Undergraduate education in occupational therapy was first offered in 1945 as a course of study in the general home economics department at what was then known as Colorado State College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts. The first student graduated from the program in 1947 with the first class of four graduates in 1948.
The program was approved by the American Medical Association Council on Medical Education and Hospitals in 1951. Until 1954 students’ degrees stated double designation – Occupational Therapy and Home Economics for women, Occupational Therapy and Industrial Arts for men. In 1954 a Bachelor of Science in occupational therapy was approved by the governing board and students were able to declare a single major in occupational therapy.
A Master of Science for persons with a baccalaureate degree in occupational therapy was first offered in 1969. A Master of Science for persons who have a baccalaureate degree in a discipline other than occupational therapy was begun in 1985.
The department offices were first located in the Home Economics Annex with laboratories in the Industrial Science Complex. During the 1960s, the department office, laboratories, and classrooms were moved to the Humanities Building. In 1986 the department moved to the Occupational Therapy Building on the east side of the oval. In 1995 the historic building to the east of the department was designated for one of the research grant projects and officially named the Occupational Therapy Annex.
From 1962 to 1975 the program included an off-campus component at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center or Denver General Hospital. Students spent one quarter in Denver where much of their application classwork was done. Since 1976 all courses have been offered on campus through lectures, recitation and labs. Fieldwork requirements are completed at a variety of settings throughout the nation and internationally.
The department's first on-site accreditation visit occurred in 1966 and the program was accredited in 1967 by the American Occupational Therapy Association's Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education. Re-accreditation was granted in 1975, 1982, 1987, 1995, 2002 and 2012.
In 1962 the Department of Occupational Therapy officially became a department within the College of Home Economics.
In 1983 the name of the College of Home Economics was changed to the College of Human Resource Sciences to better reflect its departments including occupational therapy.
In 1986 the Colleges of Human Resource Sciences and Professional Studies merged to form the College of Applied Human Sciences.
In 2013 the College of Applied Human Sciences changed its name to College of Health and Human Sciences. The decision to add the word "health" to the college was based on the term's holistic meaning of physical, mental, and social well-being and the alignment of those factors with the college's disciplines.
Occupational Therapy Building at CSU