occuptional_therapyHow would you like to graduate with a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in five years instead of more than six? It’s possible with the Fast OT program in the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Health Professions. The program allows students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management in three years and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy in two years.

“After being accepted into the program, students are guaranteed admission into the master’s program without having to go through the interview process like most incoming graduate students,” said Jan Rowe, Dr. OT, OTR/L, interim director of the Department of Occupational Therapy. “The only exception is they have to maintain a 3.5 grade point average.”

The Fast OT is the first 3:2 program in the School of Health Professions. Students spend their first year in core curriculum and classes for their major. In the summer of their sophomore year, students will start taking their first Occupational Therapy class with graduate students. After their junior year, they graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Health Care Management and then enter the graduate program full-time. Along with fieldwork, the student has earned their master’s in Occupational Therapy two years later. Faculty members from the two programs say it’s a natural fit since the Health Care Management program is already a feeder program for Occupational Therapy.

“Students from Health Care Management are academically and professionally stronger than other undergraduate programs we have seen,” said Kathleen T. Foley, Ph.D., OTR/L, an assistant professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy. “These students have been successful on their OT certification exam. We have never had a first-time failure from HCM students.”

Freshmen or transfer students from a community college must have a 3.0 GPA and an ACT score of 24. Health Care Management Program Director Pam Paustian, MSM, RHIA, interviews the candidates before entering the program.

“We have high expectations for our students,” said Paustian. “They will be representing UAB when they graduate. So far we have accepted six students for our first class this fall and could possibly add a few more.”

The Fast OT is accepting up to 10 students per year. Students interested in the program can learn more on www.uab.edu/shp/ot/32-fast-ot.