M.S. in Occupational Therapy Accreditation Process
Abilene Christian University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) to award associate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral degrees.
Pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), ACU plans to offer an M.S. in Occupational Therapy beginning Fall 2014.
An occupational therapy or occupational therapy assistant program must be accredited by the AOTA Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) prior to students’ graduation for its students to be eligible to sit for the national certification examination offered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). The accreditation process, which takes approximately two years, is designed to start before the first class of students enters the program and completed before the first class graduates.
ACU’s proposed M.S. in Occupational Therapy is an applicant program and is currently seeking ACOTE accreditation. A description of the ACOTE accreditation process for new programs can be found below.
ACOTE Accreditation Process for New Programs
To ensure commitment to the development of quality programs and to review the potential viability of an applicant occupational therapy educational program prior to the admission of the first class of students, all new programs seeking accreditation by ACOTE are required to apply for Candidacy Status as the first step in the three-step accreditation process for new programs.
The following are the three steps of the accreditation process for new programs.
Step 1 – Application Review
For new programs, the process begins with submission of the Candidacy Application. Upon review of that Application, ACOTE grants, defers action on, or denies Candidacy Status. Although the designation “Candidacy Status” is not a guarantee of accreditation, it does indicate that the resource allocation and plan for development of the proposed program appear to demonstrate the ability to meet the ACOTE Standards for a Doctoral-Degree-Level Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist, a Master’s-Degree-Level Educational Program for the Occupational Therapist, or an Associate-Degree-Level Educational Program for the Occupational Therapy Assistant if fully implemented as planned. Candidacy Status must be granted before students may be admitted or notified of admission to the program and is required in order for the program to proceed to Step 2.
Step 2 - Initial Review
If Candidacy Status is granted, the program may admit its first class of students and proceed to the second step of the process, the initial review. In this step, the program assesses its compliance with the ACOTE Standards and submits an initial Report of Self-Study. Upon review of this report, ACOTE grants, defers action on, or denies a Letter of Review. The granting of a Letter of Review indicates that on the basis of the paper review of the submitted materials, ACOTE has determined that the program is likely to meet the applicable ACOTE Standards if fully implemented in accordance with its plans. The granting of a Letter of Review is not a guarantee of accreditation status.
Step 3 – Initial On-site Evaluation
In the third step of the process, ACU will prepare a self-study of the OT program. Then, ACOTE will plan an initial on-site evaluation conducted by a two-member team. The team will prepare a report of on-site evaluation, upon which ACOTE decides if the MSOT program is likely to meet accreditation standards. If ACU is given a favorable on-site evaluation, the first class will participate in fieldwork in January 2016 and the first class will take the accreditation exam in September of 2016.
Read ACOTE’s Letter to Prospective Applicants
For more information about the accreditation process for ACU’s proposed M.S. in Occupational Therapy, contact Dr. Hope Martin at firstname.lastname@example.org.