Occupational Science Degree (BHS) - Pre-OT Program


Become an Occupational Therapist

Exciting News! In the fall of 2017, we started our Occupational Science major that can serve as a dual degree program that can give qualified GMercyU students a way to earn both a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science and a Master of Science (MS) in Occupational Therapy* without having to apply to graduate school or take a graduate school entrance exam.

A BHS in Occupational Science and MS in Occupational Therapy can be completed in about 5 years. The Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy majors are housed in the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Program within the Frances M. Maguire School of Nursing and Health Professions. Let GMercyU help you become an Occupational Therapist.

Program Summary

123 undergraduate credits for BHS in Occupational Science (with 40 additional credits for MS in Occupational Therapy)
3 years of pre-professional liberal arts education, 2 1/2 years of professional Occupational Therapy education
Occupational Science major launched in the Fall of 2017
Occupational Therapy major launched in May of 2018

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.

What Does an Occupational Therapist Do?

Occupational therapists focus on improving a person’s ability to complete everyday tasks and activities (occupations) – 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 orthopedic injury to regain use of his or her hand and arm, allowing him or her 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

A developmental delay or other types 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.



Paths of Entry

There are three paths of entry into the dual degree program in Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

First, a select number of high school graduates will enter as freshmen. High school seniors must hold a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.1 (based on a 4.00 scale), 1080 combined Math and Verbal SAT or at least a 22 on the ACT with no subsection under 20. CLEP or AP credits are not accepted for courses in Anatomy and Physiology, General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology or Statistics. Due to the limited number of spaces available in the BHS in Occupational Science (Pre-OT) program, first-year students are strongly encouraged to submit a completed application no later than December 1.  The Admissions team will review all completed applications for the Occupational Science program in December and begin issuing admissions decisions in January. Students who apply after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission based on their qualifications and available spots.

Second, a select number of undergraduate students enrolled at GMercyU can apply to change their major to Occupational Science. To be eligible for a change of major to Occupational Science, GMercyU students must have completed 24 or more credits at GMercyU by the end of the spring semester, maintained a cumulative GPA of a 3.1 or greater, submit the internal student change of major application to Dr. Thomas Mernar, Program Director of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Programs at mernar.t@gmercyu.edu between April 1 and May 1, and conduct an in-person interview with Program faculty members in May/June. Having earned an overall GPA of 3.1 or greater does not guarantee acceptance of a change of major to Occupational Science. Your academic transcript will be reviewed (including spring semester grades) in order to determine your change of major eligibility. If you meet the GPA requirements after spring grades are posted, the Program Director of the Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Program will contact you for an interview.

Third, pending the current cohort size, a limited number of students from other academic institutions may be eligible to transfer directly into the Occupational Science major if they have completed an undergraduate Admissions application, completed 24 or more credits, maintained a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or greater, complete an external student transfer application that includes a written essay, and conduct an in-person interview with an Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Program faculty member. No more than 35 credits completed within the last 5 years could be transferred into the education requirements required of an Occupational Science major. 

Requirements for Entry into Occupational Therapy Program

Occupational Science majors are guaranteed entry into the Occupational Therapy Program the summer after their junior year if the following criteria are met:

  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.1 or greater.
  • Prerequisite courses (General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Anatomy and Physiology I and II with lab, and Statistics) combined GPA of 3.1 or greater and earn a “C” or better in all non-prerequisite courses.
  • Completed and documented 50 hours or more of occupational therapy observation beginning in the fall of their freshman year to the spring of their junior year.
  • Attest to being able to meet the technical standards for occupational therapy practice. Students entering into and engaged during the full course of the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program must possess essential skills (observation, communication, motor function, intellectual-conceptual abilities, integrative and quantitative abilities, and behavioral and social attributes) to perform all educational (classroom, laboratory and clinical), fieldwork, and experiential preceptorship tasks in an accurate, safe, and efficient manner, to the satisfaction of the faculty, with or without reasonable accommodation. 


  • Normal or corrected visual ability sufficient for client observation and assessment to ensure safety and accurate measurement.
  • Ability to obtain information from written documents, videotaped data, graphic images and measuring devices accurately and within a reasonable time frame. 
  • Ability to sufficiently monitor and assess health needs of clients. 


  • Interact with others in a professional, courteous, and collaborative manner while using good judgment for confidentiality.
  • Demonstrate respect for the dignity of each person.
  • Maintain integrity in word and deed with others.
  • Read, speak, and write in English effectively using proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.

Motor Function

  • Assume a variety of body postures that can include continuous sitting, standing, walking, bending, reaching, pulling, lifting, stooping, kneeling, and crawling.
  • Demonstrate manipulation skills to effectively carry and use therapeutic equipment (i.e. assistive devices, weights). 
  • Demonstrate movement and mobility skills that are required for safe handling of persons of various sizes in order to perform safe transfers and guarding during functional mobility with and without an assistive device.
  • Pushing and pulling in order to provide resistance for the purposes of maneuvering and transitioning persons such during bed mobility, using a wheelchair, and for sitting and standing balance activities.
  • Demonstrate eye-hand coordination, postural control, strength, endurance, and integrated function of the senses (vision, hearing, smell, and touch) during the therapeutic process.

Intellectual-conceptual Abilities

  • Demonstrate verbal and written insight into one’s own academic and clinical performance.
  • Demonstrate the mental capacity to understand, problem solve, and make judgments in order to promote ethical reasoning.
  • Demonstrate ability to collect, document, and analyze evaluation data and implement client-centered and occupation-based interventions. 

Integrative and Quantitative Abilities

  • Demonstrate the mental capacity to understand, problem solve, and make judgments in order to promote safety.
  • Intellectual capacities to measure, evaluate, calculate, reason, analyze and synthesize information specific to client care.
  • Demonstrate ability to apply information learned from the classroom to a therapeutic practice environment.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

  • Demonstrate mature and professional behaviors with other students, faculty, colleagues, and clients.
  • Be receptive and open to mentor feedback about academic or fieldwork performance and adherence to academic and fieldwork policies and procedures. 
  • Establish and maintain a therapeutic relationship with clients.
  • Ability to work cooperatively and collaboratively with others.

Students should review the Technical Standards for the MSOT program carefully and identify if additional supports are needed for any portion (didactic and clinical) of the MSOT program. Students are encouraged to contact the Student Accessibility Services Office (215-646-7300 extension 21427) to arrange an individualized consultation to discuss any support services or accommodations they may need. Student Accessibility Services is located within Counseling Services in The Griffin Complex, 2nd floor window hallway of Rotelle Lounge.


The entry-level occupational therapy master’s degree 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 c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its Web address is www.acoteonline.org. 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 in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.


The four-year Occupational Science major includes three years of pre-professional studies with a focus on liberal arts, occupational science, health science, and general education. The fourth year begins the professional phase of the Occupational Therapy Program (at an undergraduate tuition rate). The Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy courses that are offered in this dual degree Program are listed below:

Year 1:
OSC 101: Introduction to Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy (3 credits)

Year 2:
OSC 201: Study of the Form, Function, and Meaning of Occupation (2 credits)

Year 3:
OSC 301: Health, Disability, and Occupation (2 credits)

Year 4:
OSC 402: Neuroscience of Occupational Behavior (2 credits)
OSC 403: Functional Anatomy for Occupational Therapy (3 credits)
OSC 405: Foundations of Occupational Therapy (3 credits)
OSC 406: Creativity and Activity Analysis (2 credits)
OSC 407: Kinesiology for Occupational Therapy (3 credits)
OSC 408: Professional Skills I: Therapeutic Use of Self (2 credits)
OSC 410: Professional Development I: Ethics, Values, and Responsibilities (2 credits)
OSC 411: Health and Medical Conditions: Children and Youth (2 credits)
OSC 412: Occupational Therapy Process: Children and Youth (5 credits)
OSC 413: Occupational Therapy Fieldwork I: Children and Youth (1 credit)
OSC 414: Research Methods I: Evidence-based Practice (3 credits)
OSC 415: Professional Skills II: Mobility, ADL, IADL, and Work (2 credits)
OSC 416: Professional Development II: Health Care, Policy, and Advocacy (2 credits)
OSC 4000: Wellness and Health Promotion through Occupation Capstone

Please note: All professional phase Occupational Therapy students (senior year and beyond) may be required to obtain the following annually –background check, physical, current CPR certification, PPD testing, health insurance. Students will be required to have a laptop, have transportation to and from fieldwork, and expected to hold student memberships to the American Occupational Therapy Association and Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association. 

Additional Occupational Therapy course listings can be found on the MSOT degree page.

Academic Progression into Occupational Therapy Master’s Program

Occupational Science majors are guaranteed entry into the MSOT program the summer after their junior year if the following criteria are met: cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.1 or greater, combined GPA of 3.1 or greater in prerequisite courses, (General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Sociology, Anatomy and  Physiology I and II with lab, and Statistics), earn a “C” or better in all non-prerequisite courses prerequisite courses completed at Gwynedd Mercy University, have 50 hours or more of documented occupational therapy observation or work beginning in the fall of their freshman year to the spring of their junior year, and attest to meeting the Essential Functions of Occupational Therapy Practice.

Graduation Requirements 

Occupational Science majors are required to complete 123 credits to earn a Bachelor of Health Science (BHS) in Occupational Science. Students are eligible to re-take up to 2 courses in the Occupational Science curriculum that are not an OSC 400 level course. If a student earns less than a “C” in one or two 400 level courses, they cannot progress into the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program their senior year. These students will need to retake the course or courses over the following year and earn a “B” or better in the course or courses in order to earn a BHS and enter into the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program. If a student earns less than a “C” in three or more 400 level courses, they may be disqualified from entry into the Occupational Therapy Master’s Program. Disqualified students can change their major and complete program and bachelor degree requirements of a different major offered at Gwynedd Mercy University.

Student Occupational Therapy Association

Gwynedd Mercy University’s Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) is an active and productive student organization that is primarily comprised of occupational science and occupational therapy students. SOTA serves to enhance the public understanding of the occupational therapy profession through professional development, fundraising, social media, community service, and social activities. To meet the current SOTA Executive Board and to learn of past and upcoming SOTA events, please visit the SOTA homepage.

The GMercyU Difference

Don’t let the name fool you. GMercyU’s 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 of 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 needed to better understand the challenges faced by those with disabilities. In doing so, Occupational Science students are uniquely prepared to enter into our Occupational Therapy Program.

If you are interested in Occupational Therapy or have applied to the OT program, please reach out to Kathy Hosack by email at Hosack.K@gmercyu.edu or calling (215) 646-7300 ext. 21699.

Our Outstanding Faculty

Career Outcomes

Occupational Therapy Career Opportunities

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual wage for occupational therapists is $86,280 (May 2019). And, job growth in the field of occupational therapy is expected to grow 16% through 2029four times faster than the average for all occupations.

Occupational Therapist ranks #28 #19 in "100 Best Jobs in 2021" by U.S. News and World Report.

Occupational Therapist ranks #10 in "Best Health Care Jobs in 2021" by U.S. News and World Report.

PayScale ranks Occupational Therapist as one its 10 Most Meaningful Jobs.

Occupational therapy is ranked #4 in the "10 Best Jobs of 2019" according to CareerCast.