Located within the Faculty of Health, the Atlantic School of Occupational Therapy was established in 1982. The regional orientation of the School fosters collaborative teaching, research and professional activities linking those at the university with service providers, government workers, related disciplines and citizens in the four Atlantic Provinces. This regional mandate is combined with an international perspective linking Dalhousie with universities and communities for fieldwork and research. The School of Occupational Therapy offers two MSc degrees:

  1. an in-person clinical degree to become an occupational therapist and
  2. a fully online degree in occupational science, with coursework-only or thesis-based options.  


At Dalhousie University’s School of Occupational Therapy, you’ll lay a solid foundation on which to build a rewarding career. You’ll study under internationally recognized professors and when you’re finished, you’ll join our school’s alumni—graduates who are valued for their contribution to quality of life in Atlantic Canada and beyond.


Occupational therapy is a regulated health profession concerned with promoting participation in meaningful and desired daily life occupations (e.g., caring for the self or home, engaging in leisure pursuits, working, studying). Occupational therapists work to promote justice and equity so that all persons have the opportunity and ability to engage in meaningful daily occupations.  Within occupational therapy, health is viewed broadly as having the ability, opportunity and resources, for quality of life with meaningful engagement in desired activities in supportive environments.

As a regulated health profession, occupational therapists use their unique and diverse knowledge and skills to enable individuals, groups, and organizations to overcome obstacles that limit their ability to do the things they need and want to do. Obstacles addressed by occupational therapists may include illness, injury, physical or mental disability, developmental delay, social disadvantage, old age, and environmental barriers within the home, community and workplace. The focus of occupational therapy is to enhance occupational performance and engagement through enabling individual change, occupational change and/or enabling change in physical and social environments, policies or legislation. Strategies may facilitate change in skills, attitudes, routines, design of buildings, use of assistive technology, policies, etc.

The role of an occupational therapist is varied and challenging. Occupational issues are never the same because no two people or environments are ever exactly the same. The challenge for occupational therapists is to plan and implement the “just right” program or strategy for each and every client so that everyone can achieve just opportunities to participate in society.


Occupational Science is an interdisciplinary field in the social, health and behavioural sciences that studies the nature and function of human occupation (the things people do in their everyday lives) as it relates to the health and well-being of individuals, communities and societies. Occupation in this field of study is viewed broadly to include everything we do to “occupy” ourselves such as enjoying life, looking after ourselves and others, and contributing to the social and economic productivity of our communities. Simply put, occupations are all the things we want, need, or have to do.  Occupational Science explores what people do and why, as well as the meanings ascribed to doing, by individuals and the broader society.  Not only does occupational science provide foundational research that can inform occupational therapy, the science of doing can inform and build on work in many different fields.  The MSc in Occupational Science is an online graduate degree, involving a thesis or major project,  that teaches students to complete research related to the science of doing, with a particular focus on critical thinking, research methodologies and social change.  An MSc in Occupational Science provides a foundation for further research or work that guides change in organizational, health, accessibility, or public/social policy that can support improvements in human and social capital. Such research and work can contribute to industry, government and the private sector across multiple fields and disciplines, such as, but not limited to: policy studies, accessibility and inclusion, critical health or disability studies, disability management, mental health, occupational health and safety, occupational therapy, leisure and recreation, organizational management and planning, to name a few.  Please note that although an MSc in Occupational Science would provide an excellent foundation for study in occupational therapy, this degree does NOT lead to professional/clinic practice.


We also offer an online Certificate In Disability Management option. Working in the disability management industry will allow you to support injured workers as they rebuild their lives. You will work with employees and employers across many sectors of the labour force, as well health care providers creating the best options for all.


Why Dalhousie?

The School of Occupational Therapy at Dalhousie is known for its theory-driven approach, commitment to social justice and diverse educational approaches. We also provide exceptional support with our welcoming atmosphere, diverse online learning programs and remarkable enhanced learning labs for our on-site entry level occupational therapy students.

You’ll work with researchers who are focused on ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to participate as fully as possible in the occupations of everyday life—in family and community life, in education and work, and in civil society.

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Build the skills you need for a rewarding career: