Occupational therapy program granted candidacy status by ACOTE

Occupational Therapist

Occupational therapists promote the ability to thrive and live the best life possible by enabling people to engage in the occupations that are personally meaningful to them. 

University of the Pacific, just one of five occupational therapy doctoral programs in Northern California, was granted candidacy status in August 2020 by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Located at Pacific's Sacramento Campus, the cohort-based, 120-unit program consists of eight trimesters (32 months). Students start with foundational coursework then advance to learning evidence-based intervention strategies for pediatrics, adolescents, and adults that are experiencing a variety of life challenges. Program graduates will be prepared to promote integrated health and wellness behaviors across the lifespan for individuals and diverse communities.

“We are thrilled to gain candidacy accreditation for our occupational therapy doctoral program, which will allow us to prepare students to become socially conscious practitioners,” said Nicoleta Bugnariu, dean of Pacific’s School of Health Sciences. "At Pacific, the occupational therapy academic coursework and fieldwork are integrated into a curriculum that is founded on a biopsychosocial model, which is client-centered and designed to meet the diverse needs of the communities we serve."

The mission of Pacific's occupational therapy program is to prepare students to become competent socially conscious practitioners in the use of occupation as a therapeutic measure through compassionate, client-centered, humanistic, science-driven, interdisciplinary collaboration to promote integrated health and wellness behaviors across the lifespan of populations and diverse communities.  The curriculum aims to optimize a student-centered approach to understand the value of occupation in various life roles through biological, social, and psychological variables.

“Our program is educating and training students to be innovative and holistic when working with clients,” said Natalie Perkins, program director and clinical professor. “We are dedicated to preparing generalist clinicians that advocate for all individuals, are committed to social justice, and create inclusive strategies for those we serve."

Students in the entry-level occupational therapy program will have close interactions and personal attention from faculty. Most program faculty have extensive clinical backgrounds and will use hands-on practical experiences throughout the curriculum.

Beginning next summer, the program will begin serving the community through student-run clinics on the Sacramento Campus. This will provide students with supervised clinical practice experiences and also help serve the local community. Residents will be able to make appointments to get support with engaging in daily activities that are personally meaningful to them.

The occupational therapy doctoral program plans to begin their next cohort in January 2021. To learn more about the program, contact or 916.325.4602.