Giving people their independence.

Helping patients is our passion, and at Mercyhurst, our Occupational Therapy Assistant program trains students to not only master the physical side of the job, but the mental and emotional side as well. Our students help people of all ages regain, develop, or master everyday skills in order to live independent, productive, and satisfying lives. Whether it’s an infant with developmental problems, an elderly person facing health challenges, or a person living with disabilities, OTAs help patients with rehabilitative activities and exercises and monitor their progress while encouraging and motivating them along the way.

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 graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In addition, most states require licensure 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 examination or attain state licensure. For more certification information, visit www.nbcot.org.

Fast Facts

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, OTA employment will grow by 41 percent between now and 2022, which is much faster than average for all occupations
  • OTAs work in a variety of job settings, including nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, hospitals, mental health centers and schools

  • Each student is required to complete clinical work at one of the multiple facilities committed to working with our program

  • Graduates, upon successfully completing their program, are required to sit for the NBCOT examination to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA)

Admissions Requirements

Requirements for admission include a high school diploma or GED, with a GPA or 2.5 (C+) and completion of high school algebra, biology and chemistry with a C or better in each course. Preference is given to applicants with SAT scores at or above 900, two section total, or a 20 composite ACT score.

Additional requirements after a student is accepted and confirmed include 20 hours of documented work or volunteer experience in two different occupational therapy settings under the supervision of a licensed OT or OTA, and CPR certification.

After matriculating, students are required to provide immunization records, a physical health examination and criminal record check result.


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 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-AOTA, and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.

Find the Mercyhurst OTA Program's passing rate for the NBCOT exam here.

Graduation Rates
2016: 54% (12 students graduating)
2017: 50% (7 students graduating)
2018: 55% (10 students graduating)

Programming Update

Please note: Key components of the Occupational Therapy Assistant associate degree program — including all program-specific requirements and laboratory work — are offered exclusively at Mercyhurst’s instructional site in North East, Pennsylvania. Other courses, including REACH Curriculum core courses and electives, can be completed either at Mercyhurst’s Main Campus in Erie or at the North East instructional site. 

Contact Us

Lynne Oberle, Ph.D.
Program Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant
Phone: 814-725-6309
Email: loberle@mercyhurst.edu

Meet the Faculty

Occupational Therapy Assistant
Clint Jones, Ph.D.
Dean, Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences
Janice Haas, M.S.
Associate Dean, Zurn College of Natural and Health Sciences, Program Director, Physical Therapist Assistant, Assistant Professor
Lynne Oberle, Ph.D.
Program Director, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Assistant Professor
Dawn Earp, B.A., COTA/L
Academic Fieldwork Coordinator, Instructor