Occupational Therapy

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Welcome to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) Program at SMU!

Established in 1994, we graduated our first class of graduate occupational therapy students in August, 1996. Last year we received approval from ACOTE to start a doctoral program and this fall (2016) we admitted our first doctoral class. We will no longer be offering the Master degree in occupational therapy.  Our graduates are prepared for entry-level positions in occupational therapy and often progress rapidly to leadership positions in the field. The program offers a rigorous education in both the basic sciences and in occupation-based practice with advanced skills in clinical practice, research, leadership, advoacacy and a capstone experiential project.. Occupational therapists must learn to participate collaboratively with other health care professionals. For this reason, core courses are shared with students in the physical therapy programs. Learning to communicate with other health care providers is important in preparation of building teamwork.

  • Faculty to student ratio is 1:9.
  • Master of occupational therapy students at SMU are enrolled in an intensive human anatomy course with cadavers.
  • The majority of program faculty continue to practice in the field, have diverse backgrounds, have numerous publications and have presented nationally and internationally.
  • Samuel Merritt University is located in Oakland, California, close to San Francisco, Berkeley and the Wine Country of Napa and Sonoma.
  • All students participate in three clinics that provide free OT services to individuals in the community.
  • Clinicians and employers in the field consistently rate graduates of the Master of Occupational Therapy Program at Samuel Merritt University as outstanding contributors to their professional staff.

Pass Rate
The total number of graduates who passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination for 2013–2015 was 105 out of 106, which is a pass rate of 99% (of 106 test takers, 105 passed).  During the three year period, the program had 106 graduates.  For our most recent year, 2015, the pass rate was 100% (of 34 test takers, 34 passed). The total number of graduates for 2015 was 34.  The website for all OT program pass rates is located at: https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

Accreditation Council

ACOTE address and webpage


Accreditation Status

Last Visit

Next visit

Accreditation Council
for Occupational
Therapy Education

4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-AOTA


Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)

Candidacy received. Students entering in 2016 will be in the OTD program with the opt-out option to receive an MOT degree only.

N/A (transitioning to new OTD program)

Site visit scheduled for 2018

Entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)

Full accreditation




Additional Links

Contact Information
Please review this website for details regarding admission to the OTD program at Samuel Merritt University. If you have specific questions about prerequisites or applying for admission, please contact us and we will be happy to help you. The Admission Counselor who works most closely with the OTD program is:

Kasie Lemmer, Admission Counselor
Email: admission@samuelmerritt.edu  

Application Deadline
The postmark application deadline is October 1st. Applications may be filed beginning two months prior to the application deadline, keeping in mind that it is to your advantage to include as many available grades as possible with the application for admission. For example, with the postmark deadline of October 1st for fall entry, you should wait to submit an application until your summer grades are available. After the deadline, applications may be accepted on a space available basis. Contact the Office of Admission for further information once the deadline has passed.


Jaime Lutat, Class of 2011


Reflecting back on my education and experiences at Samuel Merritt University, I am confident that I chose the right program that challenged me to grow and provided me with a strong foundation of skills. Specifically, The Master of Occupational Therapy program helped me develop a strong scientific background with an intensive focus and hands-on approach in Anatomy and Kinesiology. I also gained invaluable skills and experiences working with clients in the community under the supervision of skilled professors. Having the opportunity to treat clients for up to 12 weeks allowed me to apply the concepts learned in class and develop strong documentation skills. As I complete my last level II Fieldwork, I feel confident in knowing that I can tackle any obstacle that comes my way and grateful to have the opportunity to apply my skills to improve the lives of others through such a rewarding profession.