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Degree Overview

Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant

South University 2018 Graduation

The Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant program at South University Virginia Beach prepares qualified students to become occupational therapy practitioners. The program prepares students with knowledge and skills for competent entry-level practice in a variety of contexts for an ever-changing world. Occupational Therapy (OT) is a profession that promotes the health and well-being of people across their lifespan and aims to 'treat the whole person' to help individuals perform meaningful and purposeful daily activities. Occupational therapy assistants work with people of all ages who have physical, psychological, or developmental conditions to help them gain or regain skills lost due to injury or illness to regain or accommodate the loss of motion, strength, coordination, sensation, perception, cognition, or balance. The Occupational Therapy Assistant program further seeks to lead the profession and community through its contributions in educational leadership, community and professional service, learning, and scholarship.

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education

The occupational therapy assistant program at South University, Virginia Beach 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.
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, most 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.

Admission Requirements

Please see the South University academic catalog for program specific admissions requirements.

Career Outlook

Areas of practice for OTA's include pediatrics, mental health, physical disabilities, and geriatrics, working with people who have cancer, cardiopulmonary, metabolic, musculoskeletal, neurologic, neuromuscular, orthopedic, sensory conditions, and more.

Practice settings include but are not limited to acute care hospitals, rehabilitation centers, assisted living facilities, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, home health agencies, public and private school systems, and private practice.



If you are interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapy assistant, you must have a high school diploma or equivalent and an associate’s degree from an accredited program offering the occupational therapy assistant curriculum. Individuals graduating from the Occupational Therapy Assistant program at South University will graduate with an Associate of Applied Science degree.

Once all academic and fieldwork requirements are completed, students apply to take a national certification exam that is administered online by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Program performance data on the NBCOT certification examination is available for public viewing by state and program level:

Upon successful completion of this exam, individuals may use the designation COTA following their name. NBCOT re-certifies occupational therapy practitioners every three years and has set continuing education requirements as part of that process.

The practice of occupational therapy is regulated in all 50 states; different states have various types of regulation that range from licensure, the strongest form of regulation, to title protection or trademark law, the weakest form of regulation.

Be sure to contact the licensing department in your intended state of practice to obtain the appropriate information specific to you.

The Web site address for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is

Virginia Beach OTA Performance Data on NBCOT Certification Exam

Program performance data on the NBCOT certification examination is available for public viewing by state and program level:


Graduation Rates

Graduation Rate for OTA Program at South University, Virginia Beach

The total number of students graduating from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at South University, Virginia Beach, during the 3-year period of January 1, 2016 - December 31, 2018 is listed below. (Note: No students entered this OTA Program until Summer 2016).

 Year Students Enter/Graduate OTA Program Number of Students Newly Enrolled Number of Students Who Graduated Graduation Rate
Cohort 1: Summer 2016, graduating Fall 2017 6 6 100%*
Cohort 2: Winter 2017, graduating Spring 2018 7 6 86%**
Cohort 3: Summer 2017, graduating Fall 2018 5 4 80%***
*Cohort 1: Five students graduated Fall 2017, one student graduated Fall 2018.
**Cohort 2: Five students graduated Spring 2018, one student graduated Fall 2018. One student who entered but did not graduate was dismissed for academic reasons.
***Cohort 3: Four students graduated Fall 2018. One student who entered but did not graduate was dismissed for academic reasons.
NOTE: This information is posted in compliance with ACOTE Standard A.4.2. Accurate and current information regarding student and program outcomes must be readily available to the public on the program's Web page. At a minimum, the following data must be reported for the previous 3 years: Total number of program graduates and graduation rates.

NOTE: Graduation rate is determined by dividing the number of students newly enrolled in a cohort of the Professional OTA Program by the number of students in that cohort who successfully complete degree requirements within 150% of the published length of the Professional OTA Curriculum, or within nine quarters, which includes time enrolled.

Course Requirements


The program goals of the South University, Virginia Beach Occupational Therapy Assistant Program are as follows:

  • Prepare occupational therapy assistants who appreciate and adapt to diverse and alternative cultures, settings, systems, processes, and ideas.
  • Foster student skill in accessing relevant literature and information, using research-based evidence to make informed decisions in occupational therapy practice.
  • Cultivate student skill in effective critical thinking, problem-solving, and clinical reasoning with clients across the lifespan in diverse practice settings.
  • Foster development of student’s communication skills to promote effective, appropriate interaction with all stakeholders.
  • Instill in the student the values, attitudes and behaviors consistent with the occupational therapy profession's philosophy, standards and ethics.
  • Provide the student with opportunities to acquire skills in advocacy for the profession of occupational therapy to other professionals, service providers, consumers, third-party payers,regulatory bodies, professional associations and the public.
  • Provide the student with a challenging curriculum that prepares students to deliver occupational therapy assistant services with entry-level competency under the supervision of an occupational therapist in a variety of practice settings.
  • Impart to the student a passion for lifelong professional development to meet changing societal needs.
  • Provide ongoing opportunities for stakeholders in the OTA Program to have input into the development and evaluation of the OTA Program in ensure the Program remains true to its mission and philosophy.

Learn More

Occupational Therapy Assistant at South University

When someone is in need, are you quick to lend a hand? Have you often been described as a good listener?  As you choose your own career path, it is important to think about areas where you naturally excel in day-to-day life. those everyday talents - such as showing compassion, paying attention to detail, and even physical strength - will serve you well as an occupational therapy assistant. We invite you to find out more by contacting the Admissions Department at South University. Let us help point you in the right direction as you explore your future career path

Success Stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make an impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our alumni and the difference they make. Check out what some of our healthcare graduates have to say.

Laceye A. Parker 2010
Laceye Parker Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Doctor of Pharmacy

“I had always been interested in healthcare, and as a child thought about becoming a physician. But when both my grandfathers became seriously ill, I came to a new appreciation of the vital role that pharmacists play in achieving positive outcomes for patients. As soon as I completed my master's degree, I decided to enter South University's Doctor of Pharmacy program. I've learned through my work at SCDHEC, and in my MBA program and Pharmacy School at South University, is laying a firm foundation for my career as a pharmacist.”

Crystal May 2014
Crystal May Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Bachelor of Sceince in Healthcare Management

“The staff was the heart of my experience at South. The staff worked together to provide a positive learning environment and truly had passion in educating the students. The staff helped me identify my strength and interest in the financial avenue of healthcare, and helped me see the benefits of pursuing this career. South University gave me the tools I need to be successful and validated my capabilities to be a successful professional.”

Robyn Smith 2007
Robyn Smith Grad Alumni
Class of '07
Associate of Science in Physical Therapy Assistant

“I had only heard good things about their PTA program and I knew I wanted to be a part of it. I find it very rewarding and emotional when a patient of mine who hasn't walked in a while takes steps again. It makes going to work everyday worth it to know that i can help improve the quality of life for some of these people.”

Anna Langley 2014
Anna Langley Grad Alumni
Class of '14
Master of Science in Physician Assistant

“During my [admissions] interview, I really felt like South was a place that professors were encouraging, welcoming, and helpful. I also was drawn to the small groups that they present. I liked the idea of having a faculty member mentor to guide a smaller group of students throughout the entire program. The rigorous nature of the coursework prepared me well for the boards and the ability to be successful in my career. During clinical rotations, I was able to apply what I had learned and gain valuable patient experience that has helped me today”

Allyson Obluck 2017
Allyson Obluck Grad Alumni
Class of '17
Associate of Science in Occupational Therapist Assistant

“I wanted to make a difference and I knew occupational therapy was a hands-on way to improve quality of life for many people. My professors always made the effort to ensure that I understood the material and were constantly encouraging me to be better and do better. All of my experiences throughout my clinical rotations challenged me to think outside the box and to trust my instincts.”

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