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Preparing for O.T. School Admission

Lynley Corley '11
Lynley Godwin Corley ’11 is an occupational therapist with Southeast Alabama Medical Center. She completed her occupational therapy degree at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

The Huntingdon Occupational Therapy Track provides a sound background in the natural and social sciences required by most O.T. programs. In addition, challenging coursework and internship opportunities give you a competitive advantage for admission to O.T. programs.

Prerequisite courses for O.T. programs are included in the courses required of Huntingdon Exercise Science majors. Psychology is another major that pairs well with professional study in occupational therapy. Letters of recommendation written by faculty who know you well will strengthen your professional school applications. As you prepare, you will be advised by a faculty member in Huntingdon’s Pre-Health Professions Committee.

Steps to Applying for O.T. School

The Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service provides a single web-based application to apply to multiple programs. Be aware that not all programs participate in OTCAS. A list of participating programs is available on the OTCAS website. If you choose a school that does not participate in OTCAS, apply directly to the institution.

What to do:

  • Research O.T. programs to determine the ones that fit your goals (there are programs on both the master’s and doctoral levels).
  • Complete course prerequisites for your designated programs.
  • At the same time, gain observation experience and have your hours verified by an O.T., if required by your programs.
  • Take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at least 6 weeks before your application deadlines.
  • Request references who fit each program’s requirements.
  • Write your personal statement. OTCAS requires that you submit an essay that addresses why you selected O.T. as a career and how an occupational therapy degree relates to your professional goals.
  • Arrange for official transcripts from every college/university attended to be sent to OTCAS or the institution, as required by the programs.
  • Be sure to submit the completed application before the program’s deadline date. Some programs use a rolling admission process.

College Course Prerequisites

Lyndsey Weber Baxley ’11 completed her graduate degree in occupational therapy at the University of Alabama-Birmingham and is an inpatient rehab therapist with Brookwood Medical Center.

Course prerequisites for admission vary significantly across O.T. education programs. To determine what courses are required for admission, visit the program’s website. In this way, you can identify what classes you have taken and what classes you still need to take in order to fulfill the program’s course requirements. The most common prerequisites are:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Developmental (Lifespan) Psychology
  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Behavioral Science Elective
  • English/Writing/Literature
  • College Algebra or above
  • Statistics
  • General Biology with Lab
  • Biological Science Elective with Lab
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology with Labs
  • Physics with Lab


Most programs have minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements. These minimum scores vary by institution.


Likewise, most O.T. programs require applicants to complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Programs may have minimum acceptable scores and test date deadlines. Policies vary by institution.

O.T. Observation Experience

Arbanee Dean ’15 completed the occupational therapy program at Alabama State University.

Many programs require applicants to earn a certain number of volunteer or paid hours working under the supervision of a licensed occupational therapist. In addition, 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.


Many occupational therapy programs require 1–4 letters of reference 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. References should know you well and be able to speak to your maturity, dependability, dedication, compassion, communication skills, leadership, and hands-on experience in the field.


O.T. programs also require applicants to visit the campus for an interview. The interview format varies by institution. For example, applicants may be required to speak with a single faculty member, an occupational therapist, or a panel of interviewers.

If you are invited for an interview, dress in professional business attire. Be prepared to discuss why you have chosen a career in the field and how you perceive the role of O.T. professionals in health care. The more research you have completed and the more experience you have gained, the better you will be able to respond to the questions asked. During the interview, applicants are 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 occupational therapy.

For more information about Huntingdon’s Occupational Therapy Track, contact track adviser Dr. Mike Bamman.

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