Otago Polytechnic

Master of Occupational Therapy


Online with a compulsory block course per year

Two years full time; seven years part-time

Online with one compulsory block course in Dunedin (two to three days) per year 

February and July (or on a negotiated date)
by 31 January or 1 July (domestic); 1 January or 31 May (international)
  • Location
    Study breaks
  • Distance
    11 February 2019
Are you keen to develop your professional practice and research skills to a very high level? Do you want to gain an in-depth understanding of a specific aspect of occupational therapy knowledge?

The Master of Occupational Therapy is a qualification of excellence which will provide you with the knowledge and skills that are relevant for international practice. With appropriate experience, you may enter higher positions of responsibility in occupational therapy or become involved in areas of policy or research. Alternatively, you could pursue an academic career in occupational therapy education or apply for enrolment into PhD programmes to take you to the top of your field. 

With a strong practice and research focus, this programme will enable you to build a broad range of knowledge to justify your practice. Gain the confidence to not only share current research in your practice area with other members of health teams, but to systematically plan and carry out detailed research to internationally-recognised standards. Choose to complete your qualification through coursework and a smaller project or by the research thesis option.

Both domestic and international students will study online and have the opportunity to interact regularly through a weekly online group forum. This gives everyone the chance to fit their study around other commitments. Domestic and international students will also enjoy the chance to interact with each other at the compulsory Masters School held in Dunedin in February and July. They are also welcome to come to any of the four Masters Schools held throughout the year.

Please note: If you already hold a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma, then your costs are only for the Level 9 project or thesis.

Fee information

The tuition fees shown in the right-hand column are part of the Government’s Key Information for Students (KIS). This data is pulled from a database that the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) control. It is based on an average fee from the previous year.

This means there is always a difference between the TEC/KIS fee shown and Otago Polytechnic’s current indicative fee (other reasons also affect the KIS data such as fee reductions for students granted Recognition of Prior Learning). Due to this, the indicative fee below is the best guide for prospective students.

Information about compulsory student services levy >

Please note: The KIS data only applies to domestic students. Up-to-date international student fees can be found by clicking the International tab in the top right corner of this page.  

Entry requirements

To enter the first year of the Masters:

  • You must hold a Diploma OR Bachelor of Occupational Therapy from a World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT) approved programme (OR equivalent), OR a Certificate of Registration (New Zealand).
  • If you hold a Diploma or Certificate of Registration, you must also provide evidence of commitment to further education and two confidential referees attesting to your ability to manage postgraduate study.
  • You must provide evidence of registration as an occupational therapist (Annual Practising Certificate), although this can be waived in certain circumstances.

To enter the second year of the Masters of Occupational Therapy:

  • You must hold a Postgraduate Certificate in Occupational Therapy or Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Therapy Practice OR equivalent, with a B grade average across a total of 60 credits
  • You must have successfully completed a Research course 
  • OR you must have successfully completed a Bachelor of Occupational Therapy with Honours endorsed second class, OR equivalent.

To enter both the first or second year:

  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure they meet entry requirements. 


All students (international and domestic) for whom English is not a first language:

  • must demonstrate English Language skills with an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 6.5, with no band score lower than 6.5 OR
  • must provide acceptable alternative evidence of English language proficiency depending on the visa decline rate of the country you are from. See here for acceptable evidence and visa decline rates by country.

Please note: All scores must be achieved in a single test completed in the preceding two years. You cannot combine scores from multiple tests. If you have achieved NCEA Level 3 University Entrance you are not required to provide evidence of English Language skills.


Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identity, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure

Applications for this programme are screened by the Masters Coordinator against the entry criteria. Should the number of applicants who meet the entry requirements exceed the available places, applicants will be placed on a waiting list in date order.

Additional costs

You must have access to a personal computer, printer and internet connection. You will make extensive use of websites and the electronic library so must budget for the cost of printing reference material, as well as ordering inter-library loans.

You will also need to consider the costs of carrying out your research which could include payment for transcription, copying and posting out of surveys. You are expected to attend a three day Master's School (once a year) and are responsible for any costs associated with this including transport, accommodation and food. 

Domestic students: You will study  

The Master of Occupational Therapy has a strong practice and research focus. Draw on advanced knowledge to critically evaluate current professional trends in occupational therapy and critique service delivery from a sound theoretical basis. Your involvement in research and scholarship should contribute to a broad understanding of occupational therapy practice in New Zealand.

The Master of Occupational Therapy has two options in terms of pathways. If you are enrolling from a bachelor’s degree, you are required to complete either two Level 8 courses offered in the Postgraduate Certificate programme followed by Masters by research thesis level 9; or four Level 8 courses offered in the Postgraduate Diploma programme followed by the Masters by project level 9.

Year one

Complete 60 credits Level 8 courses. This may be within the structure of a Postgraduate Certificate offered by Otago Polytechnic or another university.


Complete 120 credits Level 8 courses. This may be within the structure of a Postgraduate Diploma offered by Otago Polytechnic or another university.

Year two

Masters by project

Includes two courses (Level 8) of 30 credits each and one 60 credit project (Level 9)


Masters by thesis

One course equivalent to 120 credits (Level 9).

Please note: Most people complete this qualification on a part-time basis, alongside full-time employment.

International students: You will study

If you are an international student interested in studying with us, please contact the School of Occupational Therapy by emailing info@op.ac.nz

Your workload

Domestic students - Level 8

At Level 8, each course is worth 30 credits equating to approximately 300 study hours. If you are completing one course a semester, you should allocate approximately 18-19 hours per week for attendance at fortnightly teleconferences, online discussions and reading, as well as research for your assessments.

Domestic students - Level 9

At Level 9, you will have selected either the Research Project OR the Research Thesis. For either option, you will need to be guided by the number of hours - with the project being approximately 600 hours and the thesis 1,200 hours.

Domestic students: Qualification structure

Year one

Please consult the Postgraduate Certificate in Occupational Therapy Practice or Postgraduate Diploma in Occupational Therapy Practice information sheet.

Elective programmes

(Coursework option= select 180 credits/ Thesis option= select 120 credits)

SMS Code

Course Name





Reasoning in Fast Paced Environments



Research for Practice



Negotiated Study




Negotiated Study




Supervision for Helping Professions




Cognitive Approaches Across the Life Span




Motivation and Behavioural Change




Therapeutic Use of Self




Using Sensory Processing Principles with Diverse Populations




Specialty Practice




Vocational Rehabilitation




Low Vision Rehabilitation



Year Two

You are required to complete a Level 8 research course (of at least 30 credits) before embarking on the second year of this qualification. This research course provides you with the theoretical knowledge required to complete a research project or research thesis.

Depending on your choice of pathway, you will then complete the research thesis OR the research project (both at Level 9).

Postgraduate academic staff

Jackie Herkt - Academic Leader


Helen Jeffery - Senior Lecturer/Postgraduate Programmes Coordinator


Debbie Davie - Administrator, Postgraduate Programmes


Dr. Linda Robertson - Associate Professor


Sian Griffiths - Principal Lecturer/Honours Coordinator


Dr. Mary Butler - Principal Lecturer/Masters Coordinator


Rita Robinson - Senior Lecturer


For more details, please visit our staff page.

Postgrad Post newsletter

Check out our latest issue. If you would like to see any earlier issues, please contact Debbie.davie@op.ac.nz

Examples of thesis titles
  • What difference does the provision of a multi-function powered wheelchair make to the lives of adults with physical disabilities, for the clients' perspective.
  • How do occupational therapists understand and negotiate risk-taking in discharge with the older patient and their family?
  • Experiences of occupational decline in people living with HIV: A qualitative study.
  • To explore the impact of housing modifications on clients occupations and roles.   
Examples of Masters' projects
  • An investigation into the effect of a sensory modulation workshop on the knowledge, skills and attitudes of mental health staff: a pre-post survey design.
  • The use of splinting in the non-surgical management of the rheumatoid hand: A systematic review
  • The impact of social skills and relationship education on the knowledge and attitudes of people with intellectual disability.
  • Vision of the future: Occupational therapy and neurological vision impairment. 
Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification.

Links to useful websites

Looking for a job as an occupational therapist? Check out New Zealand Careers or Health Careers.


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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