Application Cycle for Master of Science in Occupational Therapy Begins

Pfeiffer MSOT Logo

The new Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program of Pfeiffer University is accepting applications through OTCAS, an application service, until March 30th. This innovative program aspires to prepare occupational therapists (OTs) for careers in rural and other emerging practice areas such as primary care, productive aging, 3-D printing for adults and children, and telehealth.

“We are looking for qualified candidates that are interested in being a part of an innovative program that incorporates evidence-based teaching and learning practice with an emphasis on critical thinking and creativity,” said Dr. Elizabeth Fain, the program’s founding director.

MSOT is undergoing a candidacy and accreditation process as required by the American Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). Students will be accepted upon receipt of candidacy in March.

Classes would begin in August 2020 at Pfeiffer’s Health Sciences Building in downtown Albemarle, the construction of which is nearing completion.

MSOT students would enter the higher education landscape at a time when there is a high demand for occupational therapists, particularly those who are equipped to thrive in rural areas.

Fain said that three conceptual threads would run through her program’s curriculum, each designed with a rural OT in mind. These are:

  • Interdisciplinary learning & communication;
  • Leadership & service; and
  • Creativity & innovation.

Fain stated, “These three curriculum threads will be present throughout the OT program with an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills to function in a variety of complex environments including rural health care.”

For example, the curriculum thread “interdisciplinary learning & communication” entails being able to explain to a physician why a client may need occupational therapy service to assist with the rehabilitation of orthopedic injuries. “Leadership & service” involves students in various service projects and/or in coming up with strategies to address such issues as autism, food hunger and drug abuse. As for “creativity and innovation,” there are lots of possibilities, such as teaching OT students to use a 3D printer to make adaptive equipment for those who are economically disadvantaged.

Another highlight of the MSOT program is fieldwork, which links academic content to real-life experiences at various entities in Stanly County and beyond. This facilitates opportunities to gain practical experience under the supervision of licensed OTs.

According to Dr. Kayla Smith, MSOT’s academic fieldwork coordinator, “we have a wide variety of placements including several in rural settings and it exposes them to opportunities of jobs in rural areas after they complete the MSOT program.”

“I don’t think every one of our graduates is going to work in a rural area,” Fain said. “But they’re going to be more likely to consider it if they’ve at least experienced it. Also, the odds are pretty good that if you do a good job where you do fieldwork, they’re going to offer you a job before you’re done.”

For more information about the MSOT program at Pfeiffer, contact Fain at [email protected] or 704-463-3369.


The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education ACOTE) is an accrediting body for occupational therapy education. All new programs seeking accreditation by ACOTE are required to complete the same accreditation process. Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Occupational Therapy Accreditation Statement:

The following statements are concerned with accreditation and program credentialing mechanisms. 

“The entry-level occupational therapy Master’s Level degree program has applied for accreditation 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 The program must be granted Candidacy Status, have a pre-accreditation 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 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.”

Accreditation Timeline:

  • ACOTE Candidacy Application Decision: March 2020
  • Students may be notified of acceptance into the MSOT program: April/May 2020
  • First-class starts: August 2020
  • Onsite evaluation: August/November 2022
  • Accreditation decision: December 2022
  • First-class graduates: December 2022

Ken Keuffel, who authored this article, has served as Pfeiffer’s Assistant Director of Communications since December 2019. He welcomes story ideas from Pfeiffer’s faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. The form for submitting story ideas is at​