Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Occupational Therapy Assistant Program

Notice: The next enrollment period for the OTA program will be for Fall 2023. Applications open on April 1, 2023 and close on May 31, 2023

Program Description

As the only occupational therapy education program in the state of Hawaii, the Occupational
Therapy Assistant (OTA) Program at Kapi’olani Community College (KapCC) prepares Hawai’i
residents to meet state workforce needs in healthcare. The OTA Program is responsible for training more than 100 of licensed occupational therapy assistant practitioners who are actively providing high-quality, evidence-based occupational therapy services in Hawai’i. These occupational therapy assistants are contracted at or employed in various practice settings in more than 60 facilities/programs across the state (Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs [DCCA], 2022). The OTA Program is a two-year, nationally accredited health science program. Students learn skills necessary for employment as licensed occupational therapy assistants but also find employment in other health-related jobs which include but are not limited to therapeutic activity directors, mobility coordinators, and case managers. Courses are structured to meet standards set forth by the Accreditation Council on Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE). The curriculum is comprised of lecture and lab courses and includes service learning in the community as well as a pro-bono teaching clinic where skilled occupational therapy services are provided onsite as well as in the homes of clients. Students are required to complete Level I and II fieldwork rotations, which are clinical application practice experiences with clients in the provision of occupational therapy services to achieve entry-level competency in knowledge and skill application.

Degree and Certificate Programs

The Kapiʻolani Community College (Kapiʻolani CC) Occupational Therapy Assistant program offers an associate in science (AS) degree.

  • Associate in Science - Occupational Therapy Assistant (76 credits)
    This curriculum is designed to prepare students to work under the supervision of a registered occupational therapist with clients who need to improve their independence in functional activities relating to activities of daily living, work or play/leisure as a result of injury, illness, the aging process, developmental delays, poverty, or cultural differences. These remediation activities take place in a variety of health care facilities such as hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centers, public and private schools, nursing homes, home care settings and emerging areas of practice. Students have faculty-supervised clinical learning experiences in a variety of these settings.

COVID-19 Advisory (relative CR/NC Policy)

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be accepting CR grades from the spring 2020 semester to fulfill prerequisite courses, however, letter grades are preferred.  Supplemental information may be required if you choose to submit a CR grade. If you have any questions, please contact Health Sciences/Emergency Medical Services counselors at 808-734-9224 or hlthsci@hawaii.edu

OTA Program Accreditation

The Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Kapi‘olani Community College was established in 1973; it is the only occupational therapy assistant program in Hawai‘i. The program is accredited by the:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200
North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929
Telephone (c/o AOTA) (301)-652-6611
Web address: www.acoteonline.org

Visit the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) to obtain the most recent certification exam pass rate for the OTA.

The total number of graduates from Kapi’olani Community College Occupational Therapy Assistant program during the 4-year period of 2019-2022 was 31, with an overall graduation rate of 67.4%. Note: Graduation delays were experienced in 2020 and 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Graduation Year Students Entering/Graduating Graduation Rate
2019 17/12 71%
2020 17/8 47%
2021 12/11 91.67%
2022 No admission in Fall 2020 N/A
Total 46/31 67.4%


Program Fees

Students pay tuition based on the University of Hawai‘i, Kapi‘olani Community College per credit fee as published. Other fees include liability insurance of $15.00 per year and program fees of $250.00 per semester. Students are also responsible for fees associated with books, titer tests, CPR/First Aid training and certification, and the fees for the NBCOT exam that grants certification.

Career Opportunities

According to a recent report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2022), the overall employment of occupational therapy assistants and aides is projected to grow 25% percent [“much faster than average”] from 2021 to 2031. The employment projection for occupational therapy assistants is even higher than employment in other healthcare occupations, which in comparison have a projected growth of 13 percent from 2021 to 2031 (Bureau of Labor Statistics [BLS], 2022). The projection of growth for occupational therapy assistants is bolstered by additional reports that:

  1. Occupational therapy is considered among the “fastest-growing” occupations in Hawai‘i based on the 50.9% job rate increase of occupational therapy assistants between 2001 and 2016 (Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism Research and Economic Analysis Division, 2018).
  2. According to a University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges (2021) report, occupational therapy assistants have experienced the highest growth percentage of the top 20 fastest-growing occupations in Hawaii.
  3. The overall outlook for occupational therapy assistants in Hawai‘i is considered “bright,” with a projected change in the number of occupational therapy assistant jobs of 36% between 2021 to 2028 (Hawaii Career Explorer, 2020). Notably, this is a 5% increase from the last projections reported in 2020.

Program Requirements

Admission to the Kapi’olani Community College’s Occupational Therapy Program is based upon grades of completed prerequisites and prerequisite GPA as well as performance during an oral interview.  Qualified candidates who are selected for an interview must also produce a spontaneous writing sample during their scheduled meeting with the admissions committee. Qualification is based on a BEST QUALIFIED, FIRST ACCEPTED rating system for 

  1. grades of completed prerequisites
  2. minimum prerequisite GPA of 2.75
  3. writing sample
  4. oral interview
    1. Opening session welcoming candidates, reviewing the program and admission processes, introducing faculty, students, and candidates, reviewing program curriculum, and question and answer session.
    2. Individual interviews with program faculty
    3. Closing session

Selection is based on total qualifying scores in rank order from the highest until the admission quota is reached. Students must complete all prerequisites by the application deadline.

Students on probation, suspension or having a GPA below 2.0 at Kapiʻolani CC are not eligible to apply. Priority selection is given to Hawai’i State residents; nonresidents will be considered after all qualified residents have been accommodated per Board of Regents Policy 5.211. A grade of “C”or higher must be maintained in all program requirements to continue in the programs. Transfer credit from accredited institutions requires Kapiʻolani CC Department and registrar approval.

Licensure and State Authorization

Once the student has completed the program and passed the licensure requirements, s/he will be licensed to practice as an OTA in the State of Hawaiʻi. Kapiʻolani Community College (Kapiʻolani CC) may not be able to confirm whether a particular program meets the professional licensure requirements outside of the State of Hawaiʻi. Kapi‘olani CC recommends the student contact the respective professional licensing board to determine the licensure requirements in the state in which the student lives.

Contact Information

OTA Program Director: Tiffany Kawaguchi, tkawagu@hawaii.edu


Health Science & EMS Information Sessions

Program Information sessions are held monthly and provide potential applicants with program details and requirements, application procedures, and career outlook. Attending an information session is recommended before you start your academic journey. Attendance of a program information session within one year of the application submission is mandatory when applying to a Health Science and EMS program.

See the Information Session Schedule below for session dates and times.


The connections I made with classmates, clients, professors, and other community healthcare providers during my time as a student in KCC’s OTA program helped me to grow as a healthcare professional and as an individual. Prior to entering the program I didn’t think that I had the ability to interact with and help so many people. I’m very grateful for the experience, and will take it with me wherever I may go, in my future as a certified occupational therapy assistant

Alisha Carvalho

COTA/L, Class of 2019

Occupational Assistant Program Outcomes

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