Master of Science in Occupational Science


Occupational Science is an interdisciplinary field that studies the nature and function of human occupation (the things people do in their everyday lives) as it relates to individuals, communities and societies. 

This online degree is well suited for students with diverse undergraduate degrees, including but not limited to those with occupational therapy degrees, who have a commitment to exploring the science of everyday doing.

The program learning outcomes are:

1. Apply occupational science related concepts to analyze policies, theories, and social norms to enhance occupation.

2. Understand and apply a variety of research methodologies to address occupation-focused phenomena.

3. Demonstrate how occupational science has the potential to transform epistemologies, policies, procedures, and practices in multiple settings, and across diverse contexts.

This innovative online program can be completed either full or part-time. For full-time students, there will typically be one year of courses and one additional year of thesis work for those pursuing the thesis option or 1 additional year for their major project for those completing the course-based option. Students will require regular and consistent access to the internet to participate successfully in this fully online distance education program.

Admission Requirements

Admission to the MSc (OS) program is open to candidates who have completed a four-year baccalaureate degree in a field which can be related to the interdisciplinary field of Occupational Science. Students must meet the minimum requirements for admission set out by FGS. (See Faculty of Graduate Studies Regulations 3.2).

Priority will be given to applicants who demonstrate the most favourable combination of academic excellence, leadership experiences, referee recommendation, and passion for the interdisciplinary field of occupational science. Priority will be given to full-time thesis students.

Drawing on the Dalhousie University Faculty of Health Equitable Admissions Policy, the School of Occupational Therapy is committed to improving the representation of Aboriginal/Indigenous students (especially Mi’kmaq), persons of African descent (especially African Nova Scotians), members of other racialized groups, Acadians, persons with dis/Abilities, and students belonging to sexual orientation and/or gender identity (SOGI) minority groups. Applicants from these groups who meet the application requirements will be given preference in admissions. If you self-identify with one or more of these groups and wish to be considered under this policy, you may voluntarily provide this information about yourself in your supplemental application.

Application Process

All Program applicants must submit

· Faculty of Graduate Studies Application Forms which are available at;

· If applicable, proof of English language competency

· Letter of Intent (guidelines are available here);

· Curriculum Vitae;

· Two letters of Academic Reference which MUST be submitted via the online electronic reference system (see the FGS website for more information);

· Two copies of official transcripts of all university courses;

· Supplementary form (the supplementary form is available here).

Special Student -Graduate Studies (SSGS) (No-Degree, For Course Specific Admission)

Applicants interested in taking a single course may seek admission under the Special Student-Graduate Studies (SSGS) category. Applicants who meet FGS criteria, and who have the permission of the MSc(OS) Program Coordinator may enroll in courses in this program. Note that while up to 6 credit hours may be transferred into a graduate program, this will not alter the program start date, nor the program fee required for that graduate program. Even if a student has completed a course as an SSGS student and is admitted to the MSc in Occupational Science Program at a later date, full MSc(OS) program fees will apply.

Application Deadlines

Please refer to the MSc(OS) Program website for the application deadline. It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure all documents are sent on time. If you have any questions, please contact us at

Scholarship Support, Awards, Bursaries

Students who are seeking scholarship support for the thesis-based program are encouraged to explore funding opportunities through the Faculty of Graduate Studies. Please refer to Funding Opportunities - Faculty of Graduate Studies - Dalhousie University and the School of Occupational Therapy website for more information. Most scholarship applications are due in early December, so applicants are encouraged to apply for scholarships and the program early.

Degree Requirements

Thesis Option - total 12 credit hours + thesis

Core Course (9 credit hours)

OCCU 6510.03: Occupational Science Theory: Doing, Being, Belonging, Becoming

OCCU 6511.03: Research Methods and Literacy

OCCU 6513.03: Putting Knowledge to Use

Elective Courses (3 credit hours) (see below for elective options)


OCCU 9002.00: Thesis

Students are typically expected to enroll in the thesis each term until it is complete. Note that thesis students must complete OCCU 6510.03 and OCCU 6511.03 before defending their thesis proposal.

Course-based Option - total 24 credit hours
(first intake anticipated in 2024/2025)

Core Course (18 credit hours)

OCCU 6510.03: Occupational Science Theory: Doing, Being, Belonging, Becoming

OCCU 6511.03: Research Methods and Literacy

OCCU 6513.03: Putting Knowledge to Use

OCCU 6512.03: Social Inequities in Everyday Life

OCCU 6514.06: Capstone Project: Leadership through Occupation

Elective Courses (6 credit hours) from list below

Sample Elective Options

OCCU 6512.03: Social Inequities in Everyday Life (for Thesis students only*)

OCCU 6515.03: Contemporary & Global Issues in the World of Work

OCCU 6516.03: Aging, Inclusion & Participation

OCCU 6517.03: Program Planning & Evaluation

OCCU 6518.03: Identity & Transitions: We Are What We Do

OCCU 6519.03: Assessing Health & Occupational Outcomes

OCCU 6520.03: Community Development: Daily Lives & Collective Doing

OCCU 6521.03: Chronic Conditions in Everyday Life

OCCU 6522.03: Directed Reading Course

OCCU 6523.03, 6524.03, 6525.03, 6526.03: Special Topics
(courses that will change based on current topics, issues)

Not all electives are offered every year. Please see School of Occupational Therapy website for course offerings each year.

*an elective for Thesis students only as it is required for course-based option

Sample Timetable for Full-Time Thesis Student

Full-Time Fall Winter Spring
Year 1

OCCU 6510

OCCU 6511

OCCU 9002

OCCU 6513

Elective Option

OCCU 9002

Elective Option

OCCU 9002

Year 2

OCCU 9002


OCCU 9002 OCCU 9002


Sample Timetable for Full-Time Thesis Student





Year 1

OCCU 6510


Elective Option or

OCCU 9002


Elective Option or

OCCU 9002

Year 2

OCCU 6511

OCCU 6513

OCCU 9002


Year 3

OCCU 9002

OCCU 9002

OCCU 9002



Program Information

Residency, Orientation, Committee Members

All full-time and part-time MSc (OS) students are required to participate in a part-time orientation period of up to two weeks. There is no required on-site residency for this program, although some thesis supervisors may request residency, when appropriate. The orientation schedule includes an introduction to the program and faculty, the library and technology.

Each thesis student is encouraged to identify potential Faculty Supervisor(s) in their application. The proposed supervisor will accept them as their student or in some circumstances, the admission team will propose new faculty to take the role of supervisor. A thesis supervisor will typically be confirmed upon admission into the program, with all thesis supervisors confirmed within the first term of the program. A thesis committee will be formed in compliance with FGS regulations.

Full-Time and Part-Time Study

The MSc (OS) program is available on a full time or part time basis, with preference given to full-time students.

Length of Program

Approximately 1.5-2 years.
Part-time: Approximately 4 years.

Part-time students must be registered in at least one course each term unless on an approved leave of absence. See FGS regulations regarding maximum time allowed to complete.

Program Fees

It is anticipated that full-time students will pay the 1-year program fee in the first year while taking courses and then pay continuing fees in the second year while completing their thesis or remaining courses.

Part-time students are required to pay the equivalent full-time program fee over 9 terms after which they will transition to continuing fees. Part time students who compete their requirements early will be required to cover any remaining balance.

See money matters for details about fees and payment schedules:

Distance Cost

Students pay a Distance Fee per course to cover administration, and related expenses. Additional student expenses include: textbooks, long distance telephone and fax costs, photocopy costs for library materials, access to the Internet and other technology or software. Depending on a student’s thesis research, statistical or qualitative analysis software and bibliographic software may be required.

Transfer Credits

Up to one relevant transfer credit elective may be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

Dalhousie Letters of Permission

Students are not permitted to complete any credit hours outside Dalhousie.