The Basics

Preparing to be an occupational therapist does not happen overnight. Most people know that it is important to have strong grades, but just as important is gaining experience to develop the skills, knowledge, and maturity necessary to be an effective healthcare provider. As with others on a healthcare team, an occupational therapist’s decisions and actions affect human life and well-being. Occupational Therapists must pay attention to detail, have high ethical standards, communicate well with patients and other healthcare providers, maintain reliable records, and be knowledgeable about existing and new rehabilitation techniques to ensure each patient has optimal therapy results.

Knowledge of Self and Profession

Throughout the application process, you will need to demonstrate knowledge of yourself (values, goals, motivations, strengths, weaknesses), an understanding of the profession, and a commitment to become an occupational therapist. You must clearly articulate your readiness to enter the profession as a result of first-hand experience in the field. There should be evidence in your application that you are committed to service and helping others. You must demonstrate your ability to work on a team, to lead, and to communicate with people with different backgrounds, values, and perspectives from your own.

Major and GPA

And finally, there is no “best major” for pre-occupational therapy students. You can choose ANY major and be successful in your application to occupational therapy school. Admissions personnel will review your GPA from a variety of perspectives…cumulative GPA, science/math GPA, prerequisite GPA. Choose a major that you will enjoy and allows you to successfully complete the required and recommended courses while also gaining experience outside the classroom. Consider a major that will provide many career options, recognizing that students commonly change majors and career plans multiple times as they learn about themselves and their career options.

Prerequisite Courses

Category Prerequisite Area Minimum Recommendation Course Numbers
Biological Sciences Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lectures and 2 Labs MCB 244/MCB 245, MCB 246/MCB 247
Physical Sciences General Chemistry 1 Lecture CHEM 101 OR CHEM 102 (prerequisite for MCB 244)
Other Sciences Varies by program Additional courses in the sciences (biology, chemistry, physics) are recommended to strengthen applicant's preparation
Mathematics/Statistics Statistics 1 Lecture STAT 100 or PSYC 235 or CHLH 244 (or equivalent)
Social/Behavioral Sciences Psychology 3 Lectures PSYC 100, PSYC 216 (or HDFS 105), PSYC 238
Other Social Behavioral Sciences Varies by program Additional courses in psychology, sociology, anthropology, etc.
Humanities Medical Terminology 1 lecture CLCV 102
Other Humanities Varies by program May include: history, philosophy, literature
Additional Coursework Biology, Chemistry, Physics Varies Additional science courses may be required and/or recommended by schools