The Department of Occupational therapy has a long and distinguished history of building the next generation of occupational therapists and leaders with a passion to improve the health, well-being, and quality of life for individuals and communities. We have been providing occupational therapy education since 1942, one of only 8 schools in the country at that time. We are currently ranked 15th in the country and have been ranked in the top 20 for over 20 years.

In 1942, the School of Occupational Therapy was established at the Richmond Professional Institute (RPI) of the College of William and Mary, receiving full accreditation in 1943. That same year, the School of Occupational Therapy was chosen by the U.S. Army Medical Department to train occupational therapy students in a War Emergency course. In 1945, a Bachelor’s degree program was instituted at RPI, replacing diplomas and certificates that had been previously awarded.  

In 1965, approval was granted for a Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy, making it the first of its kind in the United States. In 1969 the Department of Occupational Therapy became a part of the School of Allied Health Professionals and the Health Sciences Division of Virginia Commonwealth University (which had been founded a year earlier through the merger between Richmond Professional Institute and Medical College of Virginia). 

The 1970’s brought more changes to the program, with a post-professional graduate study in 1970, specialization and post professional master’s degree programs in 1977, and a move to the MCV Health Sciences campus in the Virginia Mechanics Institute Building. 

The last undergraduate OT class of 32 students graduated from VCU in 2000. In 2006, the post-professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program was initiated with 8 students entering the program. In 2007, the department moved to the Theater Row Building on Broad Street. In 2017 our last class of Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy graduated.

In 2016 we welcomed our first class of entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctorate students and we moved to our current location, in the College of Health Professions building on Leigh Street.