Occupational Science, B.S.

Program Code: OCCSC_BS

Program Description

Occupational Science is an interdisciplinary holistic study of how engagement in life and daily occupations define and shape humans’ routines, roles, and habits across the lifespan within wide-ranging environments. Occupational science courses provide the foundation of study along with supporting courses in social and behavioral sciences.

The learned outcome of study in occupational science is for the student to have the knowledge and skills to understand how people develop, recover, manage and improve daily living patterns of health and well-being that shape their lives.

Occupational Science prepares occupational therapy assistant (OTA) or physical therapist assistant (PTA) graduates for graduate education at the professional entry-level for occupational therapy. The degree also prepares students for careers in community health and education systems, as well as businesses focused on health and well-being.

Between the junior and senior years, students with good academic standing are eligible to apply for admittance to the Entry-Level Master of Occupational Therapy Program.

You Might Like This Program If...

You are an occupational therapy or physical therapist associate graduate who wants to further explore the science of everyday living. The focus of the major is to engage the student in an active and informed understanding of the therapeutic value of engaging in meaningful occupation. Students will develop occupation-focused critical and justice informed reasoning related to meeting societal needs of individuals, groups, and communities.

Entrance to Major

To be eligible for admission to the B.S. in Occupational Science, applicants must have completed an associate degree in either Physical Therapist Assistant or Occupational Therapy from an accredited institution. First-time, first-year students are not eligible for admission.

Although the minimum GPA required for admission or reenrollment is a 2.0 (on a 4.0 scale), this does not guarantee admission or reenrollment into the program. The program is competitive; therefore, applicants who submit their application to Penn State or their request for reenrollment by December 31 for fall, by November 1 for spring and by April 1 for summer will be reviewed on a space available basis.

While students can be admitted in the fall, spring or summer semesters, The five Occupational Science courses will be offered in sequence in the fall and spring semesters only.

Associate-level OT and PTA courses from accredited institutions apply toward the "portfolio" section of the degree requirements, for up to 45 credits of OT or PTA coursework.

Applicable transfer credits may be applied to general education or elective credits. The Undergraduate Admissions Office determines whether Penn State credit will be awarded after reviewing official transcripts. Once admitted to the program, students are assigned to an academic or faculty adviser, who will provide an evaluation of remaining requirements.

Regardless of the number of required credits needed, Faculty Senate Policy 83-80 states that all students must complete 36 of their last 60 credits of coursework at Penn State to earn a Penn State bachelor's degree.

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Science degree in Occupational Science, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 9-10
Requirements for the Major 85-86

20 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 8 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GS courses; 3 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GWS courses.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
BIOL 161Human Anatomy and Physiology I - Lecture Keystone/General Education Course3
BIOL 162Human Anatomy and Physiology I - Laboratory Keystone/General Education Course1
BIOL 163Human Anatomy and Physiology II - Lecture Keystone/General Education Course3
BIOL 164Human Anatomy and Physiology II - Laboratory Keystone/General Education Course1
OS 410Foundations of Occupational Science and Therapy4
OS 420Occupational Constructs: Habits, Routines, Roles & Rituals3
OS 430Perspectives of Culture, Equity & Spirituality 3
OS 440Human Behavior: Creativity and Flow 3
OS 450Applied Occupational Science Capstone 5
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
STAT 100Statistical Concepts and Reasoning Keystone/General Education Course3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ENGL 15Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course3
or ENGL 30H Honors Rhetoric and Composition Keystone/General Education Course
HDFS 129Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies Keystone/General Education Course3
or PSYCH 212 Introduction to Developmental Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
Select either the OT or PT track:44-45
Occupational Therapy Track (45 credits)
Structural Foundations of Occupational Therapy
Conceptual Foundations of Occupational Therapy Practice
Occupational Performance Across the Life Span
Fieldwork Level I Experience in Occupational Therapy
Group Process Across The Lifespan
Assistive Technologies and Methods of Adaptation
Management, Leadership and Ethics in Occupational Therapy
Clinical Reasoning and Documentation in Occupational Therapy
Occupational Therapy for Child & Adolescent Health
Occupational Therapy for Psychosocial and Behavioral Health
Occupational Therapy for Physical Health and Rehabilitation
Fieldwork Level I Experience in Occupational Therapy
Fieldwork Level II Experience in Occupational Therapy
Fieldwork Level II Experience in Occupational Therapy
Physical Therapist Assistant Track (44 credits)
Physical Therapist Assistant--Introduction
Physical Therapist Assistant-Introduction
Human Musculature and Functional Anatomy
Physical Therapist Assistant Procedures I
Therapeutic Exercise I
Physical Therapist Assistant--Procedures II
Therapeutic Exercise--II
Clinical Reasoning for the PTA
Professional Issues in Clinical Practice
Applied Kinesiology
Physical Therapist Assistant--Practicum I
Physical Therapist Assistant--Practicum III
Select 5 credits from the following:
Pathophysiology I
and Pathophysiology II
Pathophysiology I
and Pathophysiology II
Select 5 credits from the following:
and Rehabilitation-2
and Rehabilitation-2W
Select 4 credits from the following:
Physical Therapist Assistant--Practicum II
Physical Therapist Assistant--Practicum II Part 1
and Physical Therapist Assistant--Practicum II Part 2
Supporting Courses and Related Areas
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select a 3-credit Anthropology or Sociology course3

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


Mont Alto

Angela Hissong
Professor-in-Charge, Occupational Therapy & Science, University College
1 Campus Drive
Mont Alto, PA 17237

Career Paths

Allows an opportunity for students who hold an associate degree in occupational therapy or physical therapy, to advance their practice-based skills and knowledge at the bachelor’s level and/or as a pathway to graduate studies.


Provides advanced practice recognition for occupational therapy assistants and physical therapist assistants at the bachelor's level, as well as, offering occupational therapy and physical therapist assistant associate degree students a pathway to graduate studies in occupational therapy, physical therapy, health sciences, management, and/or education.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Provides a pathway to graduate studies in occupational therapy, physical therapy, health sciences, management, and/or education. Approximately 90% of students who earn a bachelor’s degree in Occupational Science at Penn State choose to pursue graduate work in occupational therapy.

Related graduate studies opportunities are as follows:

  • Occupational Therapy
  • Anthropology
  • Business Administration (MBA)
  • Curriculum and Instruction
  • Educational Leadership
  • Health Administration
  • Health Policy and Administration
  • Higher Education
  • Kinesiology
  • Learning, Design, and Technology
  • Lifelong Learning and Adult Education
  • Management and Organizational Leadership
  • Organization Development and Change
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Project Management
  • Psychology
  • Psychology of Leadership
  • Public Administration
  • Public Health
  • Public Policy
  • Rural Sociology
  • Sociology
  • Special Education
  • Teaching and Curriculum
  • Transdisciplinary Research on Environment and Society
  • Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies



Professional Resources


Mont Alto

1 Campus Drive
Mont Alto, PA 17237