variety of people. It also includes a visit to our Human Anatomy Labto observe prosections (dissection of a human cadaver to demonstrate anatomical structure). 

Senior Year

The fall of the senior year focuses on:

  • Kinesiology, where you learn manual muscle testing and goniometric assessment. You also complete a motion analysis assignment to analyze different versions of products such as washing machines and refrigerators.
  • Adult assessment and intervention where you work in student pairs to evaluate participants from Longview and Challenge Industries using semi-structured interviews and OT-specific assessment tools.
  • Fabricating several upper extremity orthoses in your orthosis fabrication course.

The spring of the senior year focuses on:

  • Gaining perspective in the applied interventions course where you occupy a wheelchair to navigate various barriers in the Ithaca community. You also learn how to apply superficial thermal modalities (health and cold).
  • Pediatric assessment and intervention where you use evaluate and observe a child in their natural setting. You also create toys and work in the toy lab with children, evaluating your toy for its developmental skill practice, age level appeal, and how it might be used in a therapeutic situation.  

Level I fieldwork is embedded into both semesters. You complete one week (32-40 hours) each semester in observing and gaining practical experience in an adult setting (fall) and pediatric setting (spring). You also continue to take courses in research and management.

Summer Following Senior Year

The graduate year officially begins with a 3-month Level II fieldwork that is completed during the summer.

Graduate Year

A student and a faculty member work together at a computer.

In the Tech Interventions course, elders learn how to use the technology they have to connect with family, friends, and the community.

You return to campus for the fall semester to:

  • Learn how to integrate technology in the tech interventions course. You are linked with elders in the community and work with them on using different forms of technology.
  • Be paired in gerontic OT with aging adults that reside at Longview to conduct an evaluation of the resident, a home safety evaluation, an activity analysis, and issue recommendations. 
  • Work in an interprofessional team at the Center for Life Skills (CLS) in the applied adult neuro course

The spring semester of the graduate year begins in early January when you continue your research and take advanced courses until the middle of March. A hallmark of your spring experience is Advocacy Day in Albany as part of the advanced theory and practice course. You travel with your cohort to Albany, NY to meet with legislators, industry representatives, and lobbyists to discuss occupational therapy.

You then complete a second 3-month fieldwork between April and June. In July and August, you have a choice of taking additional specialty fieldwork or an elective internship for 2 months at a site that is determined in collaboration with the academic fieldwork coordinator.