Occupational Therapy

Overview

Occupational therapists focus on improving patients' abilities to perform everyday activities.  They do this through helping the patient set goals, performing evaluations of the patients abilities and treating physical or psychological problems, and adapting the patient's environment to meet patient needs.  Occupational therapists may work in hospitals, schools, skilled nursing facilities, or industry.  The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has a great website that can help you learn more about occupational therapy.

Prerequisite Coursework

The prerequisite coursework required by occupational therapy programs varies widely from school to school.  It is your responsibility to research the schools you are interested in and plan to meet their requirements.  Commonly required or recommended courses include anatomy, physiology, introductory psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, statistics, and general biology.

Occupational therapy schools do not use your undergraduate major as a selection criterion.  Because of this, you may choose any major you would like and still apply to OT schools if you finish the prerequisite coursework.  

Applying

Occupational therapy programs require students to take the Graduate Records Examination (GRE).  

Most occupational therapy schools participate in the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS), which allows you to fill out one application that can be sent to any participating school.  To find out how to apply to schools that are not participating with OTCAS, you will need to visit the individual school websites.

Letter of recommendation requirements vary from school to school.  It is your responsibility to research the schools you are interested in and plan to meet their requirements.  You should do this early so that you have time to build the necessary relationships.  Most OT schools require one letter from an occupational therapist.

One of the most important parts of the application is the interview.  Be sure to prepare thoroughly!

Extracurricular Activities

Occupational therapy schools expect students to be involved in extracurricular activities.  Observing practicing occupational therapists is perhaps the most important activity for you to become involved in.  Many schools have a minimum time requirement for observation that you must document in your application.  Other activities should include things you are interested in and that help you become a well rounded person.