Pre-Occupational Therapy

Academic Preparation for Occupational Therapy Schools

Academic Preparation for Occupational Therapy Schools

Pre-Occupational Therapy education provides students with a sound background in the natural and social sciences necessary for admission to an occupational therapy program. Sam Houston State University does not have a formal Pre-Occupational Therapy major. It is a career goal that includes a set of course requirements that prepare you to succeed as an occupational therapist. You should choose a major you enjoy, and one in which you will excel. However, most students interested in pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy generally major in Kinesiology /Applied Exercise Science or Clinical Exercise Science, Public Health, Health Science or  Biology to fulfill the required prerequisites for admission to an Occupational Therapy program. This allows students to obtain knowledge and skills in an area that will allow them to obtain a job related to their major, if, for whatever reason, graduate school attendance needs to be deferred.

Occupational therapists assist people with disabilities or injuries to increase independence in their daily activities (occupations).  They seek to promote health and prevent injury.  They work in a broad range of settings such as schools, long-term care, home health, rehabilitation, or hospitals. Master's Programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education which is part of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

OT Programs require a bachelor's degree and the following prerequisite coursework:                     

  • 8 hours anatomy & physiology
  • 3 hours physics
  • 9 hours psychology (Introductory, Developmental & Abnormal)
  • 3 hours statistics
  • 3 hours kinesiology (principles & dynamics of movement)
  • 3 hours medical terminology
  • 3 hours technical writing
  • Recommended:
  • 3 hours Physiological Psychology

A master’s degree or higher in OT is the minimum educational requirement. Various programs also require applicants to have volunteered or worked in an occupational therapy setting. Admissions requirements differ from program to program. For both the master's and doctoral-level occupational therapy programs, the professional content will be similar; however, the entry-level doctoral programs will place a greater emphasis on management, theory, research and critical thinking.

Occupational therapy programs are generally two years for the master’s degree, with doctoral programs averaging three years to complete an OTD (doctorate in occupational therapy). Both master’s and doctoral programs require several months of supervised fieldwork. All states require OTs to be licensed. Certification is voluntary, but many choose to become certified. They must pass the national board exam and take continuing education classes to maintain their certification.

Pre-Occupational Therapy students take the GRE (Graduate Record Exam). It is advised that you register for and take the exam during the spring semester of your junior year, or the following summer. You may apply to an OT program through an online system called OTCAS (Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service). If English is not your first language, a TOEFL exam may also be required. Early application is recommended as many programs take only a small number of students.

The American Occupational Therapy Foundation and Texas Occupational Therapy Association are helpful resources for additional information.