School-Based Practice—Advanced Professional Certificate

The Tufts Department of Occupational Therapy Advanced Professional Certificate in School-based Practice is a no-residency, online certificate designed for working school professionals.  

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  • Program Description
  • Application Requirements
  • Faculty
  • Tuition and Curriculum

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Office of Graduate Admissions
Bendetson Hall
Medford, MA 02155
(617) 627-3395

The Advanced Professional Certificate in School-based Practice is a series of three courses delivered in an asynchronous online format, over the course of one calendar year, and aims to create a supported professional development opportunity for working school-based therapists. Given reform in special education and civil rights legislation, current guidelines for best practices in the provision of educationally-relevant related services to students with disabilities, as well as school system pressures, including increased accountability for student outcomes, the program prepares participants to become more evidence-based and effective in advancing a systems approach to delivery of services. The certificate will focus on systems considerations, current evidence for evaluation and intervention, research on inter-professional teams and collaboration, self-reflection on personal practice patterns, and action-planning for potential practice change.

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Application Deadline

Spring: December 15 

Application Requirements

> Application Fee
> Resume/CV
> Personal Statement
> Official TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test, if applicable
> Transcripts
> One Letter of Recommendation

Margaret Morris, Program Director and Certificate Advisor 

Margaret (Peggy) Morris, OTD, OT, BCP, is a lecturer in the Department of Occupational Therapy at Tufts University.  Peggy worked in Massachusetts school systems as a related service provider for more than 25 years prior to teaching at Tufts. She has received an advanced practice certificate in School-based therapy from Tufts University. Peggy is a VoiceThread® Certified Educator and has a Certificate in Online Teaching (OTC) through Quality Matters® (November 2017). 




This certificate consists of three courses. 

Participants will take one course each in spring, summer 1 session, and fall semester. 

Spring semester (January-May): Participants enroll in OTS 284Therapy in Schools: Best Practices

Course description: The provision of school services to support the child with specialized learning needs is governed by federal and state legislation. This course will focus on ‘big picture’ issues related to educationally relevant service provision in light of current legislation as well as the practical application of providing educationally relevant occupational therapy services. Topics include pertinent legislation, systems considerations, the Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) process and eligibility, models of service provision, evaluation and intervention. The course will examine the evidence base for strategies for supporting children in the educational process using the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) mandate.

This course is a prerequisite for OTS 285, another required course in the certificate program.

Summer semester 1 (May-June): Participants enroll in EITHER OTS 193 OR OTS 194

OTS 193 Autism: Working with Children with Autism: Facilitating Social and Educational Participation

Course Description: In this course, students will gain knowledge in understanding current research on etiology theories and neurobiological basis of autism, understand core features in impairment in communication, social skills, and emotional regulation, understand occupational impacts for the child and the family, and gain knowledge in evidence-based interventions. We will pursue knowledge through two parallel lines of inquiry. Students will become immersed in a case- based assignment, identify an area of interest related to the case, evaluate evidence related to the case, design and create intervention tools, and produce and upload a final presentation. A second line of inquiry will broaden our lens as we examine the history of autism as a diagnosis and hopefully challenge, broaden, and refine our lens relative to this population as we work with and for children and adolescents with autism and their families.

OTS 194 Working with Children with Self-Regulation Issues in Schools

Course Description: This course will discuss the foundations of self-regulation for children and adolescents, including sensory, attentional, emotional, and behavioral aspects. We will discuss methods for evaluation and intervention in these areas, as well as applications and implementation of strategies within the educational model of school-based services.

Either course is a pre-requisite for OTS 285. Pick only one.

Fall semester (September-December): Participants enroll in OTS 285: Mentored Seminar in School-based Practice

Course description: The Mentored Seminar in School-based Practice allows a student to pursue a work leadership project with mentorship from university faculty with content expertise. This faculty -guided, applied experience will focus on student-identified work-related area for potential change. Students, under the mentorship of the certificate program faculty, will survey the research literature, develop an action plan for change, and plans for implementation. Examples of topics: how to provide educationally-relevant services; how to provide collaborative consultation with your inter-professional team; how to move to increased services within the classroom; how to develop integrated goals; how to support UDL or MTSS. Topic should be of specific interest to the student; plan created should be based on available evidence and realistic in terms of implementation.