There are three main stages for new OTA programs to go through in order to achieve full accreditation status. The process begins with the submission of a Letter of Intent and submission of Eligibility Data for St. Andrews (SAU) Occupational Therapy Assistant Bachelor of Science (BSOTA) Program. The purpose of this letter is for ACOTE to confirm eligibility to seek ACOTE accreditation. Each phase or step of the accreditation process is explained in further detail below:
(Precandidacy Phase) Step 1: Application Review
(Preaccredidation Phase) Step 2: Preaccredidation Review
(Accreditation Phase) Step 3: The Initial Onsite Evaluation
|Submission of Letter of Intent||Complete|
|Submission of Candidacy Application||In Process||December 2021|
|ACOTE Candidacy Decision||TBA||April 2022|
|(If Candidacy Status is Granted)|
|Students are Notified of Acceptance into the OTA Program.||TBA||May 2022|
|First Class Starts||TBA||August 2022|
|Initial Report of Self Study||TBA||March 2023|
|ACOTE PREACCREDIDATION DECISION||TBA||August 2023|
|Initial Onsite Evaluation||TBA||September – November 2023|
|ACOTE ACCREDIDATION DECISION||TBA||December 2023|
|GRADUATION OF FIRST SAU BSOTA CLASS||TBA||May 2024|
Accreditation is a process for evaluating higher learning and is a way to standardize the quality of education across institutions. There are various accrediting bodies at the university and program level who develop and maintain these standards and hold academic institutions accountable. When a university launches a new program, that program must be accredited as a separate process from any similar programs it may already have. In addition, The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) is responsible for administering the
national licensure exam that all aspiring OTA’s must pass in order to become a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA). In order to be eligible to sit for the COTA® exam, a student must have graduated from a program that is accredited by the ACOTE.
“Accreditation of educational programs for the occupational therapist and the occupational therapy assistant is granted by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The ACOTE is recognized as the accrediting agency for occupational therapy education by the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council on Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Placement on the list of recognized accrediting agencies also serves consumer interests by acknowledging an accrediting body’s ability to identify institutions or programs of quality” (AOTA, 2020a).
This is this stamp of approval you should look for when researching occupational therapy assistant bachelor’s degrees.
“Accreditation has two fundamental purposes: to assure the quality of the institution or program and to assist in the improvement of the institution or program. The specific purposes of the AOTA accreditation process are: