Occupational Therapy Assistant

Program Goal Statement

The mission of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program is to provide an accessible, quality educational program to individuals in preparation for employment as Occupational Therapy Assistants.  The program prepares generalist, entry-level occupational therapy assistants to practice under the supervision of registered occupational therapists in a variety of healthcare, home, school, workplace, community and other settings. The program prepares graduates to help people of all ages with physical, cognitive, psychosocial, sensory, emotional and other challenges regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to engage in meaningful occupations and live independent, productive, and satisfying lives.  The program advances the mission of the College by providing a career-ready education delivered in a learner-centered, supportive community that values professionalism, evidence-based practice and lifelong learning, respects diversity and prepares well-rounded learners for employment.

Program Information

• One program with two curriculum delivery options: Traditional and online (hybrid i.e. online classes, on-site labs and community and/or clinical fieldwork.)  Both options are based in New Bedford for in person lab component. 

• Students develop academic knowledge, clinical skills, and professional behavior through classroom, online, lab, fieldwork, and off-site learning experiences. 

• Traditional option OTA courses are offered primarily during the day, Monday – Friday (schedules change each semester); online program option OTA courses are offered Thursday – Friday.  The traditional program option requires 2-3.5 days/week onsite and the online program option requires 1-2 days/week onsite.  Both options include clinical fieldwork assignments which may include days, evenings and weekends. Both program options require 5 days/week (typically M-F) in full time fieldwork in the fourth semester.  Both program options require an additional 20+ hours/week to complete the required reading and assignments.

• Computer technology is integrated throughout the OTA program. All OTA courses use online course spaces which requires that all OTA students have access to a computer that is internet enabled, and have information and computer literacy skills that include using web browsers and other web applications to locate and appropriately use information provided in an online format.  Students should also have the ability to create, edit, save and retrieve documents, spreadsheets, and presentations.

• All applicants should review detailed information about technical requirements, time expectations, accessibility and Online Learning, and how to succeed in an online classroom: Online Learning at Bristol

• Prior to applying, all students should assess their ability to succeed in the online environment by completing the eLearning sample course by taking the "Is Online Learning for me?" self assessment.

• Online students must be self-motivated to learn independently.

• Once admitted to the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program students must complete all OTA courses in the required sequence. 

• Students considering transfer to an Occupational Therapy program are encouraged to choose HST 111 or HST 112 as electives. 

• Abnormal Psychology (PSY 255), and Child Development (PSY 252) are not required, but are recommended. Both courses are required for transfer to become a Registered Occupational Therapist. World language and American Sign Language is a beneficial skill in many practice settings.

• Many General Education courses are available nights, weekends, online and at satellite campuses. 

After Bristol

• Bristol graduates are recognized as well-prepared entry-level practitioners by the clinical community and employers.

• Graduates have taken positions as Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants in area schools, acute care, rehab and psychiatric hospitals, residential and day rehabilitation programs, nursing homes, sub-acute rehab, transitional care, home care and outpatient settings.

• Graduates may transfer to Occupational Therapy programs at senior institutions. Specific prerequisite requirements and transfer credit are determined by the transfer institution.

Infused General Education Competencies 

Ethical Dimensions, Multicultural Perspective, Technical Literacy, First Year Experience

Recommendations for Success

Students are advised to complete most general and elective courses prior to beginning OTA program courses. OTA classes, labs, and clinical fieldwork require attendance two to three days per week in Semester 1, 2, and 3 and 40+ hours/week in Semester 4. Some classes extend into the evening. Fieldwork placements may include days, evenings and/or weekends. Students typically need to decrease work obligations as program requirements increase.

Program Outcomes 2019-2021

The total number of graduates from the Bristol Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program during the three-year period 2019 - 2021 was 78, with an overall graduation rate of 82%. Program results (certification exam pass rates) from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) can be found online at https://www.nbcot.org/en/educators/home#schoolperformance.

Graduation Year

Students Entering

Students Graduating

Graduation Rate


29 (F 2017)




21 (F 2018)




28 (F2019) 



Total 3-year





Admission Requirements

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is a competitive-entry program with selective admission requirements. A limited number of students are admitted. Meeting minimal requirements places the applicant in the selection pool but does not guarantee admission. In order to be considered minimally qualified, applicants must have submitted their application, all supporting documents and have fulfilled the following criteria by the priority application deadline of February 1:

Completed the following pre-admission courses with a B- or higher: 

• A grade of B- in all pre-requisite courses results in a 2.7 GPA which makes the applicant ineligible for admission to the program.  It is suggested that grades higher than B- be earned to be a competitive candidate.

BIO 233 (Anatomy and Physiology I) or BIO 234 (Anatomy and Physiology II) or equivalent 

COM 104 (Fundamentals of Public Speaking) or equivalent

ENG 101 (Composition I: College Writing) 

ENG 102 (Composition II: Writing About Literature) 

HLT 101 (Medical Language Module 1) or HLT 102 (Medical Language Module II) or equivalent

MTH 119 (Fundamentals of Statistics) 

PSY 101 (General Psychology) or equivalent 

• Applicants must have a grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher in the aforementioned pre-admission courses. A grade of B- in all pre-requisite courses results in a 2.7 GPA which makes the applicant ineligible for application to the program.  It is suggested that grades higher than a B- be earned to be a competitive candidate.

• Applicants are required to observe (approximately 2 hrs.) in an Occupational Therapy setting.  The visit should be within the previous year.  Applicants who work in settings that employ occupational therapy practitioners should observe in a different setting.  If unable to procure an onsite observation the applicant must view and write in the application letter about OT practice as observed in these videos from the American Occupational Therapy Association’s website:

As part of the application process applicants must submit a letter that is evaluated by the OTA faculty as part of the admission criteria.  This letter should be written in response to the above observation experience that was conducted within the previous year. The letter should describe the observation experience and outline the applicant's interest in, knowledge of, and personal and academic preparation for the career of Occupational Therapy Assistant.  The letter must include the applicant's understanding of the Occupational Therapy profession and the role of the occupational therapy assistant, a clear statement of the applicant's academic preparation, how the applicant became interested in occupational therapy and any personal experience that influenced the applicant's decision to apply to Bristol Community College's OTA Program.

• Students are required to attend one mandatory health science information session during the year prior to anticipated admission (preregister well in advance as seating is limited). http://www.bristolcc.edu/getstartedatbristol/admissions/healthsciencesadmissionrequirements/healthscienceinformationsessions/

• Students must complete all science courses required for admission within 5 years of priority application deadline to the program.

• Transcripts from attendance at other regionally accredited college/universities may be required with submission of your admissions application.  Please refer to the Admissions page within this catalog for further detail https://catalog.bristolcc.edu/admissions  Failure to comply with these requirements may result in your application not being reviewed for the program to which you applied.

• Applicants are advised to apply well in advance of the deadline.

Requirements Upon Admission

Grade Requirements and Timelines

Once enrolled in the OTA program students are required to complete all courses in the four semesters of instruction in sequence in order to integrate theoretical and clinical education.

Students must receive a minimum grade of C (73) in all required occupational therapy assistant courses. Failure to earn a C (73) or better will result in program dismissal. Students who fail, do not complete, or withdraw from OTA courses may reapply to the program only once. Readmission is not guaranteed and is on a space available basis. The readmission decision is based on the recommendations of the faculty and department chair. Readmitted students must resume OTA coursework within one year of date of program dismissal or withdrawal. Students must successfully complete all required coursework, clinical and program objectives and competencies within five years of initial acceptance into the OTA program in order to graduate. Level II fieldwork must be completed within 18 months of completion of the OTA academic coursework.

 Cost of Attending and Completing the OTA Program

The Associate of Science in OTA consists of 73 credits, including 20 pre-admission credits and 43 OTA credits.  Once admitted into the OTA program students complete the OTA courses in sequence over a period of two academic years.

The TOTAL cost of attending and completing the OTA program (73 credits) is as follows: 2021 tuition and fees $18,542 (out of state ($33,580); additional college fees: instructional support fees $126; registration deposit $50 (applied to first semester fees); additional costs for the OTA program $2,845 (includes Student Membership in American Occupational Therapy Association ($150), CPR ($70), drug screening ($240), fingerprinting ($90), Polo Shirt an name tag ($25), attendance at professional conference and meetings ($70), fieldwork costs - travel and supplies ($400), books and subscriptions ($1,800).  Costs are subject to change. Please refer to the College Catalog for current Tuition & Fees.

Fieldwork Affiliations

Transportation to the fieldwork sites is the student’s responsibility. Students should be prepared to travel an hour or more from campus. Students are advised to decrease outside work obligations in the first three semesters, then discontinue during full-time fieldwork affiliations in the fourth semester. Fieldwork hours may extend into evenings and weekends and extend beyond the academic year. The availability of clinical affiliations depends on the ability of area healthcare providers to accept students. In some cases, affiliations will be completed in a fifth semester.

Health Requirements

Accepted applicants must comply with the Bristol Community College's health services requirements. This includes a physical examination, tetanus, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis B, and varicella (chicken pox) immunizations or titres results (blood test to prove immune status).  If under the age of 21 you must also be tested for meningitis. A two-step TB test and flu shot is required each year. Students who decline having a flu shot may not be able to complete the program's clinical fieldwork requirements. Students must be certified by the American Heart Association in C.P.R. (Basic Life Support for Health Care Providers). Students are required to maintain C.P.R. certification and health insurance throughout their enrollment. Additional laboratory tests, including drug screening are required each semester by the program and clinical agencies. Clinical agencies may require additional procedures such as fingerprinting at any time. All fees are paid by the student.

Please be advised that despite Massachusetts law that permits the use of medical marijuana and the possession, use, distribution and cultivation of marijuana in limited amounts, any possession, use, distribution or cultivation of marijuana remains prohibited under College policy pursuant to federal law. Further, any student who tests positive for marijuana will be ineligible for clinical placement. Please refer to the College's Student Handbook for the College's complete Marijuana Policy.

Additional Requirements

Upon admission to the OTA Program students will be required to attend a program information meeting. Physical examination and CPR certification must be completed prior to the start of classes or students will not be able to attend clinical fieldwork which will prevent completion of program objectives. All admitted students are required to complete the Online Learning sample course in their AccessBCC account prior to the start of fall classes.

Upon admission to the program and at regular intervals during the program, all students must undergo a Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check and a Sex Offender Registry Information (SORI) check. These checks are required due to potential unsupervised contact with children, the disabled, or the elderly during clinical experiences. The College is authorized by the Commonwealth's Department of Criminal Justice to access CORI records. Sex Offender checks shall be performed pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 6, Sections 178C-178P. A positive CORI/SORI check may prevent students from participating in clinical assignments in contracted health facilities and prevent students from completing the program objectives. Students found to have certain criminal convictions or pending criminal actions will be presumed ineligible for clinical placement. For more information regarding the College's CORI/SORI check process, please contact your program Chair. 

The Massachusetts Board of Allied Health Professionals requires licensure applicants to report any history of felonies or misdemeanors and may deny licensure to those applicants. Further information is available from the MA Board of Allied Health regarding guidelines for applicants with criminal records call (617) 701-8605 or email at alliedhealth@mass.gov.

The Disciplinary Action Committee of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) requires a criminal background check of all applicants and may refuse to administer the certification exam, and/or deny certification to any individual charged with or convicted of a felony. For further information, contact NBCOT, One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20878; (301) 990-7979.

Essential Functions 

OTA students must possess certain cognitive, physical, and psychosocial abilities in order to successfully complete the requirements of the program and ultimately practice in the profession:

• Cognitive ability to learn and apply the skills necessary to meet the curriculum requirements of the program and to qualify to take the NBCOT certification examination. 

• Sufficient visual skills to allow accurate reading of a medical record, reading and recording of vital signs, and assessment of patients within a distance of 10 feet. 

• Sufficient hearing skills to successfully interact with all team members, as well as to hear and respond to equipment, monitors, and alarms. 

• Physical abilities to safely meet the multiple needs of various patient populations. This includes sufficient joint mobility, strength, motor control, balance, functional mobility and the ability to lift and move patients from one surface to another. 

• Communication skills to clearly and effectively communicate in English with patients, families, faculty, and healthcare workers in both verbal and written form. 

• Emotional stability to demonstrate professional interactions with faculty, patients, families, and all other professional staff; to demonstrate respect and confidentiality; to demonstrate good judgment and ethical behavior; to deal effectively with conflict situations; and to demonstrate responsibility for oneself and his/her actions. 


The Occupational Therapy Assistant 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 phone number C/O AOTA is 301.652.2682 and the website is www.acoteonline.org.

Certification and Licensure

Graduates of the program are 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 graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification and/or attain state licensure.

Preadmission Courses

Preadmission courses must be completed at time of application with grades of B- or better.

Course #
Sub-Total Credits

Degree Requirements

Elective Courses

HST 111 or HST 112 recommended for transfer.

Course #
Global and Historic Awareness Elective  +
Sub-Total Credits
Total credits:

Course Sequencing

BIO 234 and SOC 101 must be completed prior to (preferred) or during the first semester.

Item #
Sub-Total Credits
Item #
Global and Historic Awareness Elective  +
Sub-Total Credits

Consider taking any remaining General Education courses to lighten semester load.


Academic Area

Health Sciences

Degree Offered

Associate in Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant


Program Code


Program Contact

Johanna Duponte
Department Chair

Dorothy Chase
Interim Dean of Health Sciences and Nursing


CIP Code