May 19, 2024  
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog 
2013-2014 Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Occupational Therapy

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Barb Brockevelt, Ph.D., OTR/L, Chairperson
Department of Occupational Therapy
Lee Med, Room 302
Phone: 605-677-5000
Fax: 605-677-6745



Barb Brockevelt, PhD, MA, OTR/L, FAOTA, Chairperson, Nova Southeastern University. Specialization: Pediatric Practice, Family-Centered Care, Smart Home Technology, and Movement Analysis in Occupation
Moses Ikiugu, PhD, OTR/L, Texas Women’s University. Specialization: Psychosocial Rehabilitation, Occupational Therapy Theory, and Application of Theory to Practice

Associate Professor:

Stacy Smallfield, DrOT, MSOT, OTR/L, Nova Southeastern University, Specialization: Physical Rehabilitation, Geriatrics, Therapeutic Adaptations, Environment, Evidence-Based Practice

Assistant Professor:

Audrey Cross, OTD, OTR/L, Creighton University. Specialization: Upper Extremity Rehabilitation, Ergonomics
Ranelle Nissen, MS, OTR/L, University of South Dakota, Specialization: Rural Practice 

Clinical Instructor:

Shana Cerny, MS, OTR/L, University of South Dakota, Specialization: Human Development, Pediatric and Adult Rehabilitation, Sensory Integration


Master of Science 

Program Description:

Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest. Occupational therapists assist people in achieving their goals, maintaining or rebuilding their independence, and participating in the everyday activities that they need to do or that simply make life worth living. Graduates of the program have a 99.7% pass rate on the national board exam (NBCOT) since the inception of the program, as compared to an 86% national pass rate. In addition, they typically find employment within one-month of graduation.

Preparation includes a two-and-one-half year curriculum, which combines didactic and clinical education, leading to the Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy. Graduates are prepared to pursue careers in traditional and emerging areas of practice. Students admitted to the program must have a Baccalaureate degree. No preference is given to any particular field of study; all students must have a strong foundation in the biological and behavioral sciences, excellent communication skills, and knowledge of the field of occupational therapy.

The Occupational Therapy Department is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. The telephone number is 301-652-2682, and the web address is


Specific prerequisite courses are required. These include:

Majors Biology 3 semester credit hours
Human Anatomy* 3 semester credit hours
Human Physiology* 3 semester credit hours
Statistics 3 semester credit hours
General Psychology 3 semester credit hours
Cultural Anthropology or Sociology 3 semester credit hours
Lifespan Development 3 semester credit hours
Psychology of Abnormal Behavior 3 semester credit hours
Medical Terminology 1-3 semester credit hours
College Physics (Recommended but not required) 3 semester credit hours
Orientation to Occupational Therapy (Recommended but not required)
   *Or a combined Human Anatomy/Physiology course with a minimum of 6 credit hours taken over 2 semesters.
  •  Cumulative, prerequisite, and science prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or better based on a 4.0 scale is preferred.
  • The GRE is required.
  • Three letters of recommendation and completion of a personal statement is required as part of the OTCAS application (see below).
  • A personal interview with the Occupational Therapy faculty by invitation.
  • Additional requirements exist for international students.

Application Deadline

  • Applications for admission are available through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS), a service of the American Occupational Therapy Association. OTCAS allows applicants to use a single Web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple occupational therapy education programs and to monitor their application status online. Please visit for application instructions.  Early Admission deadline is October 1 and General Admission deadline is January 1 in the year prior to the fall entrance. Please contact the Department of Occupational Therapy for verification of current requirements. 
  • Completion of the USD Graduate School application and payment of the $35 application fee is required.
  • Regular Admission
    Applications are accepted until January 1st for enrollment the following fall semester. Invitations to interview will be offered to select applicants based on review of the written application materials. Admission interview dates are posted on the website.

  • Early Admission
    To be considered for the early interview day, applicants must meet the following requirements:

    1.  A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.5;
    2.  No grade of C in prerequisite coursework;
    3.  7 of 9 prerequisite courses completed;
    4.  A minimum score at the 40th percentile rank for Verbal Reasoning and at the 45th percentile rank for Quantitative Reasoning on the Revised General Test (or approximately the same GRE percentile performance on the General Test) and a minimum of Analytical Writing score of 4.0 (on either the General Test or the Revised General Test) are recommended. GRE scores may not be more than 5 years old; and
    5.  Complete application must be received by October 1st.
  • Occupational Therapy Scholar Program
    This program allows the undergraduate student, beginning in his or her sophomore year, to apply for acceptance into the Occupational Therapy program while completing his or her undergraduate degree. Students accepted into this program are guaranteed a seat in the OT program the fall semester after they complete their undergraduate degree. Applicants for the Occupational Therapy Scholar Program must meet the following criteria:
    • Minimum GPA of 3.5
    • Minimum science GPA of 3.2
    • No grade of C in prerequisite courses
    • Minimum score at the 40th percentile rank for Verbal Reasoning and at the 45th percentile rank for Quantitative Reasoning on the GRE revised General Test
    • Minimum GRE analytical writing score of 4.0

    If an applicant is accepted under the OT Scholar program, they must maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and a 3.2 science GPA to guarantee their position in the class.

    Students may apply for this program from February 1st of their sophomore year to April 1st of their junior year of college. Applications will be processed as they are received. Personal interviews will be scheduled for qualified applicants.


  • Sanford Health VanDeMark Scholarship in Occupational Therapy
    Students who have completed the first academic year of the graduate occupational therapy program at the University of South Dakota with a GPA in the top 50% of the class will be considered for this scholarship. Nomination and selection are made by the faculty of the Department of Occupational Therapy based on academic performance and leadership.
  •  Dorothy Anne Elsberry Scholarship
    An occupational therapy student at the University of South Dakota who has demonstrated the qualities and performance which emulate the values that were important to Dr. Dorothy Anne Elsberry throughout her career in occupational therapy education are eligible to apply for this scholarship. Selection is based on the student’s creativity, pragmatism, promotion of Occupational Therapy, support of the core principles of occupational therapy, scholarly achievement, service to others, and an outstanding participation in extracurricular professional activities. Applicant must have completed one year of the OT program at USD, and must have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.2 in the OT program.
  • Faithe Family Scholarships
    Students accepted into the occupational therapy program at USD who have demonstrated high achievement, a desire to serve the healthcare delivery system, and who show financial need are eligible to apply for these scholarships. Selection is based on GPA, OT program application and a written essay.  Awards are available for incoming and Year 2 students.
  • Wanda & Tim Hannahs Scholarship
    The Dakota Hospital Foundation (DHF) provided funding to create a scholarship endowment to honor Wanda and Tim Hannahs of Vermillion, South Dakota. Wanda was an employee of Sanford Vermillion who experienced a spinal cord injury following a car accident. The endowment provides scholarships for students enrolled in the Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy programs at the University of South Dakota on alternate years. Selection criteria include high academic achievement, leadership, and service during the graduate program.


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