Occupational Therapy

Looking for a creative career in a helping profession with various work settings that help people to do the things in life that are meaningful despite challenges? Occupational therapy could be your calling! Whether teaching someone who had a stroke to dress and bathe independently, helping a child with a disability play and learn in school, or assisting someone with a serious mental illness plan their day, occupational therapists help people engage in the meaningful activities that occupy their daily lives.

What will I learn?

You'll start with two years of pre-professional coursework, which typically includes classes in topics such as human development, anatomy, physiology, public health, psychology, statistics and diversity. Then, you'll advance to professional courses and learning experiences, including gross anatomy, neuroscience, assistive technology, prosthetics, orthotics, and occupational therapy (OT) processes. Finally, you'll take graduate-level classes and conduct hands-on fieldwork to develop your clinical skills—including performing evaluations and interventions, working with underserved populations, and using everyday activities to help people achieve or regain independence. As a student in our Research 1 University, you will conduct research with classmates under the mentorship of an OT faculty member to help future OT service recipients.

What can I do outside of class?

Get experience, build your network and make friends through various activities.

  • Experience OT first-hand. All students entering the OT program complete 35 hours of observation and/or volunteer work before applying to the professional program. This allows you to understand OT and make sure it is the right fit for you.
  • Fieldwork and clinical experiences. Practice your skills as you work in a clinic, school or other location. "One day you might be fabricating custom thermoplastic splints in a hospital setting, the next day you might be developing a training program that helps refugees learn how to ride the bus," said one student.
  • Share your research. Many UB OT students go on to present their research findings at state and national conferences, and several research projects are published in professional journals each year.
  • Interprofessional education (IPE), clubs and events. Meet other students and faculty throughout UB as you work in our simulation center and interprofessional forums, earning digital badges to tout on your resume. You can also complete additional experiences on fieldwork to receive an IPE micro-credential on your transcript!

What can I do with an occupational therapy degree?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for occupational therapists is expected to grow much faster than for other professions through 2032. Occupational therapists are needed in many types of private, nonprofit and public organizations, including:

  • Home health agencies.
  • Hospitals.
  • Mental health centers.
  • Nursing homes.
  • Physician practices.
  • Rehabilitation centers.
  • Schools.
  • Specialized clinics.
  • Primary care settings, such as dental and medical offices.

Depending on your job, you could be helping people recover from a stroke, preventing workplace injuries, providing learning tools for children with special needs, or finding other ways to use your unique skills. Many OTs advance to positions in management, teaching and other areas. As one of our students said, "UB's program gave me the confidence that I would need to succeed in any work environment."

This combined degree program prepares you to take a national certification exam to become a registered occupational therapist (OTR); UB students typically have a very high pass rate for this exam. You can also choose to continue your education with a doctorate or other advanced degree.

Who will I learn from?

At UB, you'll appreciate learning from professors in a top-ranked program who provide real-life examples, get students involved with research, and truly care about helping you succeed with classes and fieldwork. "The students were definitely a priority to the professors,” recalled one of our students. "They did a great job of really getting to know their students and were always available to provide extra help, support or explanations when needed."

Our award-winning faculty members, who all have clinical experience—have also been widely recognized for their research and other accomplishments. They have published their work in leading journals and have held professional affiliations with organizations including the American Occupational Therapy Association, the New York State Occupational Therapy Association, the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine, the Coalition of Occupational Advocates for Diversity, Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America, Society for the Study of Occupation, and the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry.