Welcome to Arkansas State University!

Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.)

College: College of Nursing and Health Professions

Department: Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy is one of the most in demand professions in the US and internationally.  The number of programs in the field has, like many health professions, exploded.  Yet, the state of Arkansas has only a few programs in the state to meet the regional workforce and societal needs.  The delta regional has a unique configuration of needs and strengths upon which the program has been designed to meet or build upon.  Preliminary needs assessment has identified a regional and state need.  Also, it has revealed industry support and identified need for the program.

Occupational therapy assistants have a fantastic job outlook. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts OTA opportunities to grow by nearly 30% in the next ten years, much faster than growth seen in other occupations.  Between 2016 and 2026, the BLS estimates that 11,400 new jobs will open up in the field. In June of 2017, US News and World Report ranked OTA as the #1 occupation for graduates of associate-level degree programs. Occupational Therapy Assistant is ranked #60 overall, and #8 for Best Health Care Support Jobs in, America’s 100 Best Jobs by US News and World Report (January, 2018).

What is an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

The occupational therapy assistant (OTA) is a technically educated health provider who assists the occupational therapist in the provision of occupational therapy and contributes to the occupational therapy process through collaboration with the supervising occupational therapist.  The occupational therapy assistant works under the direction and supervision of an occupational therapist.

In order to become licensed as an Occupational Therapy Assistant, graduates must first sit for the National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) Exam for Occupational Therapy Assistants. To view the A-State Occupational Therapy Assistant Program pass-rates for the NBCOT Exam, please visit NBCOT School Performance.

Occupational Therapy Assistants work in a broad range of settings, including the following:

  • Hospitals
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Rehabilitation facilities
  • Skilled nursing, extended care, or subacute facilities
  • Homes
  • Education or research centers
  • Schools
  • Industrial, workplace or other occupational environments
  • Community based settings
  • Mental Health/Behavioral Health Settings


  • Mission and Program Outcomes


    The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is committed to the development of exceptionally safe, ethical, and culturally aware occupational therapy practitioners who focus on the unique occupational needs of the client, communities, and populations and who aspire to be life-long learners, advocates, and leaders in the field of occupational therapy within the state of Arkansas and the lower Mississippi Delta region.

    Arkansas State University is committed to uphold the highest standards of professionalism, education, and ethics.  The Occupational Therapy Department will follow all requirements set forth by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

    Program Level Outcomes

    Graduates of the A-State OTA Program will:

    1. Use professional reasoning to name and frame clinical situations in order to provide client-centered and occupation-based interventions.
    2. Understand and implement evidence-based practice across a variety of clinical settings and populations.
    3. Provide intervention that is ethically, socially, economically, politically, culturally, and environmentally relevant to individuals and populations in the lower Mississippi delta region.
    4. Understand the roles and responsibilities of OTA and OT practitioners to create collaborative partnerships and appropriate supervision in all settings and populations.
    5. Effectively identify factors of influence to health and wellness and implement intervention plans to address health at the individual, group, and population level.
    6. Possess the professional identity, knowledge, and skills necessary to effectively advocate for the client and profession and engage in leadership roles and responsibilities.

    Graduation Rates: 

    Graduation Year

    Students Entering/Graduating

    Graduation Rate














  • Admission Requirements

    Arkansas State University Occupational Therapy Assistant Program is a competitive-admission program that accepts up to 30 students each August.  The professional program is considered a lock-step, full time program. The program begins in the fall semester annually and is completed in one academic year (3 semesters - Fall, Spring and Summer.)  

    In addition to admission to Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, in order to be eligible for application to the Occupational Therapy Assistant program, the following requirements must be met: 

    • Be aware of the University General Education Requirements for Associate of Applied Science degree found in the A-State Undergraduate Bulletin
    • Complete or be in the process of completing the 28 hours of prerequisites with a minimum grade of  “B” required in all courses.
    • Cumulative GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale of all college work attempted
    • English proficiency requirements, if foreign born (TOEFL score of 79 or higher)
    • Possess the skills and abilities outlined in the Abilities and Skills of the OTA documented located in the application packet
    • Complete the OTA application, following all detailed instructions in the application and including:
      • Two professional references on the application reference forms, letters in addition to the forms are optional.
      • 1-2 page letter of application
      • Resume with volunteer and leadership experiences identified
      • Official sealed transcripts 
      • English proficiency requirements, if foreign born

    Applicants will complete all documents and submit them to the OTA Program Director for review by the Admissions Committee. Application and acceptance into Arkansas State University-Jonesboro does not guarantee admission into the Occupational Therapy Assistant program. The OTA application process must be completed and acceptance granted for entrance into the program.

    To be considered as an applicant, all applications must be completed and submitted by:  March 1 at 5:00pm

    Students will be notified by letter of their status by May 1 at 5:00pm

    Applicants not admitted during the current admission period are eligible to reapply in the next review period.

    Applications may be hand delivered to the Occupational Therapy Department located in the Eugene Smith building, Suite 318. Applicants may also submit applications by mail. Using certified mail is highly recommended to ensure receipt of application. 

    Mailed applications must be sent to: 

    Arkansas State University

    College of Nursing and Health Professions

    Occupational Therapy Department

    Attn: Andrea Brown, OTA Program Director

    P.O. Box 910

    State University, AR 72467

    Students admitted to any CNHP program must pass a criminal background check prior to enrollment in the program, and meet professional course requirements stated in the ASU Undergraduate Bulletin.  Evidence of the following is required before the start of professional courses:

    • CPR certification valid through the academic year
    • TB skin tests valid through the academic year
    • Evidence of Hepatitis B immunization or signed declination statement
    • Copy of valid health insurance
    • Copy of professional liability insurance

    Required Prerequisite Coursework for the OTA Program:

    Course Number

    Course Title



    ENG 1003

    English Composition I*


    ENG 1013

    English Composition II*


    MATH 1023

    College Algebra*


    BIO 2201

    Human Anatomy & Physiology I*


    BIO 2203

    Human Anatomy & Physiology I Lab*


    PSY 2013

    Introduction to Psychology


    PTA 1013 or UC 1013

    Making Connections*


    Sub Total


    Must have ONE of the following psychology courses

    PSY 2133

    Developmental Psychology


    PSY 4533

    Abnormal Psychology

    Must have ONE of the following history courses*

    POSC 2103

    Intro to U.S. Government


    HIST 2763

    US History to 1876

    HIST 2773

    US History since 1876

    Must have ONE of the following computer science courses*

    CS 1013

    Introduction to Computers


    CIT 1503

    Microcomputer Applications

    Total Prerequisite Hours


    *General Education Requirement of Associate of Applied Science degree.  Making Connections requirement is waived for incoming transfer students with more than 13 hours of approved transfer credit.

  • Program Costs

    Occupational Therapy Assistant

    In-State Tuition (per credit hour)
    Out-of-State Tuition ( per credit hour)
    Required Hourly Fees
    Athletic Fee
    College Support Assessment Fee
    Total Per Credit Hour:
    Required Term Fees
    Student Activity Fee (3 or more hours)
    The student activity is only charged in Fall & Spring terms.
    Additional Fees (only assessed when applicable)
    Clemency Fee
    Graduation Fee 
    Estimated Additional Expenses
    Application Fee
    Exxat EMS
    Background Check
    NBCOT Exam
    OTAKE Exam
    Fieldwork shirts and name tag
    AOTA Student Membership (Annual)
    AROTA Student Membership (Annual)
    SOTA dues (annual)
    Liability Insurance (Annual)
    BLS Course (Annual)
    CPR (Annual)
    Physical Exam/TB Skin Test (If needed by fieldwork site)
    TB Mask Fitting (Annual)
    Composite class photograph
    Lab Supplies
    12 inch clear plastic goniometer
    $7 - 10
    6 inch clear plastic goniometer
     $5 - 7
    Cotton gait belt with clasp
    $8 - 10
    60 inch retractable pocket tape measure
    $6 - 10

    MMR (Must submit with graduate program application.  Student should already have these vaccinations.  Available at the Craighead County Health Department.)

    Call health dept. for $

    TDAP (Needed every 10 years.  May or may not be an expense depending on when student received last vaccination.  Available at the Craighead County Health Department.)

    Call health dept. for $

    Hepatitis B [3 dose series] (Must have prior to entering program.  May not be an expense if student has already had the series.  Available at the Craighead County Health Department.)

    Call health dept. for $
    Total Expenses
    Total Estimated Program Expenses
    * U.S. Residents with a G.P.A. of at least 3.0 may receive in-state tuition rates. The total estimated program expense is based on in-state tuition rates. Living expenses while on clinical education are not included in the program expenses.
    Health Insurance

    The University offers each student the opportunity to purchase an accident and hospitalization insurance policy as part of a group consisting of A-State students and students enrolled in other universities across the state. Membership in the group is voluntary. Application forms are available on this website. Health insurance is required during fieldwork educational experiences.

    Fieldwork Education

    You are responsible for living expenses, transportation, and tuition while on all fieldwork education experiences. Additional information will be provided by the Academic Fieldwork Coordinator.

    Room & Board
    $2,550 - $4,100
    Meal Plan Options
    5 Day + $400 Flex
    7 Day + $300 Flex
    7 Day + $450 Flex
    115 block meals + $700 (2nd year & above or 30+ Hrs)
    150 block meals + $500 Flex (2nd year & above or 30+ Hrs)
    All Flex (3rd year & above or 60+ Hrs)
  • Graduation and/or Program Completion Requirements

    Fieldwork Requirements:

    OTA students are required to complete approximately 3-6 hours per week of Level I Fieldwork experience throughout the Fall semester,  and during the first seven weeks of the Spring semester. These fieldwork experiences are led primarily by faculty, who assess the student’s ability to demonstrate professional behavior and communication skills. By the midterm point in the Spring semester, students complete their clinical coursework and participate in a final exit interview, and overall evaluation of clinical skills and competency before being released for Level II Fieldwork. OTA students must successfully complete two 8-week clinical fieldwork experiences with a licensed, certified occupational therapy assistant or occupational therapist before they are eligible to graduate from the program. The first Level II Fieldwork placement occurs in the second half of the Spring semester, and the second Level II placement occurs during Summer Sessions I and II. Each Level II Fieldwork counts as a five credit hour course and is pass/fail. Please note that Level II Fieldwork placements are determined through a lottery system and students are not guaranteed a local clinical placement. Costs incurred during Level II Fieldwork are the student’s responsibility.

    Certification and Licensure Requirements:

    An occupational therapy assistant (OTA) degree is granted to the student upon successful completion of 28 semester hours of prerequisite coursework and 36 professional core hours. The OTA Program delivers these 36 core hours over the course of one year in a lock-step format, graduating a class every August. Upon graduation, students are eligible to take the national credentialing examination (COTA Exam) offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After passing this examination, the graduate will be a certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA). All states require licensure to practice occupational therapy, and proof of this certification is required in the licensure application process. Occupational therapy assistants practice under the clinical supervision of a Licensed, Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR/L).


    Please Note: As of January, 2018, NBCOT requires all exam candidates to pass a background check in order to be eligible to sit for the certification exam. This background check is in addition to the background check required by Arkansas law for applicants to the OTA Program. Prospective applicants should be aware that a felony conviction may impact their ability to become certified and licensed as an occupational therapy assistant.

  • Curricular Design


    Curriculum and degree requirements can be found in the most current Undergraduate Bulletin.

    Visit the bulletins page >>

    Philosophy and Curriculum Design

    The philosophy and curriculum design is based on a narrative meta-model.  A narrative meta-model is predicated on the assumptions that learning is:

    • Non-linear
    • Evolving
    • Competency fluid
    • Constructivist
    • Process and performance over finished work (AOTA, 2009)

    The core documents that create the foundation of our narrative meta-model are the Theory of Occupational Adaptation (Schkade and Schultz, 1992), Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2002) and the Spatiotemporal Adaptation model (Gilfoyle, Grady, and Moore, 1990).

    Context of the Institution

    our institution.

    Arkansas State University (A-State) is nestled in the northeast corner in close proximity to the “boot heel” of southeast Missouri and northwest corner of Tennessee.  Jonesboro, Arkansas is located in the lower Mississippi delta region of the United States forged from an agrarian past with key present industries of manufacturing, healthcare, logistics, professional services, and agri-business (http://www.jonesborounlimited.com/key-industries).  Arkansas State University plays a vital role in producing a workforce for the lower delta region and beyond.  The mission of A-State is to “educate leaders, enhance intellectual growth and enrich lives” (https://www.astate.edu/info/about-asu/).

    our college.

    The history of A-State began as agricultural and mechanical but in 1969 the nursing program was instituted and in 1982 the College of Nursing and Health Professions (CoNHP) came into existence.  The college now boasts 30 undergraduate and graduate degrees through a wide variety of programs, departments, and the school of Nursing (http://www.astate.edu/info/about-asu/history/historic-timeline/).

    our department.

    Occupational therapy is the second newest department in the college of Nursing and Health Professions.  The department houses both OTA and OTD programs.  The genesis of the OTA and OTD programs began in 2015.  The first OTA class graduated in August 2016 followed by the first OTD graduating class in August of 2018.  The mission of the Occupational Therapy Department states, “The Department of Occupational Therapy in the College of Nursing and Health Professions at Arkansas State University is committed to the development of exceptionally safe, ethical and culturally aware practitioners, life-long learners, advocates, leaders, and scholars who will focus on the unique needs of local communities, the state of Arkansas, the lower Mississippi Delta region and beyond.” (http://www.astate.edu/info/academics/degrees/degree-details.dot?mid=8c5288d4-c26f-44e0-a3cf-ac3db90f25e4).

    Profession’s Philosophy, Vision, and Trends

    The practice of Occupational Therapy is guided by the fundamental principles articulated in the Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (2017).  Five specific principles frame the philosophy of A-State occupational therapy: 

    • Persons are born with an internal drive to participate in meaningful occupations.
    • Participation is an essential element of health. Health and wellness are the building blocks of adaptation. 
    • The outcome of occupational engagement is a fluid experience due to the micro and macroscopic changes of internal individual drive, contextual conditions, and qualities of the occupation.
    • Occupation is the cornerstone for “health promotion and wellness, remediation and restoration, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation and adaptation”.
    • It is essential to understand the impact of occupation at the individual, community, and population levels (Commission on Education, 2017, p. 1).

    The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Philosophy of Occupational Therapy Education (2018) influenced the development process of the program’s philosophy, mission, and vision through:

    • The fundamental belief that both curriculum and pedagogy is necessary to fully articulate a program’s view of students engaged in a process to learn
      about humans as occupational beings where participation is a right and affects
      a person’s health.
    • The fundamental belief that “education promotes clinical reasoning and the integration of professional values, theories, evidence, ethics, and skills.
    • The fundamental belief that education is the way students acquire their professional identity.

    Therefore, a program’s philosophy and mission should mirror the values of occupational therapy education by:

    • Including a “client-centered, occupation based, and theory driven” clinical reasoning process.
    • Using “best evidence and outcomes data” to drive teaching and learning decisions.
    • Designing a curriculum that includes “active and diverse learning” in and out of the classroom.
    • Developing learning that is collaborative and builds on previous knowledge
    • Creating opportunities for students to self-reflect, evaluate, and use professional judgment
    • Promoting life-long learning (AOTA, 1)

    The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Arkansas State University affirms the aforementioned professional and educational beliefs and values as articulated by the American Occupational Therapy Association. 

    A-State Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Philosophy


    In concert with the beliefs and values expressed by the American Occupational Therapy Association, the Arkansas State University Department of Occupational Therapy’s philosophy is grounded in the Theory of Occupational Adaptation.  Occupational therapy engages clients through the use of occupations to develop or return to meaningful activities that they want or need to do. (AOT, 2018, https://www.aota.org/about-occupational-therapy.aspx.)  It is our belief at Arkansas State that in order to engage in meaningful occupations, human beings must have the ability to adapt to circumstances that present challenges or barriers to participation.  The Theory of Occupational Adaptation informs us about the way occupational beings adapt.  The authors of Occupational Adaptation based the theory on two assumptions:

    • Occupation provides the means by which human beings adapt to changing needs and conditions, and the desire to participate in occupation is the intrinsic motivational force leading to adaptation.
    • Occupational adaptation is a normative process that is most pronounced in periods of transition, both large and small. The greater the adaptive transitional needs, the greater the importance of the occupational adaptation process, and the greater the likelihood that the process will be disrupted (Schkade and Schultz, 1992).

    how occupational beings adapt.

    • Combination of a person’s internal desire for mastery and external demand for mastery creates a press for mastery.
    • Press for mastery creates an occupational challenge that the occupational being combines with their occupational role expectation.
    • An occupational being considers their internal adaptive repertoire in order to create an adaptive response. The adaptive response then becomes an occupational response.
    • If an occupational being’ internal adaptive repertoire is sufficient for a task, the occupational response occurs without stress.
    • If the occupational response is evaluated as masterful, then it will be integrated into the internal adaptive repertoire for use again.
    • Occupational beings can use existing, modified, or new adaptive responses to address an occupational challenge.
    • An occupational being becomes dysadaptive when their internal adaptive repertoire is insufficient to overcome the occupational challenge.

    In order to graduate leaders that enrich the lives of others in the Mississippi delta region through their knowledge and skills to advocate for and implement occupational therapy services, graduates must learn about the occupational adaptation process, help each other develop internal adaptive repertoires, and lead each other through the occupational adaptation process that is the OTD program.

    occupational adaptation model.


    Philosophical Frame for Learning

    As described in the Occupational Therapy Model Curriculum (AOTA, 2009), “a philosophical frame for learning is a set of beliefs about the processes by which people learn and change” (p. 58).  The core documents used to frame our learning philosophy are the Theory of Occupational Adaptation (Schkade and Schultz, 1992), Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy (Krathwohl, 2010), and the Spatiotemporal Adaptation Theory by Gilfoyle, Grady, and Moore (1990).

    bloom’s revised taxonomy.

    the upward spiral.

    Bloom’s revised taxonomy is pictured as an upward spiral to demonstrate our belief that learning is also a developmental process that builds on prior knowledge and experience.  Skill-based behaviors and foundational knowledge translates, over time, to internalized professional behaviors and clinical application that can be continuously analyzed, synthesized, and evaluated to perpetuate professional development.  The spiral also represents learning as an active process where the learner has the potential to engage in all levels of the spiral simultaneously depending on experience with a topic.

    developmental adaptation.

    Embedded inside the spiral are the last two models.  First is the Spatiotemporal Adaptation Theory by Gilfoyle, Grady, and Moore (1990).  The following seven principles come from Spatiotemporal Adaptation Theory (Appendix 10 – A, p. 275).

    1. Development is a function of maturation that occurs through the process of person-environment adaptation.  Therefore, students cannot be expected to bypass any of the stages of the spiral.  A student can only mature by experiencing the curriculum in sequence, moving from knowing to evaluating, and expanding their repertoire to included transitional and mature behaviors.
    2. Adaptation is contingent on attention to and active participation with purposeful events within the spatiotemporal dimensions of the environment.  Principle two reinforces our belief in providing an education experience that includes active “real-world” experiences. 
    3. Purposeful events provide meaningful experiences for the enhancement of maturation by directing a higher level of adaptive response by the “doer”.  All classes, labs, fieldtrips, fieldworks, and scholarly activities are designed to provide meaningful experiences that help the “doer” retain the information for application, synthesis, analysis, and evaluation.
    4. Higher responses result from integration with and modification of acquired lower level responses.  One cannot analyze, synthesize, or evaluate without knowing,comprehending, and applying.  Principle four supports a program where attendance is mandatory for maximum student success.
    5. Adaptation spirals through primitive, transitional, and mature phases of development occurring at the same time with different learning.  Principle five suggests that at any given time a person can be at simultaneously at multiple points on the spiral as new information and more familiar information is presented.  Principle five also supports the program’s activity of presenting concepts multiple times in multiple ways for maximum internalized maturity.  
    6. Environmental experiences may present situations of spatiotemporal stress. With stress, the system calls forth past acquired strategies and sequences to act upon the demands of the environment and maintain the system’s homeostasis.  Thus acquired strategies and sequences are adapted with the present situation to direct higher-level responses.  Gradual spatiotemporal stress is necessary in education in order for students to move from primitive behaviors to mature behaviors.  In occupational therapy this is known as the “just right challenge”.  Creating more difficulty in tests, assignments, labs, etc. must be done incrementally so that a student does not become overwhelmed and can gradually adapts existing learning strategies or create new strategies to be successful. Thus, the curriculum is designed with more structured courses in beginning moving forward each semester with courses that require higher
      and higher levels of integration. 
    7. Spatiotemporal distress provokes behaviors that result in dysadaptation. Spatiotemporal stress can become distress when persons are unwilling or unable to move away from primitive strategies.  Distress then becomes dysadaptation when persons try to apply primitive strategies to every situation.  Such dysadaptation is a result of delayed or absent development which is why the curriculum is designed developmentally in order to try to avoid dysadaptive behaviors.  We provide courses in a specific sequence to maximize movement through primitive and transitional developmental processes before fieldwork. 

    occupational adaptation.

    The second model embedded, but unseen, in the upward spiral is Occupational Adaptation.  Occupational adaptation is unseen because it is an internal process.  The only indication that an adaptive response has occurred is through a change in behavior that leads to a transitional or mature response.  A key concept in Occupational Adaptation, germane to the curriculum design, is relative mastery.  Relative mastery is the moment in time when a person knows they have used the right combination of knowledge and skills to be efficient, effective, and satisfying to self and others (Schkade & Schulz, p. 835).  Relative mastery, however, is fleeting as new challenges are constantly arising.  Therefore, the ultimate outcome of this program’s curriculum design is to create in each student a repertoire of knowledge, skills, and behaviors that allows them to respond masterfully to the demands of an entry-level practitioner.

    Department of Occupational Therapy Curriculum Design:  Locally grown.  World impact.

    Agriculture is the heartbeat of the lower Mississippi delta including the home of Arkansas State University, Jonesboro, AR.  Agriculture influences every facet of Jonesboro life from economy and culture to education, healthcare, and business.  Hardworking, sun up to sun down people forge this land and take great pride in what they grow for the United States and beyond.  Jonesboro, AR produces large amounts of two staple crops that are essential to our country; cotton and rice.  Therefore, we have chosen to change our curriculum design from a river to the cotton plant.  We think the cotton plant better reflects the culture of our program, university, and geographical region. 

    The cotton plant is a plant with deep roots, a stem, leaves, flowers, and bolls.  What is interesting about the cotton plant is that its utility comes after the stems, leaves, and flowers appear lifeless.  When the stem and leaves turn brown and the flowers close, a mature boll emerges with a white fluffy mass that is used to create millions of products.  Farmers and Occupational Therapy have something in common.  Both often go unnoticed until what we have to offer is needed for people to survive and thrive.  Just as Jonesboro Farmers grow cotton to provide the world with a basic ingredient for the manufacturing of food, clothes, and other products, the Occupational Therapy department at Arkansas State University is dedicated to growing educated practitioners to provide services in a region that has a dearth of healthcare providers.  Moreover, with more practitioners in the region, we can transform the landscape from meeting basic healthcare needs to developing ideas and interventions that influence the world.

    The following is a pictorial representation of the new curriculum design:

     cotton plant

    Soil, nutrients and roots (unseen):  The soil is the professional and educational philosophy of Occupational Therapy from which everything grows.  The Theory of Occupational Adaptation provides the nutrients and roots that anchor the curriculum design.

    The stem: Bloom’s Taxonomy and the Spatiotemporal Adaptation Theory is the developmental stalk providing a strong core to develop outcomes.

    The bolls:  The curricular core concepts of professional reasoning, occupation and evidence-based practice, ethics and occupational justice, leadership and advocacy, cultural awareness, health and wellness, and OTD/OTD collaboration.

    Curriculum Threads

    It is appropriate that our curriculum model is the cotton plant as we intend to convert the bolls into threads that become the fabric of our department.  Wendy Wood (1995) described the “Warp and Weft” of Occupational Therapy as follows.  The warp of the tapestry “consists of those anchoring, longitudinal thread that give rise to the tapestry's core fabric” (p. 44).  The warp represents engagement in occupation as a medium for health. The warp of our program consists of threads that represent foundation principles and unique features of the program:

    Professional reasoning:  The previous curriculum streams of foundational sciences, fundamental skills, and lifespan development are incorporated into professional reasoning along with a greater emphasis on the clinical reasoning process including the guiding theory of Occupational Adaptation.  Fleming (1991), in her article, the Therapist with the Three-Track Mind, first articulated the thinking process of an occupational therapist as procedural, interactive, and conditional.  A fourth track, narrative reasoning, was added later.  The purpose of the professional reasoning thread is to develop the learner’ ability to name and frame clinical situations appropriate reasoning for the best outcome. 

    Evidence-Based Practice:  The learner is expected to ground all clinical decision making and professional reasoning in evidence-based practice. The learner is exposed to the process of analyzing and utilizing research combined with clinical expertise and patient experience in the first semester. The three areas of practice emphasis, behavioral health, pediatrics, and adults, continue to integrate the use of evidence-based practice in the professional reasoning process. 

    Ethics and Occupational Justice: The previous Occupation curricular domain that supplied students with the understanding, application and creation of concepts, interventions, and products that reflect the unique perspective of occupation in the life of a human-being will now include a unifying thread of ethics and occupational justice.  The courses will move from an implicit to explicit lens that considers the ethical, social, economic, political, and environmental opportunities and barriers to occupational participation in a rural setting.

    According to Wood (1995), it is the weft, or the colored threads that fill in the warp as they are delicately woven in and out by hand, that gives the tapestry life.  The unique nature of the program at Arkansas State University comes to life in the curricular threads of OTA/OTD collaboration, cultural awareness, and leadership and advocacy.

    OTA/OTD Collaboration:  Arkansas State University is unique in that it has both OTA and OTD programs in the department.  Although the programs operate independently, multiple opportunities occur for the two levels of practitioners to collaborate on assignments and other activities.  Such collaboration assists both levels of practitioners to better understand their professional roles and responsibilities prior to entering clinical practice.

    Health and wellness:  The state of Arkansas ranks 48th in the nation for health (United Health Foundation, 2016) https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/annual/measure/Overall/state/AR).   Other health statistics include 2nd for Stroke, 4th for heart disease, and 6th for cancer related deaths (CDC, 2014) https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/arkansas.htm. Therefore, health and wellness must be included in the curriculum.  Courses such as Emergence of OT Practice and OTA in Behavioral Health help students address the health and wellness needs of local, state, and regional populations.  Additionally, the level I service-learning and experiential experiences provide an opportunity for students to implement community education and training that addresses health and wellness needs.

    Cultural awareness:  We chose the term cultural awareness instead of cultural competency because of our belief in relative mastery and the need for lifelong learning.  Courses such as Emergence of OT Practice, Fundamentals of OT Practice, and the clinical courses all have elements that assist the student in becoming a culturally aware practitioner.  Early coursework includes cultural awareness as part of our profession’s ethical responsibility.  Both level I and level II clinical coursework emphasizes cultural awareness as part of our “commitment to promoting inclusion, participation, safety, and well-being for all recipients in various stages of life, health, and illness and to empowering all beneficiaries of service to meet their occupational needs” (AOTA, 2015, p. 1).

    Advocacy and Leadership: Due to the rural community in which the program dwells, OTA practitioners are often practicing in isolation and are expected to hold leadership positions and effectively advocate for the needs of the client. Therefore, advocacy and leadership is a continuous thread throughout the majority of the OTA courses. Students are introduced to advocacy and leadership for the client, group, and population in the first semester through courses such as Emergence of OT Science, Fundamentals of OT Practice, and Behavioral Health for the OTA. In the second semester and through Level I fieldwork experiences, students apply and integrate advocacy and leadership principles throughout population-based courses and corresponding fieldwork experiences.

  • Accreditation and Licensing Information

    Arkansas State University received initial accreditation of the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program in 2016. The associate-degree-level occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Students must complete all prerequisites and core course requirements for the program to be eligible for graduation from the accredited program. Core coursework includes two 8-week fieldwork rotations, totaling 16 weeks of fieldwork, which must be completed within 24 months of completion of  didactic coursework. Graduates of the program 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.

  • Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
    When is application due date?

    March 1

    When will I be notified of status?

    May 1

    What if I miss the application deadline?

    Please contact the Department Chair.  However, there are only 30 slots available, and all candidates who submitted their application on time will be considered as a priority.  Each class is expected to be filled with the applicant pool.  

    What is reviewed in the admission packet?

    Pre-requisite GPA and overall grades,  Cumulative GPA,  two reference forms, letter of application, resume, English proficiency (if foreign born), work/volunteer related experience, extracurricular activities, and ability to meet the skills and abilities of an occupational therapy assistant.

    Can I go part-time?

    No, not at this time.

    Is any of the coursework online? 

    No, all of the courses are in-person and on-campus. Students must attend all courses involved in the program in order to progress. 

    Can I work while attending the program?

    The program is considered full time, and is very demanding. Due to the rigor of the education, we strongly advise you not to work.  In addition to in-class lectures, some of the assignments are completed in the community, some with peers, and some with other students from different degree programs. You should anticipate approximately 2 hours of work outside of class  for every hour spent in class.   

    What fieldwork expenses should I plan for?

    You should plan to provide your own transportation, lodging, food, and general living expenses.  You will have two Level I Fieldwork experiences, and  two Level II Fieldwork experiences (8 weeks).  You may be required to commute or complete a fieldwork outside of the immediate Jonesboro area. Please contact the Program Director if you have additional questions about requirements related to Fieldwork.


The Occupational Therapy Assistant program at Arkansas State University is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Reaccreditation of the Occupational Therapy Assistant program will occur during the 2030-31 academic year.

The ACOTE address is:
Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

c/o Accreditation Department
American Occupational Therapy Association
7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 510E, Bethesda,  MD  20914

The ACOTE phone number is:
Fax: 301.652.1417

The ACOTE web address is:

Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action

Arkansas State University is an equal opportunity institution and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap/disability, or other unlawful factors in employment practices or admission and treatment of students