Occupational Therapy students doing research in the MARC

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

Our program offers a rigorous education in both the basic sciences and in occupation-based practice, including working in three clinical labs with clients. Graduates learn advanced skills and research as well as advocacy methods and often progress rapidly to leadership positions in the field.

Campus Location


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • Three Years


Prepare to Lead in a Vibrant and Rewarding Occupation

Occupational therapists make a significant and positive impact on the quality of life of their clients. In this incredibly rewarding career, you will assess and treat people of all ages with sensory, cognitive, psychological, and physical difficulties—helping them to develop or re-gain important life skills. This might mean helping an individual learn to live and thrive independently or assisting someone to return to their daily routine after an injury or surgery. 

SMU’s entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program focuses on treating the whole person. Our rigorous education combines basic science and occupation-based practice. You’ll get plenty of hands-on experience beginning your first year, including participating in classroom labs and volunteering in our on-campus adult clinic and pediatric clinic. As an occupational therapist, you’ll need to communicate and partner with other health professionals. To prepare you for this collaboration, you’ll share courses with physical therapy students and experience other cross-disciplinary learning opportunities. 

Occupational therapy is a fast-growing, in-demand field, with opportunities in settings that include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, social services agencies, and schools. Our alumni are highly sought after and 100 percent found employment within a year of graduation in recent years.

In 2016, SMU transitioned its Master's of Occupational Therapy program to the entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy, in response to the American Occupational Therapy Association's view that occupational therapists will need this level of training starting in 2025. The move aligns with the University's mission and reputation as a leader in training health care professionals to work at the highest levels of their fields.

What We Look For

  • A desire to serve others
  • A curiosity about how other people see things
  • Background in a variety of undergraduate disciplines
  • Completion of prerequisites
  • A strong desire to become an occupational therapist
  • An ability to articulate the unique contributions of occupational therapy to the health care team
  • An understanding of how the role of occupational therapy differs from that of other health care disciplines
  • The ability to articulate why you wish to entrust SMU with your professional education

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Requirements and Program Information

The OTD is an entry-level doctoral degree designed for someone who has already earned a baccalaureate with a major in any area. Applicants will be evaluated for admission based upon the following criteria:

  • Baccalaureate from a regionally accredited institution and all prerequisites completed with a grade of “C-“ or better by the end of the spring term prior to entry.
    • Biology must be completed prior to application and Physics must be completed before the end of the fall term prior to entry.
  • Minimum recommended cumulative GPA of 3.0 for the last 60 semester units. All coursework (including repeated classes) will be averaged.
  • Minimum recommended science GPA of 3.0. All science coursework (including repeated classes) will be averaged.
  • Evidence of 40 to 70 hours (minimum) work or volunteer experience demonstrating an understanding of the occupational therapist's role and maturity in career choice. The hours are recorded in OTCAS in a similar format to a resume. There is no verification process or SMU form to submit.
  • Three letters of reference are required. The first should be from a person who has known you in an academic or professional setting. The second letter must be from an occupational therapist who has supervised you as a paid or volunteer worker in an active clinical setting. The third letter may be from an academic, professional, or clinical source. All letters are to be submitted as part of the application through OTCAS. 
  • Results of an in-person interview as described below.


All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of "C-" or better. All prerequisites must be completed by the end of the spring term prior to the start of the program, except Biology and Physics which must be completed sooner (see notes below). Additionally, it is recommended that no more than two or three prerequisites be in progress during the spring. The department strongly prefers that all prerequisites are completed by the fall term prior to entry. Preferential admission will be given to applicants who have completed all academic prerequisites at the time of the interview.  

We accept online, hybrid, and on-campus classes from regionally accredited institutions. Classes may be taken at any regionally accredited institution such as community colleges, CSU, UC or private institutions. In California, the accrediting body is WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Please see the Prerequisite Course Resources section below for helpful information regarding prerequisites.

Prerequisite Requirement, Semester or Quarter Units

English Composition/Critical Thinking, any two English courses may be used to meet this requirement. University writing courses used to meet writing/English general education requirement for bachelor degree are also acceptable, 6.0 Semester or Quarter Units

General Psychology, general or an introductory course in psychology is acceptable, 3.0

Abnormal Psychology, abnormal or psychopathology course is acceptable, 3.0

Developmental Psychology, lifespan psychology course is preferred. Course work in child, adolescent, or adult psychology may also be used to satisfy this requirement, ​​3.0

Statistics, introductory statistics/quantitative method course offered by any department is acceptable, 3.0

Social Science Elective I & II, any two courses in sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, psychology, or cultural studies departments are acceptable. For psychology courses, courses already required for admission cannot be used to satisfy this requirement as well, 6.0

General Biology, any biology course is acceptable, lab is not required. Anatomy and physiology cannot be used to meet this requirement. Note: Course must be completed at the time of application, 3.0

Physics, introductory or conceptual course is acceptable, lab is not required. Note: Course must be completed no later than the end of the fall term of the application year, 3.0

Three-Dimensional Skill/Craft, in a medium such as woodworking, sculpture, ceramics, sewing, jewelry making, leatherwork, tile mosaics, crocheting/knitting/macramé, candle/soap making or metalwork can be used to meet this requirement. Note: The following skills/crafts are not acceptable: painting, drawing, graphic design, photography, playing an instrument, and other two dimensional areas. Portfolios are no longer accepted, 3.0

Human Anatomy, introductory course is acceptable, no lab required. The first course of a combined anatomy and physiology course series can be used to satisfy this requirement. Note: Course is highly recommended, but not required. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed this course at the time of application, 3.0

Human Physiology, introductory course is acceptable, no lab required. The second course of a combined anatomy & physiology course series can be used to satisfy this requirement. Note: Course is highly recommended, but not required. Preference will be given to applicants who have completed this course at the time of application, 3.0

Public Speaking, any speech course is acceptable. Note: Course is highly recommended, but not required.

AP Credit
AP exam scores are only acceptable if the course(s) is clearly notated on OTCAS and/or University transcript.

Challenge Exams
A challenge exam may be taken in lieu of coursework. All challenge exams must be noted on the OTCAS application.


Students are selected for an interview based upon the content of the application they submit to OTCAS. Not all candidates who meet minimum qualifications will be granted an interview. An on-campus interview is required to be selected for admission. Phone or web interviews are not acceptable.

A maximum of 150 applicants will be interviewed each year for the program. Interviews are generally held on two Saturdays in December and January and are held on the Oakland campus.

Students who need disability accommodations may request them by emailing Elisa Laird-Metke at drc@samuelmerritt.edu. Please give as much notice as you can to allow time to set them up. Further information about the Disability Resource Center can be found here. 

Technology requirement for the program

In the Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program, no courses are taught solely online. Numerous courses include requirements for participation in online discussion forums and to access course learning materials via Course Management Systems (Canvas) and therefore access to a computer is required. All students will be trained in the use of Canvas. Only one course, OT 709 Introduction to Professional Documentation, is primarily delivered online. This course first meets on campus for four hours, and the remaining nine hours of content (including 30 hours of readings and assignments) is delivered online during the first summer.

GRE Scores

Results from the GRE exam are not required or considered for admission into the OTD program.

Internationally Educated Applicants

Students educated abroad may apply for admission. Regardless of previous professional training and academic degrees earned, Samuel Merritt's OTD curriculum must be completed in its entirety.

If your education was not part of a U.S. based study abroad program, all international academic transcripts must be evaluated by a U.S. evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluations Services (NACES) for degree, course content, semester unit equivalencies and cumulative GPAs prior to the application deadline. The evaluation must be sent to OTCAS as part of the application.  Information on NACES may be found at www.naces.org.


The need for the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) will be assessed based on information provided by the applicant on the application for admission. If the TOEFL is required, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test). Scores must be submitted during the application process.

Samuel Merritt University allows applicants to take classes online provided the courses are from a regionally accredited institution like the institutions listed below. The regional accreditation board for California schools is the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC). Please verify accreditation with the institution prior to signing up for classes as credit will not be granted from non-accredited schools.

This is a resource shared by multiple programs, please see the program-specific websites for the listing of required courses.

California Virtual Campus: Online database of California College and University online/telecourse offerings. Search by subject or school name.
Course Atlas 
California State University 
University of California Extension Programs 

Southern University of Health Sciences

  • General Chemistry I & II
  • General Biology I & II
  • Physics I&II
  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • Microbiology

University of Minnesota 

University of New England 

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy Statistics
  • Medical Chemistry I and II (Inorganic Chemistry)
  • Microbiology
  • Organic Chemistry I and/or II
  • Anatomy
  • Medical Physiology
  • Statistics

Louisiana State University 

  • BIOL 1001/102 Biology
  • ENGL 1001 English Composition I
  • PSYC 2000 Introduction to Psychology
  • ANTH 1003 Cultural Anthropology
  • CMST 2010 Interpersonal Communication
  • ENGL 1001, 1002 English Composition I, II
  • SOCIO 2001 Introduction to Sociology
  • PSYC 2070 Lifespan Developmental Psychology
  • PSYC 3082 Abnormal Psychology

UC Berkeley Extension 

  • Intro to Statistics xB2 or xBW2(online)
  • General Chemistry I/Lab x19A and x19.1B
  • General Chemistry II/Lab x19B and x19.1B
  • General Human Anatomy x104 & Human Anatomy Lab x108
  • Introduction to Physiology xB32 or xBW32 & Physiology Lab x406.1 (online)
  • Introduction to Medical Microbiology x111 Microbiology Lab x491.1

Colorado State Online Plus 

  • BMS 300 – Principles of Human Physiology (4 cr.)
  • BMS 320 – Virtual Laboratory in Physiology (2 cr.)
  • BMS 310 – Anatomy for the Health Professions (4 cr.)
  • MIP 300 – General Microbiology (3 cr.)
  • STAT 311 – Statistics for Behavioral Sciences I (3 cr.)

Challenge/College Level Examination Resources

The College Level Examination Program (CLEP) is a group of standardized tests that assess college-level knowledge in several subject areas. Many colleges grant credit to students who meet their minimum qualifying score. Qualifying scores vary by school but are typically 50. The tests are useful for students who have obtained knowledge outside the classroom, such as through independent study, job experience, or cultural interaction. CLEP also offers international and homeschooled students the opportunity to demonstrate their proficiency in subject areas and bypass undergraduate coursework. (Information from College Board’s website-see below)

College Board Examinations (CLEP) 

Thomson Prometric DSST Examinations 


The OTD program can be completed in three years, including summers. During the second year, you’ll complete a six-month internship. Here is a look at the required courses and suggested timeline: For full course descriptions, please see our University catalog

Year One
Fall Semester (15 Units) 
OT701 - Integrative Seminar I  1.0
OT710 - Anatomical and Physiological Basis for Human Occupation  5.0
OT711 - Foundations of Occupational Therapy  3.0
OT712 - Theories of Inquiry and Research Methodology  3.0
OT719 - Human Occupation Throughout the Life Span  3.0
Total units  15.0

Spring Semester (16 Units) 
OT702 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy Practices II  1.0
OT713 - Introduction to Psychopathology  1.0
OT715 - Guided Research Seminar  1.0
OT716 - Therapeutic Media, Materials and Processes  2.0
OT717 - Interpersonal and Interprofessional Communication  2.0
OT718 - Functional Neuroscience (3 Units)  3.0
OT720 - Theories of inquiry and research II 2.0
OT727 - Kinesiology and Biomechanics  4.0
Total units  16.0

Summer Semester (4 Units) 
OT709 - Introduction to Professional Documentation  1.0
OT721 - Introduction to Fieldwork I  3.0
Total units  4.0

Year Two
Fall Semester (18 Units) 
OT703 - Integrative seminar III  1.0
OT722 - Guided Research Seminar  1.0
OT723 - Capstone project exploration  2.0
OT724 - Conditions of Human Dysfunction  3.0
OT726 - Theory and Practice in Psychosocial Dysfunction  4.0
OT728- Administration and Management  3.0
OT732 - Advanced Clinical Practice (Pediatrics)  4.0
Total units  18.0

Spring Semester (15 Units) 
OT704 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy Practices 4  1.0
OT729 - Theory and Practice in Physical Dysfunction  4.0
OT730 - Research Synthesis Project  1.0
OT731 - Occupational Adaptations and Introduction to Modalities  3.0
OT736 - Advanced Clinical Practice (Adults)  4.0
OT735 - Capstone planning  2.0
Total units  15.0

Summer Semester (6 Units)
OT740 - Fieldwork Level II  6.0
Total units  6.0

Year Three
Fall Semester (6 Units)
OT741 - Fieldwork Level II  6.0
Total units  6.0

Spring Semester (10 Units)
OT733 - Health Promotion and Wellness  2.0
OT750 - Capstone project development  3.0
One of four electives - Advanced Clinical Focus:    2.0

  • OT743 - Advanced Clinical Focus - Cognition
  • OT744 - Advanced clinical focus - Hands
  • OT745 - Advanced clinical focus - Geriatrics
  • OT746 - Advanced clinical focus - Pediatrics

OT752 - Advanced Leadership  3.0
Total units  10.0

Summer Semester (9 Units)
OT754 - Capstone experience project  6.0
OT755 - Capstone experience project report  3.0
Total units  9.0

The MOT program can be completed in two years, including summers. Here is a look at the required courses and suggested timeline: For full course descriptions, please see our University catalog

Year One
Fall Semester (15 Units) 
OT610 - Anatomical and Physiological Basis for Human Occupation 5.0
OT611 - Foundations of Occupational Therapy 3.0
OT612 - Theories of Inquiry and Research Methodology 3.0
OT619 - Human Occupation Throughout the Life Span 3.0
OT601 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy practices I 1.0
Total units  15.0

Spring Semester (14 Units)
OT602 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy Practices II 1.0
OT613 - Introduction to Psychopathology 1.0
OT615 - Guided Research Seminar 1.0
OT616 - Therapeutic Media, Materials and Processes 2.0
OT617 - Interpersonal and Interprofessional Communication 2.0
OT618 - Functional Neuroscience 3.0
OT627 - Kinesiology and Biomechanics 4.0
Total units 14.0

Summer Semester (4 Units)
OT621 - Introduction to Fieldwork I 3.0
OT609 - Introduction to Professional Documentation 1.0
Total units 4.0

Year Two

Fall Semester (18 Units)
OT603 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy Practices III 1.0
OT622 - Guided Research Seminar 1.0
OT624 - Conditions of Human Dysfunction 3.0
OT626 - Theory and Practice in Psychosocial Dysfunction 4.0
OT628 - Administration and Management 3.0
OT634 - Professional Development Seminar 2.0
OT632 - Advanced Clinical Practice (Pediatrics) 4.0
Total units 18.0

Spring Semester (15 Units)
OT604 - Integrative Seminar in Occupational Therapy Practice IV 1.0
OT629 - Theory and Practice in Physical Dysfunction 4.0
OT630 - Research Synthesis Project 1.0
OT631 - Occupational Adaptations and Introduction to Modalities 3.0
OT636 - Advanced Clinical Practice (Adults) 4.0
OT633 - Health Promotion and Wellness 2.0
Total units 15.0

Summer Semester (12 Units)
OT640 - Fieldwork Level II 6.0
OT641 - Fieldwork Level II 6.0
Total units 12.0


Application Fees
Application fees are payable to the Central Application Service for Occupational Therapy (OTCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your Occupational Therapy graduate education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in health care, Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent.  This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

The Occupational Therapyprogram is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work study and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

The OTD program offers scholarships and an assortment of resources for funding opportunities outside of the program. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of financial need. A limited number are awarded for academic merit. Scholarships for Occupational Therapyinclude:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Marshall Steele, Jr.
  • Hitchcock Heydman
  • Henry & Bernice Bigge
  • Faculty Scholarship
  • Alumni Scholarship
  • Elks of the Year
  • William Breslin

WICHE – Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.  WICHE grants are available for students from certain geographical areas of the country.  More information is available at the WICHE website, www.wiche.edu.

Your Financial Aid Package at Samuel Merritt University is personalized to you.  We develop your financial aid package using guidelines set by the Department of Education and the estimated costs of each program.

In addition to the cost of tuition, books and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost and application processes are available on the webpage.


We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open door policy and are available via phone or email.

finaid@samuelmerritt.edu or 510-879-9200

Graduates of the program will be eligible to sit for the National Certification Examination for the Occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, all states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification examination or attain state licensure. Individuals convicted of a felony may not be eligible for certification or licensing in Occupational Therapy.

Students are urged to contact the appropriate certification or licensure agency for further information. 

The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy
12 South Summit Ave., Suite 100
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150
fax: 301-869-8492

Licensure Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

Licensure Pass Rates (First-Time Takers Only)
2018 Pass Rate (NBCOT)      97%
2017 Pass Rate (NBCOT)      100%
2016 Pass Rate (NBCOT)      100%

Graduation Rate*        
2015-2016 Cohort      89%
2014-2015 Cohort      97%
2013-2014 Cohort      95%   

*% of Entering Master's Program Cohort that Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time           

Employment Rate in the Profession (within six months of graduation)**
2016-2017 graduating class      92%
2015-2016 graduating class      87%
2014-2015 graduating class      94%

**Employment data only includes graduates who responded to SMU Alumni Survey; employment rate not necessarily representative of graduates who did not respond to SMU Alumni Survey.

These handbooks contain information and policies relevant to OTD and MOT students and are companions to the Samuel Merritt University Catalog and Student Handbook. This handbook contains the policies and procedures for the OTD or MOT program for which you will be responsible.


SMU offers free occupational therapy and physical therapy services to the surrounding community. Learn how to receive services while supporting SMU student learning.

About the Community Participant Labs

The Community Participant Labs or “CPLs” are both a service to the community and a required student learning experience. Students in the occupational therapy and physical therapy programs provide free therapy to members of the community under the direct supervision of licensed faculty.

We offer the following CPLs:

  • Adult Physical Therapy, six weekly sessions, November through December, and March through April
  • Adult Occupational Therapy, nine weekly sessions, February through April
  • Pediatric Occupational Therapy, nine weekly sessions, October to December

What is the PT Community Participant Labs?

  • Educational experiences for our Doctor of Physical Therapy students, integrated into a patient/client management lab course
  • An opportunity for individuals with a diagnosed neurologic condition or asymptomatic musculoskeletal condition to contribute to our students’ education
  • A service for the East Bay community focused on providing mutual benefit for our students and the community members who participate. Community members may experience decreased symptoms, improved mobility and function, and fitness and wellness advice.

About the PT CPL Program

Our program consists of four to six visits, with the first visit being an examination followed by treatment sessions and concluding with a home program and recommended community resources.

Visits are provided by SMU students under faculty supervision and include exercise, task practice/function training, support in making health behavior changes, and specialized services such as vestibular rehabilitation.

What is the OT Adult Community Participant Labs?

  • An opportunity for individuals with a diagnosed neurological condition to contribute to our students’ education. Some conditions that might bring a client in for services are a stroke, brain injury, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, or Parkinson's disease, for example.
  • A student-led program, supervised by licensed occupational therapy faculty.
  • A service for the Bay Area community focused on promoting participation and engagement in personal occupations. Personal occupations include activities of daily living (ADL) such as personal care and home tasks, as well as work and leisure activities. 

About the OT Adult CPL Program

Our program consists of nine visits, with the first visit being an examination followed by treatment sessions and concluding with a home program and recommended adaptive devices, equipment, and strategies to improve function in daily tasks.

Visits are designed to improve an important area of functioning in the participant's daily life, such as:

  • Self-care tasks (dressing, grooming, bathing, using the toilet)
  • Home tasks (cooking, dishes, cleaning, bills, etc.)
  • Work activities (transportation, use of the computer, endurance, mental focus)
  • Leisure tasks (going out to eat, socializing, playing sports, etc.).
  • Exercises to improve strength or mobility in order to complete daily tasks
  • Recommendation of adapted devices, equipment or strategies to improve function in daily tasks.

Please note: If the main objective is to improve walking, please see the Community Participant Lab offered by the Physical Therapy program.

What is the OT Pediatric Community Participant Lab?

  • A free occupational therapy service for children ages 6 months through 16 years who have difficulty engaging in typical activities of childhood due to medical conditions, developmental challenges, or injury. 
  • A program of occupational therapy that helps children develop skills to enhance their participation in self-care, play, and school activities.
  • A student-run program, supervised by faculty in the occupational therapy program at SMU. 

About the Pediatric OT Program

Our program consists of nine visits, with the first visit being an examination and parent interview followed by treatment sessions and concluding with a home program.

Visits are designed to improve an important area of functioning in the participant’s life, such as:

  • Self-care skills (teeth-brushing, dressing, utensil use for self-feeding)
  • Visual-motor and visual perceptual skills (eye-hand coordination, handwriting)
  • Fine motor (using hands to manipulate items)
  • Functional gross motor skills for play (using the whole body to move through space)  
  • Social skills (turn-taking, play skills)
  • Attention and self-regulation skills (learning to control energy level and emotions)*
  • Environmental modification for participation in daily life activities

*Due to the student-run nature of our services, our CPL does not provide services to address behavior issues, complex sensory processing issues, or swallowing/feeding difficulties. These are considered areas of advanced practice and are best served by practitioners who have advanced level training in these areas. Children should have a need for skill development in one of the areas listed above to be a good fit for our CPL services.

2019 Schedule:

  • The 2019 lab will take place on Mondays, beginning September 30, 2019, and ending on December 2, 2019
  • Children will be scheduled for a 50-minute therapy session.
  • Sessions will start at 2:30 or 3:30 pm. 
  • We accept clients on a first-come, first-served basis.

Eligibility to participate in SMU’s CPL’s includes the following:

Physical Therapy CPL

  • A documented neurologic condition (such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, brain injury)
  • Commitment to attending all scheduled sessions
  • Understanding that we accept participants on a first-come, first-served basis, in conjunction with the educational needs of our students     

Occupational Therapy Adult CPL

  • A desire for improvement in an area of daily function such as those described above
  • Commitment to attending allscheduled sessions
  • Understanding that we accept participants on a first-come, first-served basis, in conjunction with the educational needs of our students

Occupational Therapy Pediatric CPL

  • Have a child who has developmental needs in one or more of the areas listed above
  • Commit to attending all scheduled sessions
  • Understand that we accept participants on a first-come, first-served basis, in conjunction with the educational needs of our students

CLICK HERE to complete the fillable PDF Enrollment Form for 2019 OT Pediatric Community Participant Lab

Forms must be sent by the parent or legal guardian of the child. 

These enrollment forms contain private health care information protected under HIPAA laws.  Email is not considered to be a HIPAA compliant way to submit protected health care information.  We do allow families to submit forms via email for convenience but must inform you email is not HIPAA compliant.  You may email completed forms to OTLab@samuelmerritt.edu.

If you do not want to submit via email, please send forms via FAX to 510‐457-4008 (Attn: OT Pediatric CPL), or mail your completed forms to:

Pediatric Community Participant Lab
Occupational Therapy Department
Samuel Merritt University
450 30th Street, 4th Floor
Oakland, CA 94609

For More Information:

If you have further questions about our Pediatric OT CPL at Samuel Merritt University please email OTLab@samuelmerritt.edu


Contact Information
Physical Therapy CPL
Jason Hardage, PT, DPT, DScPT, Associate Professor
Samuel Merritt University, Peralta Pavilion 3724
450 30th St., Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 879-9200 ext 7343

Occupational Therapy Adult and Pediatric CPL
510-879-9200 ext 7456



What is Fieldwork?

Fieldwork is an integral part of the professional education of occupational therapists. During fieldwork, you will have the opportunity to apply and integrate academic learning. You will be supervised by fieldwork educators who are occupational therapists or other professionals, to gain hands-on experience in a variety of settings. Examples of fieldwork sites include hospitals, outpatient clinics, community-based health programs, and schools. 

Fieldwork education at SMU is designed in accordance with the standards established by the Accreditation Committee for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). 

Learn more about Occupational Therapy Fieldwork

Pass Rate (for the MOT graduates – we will not have OTD pass rates until 2019)

The total number of graduates who passed the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification examination for 2016–2018 was 110 out of 111, which is a pass rate of 99%. During the three year period, the program had 111 graduates. For our most recent year, 2018, the pass rate was 97% (of 37 test takers, 36 passed). The total number of graduates for 2018 was 37. The website for all OT program pass rates is located at: https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) Address:

4720 Montgomery Lane
Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449





Program                                                                                            Accreditation Status                       Last Visit         Next Visit

Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)           Full accreditation                                2018               2023/2024

Entry-level Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)  Full accreditation until 6/30/2027        2018                     n/a



Cognitive Learning Skills

The student must demonstrate the ability to:

1. Conceptualize a sequential progression of tasks and/or standardized testing and make objective conclusions based on the test results.

2. Apply critical thinking in the creation, development, generalization and implementation of adaptations to normative methods of behavior and function.

3. Demonstrate an understanding of the basic anatomical structures and physiological mechanisms that underlie conditions of human dysfunction and occupational performance.

4. Analyze the sequential steps, cognitive skills and motor performance of specific functional tasks relevant to the safety, environment and developmental life tasks of a patient/client. This analysis should also take into account ethnic background, gender and cultural variables.

5. Select constructive activities suited to an individual's current physical capacity, intelligence level, and interest, so as to upgrade the individual to maximum independence, prepare for activities of daily living and appropriate life tasks, assist in restoration of functions and/or aid in adjustment to disability.

6. Assess and identify cognitive and functional deficits, and determine adaptive or compensatory methods of functioning.

7. Apply critical reasoning and independent decision-making skills.

8. Assess patient/client safety and maintain or create safe environments during specific tasks, to enhance patient/client independence in a variety of potential environments.

Psychomotor Skills

The student must demonstrate the following skills:

1. Sitting: Maintain upright posture.

2. Standing: Student-controlled activity employable during lecture, clinical instruction and laboratory time.

3. Locomotion ability to:

a. Get to lecture, lab and clinical locations, and move within rooms as needed for changing groups, partners and work stations.

b. Physically maneuver in required clinical settings, to accomplish assigned tasks.

4. Manual tasks:

a. Lifting ability sufficient to maneuver an individual's body parts effectively to perform evaluation and treatment techniques.

b. Manipulate common tools used for screening tests and therapeutic intervention of the individual.

c. Demonstrate the ability to safely and effectively guide and facilitate patient/client movement skills and motor patterns through physical facilitation and inhibition techniques (including ability to give time-urgent verbal feed bac).

d. Manipulate or guide another person's body in transfers, ambulation, positioning and assisted or facilitated trunk, head and limb movement.

e. Manipulate bolsters, pillows, plinths, mats, assistive/adaptive devices, and other supports or chairs to aid in positioning, moving, or treating a patient/client effectively.

g. Competently perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) using guidelines issued by the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross.

5. Gross motor ability to participate in recreational or movement activities that may involve tossing, catching, weight shifts, reaching, balancing on equipment, etc.

6. Small motor/hand skill usage ability to:

a. Legibly record/document evaluations, patient care notes, referrals, etc. in standard medical charts in hospital/clinical settings in a timely manner and consistent with the acceptable norms of clinical settings.

b. Demonstrate or complete activities or tests with adequate degree of fine motor dexterity.

c. Sense changes in an individual's muscle tone, skin quality, joint play, kinesthesia, and temperature to gather accurate objective evaluative information in a timely manner and sense that individual's response to environmental changes and treatment.

d. Legibly record thoughts for written assignments or tests.

7. Visual acuity to:

a. Read patient/client charts or histories in hospital/clinical setting.

b. Observe even the slightest aberrations of patient/client motor performance during tasks/tests.

8. Hearing or ability to receive and:

a. Effectively respond to oral requests/instructions from patients and team members.

b. Interpret the language used to communicate lectures, instructions, concepts, narratives, questions and answers.

c. Auscultate for internal body sounds, e.g., heart, bowel, lungs.

9. Communication ability to:

a. Effectively communicate with team members.

b. Articulate detailed instructions to patients, caretakers, family or other clinical personnel.

10. Self care ability to:

a. Maintain general good health and self care in order not to jeopardize the health and safety of self and individuals with whom one interacts in the academic and clinical settings.

b. Arrange transportation and living accommodations for/during off-campus clinical assignments to foster timely reporting to classroom and clinical center.

Affective Learning Skills

The student must be able to:

1. Demonstrate appropriate, affective behaviors and mental attitudes to ensure the emotional, physical, mental, and behavioral safety of the patient/client in compliance with the ethical standards of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

2. Sustain the mental and emotional rigors of a demanding educational program in occupational therapy that includes academic and clinical components that occur within set time constraints, and often concurrently.

3. Acknowledge and respect individual values and opinions in order to foster harmonious working relationships with colleagues, peers, and patients/clients.

Why choose the Entry-Level OTD program?

You'll be trained in clinical practice, research, leadership, and advocacy.


Student-Faculty Ratio

Your education is personalized.


Community Participant Labs

SMU's students provide community outreach in the form of occupational therapy and direct hands-on experience to area adults and children.


Pass Rate

OT students' pass rate on the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) from 2015-17.

Make a Difference

Our Doctor of Occupational Therapy program is hands-on from day one. Students build clinical and collaborative skills and volunteer in community clinics that change people's lives.