Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science - Pre-OT program

Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science

If you’re looking for a versatile degree that opens the door to a career in Occupational Therapy (OT), as well as other careers in the health and rehabilitative professions, a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science is an excellent place to start. 

Beginning in fall 2017, GMercyU plans to offer a BHS in occupational science degree that will include a blend of liberal arts and health-based courses designed to prepare you for graduate school or entry-level positions in some of today’s fastest-growing health-related fields.

Pre-Occupational Therapy Program

In September 2016, Gwynedd Mercy University declared our intent to develop and 3+2 Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program. We are currently recognized as an “applicant program” with the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Once “candidacy status” is achieved from ACOTE®, GMercyU would be able to admit students into a new 3+2 MSOT program. This dual-degree program would give qualified GMercyU students a way to earn both a BHS in Occupational Science and an MS in Occupational Therapy in just 5-1/2 years – without having to apply to graduate school or take a graduate school entrance exam. 

Once we receive accreditation, here’s how this highly anticipated 3+2 BHS/MSOT program will work: 

  • Once admitted to the BHS in Occupational Science degree, you will complete three years of pre-professional undergraduate study in occupational science.
  • If you maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the first three years of undergraduate study and meet other requirements, you will be automatically admitted to the planned MSOT program and begin taking courses toward your MSOT in the summer of your junior year as part of your undergraduate tuition.
  • You will earn your BHS in Occupational Science after the spring semester of your senior year, while still enrolled in the MSOT program.
  • In year 5, you will complete your Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) and be eligible to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.  Upon successful completion of the exam, you would become an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR), and could apply for state licensure in the state where you wish to practice.

For more information on this highly anticipated Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program, visit our Occupational Therapy page.

Bachelor of Health Science in Occupational and Behavioral Science

If after year three of your undergraduate occupational science program, you do not continue on in our highly anticipated 3+2 MSOT program, your fourth year of undergraduate study will lead to a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational and Behavioral Science. This planned baccalaureate degree will prepare you for entry-level positions in an array of health-related fields, and also open the door to graduate study in a related field upon graduation from GMercyU or at some time in the future. 

The GMercyU Difference

Don’t let the name fool you.  GMercyU’s planned Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science is less focused on mastering the physical sciences, such as biology, chemistry and physics, and more focused on the science of helping improve the daily lives others.  

As an Occupational Science student, the bulk of your major courses will focus on the liberal arts, including human development, psychology, and occupational science. These courses will help you develop the knowledge and skills needed to better understand the challenges faced by those with mental or physical impairments or disabilities. These courses also are important stepping stones to earning a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) and becoming a registered Occupational Therapist. 

In addition to putting you on a path to a career in Occupational Therapy, an Occupational Science degree also can lead to careers in speech language pathology, physical therapy, audiology, social work, and counseling, among many other areas.  

Other benefits of choosing GMercyU include:

  • More than 60 years of experience preparing our Distinctive Mercy Graduates to make a real and lasting difference in the lives of others
  • An Occupational Science degree that will include a holistic approach to improving the daily lives of others, and can put you on a path to becoming a registered Occupational Therapist
  • Fulfilling and exciting learning experiences with the personal attention you need to achieve your goals
  • Courses taught by experienced faculty who take the time to mentor and engage their students
  • GMercyU’s Bachelor Health Science in Occupational Science will be offered through the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions, which has been providing quality education and training in nursing and other health professions for more than 50 years. 

What is Occupational Science?

Occupational Science is a science that focuses on the activities or “occupations” of everyday living. This growing field of study takes a holistic approach to better understanding the meaning, function and abilities of healthy and disabled individuals to participate in and perform daily activities, and live a satisfying life.  Courses in liberal arts with a strong foundation in the behavioral sciences, particularly psychology, coupled with courses in occupational science will expand your ability to understand how people develop, recover, manage and improve essential skills for daily living. 

GMercyU’s BHS in Occupational Science can be an excellent stepping stone to a career in any of the rehabilitative or health sciences, including occupational therapy. It also can open the door to positions within the pharmaceutical industry, community or public health agencies, or other health-related organizations.


In addition to general education coursework, students in our bachelor’s degree in occupational science program will complete the following courses in their first three years:

OSC 101 Intro to Occupational Science & Occupational Therapy
OSC 201 Study of the Form, Function & Meaning of Occupation
OSC 301 Lived Experience of Disability & Occupation
HS 100 Intro to Allied Health
HS 305 Teaching in the Health Professions
NUT 200 Nutrition

Additional Undergraduate Courses for the 3+2 Dual Degree: Bachelor of Health Science in Occupational Science and Master of Science in Occupational Therapy

Students pursuing a dual BHS/MSOT degree through our planned 3+2 Program will complete the following courses in the summer of their junior year and during their senior year:

OTM 402 Neuroscience of Occupational Behavior
OTM 403 Funct. Anatomy for the Occupational Therapist
OTM 404 Therapeutic Use of Self
OTM 405 Foundations of Occupational Therapy
OTM 406 Creativity and Activity Analysis
OTM 407 Kinesiology for the Occupational Therapist
OTM 408 Therapeutic Environments and Service Delivery
OTM 409 Development of Humans as Occupational Beings
OTM 410 Professional Development 1
OTM 411 Health & Medical Conditions 1: Children & Youth
OTM 412 Occupational Therapy Process 1: Children & Youth
OTM 413 Occupational Therapy Fieldwork: Children & Youth
OTM 414 Research Methods 1: Evidence-Based Practice
OTM 415 Ethics in Occupational Therapy
OTM 416 Professional Development II

For a list of the required graduate-level courses that will be completed in year five, please visit the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) page

Additional Courses for a Bachelor of Health Science in Occupational and Behavioral Science

Students who do not pursue a dual BHS/MSOT degree will complete the following courses in their fourth year toward a Bachelor of Health Science in Occupational and Behavioral Science

HS 370 Promoting Health/Preventing Disease
HS 403 Current Topics in Health Care
OTM 404 Therapeutic Use of Self
OTM 409 Development of Humans as Occupational Beings
SOC 201 Introduction to Human Services
PSY 111 Statistics

Students also will take an additional 12 credits in social science courses, as required.

A minimum of 121 credits is required for a Bachelor of Health Science degree in Occupational Science.


Our Outstanding Faculty

Career Outcomes

Job growth in the field of occupational therapy is expected to grow by 29% over the next 8-10 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics .  This makes occupational therapy one of the top 10 fastest growing careers in the United States.  Even better, Pennsylvania is ranked as a 2016 TOP 10 state (number 7) for career opportunities in the Occupational Therapy field, according to Advanced Healthcare Network

What Do Occupational Therapists Do?

Occupational therapists focus on improving a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks and activities – from childhood to older adulthood.  As an occupational therapist, you might: 

  • Enable young children with a developmental delay to improve their ability to play or participate in school and other social activities
  • Assist an adult with an upper extremity orthopedic injury regain use of his or her arm and hand to perform daily activities more independently
  • Help older adults who have suffered a stroke or traumatic brain injury perform self-care and household activities so they can return home safely from the hospital or skilled nursing facility
  • Provide strategies to adolescents with severe mental illness to aid them in finding and securing employment in order to live on their own

The list goes on and on.  A developmental delay or other type of disability can alter one’s ability to perform meaningful daily activities.  A registered occupational therapist helps people to cope and manage their daily activities, as well as adapt to environments in a way that best supports their safety and independence.

Possible Careers for Occupational Science majors

Occupational Therapist
Speech Language Pathologist
Physical Therapist
Social Worker

Additional education and training is required for some of these positions.