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June 1, 2021

New York State Approves Roberts' Second Doctoral Program: Doctorate in Occupational Therapy

First Entry-Level Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Available in Finger Lakes Region Program Launches in August 2021

Occupational Therapy Degree

New York state has approved Roberts Wesleyan College’s second doctoral program, an entry-level doctorate in occupational therapy, with an anticipated launch in August 2021. The program is one of 10 developing entry-level occupational therapy doctorates in New York and will be the first in the Finger Lakes region. Roberts’ program will be led by Dr. Jayne Knowlton. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in occupational therapy are forecasted to see a 16% growth rate through 2029. 

“As we see the aging population wanting to age at home, this doctorate program in occupational therapy will have a meaningful impact on the health care industry with our aging seniors,” Knowlton said. “Occupational therapists play a critical role in allowing seniors to stay home, and that’s just one of many focuses for today’s occupational therapists. We will train students to provide therapeutic intervention across one’s lifespan.”

This is an entry-level doctorate program, meaning applicants can have a bachelor’s degree in a number of different disciplines, as long as program prerequisites are met. The program consists of 111 credit hours completed over three years of full-time study that includes didactic courses, off-site fieldwork in a variety of settings, and an individualized capstone project and experiences guided by faculty mentors. Students in the program also will have the opportunity to learn hands-on using cadavers, an important component for those pursuing a career in health care and occupational therapy. The Occupational Therapy Department will be housed in the college’s Smith Hall, sharing some facilities in the adjacent Crothers Science & Nursing Center. The program currently has a limited number of openings for students who wish to apply and start the program this fall. 

“What’s unique about this being an entry-level doctorate program is that we will take students fresh out of their bachelor’s degree — as long as they’ve completed a few select prerequisites and have a 3.0 GPA,” Knowlton said. “I’m truly honored and motivated to lead this program and guide students to become holistic OTs, ready to partner and help them fulfill their personal goals.” 

Additionally, the program draws from the college’s rich history in social justice to lay the groundwork for an innovative curriculum that teaches occupational justice through advocacy, ethics, inclusion, occupational-based participation and service. This foundation will help prepare Roberts graduates to value quality of life for all and to become compassionate, service-oriented direct care providers, consultants, educators, managers, leaders, researchers and advocates for the OT profession and the clients they will serve. 

Knowlton, who will lead the program, began her own occupational therapy practice in 1988. Early on, she focused on outpatient orthopedics, then transitioned from a Certified Hand Therapist to manager of an occupational therapy department in a medium-sized hospital to founder and owner of Rehabilitation Specialists of Rochester in 2001. For the past 12 years, she has worked for the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) in a variety of OT practice positions and now is per diem. She completed her post-professional doctorate in occupational therapy at Boston University in 2018. Knowlton has designed a female urinal, AquaEve, for bed-bound women and created a company to bring AquaEve to market. She guest lectures on the development of adaptive technology, strategies for addressing functional urinary continence and social entrepreneurship. 

The college is also looking for qualified faculty to teach in the occupational therapy doctorate program this fall. Open faculty positions can be found on the Roberts website. Roberts Wesleyan has been recognized by ModernThink LLC for six consecutive years (2015-20) as a Great College to Work For. 

The entry-level occupational therapy doctoral degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted candidacy status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education of the American Occupational Therapy Association, located at 6116 Executive Blvd., Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is 301-652-AOTA and its web address is For more information about the program and admissions requirements, visit

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