May 28, 2024  

Department of Occupational Therapy and Health Science


Professor   Lynne Clarke, OTD, M.S., OTR/L  (Chair)
Associate Professor   Sunni Alford, OTD, OTR/L, CHT
    Ketti Johnson Coffelt, OTD, MSED, OTR/L
  Joan Delahunt, OTD, M.S., OTR/L
    Sierra Grady, OTD, M.S., OTR/L
Assistant Professor   Tammi Bruegger, OTD, MSED, OTR/L
Clinical Assistant Professor   Liz Zayat, MS, OTR/L
Associate Professor, OTD Academic Fieldwork Coordinator   Sierra Grady, OTD
Assistant Professor, Doctoral Capstone Coordinator   Amber Jenkins, OTD

Occupational therapy (OT) is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that focuses on transforming lives and building independence by helping to enable people of all ages to participate in meaningful activities they need or want to do. Occupational therapists work with the client to restore function, identify strengths, design strategies for everyday living and customize environments in order to develop and maximize their potential to lead an independent, productive, and satisfying life. OTs work in a variety of practice settings, including children and youth, rehabilitation/hospital settings, health and wellness, mental health, productive aging, work/industry, hand therapy and orthopedics.

Our vision is to make a difference in the lives of our students and the academic and professional communities we serve through an educational experience that supports, challenges, and mentors learning, leadership, and service. Rockhurst’s Department of Occupational Therapy builds on this Jesuit tradition by combining a strong foundation in the liberal arts and sciences with a professional master’s and entry level doctoral curriculum emphasizing critical thinking, problem solving, and ethics. These themes, integrated throughout the curriculum, culminate in the student’s ability to clinically problem solve in traditional and emerging practice settings. Occupational therapy practitioners are unique in the use of activity analysis and occupation-centered interventions to enhance quality of life.

As an OT student at Rockhurst, you will engage in service learning and leadership with various organizations, contribute to the community’s health and wellness, conduct research with a mentor and present findings  at state and national meetings. Students will complete fieldwork and capstone assignments at sites across the country, and can include group, service immersions at regional and international locations.

Program Goals
  • Implement a dynamic curricular model with educational rigor exceeding current practice and professional standards.
  • Provide learning opportunities for students to engage in current and emerging practice trends such as electronic documentation and tele-health procedures.
  • Provide curricular content that builds a foundation for leadership development and provides opportunities for leadership on the Rockhurst campus and with local, state, national, and international groups.
  • Establish community service sites that model integration of practice, education, and research skills engaging both students and faculty, to create opportunities for mentorship, and a lifelong commitment to service.
  • Demonstrate the creation of opportunities for OT students to work with other professionals (inter-professionals) such as social work, physical therapy, communication science and disorders medicine, pharmacy, education, and non-profit leadership, nursing, and others.
Student Learning Outcomes
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the profession’s history and distinct value which supports an understanding of occupations across the lifespan, population groups, and cultural contexts.
  • Apply and integrate occupation-based theories in a variety of practice areas to affect meaningful client outcomes.
  • Assess the individual’s ability to participate in occupations as they are mediated by client factors, performance skills, performance patterns, contexts, and environment.
  • Use knowledge and evidence to select and implement occupational performance intervention plans considering culture and contexts.
  • Demonstrate professional reasoning and collaboration with beneficiaries in traditional and emerging practices.
  • Apply leadership and management skills to individuals, groups, and organizations.
  • Identify, analyze, and synthesize research evidence for application in occupational therapy practice.
  • Apply ethical principles to promote inclusion, participation, safety, and wellbeing for all beneficiaries of service.
  • Engage in a lifelong process of learning, leadership, and service.
Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) Program

The Rockhurst Department of Occupational Therapy Education Program now offers an Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) degree program in response to changes in healthcare and the profession.  The OTD program has an 8-semester curricular sequence.  

The Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number is (301)-652-6611 and its website is Graduates of the Program will be able 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). States require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. When you apply to take the certification examination with NBCOT, you will be asked to answer questions related to the topic of felonies. For further information, you can contact NBCOT at One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD 20878, (301) 990-7979.

The OTD program has reached Candidacy Status through ACOTE. The program must complete an on-site evaluation and be granted full Accreditation Status before its graduates 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).

ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational programs satisfy the states’ educational requirements in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Students graduating from an ACOTE® accredited occupational therapy and occupational therapy assistant educational program are eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) certification exam and apply for licensure in all states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. For more information regarding state qualifications and licensure requirements, please refer to the AOTA State Licensure webpage.

Admission to the Program

The Occupational Therapy doctoral program takes approximately 30 months to complete, including summer classes.

Accelerated Admission - A five-and-a-half year OTD program is available to students consecutively enrolled at Rockhurst University from their freshman year. RU students need to contact the OT Department early if you are interested in this opportunity.

Points of Acceptance into the Program

The Occupational Therapy Education Program accommodates multiple points of acceptance for interested students. For the Rockhurst Undergraduate student, these include Freshman Pre-Admission, the Occupational Therapy Scholars Program, or regular admittance during the final year of undergraduate coursework. Rockhurst students also have the option of completing their undergraduate degree and OT degree within our Accelerated Admission program. Post-baccalaureate students from other accredited universities are also invited to apply as well as transfer students. Transfer students may qualify for the Transfer Pre-Admission program. Please see details below.

Early Acceptance

Freshman Pre-Admission - Exceptional students who plan to attend Rockhurst University for their undergraduate degree may be awarded a freshman early-admission guarantee for the Occupational Therapy Program based a combination of ACT or SAT scores, high school grade point average and prerequisite courses. Students complete the application process by September 1 of their junior year at Rockhurst.

Rockhurst Undergraduates

OT Scholars - Rockhurst students with outstanding academic work may apply for advanced admission status through the OT Scholars Program. To apply for acceptance into OT Scholars, students submit a letter of intent to the Occupational Therapy Program office before the start of their sophomore year. OT Scholars must achieve and maintain a cumulative and science grade point average of a minimum of 3.65. Students then complete the application process by September 1 of their junior year.

Post-Baccalaureate or Transfer Students

Post-Baccalaureate Students - Students from accredited universities are welcome to apply to Rockhurst University. Typically, students apply while in the last year of their undergraduate degree with a plan to enter the graduate program upon completion of their undergraduate degree.

Transfer Students - Students transferring to Rockhurst may apply for pre-admission if they have completed two years of undergraduate coursework. To apply, the student submits a letter of intent to the Occupational Therapy Program office before the conclusion of their first semester at Rockhurst. Students then complete the application process by September 1 of the junior year.  *Transfer students are not eligible for the Accelerated Admission program.

All applicants must apply through OTCAS at the summer prior to the selection of a new class.


Requirements for Admission

Enrollment is limited, and meeting the minimal requirements does not guarantee admission into the Occupational Therapy Education Program. Admission is based on academic and personal qualifications considered necessary for successful, competent practice as an occupational therapist.

  • Completion of a bachelor’s degree at an accredited university in a discipline other than occupational therapy.
  • A minimum cumulative, natural science, and prerequisite coursework GPA of 3.0 or higher (on a 4.0 scale) is recommended.
  • Completion of all prerequisites by the end of the spring semester prior to beginning the program.
  • If you are an international student applying from a non-English speaking country, please also submit TOEFL score of at least 79 internet based test.
  • Professional references - three required.
  • Personal essay.
  • Observation hours - at least two different OT settings for a total of 16 hours (waived during pandemic).
  • Completion of all materials in the online application (
  • Participation in a personal interview.

All prerequisite coursework must be completed before the beginning of the program.

Prerequisite Courses: (numbers reflect semester credit hours)

  • Fundamentals of Communication (3)
  • Statistics (3)
  • Ethics (3)
  • Abnormal Psychology (3)
  • Introductory Sociology or Anthropology (3)
  • Developmental Psychology (3)
  • Biology w/Lab (4)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology I w/Lab (4)
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology II w/Lab (4)

Admissions Process

The admissions cycle begins the summer prior to the year of entry into the occupational therapy program. Applicants to Rockhurst University are required to apply to the program through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) Current Rockhurst students are expected to submit (OTCAS) applications by September 1 of each admissions cycle.

The OT Admissions Committee begins reviewing applications each cycle once they are verified by OTCAS and received by the Graduate Admissions Office. Applicants are responsible for checking (OTCAS) for the dates when the admission portal opens annually and for application deadline dates.

The OT Department will conduct an interview session as part of the application process.  Interview date will be announced at the start of the admission process and qualified applicants will be notified.

Interested students may request additional information about the program by contacting:

Rockhurst Graduate Admissions Office at:

Department of Occupational Therapy
Telephone: (816) 501-4059


OTD Accelerated Admission Program

Description: This program is designed specifically for RU undergraduate students. The Accelerated Admission Program allows students to earn both their undergraduate degree and an entry level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) in a shortened length of enrollment at Rockhurst University. Contact Sierra Grady (, OT Program Advisor, if interested in pursuing and applying for the Accelerated Admission Program.

Students electing to pursue Accelerated Admission will complete their undergraduate major requirements, RU core curriculum, and prerequisites courses within their first three years of coursework on campus. If these requirements are met, students may apply to the program, and if accepted, enter the OTD program in their senior year.

After successfully completing the first year of occupational therapy graduate courses, the student is awarded a bachelor’s degree and continue on the path to finish the OTD degree. This reduced time in school allows the student to graduate and enter the job market at an accelerated pace.

Students accepted into the Accelerated Admission Program will have an undergraduate designation for their fourth year of study, even though the student will be completing graduate-level coursework in the Occupational Therapy Program. Students will be enrolled for the first three semesters of the program as an undergraduate student. During this time, students may be eligible for undergraduate tuition and fees. In order to meet the 128 hour requirement for graduation, up to 30 hours of OT Program coursework can be applied as electives. The student will have a graduate-level designation starting their fifth year after they are awarded their bachelor’s degree. After graduation with an undergraduate degree, students will be considered a graduate student with all associated tuition and fees.

Any first-year Rockhurst student interested in pursuing Occupational Therapy may apply for the Accelerated Admission Program.

Students must be consecutively enrolled at Rockhurst University during their undergraduate coursework to remain eligible for Accelerated Admission. The Accelerated Admission Program may be combined with, but does not require, a pre-admission guarantee (e.g. Freshman Pre-admission Award or OT Scholars Award).

Students must contact Sierra Grady (, OT Program Advisor, if interested in pursuing and applying for the Accelerated Admission Program.


Promotion in the Program

To progress toward the Doctor of Occupational Therapy degree, a student must:

  1. Complete all prerequisite courses prior to entry into the OT Program.
  2. For Rockhurst undergraduates accepted into the Accelerated Program, complete the baccalaureate degree by the end of the OT program’s first year. All other students must complete their baccalaureate degree prior to enrolling in the OT Program if the student is pursuing a baccalaureate degree from Rockhurst or an institution other than Rockhurst.
  3. Maintain a 3.0 semester and cumulative grade-point average for all OT Program courses. All courses in the OT Program curriculum must be completed with at least a grade of C, including passing grades on all fieldwork experiences. Any grade below a C results in dismissal from the OT Program.
  4. Comply with all requirements for fieldwork placement. These requirements will include at least one background check, to be completed in the Fall, Year One. Additional requirements may include a drug screening, CPR certification, TB testing, and proof or immunizations.
  5. Consistently demonstrate professional behavior when interacting with faculty, staff, students, and clients/patients. These behaviors reflect the capacity to deliver a high standard of health service and are as important as traditional academic standards in determining criteria for promotion and continuation in the OT Program.
  6. Students should be aware that a criminal background check will be required. The presence of any criminal conviction on the student’s record may affect his/her eligibility for participating in clinical internships, becoming certified or licensed, and/or securing a job in the student’s field.


The Doctoral of Occupational Therapy degree requires a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or greater to graduate. All degree requirements must be completed within 48 months for full-time students and 60 months for part-time students from the beginning of the first semester in which a student is enrolled. The Level II Fieldwork must be completed within 24 months after completion of academic preparation. The Occupational Therapy Education Program Student Handbook contains additional supplementary information about the OT Program.


Dual OTD/MBA and OTD/MA Program

Students enrolled in Rockhurst’s Occupational Therapy programs may complete a joint degree program in conjunction with the Helzberg School of Management. Rockhurst is one of only a few universities in the United States to provide students with this very unique opportunity, which will enhance the graduate’s ability to assume administrative, supervisory, and leadership roles in health care.

The Helzberg School of Management offers two degree programs: a Master of Business Administration (MBA) and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MA). Both programs are taken concurrently during a student’s occupational therapy studies and include a concentration in Health Care Management. The MBA and MA programs offer flexibility in timing of enrollment and structuring class schedules.

The length of time to complete the dual degree program is dependent on multiple factors, including the business degree selected and the student’s previous education. However, the program is designed for a student to complete the MOT or OTD degree in time to graduate with the cohort class in which he/she started.