Today: Jun 25, 2024

Board of Regents approves new master’s program

Braden Saint-Val – Contributor

This past September, the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities Board of Regents approved a new master’s degree-granting program for occupational therapy in the College of Health and Human Services, making the university the only public university offering this degree in the state. 

This comes after the college moved into a new state-of-the-art building to house its departments last year. 

“When we were designing the building, the vision we had for the college was to expand the number of health professions that we could offer to our students. It is really important in the health professions for different disciplines to learn together and learn about one another, because that’s how they work when they get out into the field,” said Dean of Health and Human Services Sandra Bulmer. 

Occupational therapy is a health profession where therapists evaluate and treat people who have injuries, illnesses, or disabilities. They help patients develop, recover, improve, and maintain the skills needed for daily living and working.  

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages in many settings, including hospitals, clinics, schools and community programs, to help their patients live more independently. 

Becoming an occupational therapist requires a master’s degree, but it is expensive, since graduate programs in Connecticut have only been available in private universities. 

Heather Kuhaneck, the new degree’s founding program director, says the lower tuition cost at Southern will make a career in occupational therapy more accessible, especially to students of color, so that they can enter a field that has been dominated by white women. 

Although the social sciences or health-related disciplines like exercise science and public health would be best to study before pursuing the degree, Kuhaneck said. 

Undergraduates in any major will be able to pursue it because students will learn everything they need to know before they take more advanced courses. 

 Kuhaneck also said the program will have a strong focus on community, so students will gain practical experience through fieldwork in the New Haven community.  

It will also have an “integrated curriculum,” where students will learn topics related to each other simultaneously, like human occupation and occupational therapy techniques. 

Healthcare sciences major Stephanie Guartan, a senior, is planning to wait a whole year after she graduates to be the one of the first students to earn the degree. 

“This new OT program will have distinguished faculty members who are accomplished in their fields, thus providing a fertile ground to nurture my development as a skilled and compassionate occupational therapist,” Guartan said. 

“Knowing that I will continue to benefit from their guidance and mentorship in the field of occupational therapy is incredibly reassuring, motivating, and worth the wait.” 

The Master of Science in occupational therapy will be open to applications from incoming graduate students in 2025. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog