Professional Entry-Level Master's Program in Occupational Therapy

Entry into our Professional Entry-Level or PEL program is perfect if you have earned a bachelor’s degree in another area of study or at another accredited institution. Students take 90 credits of graduate courses on campus and at clinical fieldwork sites across the country.

Our program’s mission is to prepare competent, skilled, and ethical professional occupational therapists who will enable their clients to achieve productive and satisfying lives. Our program emphasizes hands-on, diverse, and integrative learning experiences to develop breadth and depth of student perspectives with occupational participation at its center. Learn more about the five threads of our curricular design.

Provided you successfully complete all coursework and fieldwork, you will officially graduate with your master's degree in mid-October following your second graduate year. You are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) competency exam to become a registered occupational therapist.

First Year

Our PEL program begins in summer and you will learn beside your PEL peers in our Occupational Therapy Theory course and together with rising seniors from the Combined BSMS program in the Functional Human Anatomy course.

Fall coursework applies the OT process to adult populations by integrating foundational content and concepts with adult clinical conditions, assessments, and interventions.

  • Work with participants from Longview Assisted Living community using semi-structured interviews and OT-specific assessments
  • Complete a motion analysis assignment to compare physical requirements of different household items
  • Learn about various adult practice settings and clinical conditions

Psychiatry in Occupational Therapy is a hybrid winter intercession course for PELs that explores OT perspectives in mental health.

Spring coursework shifts to focus on the OT process for the pediatric population, group process, applied interventions, and research.

  • Observe a child in their natural setting as part of an evaluation
  • Introduce self-made toy to children in lab and evaluate your toy for age level appeal, developmental skill practice, and use in therapeutic situations.
  • Fabricate hand and wrist orthoses that are used to support healing and participation in occupations
  • Learn how to fit a wheelchair to a client through case studies

Three Level I fieldwork experiences are embedded in the first year.  The first is for the adult population in the Fall and the two in the Spring are for the psychosocial and pediatric populations. These allow you to observe clients and gain practical experience in applicable practice settings.

Second Year

Your second graduate year officially begins in summer with a 3-month Level II fieldwork. When you return to campus for your second graduate Fall, courses become more group project based.

  • Learn to integrate technology interventions with various populations
  • Continue or begin your graduate research project (individual thesis  or group research)
  • Apply your knowledge in hands-on labs for pediatric clients and in interprofessional teams for adults at Center for Life Skills (CLS)

Spring semester begins and ends early to accommodate the second Level II fieldwork and culminates with the Graduate Research Colloquium in mid-March.

  • Develop advocacy skills by participating in Advocacy Day in Albany
  • Select graduate electives to explore a new area of OT or dive deeper in an area that interests you
  • Engage in community-based projects

Three fieldwork experiences complete our program’s coursework.  Your second Level II fieldwork is scheduled between April and June and the final 2- month fieldwork can either be a specialty fieldwork or an elective internship at a site that is determined in collaboration with the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.

For more information about the specific coursework, check out the Graduate Catalog. 

Important Application Date

The deadline for applications for the Professional Entry-Level Master's Program is February 1, 2022. Please contact Dr. Amie Germain if you have any questions.

                                                                                          APPLY NOW!



PEL Graduate Program: OT Office
321 Smiddy Hall
Ithaca College
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850

Fax: (607) 274-3055