The Basics

Applications for occupational therapy open annually at the end of July. The application deadline can be anytime from October-March, depending upon the program. Read the instruction manual for OTCAS and instructions for the programs you will be applying to before beginning the application process. You should consider applying early in the cycle due to application verification and rolling admissions. Programs with rolling admissions will typically provide decisions regarding interviews and/or admissions within a month of completing the application. Some programs offer Early Decision. If you choose Early Decision and are admitted, you are committed to that program. If you are considering Early Decision, you are strongly encouraged to speak with a health professions advisor before choosing Early Decision.

Secondary/supplemental applications or questions may be a part of the application process for programs you are applying to.  This provides you the opportunity to further discuss your interest in a specific program. You may also be required to send additional materials to the programs. It is very important to pay attention to the deadlines, as secondary/supplemental applications often require quick turnaround.

Entrance Exam

Occupational Therapy schools require the GRE.

Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an important part of the application because it distinguishes you from other applicants. Consider the following questions when writing your essay:

  1. Why have you selected the field of occupational therapy?
  2. What motivates you to learn more about occupational therapy?
  3. What do you want occupational therapy schools to know about you that hasn’t been disclosed in other sections of the application?
  4. Reflect on the experiences you have had (student organizations, volunteering, research, clinical healthcare, study abroad). How have these experiences influenced you to become an occupational therapist?

Your personal statement is also an area where you may address the following:

  1. Hardships, challenges or obstacles that have influenced educational choices
  2. Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record if it is not explained elsewhere on the application


You are required to list three evaluator names in OTCAS, and may list a maximum of five. Letters may be sent electronically through a letter writer application/evaluation or through Interfolio letter service. You are responsible for determining the specific type of letters that are required by the programs you are applying to. Letters may be required from:

  1. Science Faculty (2)
  2. Non-Science Faculty (1)
  3. Licensed Occupational Therapist
  4. Faculty Advisor
  5. Employer/Supervisor
  6. Research Mentor
  7. Volunteer Manager


You will need to request transcripts from all institutions you have attended (University of Illinois, community colleges, previous institution, etc.). OTCAS will calculate several GPAs.  Repeated courses are included in the OTCAS GPAs provided to occupational therapy programs. However, it is possible that a program will utilize grade replacement and calculate a new GPA.


Occupational Therapy schools have adopted a variety of interview styles to evaluate applicants. If you are not sure what type of interview the program will be utilizing, you should contact the school for additional information. You are advised to spend time preparing for your interview.  The Career Center conducts mock interviews during the academic year. You can also schedule an appointment to discuss interview preparation.