Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA-B)


Ms. Lisa Simmons, Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Director (program chair)
Dr. Elizabeth Palmer, Occupational Therapy Academic Programs Fieldwork Coordinator


Trinity is transitioning to an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) baccalaureate degree. This degree educates students to work under the supervision and in cooperation with an occupational therapist (OT) to help people across the lifespan engage in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities called occupations.

This major prepares you to work in various settings that include hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, sub-acute facilities, psychiatric and community-based programs, schools, nursing homes, private practice and other emerging practice areas.

Students may be admitted to Trinity to complete general education and OTA prerequisite courses.  Trinity may enroll students in the OTA program once the program receives Candidacy Status from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Degree Requirements

Students complete general education and pre-requisite courses before applying to the OTA program. These can be taken at Trinity in the College of Arts and Sciences or credits can be transferred from another accredited institution. Students complete OTA-specific courses after formal acceptance into the OTA program.

Requirements for the Degree:
The requirements to graduate from Trinity with an Occupational Therapy Assistant Bachelor of Science  include the successful completion of the following:

  • Successful completion of all program pre-requisite courses and general education courses in the College of Arts and Sciences or transferred from another accredited institution.. Completion of the major program’s course of study  including fieldwork experiences
  • All OTA-designated courses completed at Trinity with a grade of “C” or better.
  • Completion of all credits with a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5
  • For students matriculating after Fall 2002, 45 of the final 60 credits, excluding credits for experiential learning, and all OTA-designated courses must be completed at Trinity.
    • All specific course work required for the major program of study
    • Completion of all fieldwork requirements

Prerequisite Courses 

BIOL 121 Human Anatomy and Physiology I
BIOL 122 Human Anatomy and Physiology II
ENGL 107 College Composition
HPNU 120 Medical Terminology
MATH 108 Finite Mathematics
PSYC 101 Introductory Psychology
SOCY 100 Introduction to Sociology

Program Policies

Questions from non-Trinity students regarding the application process and acceptance criteria should be directed to the Admissions Office. Questions from a current Trinity student regarding the application process and acceptance criteria should be directed to the student’s undergraduate advisor in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Required Documentation: 
Prior to enrolling in any OTA fieldwork course, students are required to present documentation of the following:

  • Current immunization or titers for: DPT; MMR; Hepatitis B (3 doses); Tetanus; Influenza (annual); TB (annual)
  • National criminal background check
  • Drug Test
  • Current major medical health insurance
  • American Heart Association BLS/CPR certification for the Health Care Provider (2-year card)
  • Current physical examination
  • Some clinical facilities may also require fingerprinting

Additional Expenses:
As part of the professional behavior and professionalism in Fieldwork I and II, as well as community learning experiences, students in the OTA program should expect to incur the following additional expenses beyond tuition and fees:

  • OTA polo shirt
  • Local travel and transportation
  • Books
  • Health insurance
  • Criminal background check
  • Fingerprinting
  • Annual Physical Examination
  • American Heart Association BLS/CPR certification for the Health Care Provider (2-year card)

Advanced Placement:

Credits earned through AP examinations can only fulfill pre-requisite and general education requirements for the OTA major.

CLEP Policy: 

Credits earned through CLEP examinations can only fulfill pre-requisite and general education requirements for the OTA major.

Grades in Pre-requisite and Major Courses:
OTA students must earn a minimum of “C”  as a final course grade in all occupational therapy assistant (OTA) courses. A final grade below a “C” will require the student to repeat the course to successfully complete all requirements of the occupational therapy assistant curriculum plan. A final grade below a “C” may impact a student’s academic progression in the occupational therapy assistant program. Any grade involving a numerical fraction is NOT rounded up at the end of the semester in the final course grade.

Pass/No Pass:
No course fulfilling major requirements in the OTA program may be taken Pass/No Pass.

Transfer Credits: 
Transfer credit for pre-requisite courses will be awarded after appropriate program review and approval.


The OTA program strives to educate students to be competent, ethical and committed occupational therapy practitioners who promote health and well-being of all people as they engage in everyday activities called occupations. Through dynamic classroom, clinical and community experiences, OTA students graduate prepared to meet the ever-changing occupational needs of society and address social justice and occupational justice issues locally and globally.


Within Trinity’s founding traditions, we envision the OTA program as a center where the occupational therapy assistant and the occupational therapist can study the process of adaptation and its effect on occupational performance as it relates to the person’s search for meaning and fulfillment as occupational-beings.

Occupational Therapy Program Philosophy

The OTA program’s philosophy reflects occupational therapy fundamental ideals in that it is based on the profession’s belief that humans are complex beings who are continuously engaged in their environment. Learning is an active and social process where learners discover principles, concepts, and facts through interactions with each other and with their environment.  The Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2011) provides the foundation for the Trinity Washington University OTA Program.  The organizing philosophical framework of the OTA curriculum is derived from the belief that engagement in occupations can positively influence the health and well-being of individuals and populations. Through engagement in occupations, we can find meaning and balance in our lives.

The OTA Program philosophy is guided by two major areas: occupation and the process of occupational adaptation, and the professional curriculum and teaching-learning style.

Our Fundamental Beliefs about Human Beings

Humans are complex beings that are constantly interacting with the physical, social, temporal, cultural, psychological, spiritual and virtual environment through their actions. We are active beings who have the ability to adapt, modify and affect the quality of our life by engaging in the things we want and need to do called occupations. These occupations are the actions that support survival, provide self-actualization and help us find occupational balance (AOTA, 2007). However, when a person is faced with an occupational challenge because of impairment, disability or a stressful event, the innate process of human adaptation may become impaired (Schultz, 1992; Schultz & Schkade, 1992). Through occupational therapy intervention, the occupational therapy practitioner’s “therapeutic use of self,” management of the environment and use of “occupations as tools” promote the client’s ability to adapt to life’s challenges for successful occupational performance.

Our View of Learning

Learning is an active and social process in which learners learn to discover principles, concepts, and facts through interactions with each other and with the environment in which they live (Brown, 1989; Ackerman, 1996). Trinity acknowledges learners are unique individuals with unique needs and diverse backgrounds while being complex and multidimensional. Using a constructivist viewpoint to guide the learning process, we see that the responsibility for learning resides with the learner; motivation for learning strongly depends on the learner’s confidence in his or her potential to learn (Prawat & Floden, 1994); and instructors are facilitators that create guidelines and set the stage within the environment for learning. The learning experience is shaped by the instructor’s as well as by the learners’ values; culture and background are shared and respected (Ernest, 1991; Prawat et al., 1994). The faculty of Trinity Washington University’s OTA program demonstrates support for students to become effective and critical thinkers through the “beyond the comfort zone” academic challenge (Vygotsky, 1978) that will also translate into critical thinking and reasoning skills in the OT practice setting through use of activities as interventions.


The baccalaureate-degree-level occupational therapy assistant program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status 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. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be eligible to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapy assistant administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). 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.

Trinity Occupational Therapy Assistant program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online at https://secure.nbcot.org/data/schoolstats.aspx