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Occupational Therapy Assistant

Associate of Applied Science

TCC’s occupational therapy assistant students learn to assist a patient with physical disabilities

The health care career that makes a difference in someone’s life — every day

Let TCC’s occupational therapy assistant program introduce you to a career that CareerCast ranked one of the 10 best in 2014

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Tidewater Community College's nationally accredited Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant will get you moving — toward a rewarding career.

Occupational therapy assistants help people regain independence and live life to the fullest after an illness or injury. Sometimes that means training patients to brush their teeth or dress and bathe themselves. Other times it can be helping them learn to use a wheelchair or rehab equipment. Occupational therapy assistants establish a partnership with their patients, who range from young children to the elderly. They help them to help themselves.

TCC's faculty are professionals in the field. Program director Amanda Leo has been an occupational therapist for 15 years, with a pediatric background in early intervention, outpatient, and school-based practice. She has served as president of the Virginia Occupational Therapy Association (VOTA), received the VOTA Award of Merit, and has presented internationally on the needs of children with disabilities.

Course work includes:

  • kinesiology
  • neurological concepts
  • physical disabilities
  • therapy media and skills
  • assistive technology

You will complete two levels of internships as part of the program. TCC has partnerships with every major health system in Hampton Roads, including Sentara, Bon Secours, Chesapeake Regional and Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. TCC also partners with every local major rehabilitation agency.

Certify your skills

Earn valuable industry credentials. Graduates of the program will be eligible to site for the National Certification Exam for the Occupational Therapy Assistant, administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the graduate will be a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA).

In addition, all states require licensure to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT Certification Examination or attain a state licensure.

Graduation statistics

2018 - 29 graduates – 93.5% graduation rate
2017 - 27 graduates – 90% graduation rate
2016 - 30 graduates – 100% graduation rate

Overall 3 year graduation rate – 86 graduates - 94.5%
Retention rate - 96.7%

View program curriculum
Admission Forms and Information

Your acceptance as a Tidewater Community College student does not guarantee admission to most TCC health profession programs. We want you to be aware of these additional requirements and important information for this program.

Admission to this program is competitive. For more information, see the program packet.

Get program admission packetIf you are a new TCC student, begin your journey by applying for admission and financial aid. On your application, indicate that you intend to pursue the Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant.

As a prospective health professions student, you must also:

1. Attend a mandatory information session, which is held the third Thursday of each month at 3 p.m. (except December) at the Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus.

You will need to submit documented attendance of at least one information session within 12 months preceding your application to the program.

Topics covered are general information, admissions process, prerequisite courses, selection process, curriculum, hands-on learning in clinical settings, provisional acceptance requirements and more. Faculty and staff will be available to answer your questions.

2. Complete and submit the Health Professions Program Application by March 15 for fall admission. Include unofficial transcripts from previous colleges you have attended.

3. Make sure you receive appropriate transfer credits from previous college studies and work experience.

Additional requirements

1. Completion of Biology (BIO) 141 Human Anatomy and Physiology by the end of the fall semester prior to the March 15 application deadline.

2. Completion of MTH 3 (MTH 1) or MTE 1-3, and MTH 5 (or MTH 95) or MTE 4 (or equivalent), and placement into English (ENG) 111 College Composition based on the results of your Virginia Placement Test (VPT)

3. A grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 or higher.

4. A minimum of 30 observation hours in at least two occupational therapy settings. The Pre-Admission Clinical Form contained in the program packet requires verification by two separate occupational therapy clinicians.

5. Personal interview with program staff

A writing sample may also be required.

After you’ve been admitted:

1. Submit the Health Professions Physical Examination Form showing satisfactory health status based on a physician’s exam within the previous 12 months.

2. Submit your immunization record showing you have met Virginia’s requirements for health care personnel.

3. Submit documentation of a negative TB test

4. Complete a criminal/sex offender background check prior to working at any clinical facility.* Order your background check here.

* Tidewater Community College does not assume any responsibility for obtaining or evaluating the results of a criminal background check, drug screen or other check, maintaining the records of results or for delivering them to clinical sites. It is the decision of the clinical affiliate (health care or medical facility) whether a student will be allowed to participate in clinical activities should there be positive criminal or sex offender results. 

Neither Tidewater Community College, nor the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Tidewater Community College, discriminates against anyone with a criminal record. However, it should be noted that some facilities may refuse to accept any student with a positive criminal background and it may affect your ability to become nationally certified and licensed to practice in many states even after successfully completing the program.

What does this program cost?

You can complete a 2-year associate degree for less than the cost of 1 year at a 4-year college or university.

TCC’s Associate of Applied Science in Occupational Therapy Assistant consists of 5 semesters of full-time study, with classes held mainly at the Regional Health Professions Center on the Virginia Beach Campus and internship sites.

Estimated Program Cost*:
67 credits x $185.35 per credit = $12,418.45 (not including textbooks and supplies)
*Based on Fall 2018 in-state tuition. Your actual cost may differ.

Additional costs include criminal background check ($46).

Where can you go?

While most occupational therapy assistants find jobs with an associate degree, you can also continue your education by applying to Accredited OT Programs to advance your degree to become an occupational therapist.

TCC’s degree also transfers to Old Dominion University’s bachelor’s program in health science.

Is this program for you?

Yes, if you:

  • are an independent self-starter
  • have patience
  • enjoy working with people
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Veterans, transitioning military, spouses and dependents: TCC’s Center for Military and Veterans Education provides academic guidance and help in maximizing your GI Bill® and other educational benefits.

Learn more about the CMVE

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Tuition assistance such as financial aid, scholarships, work-study, grants and loans can help you save money and reduce college debt.

Learn more about paying for college

96.7% pass rate for 2016-2018 for the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy exam

The OTA program at TCC was the first fully accredited OTA program in eastern Virginia.

Clinical Affiliations offered with every major health system in Hampton Roads

National accreditation

The Occupational Therapy Assistant program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449, phone (301) 652-AOTA.​


The rewards are special as an occupational therapist assistant


You'll be inspired, too, by Professor Amanda Leo 

* Salary estimate is provided for comparison purposes only and doesn’t constitute a promise of employment or earnings. Salaries were calculated based on related job codes and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.