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Pre-Occupational Therapy

Last updated November 02, 2020

The study of occupational therapy begins with a bachelor’s degree and is completed with a doctoral degree and certification as an occupational therapist (OT). Admission to competitive graduate programs requires volunteer time or an internship with a professional therapist as well as a Graduate Record Examination (GRE) testing. A biology major with supporting courses in statistics, psychology, and in some cases physics is recommended for students pursuing this career. The faculty adviser will assist the student and develop a plan of courses to prepare for application to the graduate program.

Information for Prospective Students Interested in an Occupational Therapy Career

What do Occupational Therapists Do? 

Understanding Your Undergraduate Path:

All occupational therapy programs require a bachelor's degree from an accredited four year college or university. Students at Morningside College who identify as Pre-Occupational Therapy typically major in Biology and then add appropriate prerequisites. Some Pre-Occupational Therapy students have also chosen to pursue a major in Biopsychology. These majors are the most common, but a student can really major in any subject and pursue occupational therapy as long as they complete the appropriate courses required for admission into their schools of interest. Each institution offering an occupational therapy program has its own undergraduate prerequisites, so applicants should contact the school or college of their choice for specific requirements. It is highly recommended that you earn above a 3.0 cumulative GPA and complete a required amount of shadowing/volunteer clinical experience with an Occupational Therapist. Be sure to consult with your Academic Adviser, Faculty Adviser, or an adviser at the school or college of occupational therapy that you plan to attend. 

Prerequisite coursework (can vary depending on the school):
General Biology with Lab
Human Anatomy with Lab
Human Physiology with Lab
Introduction to Sociology
Psychology (Introduction to Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology)

Suggested Four Year Plan for Pre-Occupational Therapy Biology B.A. (11-2-20)

See Suggested Four Year Plans by Major (Biology, Biopsychology)

Admission to OT programs is competitive; to get into your school of choice, focus on the following recommendations during your undergraduate path:

  • Earn a minimum 3.0 GPA
  • Letters of recommendation from occupational therapists, professors, or advisors
  • Satisfactory score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
  • Observation hours (30-40) in various occupational therapy settings prior to application. Exposure to multiple types of occupational therapy practices is desired and a consideration in the decision to offer admission. Some schools require verification of observation hours
  • An interview
  • An essay & personal statement
  • Involvements to help to be competitive in the application process including research, shadowing, and volunteer service hours

The Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) is a service of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). OTCAS allows applicants to use a single application and one set of materials to apply to multiple OT programs. Review the instructions and directory pages before you apply.


Additional Resources:

The American Occupational Therapy Association Inc.

Bureau of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapy 

Watch these videos of people who chose a career in Occupational Therapy