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Occupational Therapy Assistant

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See the benefits.

The profession of occupational therapy has its roots in purposeful activities, or occupations. Students at Villa Maria College help others improve their quality of life through the supervised use of daily activities.

Individuals aspiring to be an Occupational Therapy Assistant must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited OTA program,  pass the NBCOT certification exam, and obtain a license in the state intending to work.  Villa Maria College will help you achieve this!

A Solid Foundation

Villa Maria’s Occupational Therapy Assistant students hit the ground running, with practiced faculty guiding them through the fundamentals. Through engagement in purposeful activities, occupational therapy practitioners guide patients and help them to realize their goals.  Students quickly build upon a strong foundation, developing the expertise needed to work in an array of clinical settings. This program prepares students to be open minded, non-judgmental allies, and advocates for others.

A Versatile Education

The OTA program at Villa Maria supports students through constructivist teaching practices within the domain of occupational therapy practice. Through careful scaffolding of content and rigor, students will be guided from basic principles of anatomy, activity analysis, and human movement to more advanced content involving case studies and interventions in various practice areas. Students are expected to demonstrate professionalism in their interactions on campus and in the clinic.

Prepared for work

OTA students complete three internship experiences during coursework that prepares you for work after graduation. The program takes just two years to complete, and you will be a prepared job applicant. Not only will Villa Maria’s experienced OTA faculty support you as a student, they will help you prepare for the NBCOT certification exam after you graduate.  Our graduates who take the NBCOT exam do well and find jobs.

Accreditation, Cost of Attendance & More

The occupational therapy assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Click the button below for more information on accreditation, cost of attendance, and more.

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The Villa Difference.

Occupational therapy assistants belong at Villa. Patience is a virtue, and it’s one that so many occupational therapy assistants possess. In the OTA program at Villa, you’ll channel your caring gene in a powerful way that helps patients, whether they’re eight or 85, get back their lives through therapy regimens that redevelop fine motor skills and visual perception faculties that are essential to living a fulfilling, independent life.

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Our Faculty 

Deborah Brownell, MS, OTR/L

[email protected]

Dr. Danielle Miles, OTD, OTR/L, MHA, PTA

[email protected]

The Career Potential

There are jobs available for Occupational Therapy Assistants, now and into the future! A COTA is a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. After graduating from Villa Maria’s accredited, two-year program and passing the certification exam, you will become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant, or a COTA. COTAs are able to carry out therapeutic treatments and consultations independently, contribute to the evaluation by implementing assessments as directed by an OT, practice autonomously once oriented to the patient the first time, and more. The Bureau of Labor Statistics job outlook expects that the need for OTAs will increase must faster than average between 2021 and 2031. The national mean salary for a COTA is $63,560 per year. 

As a COTA, you can work with occupational therapists in all different kinds of settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Rehabilitation centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Outpatient clinics
  • Mental health facilities
  • Community-based outreach centers
  • Group homes
  • Specialty clinics
  • Home care
  • K-12 schools
  • Preschools

The Facilities

Villa Maria’s OTA facilities are much more robust than other comparable programs in the WNY region.

  • Two multi-functional laboratory rooms to provide you with the opportunity to practice clinical skills. 
  • A newly constructed pediatric lab
  • Simulated hospital room and bathroom for additional clinical skill practice. 
  • A functional kitchen used for teaching.
  • The option to explore art and music labs to apply and develop purposeful activity techniques for patients. 
  • A relationship with the Felician Sisters Health and Wellness Center, an assisted living and long-term care facility where you may practice your skills. 

Villa Maria offers OTA students the ability to work regularly with the equipment used in the OTA field, this includes: 

  • Adaptive feeding equipment
  • Mobility devices like walkers, canes, and wheelchairs
  • Occupational therapy assessment tools
  • Simulation labs, including a patient bedroom, a patient bathroom, and a patient kitchen
  • Stand-to-sit lifts
  • State-of-the-art physical agents, like electrical simulation, ultrasound, cryo-therapy, and paraffin
  • Therapeutic toys, games, and pediatric equipment
  • Upper extremity splinting

Admissions Requirements

  • Direct Admission into the OTA program is competitive and requires a high school average of 85 or a college GPA of 2.8 (or higher). In addition applicants should have proven a strong science background that includes biology and chemistry OR physics in the candidate’s academic history.
  • Persons interested in the OTA program are advised to apply early as enrollment in the program is limited.
  • Once an application has been submitted, the applicant will receive an email from the Program Director to set up a meet and greet.
  • Applicants who do not meet the required GPA,  those with a GED, or those missing the necessary sciences may be admitted to Villa Maria College as Liberal Arts/Occupational Therapy Assistant or LBG/OTA major. These students will be advised by OTA faculty and have an opportunity to raise their GPA and/or take appropriate classes to prepare them to enter the OTA program. Please note that LBG/OTA students are not guaranteed admission into the OTA program. Admission is contingent upon meeting the GPA requirements stated above.
  • Take a look at the OTA curriculum here: Associate in Applied Science (A.A.S.) in Occupational Therapy Assistant  Curriculum Requirements 

Accreditation and Program Information

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 7501 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 510E, Bethesda, MD 20814. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-6611 and its Web address is

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.” Program results from the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) can be found online here.

Students must complete Level II fieldwork within 18 months following completion of the didactic portion of the program. Level II FW at Villa Maria College is completed in 2 different settings.

For more information about accreditation status of the program, please contact Deborah Brownell via phone: 716.961.1847 or email: [email protected].

Full-Time Students

Current Cost OTA Program 2024 Fall Semester OTA Program 2025 Spring Semester OTA Program 2024-2025 Academic Year Total Cost of Program (2-Year Program 2024-2026)
Tuition 14,178 14,178 28,356 57,563
Student Fees – Registration, Orientation & Activity 595 595 1,190 2,380
Books & Supplies  0 – included in tuition 0 – included in tuition 0 – included in tuition 0 – included in tuition
Loan Fees 0 0 0 0
Distance Ed Fees 0 0 0 0
Total 14,773 14,773 29,546 59,943

*The chart above shows tuition for a full-time student. Tuition for part-time students is $915/credit hour. Fees for part-time students are as follows: Registration-$105, Orientation-$50, Activity-$125.
**The costs of all fees are subject to change at any time for any reason.
*** 2025-2026 costs are estimated at a 3% increase in tuition and fees.

Villa Maria College Occupational Therapy Assistant Program Graduation Rates

Graduation Rates for Occupational Therapy Assistant Associate of Applied Science Degree (does not indicate rate national certification examination)


Graduation Year # Students Entering # Students Graduating Graduation Rate
2023 10 7 70%
2022 9 3 33%
2021 12 9 75%
Total 31 19 61%

National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) program data results can be found here:

Year indicates Academic Reporting Year which is August 26 to May 17.
Villa Maria College’s OTA Program first cohort graduated in 2017.

In 2017, the first cohort of OTA students graduated from Villa Maria College. In 2021, it was reported that Villa’s certification exam (NBCOT) passing rate was 100%. For the past 3 years (21, 22, 23), the number of new graduates (NG) who took and passed the test is 16 out of 18. The passing rate percentage is 88.89% of new graduates (NG) who have taken the NBCOT COTA exam.All of our graduates who passed the certification exam are fully employed in the field of Occupational Therapy.

Program Requirements

  • Attain a grade of C+ or better in all OTA courses. If students fail to achieve a grade of C+, they may retake that course when it is next offered. If a student fails to attain a grade of C+ or higher in two OTA courses, they are dismissed from the OTA Program.
  • Achieve a grade of C or higher in BIO 103 and BIO 104 (Anatomy and Physiology and Laboratory).
  • Must demonstrate immunity for the following: Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Meningococcal, Varicella, TDAP, Hepatitis B. Additionally, students must have an annual physical exam, and PPD or Mantoux test for TB. Students are required by clinical sites to have a yearly influenza (flu) vaccine or wear a mask at all times at their clinic site. Meningococcal and Hepatitis B immunization may be waived. Please note that waiver of Hepatitis B or Meningococcal vaccine may result in a student’s ineligibility for some clinical sites. There are no religious exemptions for immunizations in this program.
  • Be CPR certified prior to placement in clinical internships. The OTA program provides a CPR course for students on a yearly basis. Students are responsible for fees for this course.
  • Students are expected to demonstrate professionalism in classroom, laboratory, and clinical settings. Professionalism is assessed with a rubric in each course, and the Professional Self-Assessment Assignment is completed in one course each semester. If professionalism issues are identified, OTA faculty will work with the student to develop a corrective action plan. If a student fails to comply with corrective action plan, they will receive a failing grade for the course, regardless of their numerical grade.
  • Professionalism is also expected of students in the classroom. This includes being seated and ready to learn when class is scheduled to start, wearing appropriate clothing for labs that does not interfere with lab activities, participation in discussions, refraining from using cell phones or computers unless needed for class activities, completion of assignments on time, and engagement in course materials.

• Interpersonal skills
• Communication skills
• Emotional intelligence, empathy, and compassion
• Analytical and problem-solving skills
• Technical skills like using facility computer systems and databases
• Organizational skills

  • Evaluating patients to establish a personalized therapy plan to achieve the most effective results.
  • Administering therapy intervention approaches and instructing patients with therapy activities and tasks that promote health/wellness consistent with client goals.
  • Using technical or computer equipment to document and display patient medical information and reports.
  • Organizing and maintaining patient medical and treatment records and documenting therapy sessions and approaches in compliance with HIPAA and safety expectations
  • Maintaining therapy equipment such as walkers, lifts, mechanical chairs, pulleys, and other exercise equipment that is used for therapy sessions.
  • Working in inter and intra professional teams with occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, and other professionals to develop and implement effective treatment plans for patients.
  • As health care providers, students are expected to demonstrate professional responsible behaviors in their coursework in preparation for clinic work. Attendance is a critical part of those behaviors.
  • Regular, punctual attendance and engagement in all classes and lab sessions (program major and liberal arts classes) are essential for success in the OTA program.
  • If there is an unavoidable absence or lateness, students should contact their instructor before class and make arrangements to stay current on coursework. Students should review course syllabi for specific requirements for each course.
  • It is the responsibility of the student to ensure they complete any missed work. It is especially detrimental to students to miss lab classes since these classes are experiential and difficult to reproduce outside of class. Open lab times have been established for students to practice skills and receive feedback from professors, not for make-up of missed classwork.

Join the family.

There’s a lot of pressure to know what’s next. We’re here to say, it’s OK if you’re still figuring it out. In fact, it’s great. Villa is a place where that kind of continual discovery is prized. Because going to college isn’t about having it all figured out. It’s about inventing who you’re going to become. You’ll see.

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