Occupational Therapy

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational Therapy uses everyday activities as a means of helping people to achieve independence. The term "occupation" refers to activities that are meaningful to an individual within the environments in which he or she lives.

Therapists work with individuals with conditions that are mentally, physically, developmentally, or emotionally disabling, and help them to develop, recover, or maintain daily living and working skills. They not only help clients improve basic motor functions and reasoning abilities, but also compensate for permanent loss of function. Their goal is to help clients have independent, productive, and satisfying lives.

For a person with a physical disability, the first focus is on performing critical daily activities, such as dressing, grooming, bathing, and eating. Once these skills are mastered, the Occupational Therapy program is built around the skills needed to perform a person’s daily responsibilities, such as caring for a home and family, participating in education, or reaching and holding equipment.

The goals for a client with mental illness are also based on the ability to function independently. In treating mental or emotional problems, the therapy program often includes practice in managing time, working productively with others, and enjoying leisure.

Through the partnership between Saint Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Health Professions, students who are interested in Occupational Therapy can earn both the Bachelor's of Science (BS) degree and the Master's of Occupational Therapy (MSOT) degree in five years.

Students in this program will spend their first three years at Saint Joseph’s University, completing the majority of courses needed for a Bachelor's of Science (BS) degree in either Biology or Interdisciplinary Health Services. They will also complete specific prerequisite courses necessary to transfer into the Occupational Therapy program. Students will transfer to Thomas Jefferson University for the next two years to complete degree requirements for the Master's of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy. Credits from the first year at Jefferson will transfer back to SJU to complete the remaining credits needed for the Bachelor’s degree. Students will receive their BS degree from Saint Joseph’s University after their first year at Jefferson and will earn their MS in Occupational Therapy after two years at Jefferson.

To be considered for this special program, students should:

  • Apply to Saint Joseph's University by November 1 of their senior year of high school and specify interest in the combined BS/MS degree program for Occupational Therapy
  • Earn a cumulative high school GPA of 3.3 or higher
  • Have a total combined critical reading and math score on the old SAT of at least 1200(prior to March 2016) or combined evidence-based reading and writing and math score on the new SAT of at least 1270, or a composite ACT score of at least 26 
  • Have exposure to the occupational therapy profession either from direct volunteer or shadowing experiences

Eligible candidates will be reviewed and interviewed by a joint admissions committee comprised of representatives from Saint Joseph’s University and Thomas Jefferson University.  Students will be notified of their eligibility for the program in January, and qualified students will be invited to interview by Thomas Jefferson University’s Office of Admissions. Interviews will typically take place in February.

The top candidates from these interviews will be offered one of the limited spaces for admission to the 3+2 MSOT program through Saint Joseph’s University.

For more information on the Occupational Therapy program, visit the Thomas Jefferson website.