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Occupational Therapy (OT) is skilled treatment that helps individuals achieve independence in all facets of their lives. It is intended to help people maintain the daily living skills necessary for independent and satisfying lives. The course of study for the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (OT) at Lenoir-Rhyne University combines classroom instruction with extensive laboratory experiences including clinical practicum and six months of internship. The program strives to prepare OT practitioners who are skilled professionals educated in the study of human growth and development, with specific emphasis on the social, emotional, and physiological effects of illness and injury.

OT is a multi-faceted profession. An effective curriculum must achieve a balance between technical skills, theoretical knowledge, service learning, and scientific inquiry. Our curriculum aims to develop reasoning, investigative and clinical skills; utilize current professional knowledge; and reflect upon performance in order for graduates to provide ethical, quality service that continues to evolve to meet the demands of the profession. Graduates of our program learn to:

  • Provide ethical and unbiased services to diverse populations,
  • Understand how setting or context changes OT roles, goals, and supervisory responsibility,
  • Demonstrate a general knowledge as skilled and caring clinicians,
  • Respond adaptively to situations,
  • Meticulously investigate their world and knowledge base,
  • Advocate the value and efficacy of occupational and occupational therapy services to clients, funders, and other professionals,
  • Apply theory and evidence to current and future cases.

We believe it is essential to develop reflective practitioners who respond adaptively to individual, community, and societal needs. Our program begins with foundational, active, inquiry-guided learning, and continues to provide increasingly more complex experiential learning experiences that result in practitioners who investigate their world, adapt to continual change, and serve individuals, communities and society with caring and ethical practices. The program provides students with opportunities and challenges that focus on occupation as the fundamental value central to the development of their professional identity and practice.



LR’s School for Occupational Therapy is fully 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. (301-652-AOTA; www.acoteonline.org).

The LR School of Occupational Therapy sponsors one Occupational Therapy program with two cohorts located in Hickory, NC and Columbia, SC. The program vision, mission, curriculum, and student learning outcomes are identical for both sites, incorporating strategic use of interactive video networking for dynamic learning to promote achievement of student learning outcomes between cohorts. Full-time faculty on both campuses are licensed occupational therapists. You are welcome to apply to both sites, but, if you apply to only one, please know we reserve the right to offer you a seat to either location.


Occupational Therapy’s intensive 27-month cohort program has several threads that run throughout its courses and experiences to develop skilled clinical practitioners who are adaptable, investigatory, and service-oriented. Initial year courses provide introductory knowledge and specific skill instruction in areas of OT evaluation and treatment. The second year is primarily case-driven in which students are required to research client problems and treatment.

First semester foundational courses, occurring in the summer semester, contain the basic knowledge and framework emphasizing the structure and function of the human body and the OT Scope of Practice. Initial summer classes include lecture and lab courses in musculoskeletal anatomy, applied neuroscience for rehabilitation and principles of occupational therapy.

The first year continues with clinical courses covering primary areas of practice (physical rehabilitation, mental health, pediatrics, and geriatrics), health systems, evidence-based practice, assistive technology and therapeutic process for orthopedic-functioning. Each clinical course provides lecture and laboratory instruction and an embedded 40-hour internship.

Students begin their second year, occurring during the summer semester, with a 12-week internship. Students begin to utilize their knowledge base and clinical reasoning to provide ethical and increasingly skilled service. Students take courses such as Treatment and Assessment and Grand Rounds that require them to systematically evaluate and treat clients and present their case findings. Students research specific cases representing a wide range of populations, practice arenas, and client-centered goals. During the second year, courses include professional reasoning, leadership, administration and program development, therapeutic processes for cognitive and neurological functioning and school systems practice.

The final semester, occurring in the summer semester, entails a second 12-week internship. During that time, students will utilize their knowledge base and reasoning to provide ethical unbiased service in a variety of situations.


Students who successfully complete the Master’s degree program are expected to demonstrate the competencies essential for entry-level practitioners, as designated by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Most states require that Occupational Therapists obtain a license before they may practice. Initial state licenses are issued on the basis of NBCOT certification and verification of completion of all academic and fieldwork requirements by an accredited program. Persons who have been convicted of a felony may not be eligible for taking the certification exam or obtaining state licensure. The National Certification Examination for Occupational Therapists is administered by an independent testing service, the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT).

occupational therapy ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS

Program Requirements OT Prerequisite Guide


Lenoir-Rhyne’s School of Occupational Therapy was reaccredited by ACOTE in December 2018 for a period of seven years. The next On Site visit is scheduled for academic year 2025/2026.

National Board for Certification Occupational Therapy Certification Results

For the previous three years (2017-2019) the program has had 119 graduates and a 100% graduation rate. Information concerning the pass rates for the NBCOT Exam by Lenoir-Rhyne graduates may be obtained directly from NBCOT. Beginning in 2019, LR graduated OT students from Hickory and Columbia cohorts.

Graduation Year

Number of New Graduates Taking Exam That Year

Number of New Graduates Passing The Exam

Percentage of New Graduates Passing The Exam

Graduation Rate











2019 59 59 100% 94% Hickory; 100% Cola; 98% Total

Total 3-year





For additional information, visit www.aota.org or www.acoteonline.org or contact the AOTA at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929; (301) 652-2682.

* ACOTE standard A.5.6 now requires reporting of the number of new graduates (within 12 months of graduation) who have passed the NBCOT Certification Exam.

Program Contact

Dr. Toni Oakes

Professor of Occupational Therapy, Chair of the School of Occupational Therapy
Hickory Campus