Will Huntingdon prepare me for occupational therapy school?
The Huntingdon College Occupational Therapy Track provides students with a sound background in the natural and social sciences necessary for admission to an occupational therapy program. Because of our challenging course work and opportunities for meaningful internships, you will gain a competitive advantage for admission to occupational therapy programs.
Prerequisite courses for occupational therapy programs are incorporated within the coursework required of Exercise Science majors. This program of study allows students to obtain knowledge and skills in an area that is competitive for admission to occupational therapy programs. Letters of recommendation—written by Huntingdon faculty who know you personally throughout your Huntingdon academic career—will strengthen your occupational therapy school applications. Mock interviews, essay writing assistance, and personal advising by faculty in Huntingdon’s Pre-Health Professions Committee are part of the Huntingdon Occupational Therapy Track.
Preparing for the Occupational Therapy Admission Process
The Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service allows OT applicants to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple OT education programs. The purpose is to facilitate the admission process for applicants and programs, promote the occupational therapist profession and educational programs to a broad spectrum of applicants, and provide rich applicant data for institutional, regional, and national analysis.
A list of participating programs and instructions is available on the OTCAS website. Not all professional OT education programs participate in OTCAS. Applicants who wish to apply to a NON-participating OTCAS program must apply directly to the institution using the OT program’s local application.
What to do:
- Research OT programs to determine the ones that meet your educational needs (there are OT programs on both the master’s and doctoral levels).
- Complete course prerequisites for your designated programs.
- Obtain occupational therapy observation experience and have your hours verified by an OT, if required by your designated programs.
- Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at least 6 weeks before your OT application deadlines.
- Request references from appropriate individuals, if required by your designated programs.
- Begin working on your “Personal Statement.” OTCAS requires that you submit an essay that addresses “why you selected OT as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals. The personal essay is an important part of your application for admission and provides you with an opportunity for you to clearly and effectively express your ideas.”
- Arrange for official transcripts from every college/university attended to be sent to OTCAS or the institution, as required by the programs.
- Submit the completed application EARLY and before the program’s deadline date. Some programs use a rolling admission process.
College Course Prerequisites
The course prerequisites for admission vary significantly across OT education programs. Visit the institutional websites to determine what courses are required by each institution. OT programs may require pre-professional (pre-OT/undergraduate) science courses to be completed in a 4-year university/college within the 7–10 years prior to enrollment. Be prepared to identify what classes you have taken (or will take) to fulfill the program’s course requirements. The most commonly required course prerequisites are below:
- Introduction to Psychology
- Developmental (Lifespan) Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Behavioral Science Elective Course
- College Algebra or above
- General Biology with Lab
- Biological Science Elective with Lab
- Human Anatomy & Physiology with Labs
- Physics with Lab
Minimum GPA – Most OT programs have minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements. These minimum scores vary by institution and may be low as compared with the average GPA of applicants offered admission.
GRE – Most OT programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Programs may have minimum acceptable scores and last acceptable test dates. Policies regarding the consideration of multiple sets of GRE scores vary by institution.
Occupational Therapy Observation Experience – Many programs require applicants to have a certain number of volunteer or paid OT experiences working with patients under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. The program may specify the settings and types of experiences required. Applicants may also be required to have a licensed occupational therapist verify the hours. This experience may be an important factor in the admission process.
References – Many occupational therapist programs require 1–4 letters of reference (also known as “letters of evaluation” or “recommendations”) as part of the admission process. You may need to submit references from a particular individual, such as an occupational therapist, science professor, or academic adviser. If references are required, select individuals who meet the program’s requirements, know you well, and can speak to your maturity, dependability, dedication, compassion, communication skills, leadership, and any hands-on experience in the field.
Interviews – OT programs will also require competitive applicants to visit the campus for an interview. The interview format varies by institution. Applicants may be required to speak with a single faculty member, a student, an occupational therapist, or a panel of interviewers, or to participate in an orientation program. If invited, dress in professional business attire. Applicants should be prepared to discuss why they have chosen to pursue a career in occupational therapy and how they perceive the role of occupational therapists in health care. Those who have researched and gained direct exposure to the profession will be prepared to respond to the interview questions. During the interview, applicants may be rated on their oral communication skills, professional behaviors and attitudes, ability to interact in a group, knowledge of the profession, ability to solve problems, and motivation to pursue a career in physical therapy.
For more information about Huntingdon’s Occupational Therapy Track, contact track adviser Dr. Mike Bamman.