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.

Occupational Therapy Pre-Requisites

Occupational Therapy programs expect students to have academic preparation in biological sciences, anatomy & physiology, psychology, other social sciences, and statistics. Other coursework or experiences that could be recommended or required include: physical sciences, medical terminology, 3D skill/craft/art or a portfolio demonstrating creativity and manual dexterity. It is the responsibility of the student to research individual Occupational Therapy programs to determine the exact coursework required for admission, as it can vary by program. Students should also be aware of when pre-requisites are required to be completed by to be considered for admission.

Consult the Occupational Therapy Prerequisite Guide PDF below for more details.

Recommended courses include the following:

Biological Sciences, 3-4 credit hours

MCB 150/MCB 151 or IB 150/IB 151

Human Anatomy & Human Physiology, 6-8 credit hours

MCB 244/MCB 245 and MCB 246/MCB247

Psychology & Human Development, 6-9 credit hours

PSYC 100 Intro to Psychology

PSYC 216 Child Psychology

PSYC 238 Psychopathology & Problems in Living (Abnormal)

PSYC 361 Psychology of Aging

HDFS 105 Intro to Human Development

Social Sciences, 3-6 credit hours

SOC 100, ANTH 101

Statistics, 3 credit hours

STAT 100, PSYC 235, or equivalent

Physical Science: 3-4 credit hours

PHYS 101 and/or CHEM 102/CHEM 103

Medical Terminology, 1-3 credit hours

CLCV 102

3D Skill/Craft/Art, 3 credit hours (some programs may accept a portfolio)

ARTS 201, ARTS 210, ARTS 230, ARTS 231

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.