Board of Regents Approves New Occupational Therapy Graduate Degree at Middle Georgia State

Author: News Bureau
Posted: Friday, April 19, 2019 12:00 AM
Categories: School of Health Sciences | Pressroom

Cochran, GA


A proposal to launch a new graduate program at Middle Georgia State University (MGA) was approved by the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia at its April meeting. The new degree, a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT), is a bridge program designed to help currently-licensed occupational therapy assistants advance their careers.

“In the face of the ongoing epidemic of opioid addiction and abuse, the medical industry has identified alternative pain management solutions, and occupational therapy will be one of the key practices in that field to fight the symptoms of this public health crisis,” said Dr. Kevin Cantwell, dean of Graduate Studies at MGA.

The new degree program, which is still undergoing review for accreditation, will help existing certified occupational therapy assistants (COTA’s) advance to positions as occupational therapists (OTR’s). For a COTA practicing with an associate’s degree, this bridge program will allow them to complete a master’s degree in only two years. The degree’s hybrid format will allow students to pursue graduate-level studies with online classes and monthly in-class meetings on the University’s Cochran Campus, all while continuing to work.

Dr. Tara Underwood, dean of the University’s School of Health Sciences, said, “This new Master of Science degree in Occupational Therapy will be a tremendous asset to the Middle Georgia region preparing our students to serve individuals, living with a variety of disabilities, through intentional and professional services and activities that enable them to live independent, productive, and functional lives.”

The Department of Labor projects an estimated 24 percent increase in job opportunities for OTRs, with an estimated 3,800 new therapists being hired in Georgia alone, between 2016 and 2026. In October of 2018, new federal legislation was signed into law, increasing patient access to alternative pain management solutions including occupational therapy.

“With this bridge program, our alumni, current students, and other COTA’s in the region will have access to an affordable degree program that will position them to accept high-demand jobs in a growing field,” said Dr. Christopher Blake, president of Middle Georgia State.

Once accredited, the MSOT degree will be one of only four master’s degree programs in OT within the state, and will be the only MSOT bridge program offered at a public university in Georgia.

The Board of Regents’ approval of the degree program is the first in several steps towards the acceptance of the first MSOT students beginning their studies. The program will be reviewed by both regional and professional accreditation bodies, and new faculty and administrators will be hired to support the additional courses that will be offered. The process is expected to take roughly a year to complete, and those interested in pursuing this degree are encouraged to watch the Middle Georgia State University website at for updates.