Occupational Therapy (OT) is a growing field with increasing demand as the population is more aware of the importance of a non-invasive, non-medicated, holistic approach. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, OT’s help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday occupations. Common OT interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills and providing support for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive change.
NOTE: The University of Tampa has an allied health major with a concentration in occupational therapy sciences, which can equip students to apply to a graduate program in occupational therapy. UT does not have an occupational therapy graduate program.
Preparing for Occupational Therapy School
Earn a bachelor’s degreeOccupational therapy school is a graduate program; to become eligible to apply to OT school students need to earn a bachelor's degree and take specific pre-requisites (classes that OT schools require). At UT, students can earn a bachelor's degree and take pre-requisite courses. Students who are interested in going to OT school typically major in the allied health with a concentration in occupational therapy sciences. This major includes most of the required courses for entrance into OT programs. However, other degrees can also prepare students for health professions; thus students are encouraged to major in the field where they excel and should consult the pre-health professions advisor about course work.
Basic pre-requisite courses required for occupational therapy school:
- Anatomy and Physiology I and II with labs
- Physics/Chemistry/ Kinesiology /Psychology/ Human Growth in Development/Statistics/ Medical Terminology maybe be required depending on school
Build an extensive record of relevant experiences
- Shadow an OT – gain knowledge of the OT field and confirm if this is your passion; this may be required or strongly recommended by OT schools
- Volunteer or paid OT experience – working with patients under the supervision of a licensed OT
Graduate Record Examination General Test (GRE)
- The GRE is required for OT schools. It is about four hours long and cost $205.
- Students who are on the traditional plan of going to OT school directly following graduation from UT should be prepared to take the GRE in the late spring/early summer of your junior year.
- Take the GRE before applying to OT schools.
Occupational Therapy school applications
- Students can start to apply to OT school a full year before they intend to start (summer of junior year through fall of senior year).
- Applications open in July.
- Applicants are encouraged to apply early!
- Take a look now at what is expected of the application: OTCAS application
Occupational therapy school information and beyond
- Students can choose between a master’s degree or doctoral degree
- Both degree levels prepare graduates to be entry-level practitioners
- Most OT’s have master’s degrees
- A traditional master’s in occupational therapy program is about two to three years long and includes classroom instruction and fieldwork.
- There are eight accredited OT schools in Florida that offer master’s degrees.
- After completion, the student earns an MOT, M.A. or M.S. degree
- These are all appropriate degrees, and type will vary based on the institution.
- There are 12 accredited doctoral programs in the U.S. and only one in Florida.
- After completion, the student earns a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree. A doctoral program is two to three years’ long.