Skip to main content.

History, Mission & Vision

Our Mission and Vision

Our mission is to develop learners who will impact the health and occupations of people and their communities through innovative and collaborative practice, education, research, and leadership. Our vision is to transform occupational therapy and influence other health professions through leadership, education, and discovery.

Our Philosophy

The following principles are the foundation of our department's work:

  • People learn through supported discovery and reflection
  • People have the right and capacity to direct their own lives
  • Quality of life depends on engagement in occupation
  • People’s characteristics are strengths which support participation in everyday life
  • Participation in everyday life involves interaction between the person, task, and context
  • Adjustments to context and activities support participation in occupations in everyday life
  • Best practice promotes participation in authentic contexts
  • Best practice entails producing and using evidence
  • Interprofessional collaboration enriches education and practice

Our History

We're proud of how far we've come and look forward to all the accomplishments still to come:

  • 1940-41
    Our department's roots stretch back to the KU Department of Design in the School of Fine Arts, on the Lawrence campus of the University of Kansas. The occupational therapy program officially opened with six students in fall 1942, was approved by the American Medical Association in 1943, and remained in the School of Fine Arts until 1978.
  • 1985
    The Department of Occupational Therapy Education joined the School of Allied Health (now School of Health Professions), relocating its bachelor's degree curriculum from the Lawrence campus to the medical center campus
  • 1999
    The department was approved to revise its curriculum to offer an entry-level master of occupational therapy degree. The first class entered the MOT program in summer 2000.
  • 2001
    A research doctoral program, the Ph.D. in therapeutic science, began, offering an interdisciplinary program for those wishing to pursue scholarly, research and academic options for their careers.
  • 2007
    The department began offering a new academic program, the doctor of occupational therapy (OTD) degree, which offers a post-professional opportunity for those occupational therapists who wish to develop advanced skills for leadership in practice
  • 2018
    The department began to transition the entry-level degree program, from the master's to the clinical doctorate level. Applications for the MOT program close permanently. 
  • 2019
    We celebrated our department's 75th anniversary.
  • 2020
    Our OT program ranked 17th in the country in rankings from U.S. News & World Report.
  • 2021
    The last class of students graduated from the MOT program.
  • 2022
    The first class of 40+ students graduated from the entry-level doctoral program in occupational therapy.
  • 2024
    U.S. News & World Report ranked our OT program No. 11 in the nation among public universities.
KU School of Health Professions

Occupational Therapy Education
KU Medical Center
3901 Rainbow Blvd  MS2003
Kansas City, KS 66160
913-588-7195 • 711 TTY