Academic Preparation for Occupational Therapy Schools
An occupational therapist holds a Master’s of Occupational Therapy (MOT) degree or a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. Occupational therapists use occupation and meaningful activities with specific goals to help people of all ages prevent, lessen, or adapt to disabilities and injuries. They help people meet goals to develop, recover, improve, and maintain skills needed for daily living and working. They work in a broad range of settings such as schools, long-term care, home health, rehabilitation, and hospitals. Programs in occupational therapy are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education which is part of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
While occupational therapy programs typically require no specific undergraduate academic major, selecting a major in Human Performance & Wellness Management, Kinesiology, or Health Sciences can be an efficient pathway. Other disciplines may offer a variety of interesting courses appropriate for students interested in occupational therapy school. However, if you choose a different major, you must still complete the requirements for occupational therapy school, and these may be in addition to the requirements needed to satisfy your degree plan for your selected major.
Prerequisites for admission vary by program but the classes listed below are common course prerequisites for MOT and OTD programs in Texas. (SHSU course codes included.)
- 8 hours Human Anatomy & Physiology (BIOL 2403 and BIOL 2404)
- 3 hours of Statistics (MATH 1342 or MATH 1370 or MATH 3379)
- 3 hours of Introductory Psychology (PSYC 1301)
- 3 hours of Developmental Psychology/Lifespan Human Development (PSYC 3374)
- 3 hours of Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 3331)
- 3 hours of Medical Terminology (HLTH 2372)
- 3-4 hours of Physics (PHYS 1301 & 1101)
- 3 hours of Biomechanics (KINE 4362)
- 3 hours of Sociology
- 3 hours of Technical Writing (ENGL 3330)
- Other recommended/required prerequisites may include (check with individual programs): Ethics (PHIL 2306)
Out-of-state MOT and OTD programs may require different perquisites. You can apply to MOT and OTD programs through the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) website. (If English is not your first language, a TOEFL exam may also be required.) This application opens in the summertime, and early application is recommended since admissions is very competitive and few seats are available in these programs. The application will require additional components, including letters of recommendation, personal statement, and a list of related activities—such as shadowing hours and volunteer work. Some programs will also require GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores.
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.