The WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists
WFOT sets the standard for occupational therapy education internationally through the Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists.
The Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists provide an international benchmark ensuring the quality of education programmes globally, while reflecting the dynamic qualities of occupational therapy education.
The WFOT Approved Education Programme status
Entry-level occupational therapy education programmes can be reviewed for WFOT approval. The WFOT Approved Education Programme status provides assurance that the programme adheres to the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists.
In many countries, territories and jurisdictions, graduation from a WFOT approved programme is an entry-to-practice requirement for occupational therapists. Most employers and education institutions (e.g. universities) give preference, if not exclusive privilege, to graduates of WFOT approved programmes for acceptance into employment or postgraduate education. Therefore, WFOT approval of an education programme serves to facilitate international mobility of students and graduates, which cannot be overemphasized.
WFOT approved programmes are reviewed at regular intervals to ensure that they remain at par with the Standards.
If you are a member of faculty of an entry-level occupational therapy programme and interested in having your programme reviewed for WFOT approval, please visit this page for more information.
The list of WFOT Approved Education Programmes
WFOT maintains a list of education programmes worldwide (both current and discontinued) that have attained WFOT Approved status.
Ongoing Functions and Projects
The WFOT Education Programme undertakes a range of ongoing functions and projects:
- Maintain updated list of WFOT Approved education programmes
- Review submitted curricula for approval and re-approval
- Review and approve approval/re-approval processes of Member Organisations
- Respond to education enquiries from students, faculty, employers, regulatory bodies
- Oversee education programmes re-approval reporting and compliance
- Develop, review and update education-related WFOT policies and documents
- Support the development of entry-level education programmes through liaison and connections
- Development of strategies for the transition of diploma level programmes to bachelor's level
- Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists Review plan
- Global survey on the emergence of online occupational therapy programmes
Programme Coordinator Education
PhD, MSc OT, MSc Clin Epidemiology, BSc HOT
How does WFOT approve education programmes?
The WFOT approval process involves the review of documents submitted by an education institution through the country’s national association. In cases where there is no national association, the documents are directly sent to WFOT by the education institution. These documents are sent to two expert reviewers who determine if the programme meets the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists. The findings of the reviewers are used to determine a recommendation regarding approval which is presented to the WFOT Council for ratification. Further details can be found in the Approval Process.
WFOT undertakes the approval of only the first programme in any country. Subsequent programme approvals and re-approvals are conducted by the relevant Member Organisation using a process that is aligned with the procedures used by WFOT. The Member Organisation uses the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists for the approval process or national standards that subsume the Minimum Standards. The national standards include context specific requirements for occupational therapy in the country that may supersede the Minimum Standards.
What are the criteria for getting an Education Programme approved?
The focus of the WFOT approval is on the education programme’s capability to produce occupational therapists who are equipped to meet the occupational needs of individuals, groups, communities and populations at the local, national and international levels. The programme’s curriculum (its content and sequence) needs to demonstrate that it is occupation-based and responds to the local needs and is informed by international perspectives in occupational therapy. Further details can be found in the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists and WFOT Approval Process document.
Which country/university has the best programme?
The WFOT does not rank occupational therapy education programmes. It recognises that each programme is unique and influenced by several factors such as the education institution’s philosophy and vision; legal, education, health care and welfare systems in the country that shape the programme; and the social, economic and political contexts within which the education programme is situated. What the WFOT assesses is whether the programme meets the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists.
Why is my education programme not listed on your website?
Education programmes that are not listed on the WFOT website may not have applied for WFOT approval or the processing of their approval application may be underway. If you cannot see your programme in the list of WFOT approved programmes, you are advised to contact the relevant Member Organisation. Their contact details are found here.
What is the difference between WFOT approval and accreditation?
WFOT approval requires an education programme to submit its curriculum which is then reviewed by an international review team against the WFOT Minimum Standards of Education for Occupational Therapists. This is a desktop review and does not require in-person site visits. Feedback is given if the programme does not meet the WFOT Minimum Standards and when the curriculum does meet the WFOT Minimum Standards, the programme is added to the WFOT List of Approved Programmes on the WFOT website. The WFOT will undertake the approval of the first programme in any country free of charge; however subsequent programme approvals may attract a fee.
WFOT does not offer accreditation. When compared with the WFOT approval process, accreditation usually involves a much more rigorous review, involving site visits and detailed reports. In many countries/territories there is a local accreditation programme with requirements which exceed the approval process; the review of the WFOT Minimum Standards is consequently subsumed in the accreditation process.
How often are education programmes reviewed?
Education programmes are reviewed on regular 5- or 7-year cycles, depending on the length of the programme. Programmes that run for 3 and a half years or shorter are reviewed every 5 years. Those that run for 4 or more years are reviewed every 7 years.
When is our programme due for review?
Please check on the WFOT Approved Education Programmes list on the WFOT website.
What is the difference between a programme displayed as "Approval Ongoing" and one that is displayed as "Approval Discontinued"?
A programme described as "Approval Ongoing" meets the following criteria:
- currently admits students
- offers an occupational therapy curriculum
- has current WFOT approval status.
Programmes described as "Approval Discontinued" refer to:
- Education programmes that did not apply for re-approval;
- Education programmes that were reviewed, but did not meet the WFOT Minimum Standards for the Education of Occupational Therapists 2016;
- Education programmes that are no longer running; or
- Education programmes that remain running, but under a different institution name. The new institution name for such programmes is documented in the ‘approval ongoing’ listing. The previous institution name is similarly recorded in the listing of the ‘approval discontinued’ education programme.
What is the difference between a programme that displays as approved, in review or past review?
A programme that displays as Approved, currently holds WFOT approval. If a programme shows as ‘In review’, it means that it is due for review in the current year.
If a programme shows as ‘Past review’, the year when its review was due has passed. The reasons for this status include:
- WFOT has not been notified of the review having taken place;
- The review is still underway;
- The review process has not been initiated, in which case, depending on the circumstances and the time that has passed since the review due date, the programme may be deemed not WFOT approved.
My programme was not WFOT approved at the time of my graduation. What are the implications of this? How can we have it approved?
This designation means that you are a graduate of a non-WFOT approved programme. This may have several implications in terms of registration to work in certain countries/jurisdictions or access to further/postgraduate education. Please contact your Member Organisation and university and suggest they consider applying for retroactive approval for your programme.