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WSU Health Professions Student Center Pre-Occupational Therapy

Pre-Occupational Therapy practitioners


Pre-Occupational Therapy specialist:

Tristin Herup-Wheeler

Occupational Therapy

According to The American Occupational Therapy Association,

“Occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations).”

Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.”

A two-year Master’s in Occupational Therapy (MOT) is required for practice. OTs must graduate from an accredited MOT program and pass the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) to be licensed in all 50 states. In 2013, US News ranked occupational therapist as the 11th best job in the country.

The Health Professions Student Center will help you gain OT observation hours, fit prerequisite courses into your curriculum, and prepare to apply to the MOT programs in which you are interested. There are three OT programs in Washington State.

+ Occupational Therapy Master’s Program Requirements

Admission to occupational therapy programs is competitive. Both a strong academic background and grades are important. Other factors include:

  • 40 to 200+ observation hours in at least two OT settings
  • A one-page personal statement that demonstrates your knowledge of and goals in the occupational therapy field. In addition, one or more essays for supplemental applications addressing your preparation for the field and personal attributes that will make you an outstanding OT.
  • Strong letters of recommendation (three to five)
  • Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores

Students typically apply to graduate OT programs the summer after their junior year.

Prerequisite courses vary widely among OT programs, but usually include a semester each of general biology and general chemistry, anatomy and physiology, statistics, introductory, developmental and abnormal psychology, and additional social sciences courses. Some schools require English composition, a three-dimensional art or craft, or other specific courses.

While you can major in any subject, popular majors for future OTs at WSU include kinesiology, psychology, human development, and biology. Your major requirements will determine which prerequisite courses need to be added to your four-year plan.

Centrallized Application Service for Occupational Therapy (OTCAS)

All OT programs use the online OTCAS portal. Students can apply to multiple OT programs using a single Web-based application and one set of materials.

Additional coursework for OT preparation Some OT programs require courses such as English composition, expository writing, public speaking, medical terminology, biomechanics or other kinesiology courses, evidence of a 3-dimensional skill or craft, introductory physics, or a neuroscience lab course.

Learn more about various program prerequisites from the American Occupational Therapy Association.

+Prerequisite Courses for OT

+ Helpful Links

U.S. Dept. of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook

The profiles featured here cover hundreds of occupations and describe what they do, work environment, how to become one, pay, and more. Each profile also includes BLS employment projections for the 2010–20 decade.

American Occupational Therapy Association

The professional organization for more than 40,000 occupational therapy practitioners, educators, researchers, and students. The AOTA also has an excellent set of fact sheets on the roles that OTs can play in helping people live life to its fullest.

Washington State Occupational Therapy Association

Look here for more details on in-state OT programs, scholarships, and volunteering and job shadowing opportunities.

University of Washington OT Volunteer Sites

A list of several sites where a prospective applicant to an OT program can find volunteering and job shadowing opportunities in the Pudget Sound area.

Accredited OT Master’s-level programs

A list prepared by AOTO of institutions that offer entry-level master’s programs that are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE).

Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service

A centralized, web-based application service provided by AOTA to help simplify the application process for prospective OT students.