Occupational Therapy Assistant

Program Overview

“Young or old, we all have a job to do – the job of living”

– American Occupational Therapy Association

The job of living includes various “occupations” that are both common to all (eating, dressing, grooming etc.) and distinctly unique to an individual (work, leisure, managing our homes, caring for others and/or pets).  Occupational Therapy is a profession that understands the crucial importance of knowing the uniqueness of others.  By knowing what is unique and meaningful to an individual, an occupational therapist/occupational therapy assistant has the unique ability to identify an individual’s ability to participate in occupation and design an intervention plan tailored specifically to an individual client when disease or injury affects a person’s physical and emotional ability to do everyday tasks or be active and independent.

The St. Andrews University 4-year Occupational Therapy Assistant Bachelor of Science is a unique pre-professional degree program designed to prepare students to take the National Board of Certification (NBCOT) Exam to become an occupational therapy assistant upon graduation or apply to graduate school to become an occupational therapist.

In the first two years the student will complete health services administration and general education coursework in the arts, humanities and sciences. The last two years of the program will focus on the completion of core occupational therapy assistant curriculum enhanced by rich interprofessional experiences and clinical fieldwork.


Why consider a career as an Occupational Therapy Assistant?

Licensed occupational therapy assistants (OTA) are creative caring professionals that work underneath the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. They are passionate about helping babies, children, teens, or adults of all ages affected by illness, disability or injury to achieve maximum independence by helping them gain or rebuild skills important for their health, safety, and well-being.

Occupational therapy assistants are in demand in nearly every healthcare setting. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the future need for occupational therapy assistants due to the aging population is projected to grow 31 percent by 2028.

Students can look forward to a dynamic career helping people with traumatic injuries, stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, or mental health problems in their homes, community centers, rehabilitation hospitals, and nursing homes. In addition, students have diverse career opportunities to help children with Cerebral Palsy, Down’s Syndrome, learning disabilities, and behavioral problems in early intervention programs, school systems, private practice, public health and community programs.

Click on the video to learn more about occupational therapy and see what a career in this field can do for you!


Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Webber International University is accredited by the The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate, bachelor and master degrees. St Andrews University is a branch campus of Webber International University. Its accreditation is dependent on the continued accreditation of Webber. Questions about the accreditation of Webber International University may be directed in writing to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 330033-4097, by calling (404) 679-4500, of by using information available on SACSCOC website (www.sacscoc.org).

Licensure and Program Accreditation

The BSOTA Program received licensure approval with the NC Board of Governors (General Administration) and has applied for APPLICANT STATUS from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). The BSOTA Program is currently seeking program accreditation by ACOTE and will apply for Candidacy Status in December of 2021. This is the first step in the three-step accreditation process for new programs. If you have any questions about the program accreditation process, please feel free to speak to your admissions counselor or contact the OTA Program Director, Rachelle Lydell at lydellrg@sa.edu, or the AOTA Accreditation Department at accred@aota.org.


Prospective Students | Current Students |  Technical Skills and Essential Requirements | Accreditation Status  | Forms


BSOTA Program FAQs

Q. I am interested in the BSOTA program, but I am unsure if I should enroll because the program is not
yet fully accredited. What should I do?

A. It can be uncomfortable thinking about pursuing education in a program that is not yet accredited, however the
accreditation process is designed to support the university, faculty and students of the new program. Although St. Andrews

University (SAU) faculty, staff and administration cannot guarantee that we will achieve ACOTE accreditation, we have
every confidence that the BSOTA program will achieve full accreditation before the first cohort of students graduate.
If you are interested in the BSOTA program you can do the following things to gain further information to aid your decision:

familiarize yourself with the process of accreditation by reading the information included below

discuss with your admissions counselor regarding any of your concerns

refer to BSOTA schedule of courses and admissions information

If you are still uncomfortable and still have additional questions or concerns you can speak to the OTA program director or contact the AOTA Accreditation Department at accred@aota.org.

Q. What are the risks of enrolling in a program that is currently in the process of program accreditation??

A. Students who enter developing programs are taking a risk that the program will not obtain accreditation. The BSOTA
program is a 4-year degree program that is structured to allow a student to complete all general education coursework in the arts, humanities and sciences in the first year. In the last three years of the program a student will focus on the completion of core OTA curriculum and HSA minor coursework, which is enhanced by rich interprofessional experiences and clinical fieldwork.

The BSOTA program MUST be granted CANDIDACY status BEFORE students are admitted into the core OTA portion of
the 4-year program.

Q. What are my options if the program does not receive program accreditation?

If the program does not receive accreditation, graduates will not be eligible to sit for the NBCOT Exam. If this happens, SAU faculty and staff are committed to providing guidance to each student to ensure they are in an alternative degree that matches your career aspirations and keep you on track to graduate within your planned timeline. SAU offers a range of degrees such as:

• Interdisciplinary Studies
• Therapeutic Horsemanship
• Sports Performance, Health and Fitness
• Health Services Administration
• Biomedical & Forensic Science
• Psychology

Webber International University is also offering an BSOTA program that is currently one year ahead of SAU in the
accreditation process. SAU students may also have the option to transfer to the Webber BSOTA program should the
program not receive CANDIDACY status.

Q. What other occupational therapy assistant (OTA) baccalaureate-degree-level educational programs are accredited?

A. Webber International University and St. Andrews University (A Branch of Webber International University) are currently two of ten baccalaureate-degree-level educational programs seeking accreditation (not yet holding Candidacy Status). Like these other programs, until Candidacy Status has been granted by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®), these programs cannot admit students into the OTA baccalaureate-degree-level program.

Currently there are NO baccalaureate-degree-level OTA programs that are accredited. The SAU BSOTA program is one of only two programs being offered in the state of North Carolina.

Q. What level of education do you need to become an OTA?

A. Currently, in order to become an OTA, you must earn a 2-year associate’s degree and graduate from an ACOTEaccredited occupational therapy assistant program. It is typical for some clinicians to have earned a 4-year bachelor’s degree in addition to completing a 2-year associate’s degree before becoming an OTA. Other clinicians hold a 2-year associate’s degree. If you are unsure what is right for you, ask yourself, “which educational degree will help me reach my career goals and aspirations?”

Q. What are the benefits of being a graduate of the BSOTA program at SAU?

A. As a graduate of the SAU BSOTA program, you will have earned a 4-year Bachelor of Science Degree and be eligible for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT®) certification exam. You will then be able to practice occupational therapy as an OTA. In addition, the BSOTA program will help prepare you for advanced clinical practice at the Masters or Doctorate level and will provide you with diverse career opportunities in the healthcare industry.

Q. I am interested in enrolling into the BSOTA Program. What do I do now?

A. If you are interested in enrolling into the BSOTA program, you are encouraged to speak to your admissions
counselor and/or faculty academic advisor about how to declare pre-OTA status. This will allow SAU staff and faculty to guide you towards completing specific
general education prerequisite courses that are required for acceptance into the OTA core program and ensure
that you will be on track for graduation in four years


Message from Program Director Rachelle Lydell

Dear Students:

Greetings and welcome to the Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy Assisting (BSOTA) with a minor in Health Services Administration (HSA) program website!

Did you know that this is the first time in the history of occupational therapy practice that an OTA degree is offered at the baccalaureate level?  Did you know that this program will be the first BSOTA program in the State of North Carolina?

As a graduate of this program, you will acquire the skills and knowledge to treat clients with various conditions and assume more challenging roles in leadership and management within the profession and in the healthcare industry. You will acquire a strong knowledge of evidence-based theory and practice, be able to apply critical, outside of the box thinking and be confident in your hands-on clinical skills. This will be achieved through your participation in the program’s unique, rich interprofessional experiences, the completion of general education and core occupational therapy curriculum, and exposure to strategic placement in fieldwork experiences found in clinically diverse and innovative interdisciplinary environments.

As program director, I am fortunate to join expert dedicated faculty in a collaborative effort to empower you to achieve your career aspirations and help you navigate towards your vision of a meaningful future.  The St. Andrews University BSOTA program is life transforming, culturally diverse, innovative, global in its scope and rich with learning opportunities that will prepare you, a future clinician, for diverse practice. The learning outcomes of this program will inherently promote in its graduates an appreciation for collaborative interdisciplinary practice, a sensitivity towards the human condition, and a sound understanding of culturally appropriate, medically relevant and evidence-based care.   Inspired by the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Vision 2025 Pillars, this program will prepare you as a future leader and clinician to challenge traditional business models of healthcare and healthcare service delivery and secure employment in traditional systems, with innovative collaborations with community agencies, and with non-profit organizations, entrepreneurs and local/national emerging markets.


Rachelle Lydell


Program Director Biography Rachelle Lydell

Professor Lydell’s past work experiences include personal trainer, fitness instructor, lifestyle coach, and behavior therapy however she has been an occupational therapist for over 10 years.  She has specialized in assistive technology and treating pediatric and adult patients with neurological impairment, physical disabilities and autism. As an OT, she has worked in acute care, outpatient, private practice, early intervention and school-based settings

Rachelle is married with two children.  She enjoys good food, strong black coffee, indulging in an occasional beverage, travelling, spending time with her family, going to the beach, striving to achieve her personal fitness goals, and participating in various community events.


Educational & Teaching Philosophy

I have a lot of passion as a clinician, I immensely enjoy what I do.  I would like to think that my passion is obvious to those I work in collaboration with, to the family members and others that I encounter, and to those that I treat.   That positive energy and passion, I think, also transfers to those that I educate. After all, if my passion doesn’t carry over into lessons and class activities that are interactive, functional, practical and outside of the box, how can my students reciprocate?

Over my professional career, I have taught and supervised many colleagues and students from different fields of practice and have immensely enjoyed being a mentor, professor and clinical educator.  In my role as an Occupational Therapist, I am a clinician, an educator, and passionate advocate for the field of Occupational Therapy.  It is my strong belief that occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants make distinct contributions to the welfare of patients unique from any other discipline.

The faculty of the BSOTA program is committed to preparing students for practice so that they may have a strong sense of social responsibility and a deep respect for human values.  To this end, I envision that the didactic and clinical education offered to the students at St. Andrew’s University will foster occupational therapy assistant graduates that are culturally responsible, client centered and holistic in their practice approach and able to provide occupational therapy care that is innovative, effective, influential and accessible as leaders in the field.