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Tips for Your Occupational Therapy Application Journey

Nathan Hawkins
Beginning the application process can be daunting... but it doesn't have to be.

Beginning the application process can be daunting. The best overall strategy is to navigate the process one step at a time:

  1. Start early. Begin to research various occupational therapy programs early on in your journey to become an occupational therapist. If you are still working toward your undergraduate degree, begin to review possible schools during your first or second year as an undergrad. Any information you can collect as you make a list of target schools will allow you and your Academic Advisor to ensure you are prepared to apply. Most OT programs begin seating cohorts as early as 12 months in advance, and applicants should be ready to begin the process as they enter their final undergraduate year.
  2. Review admission requirements. Admission requirements vary from program to program. A firm understanding of the nuances between your target schools will ensure a smooth application process.
    1. Prerequisites — Almost all OT programs require some prerequisite courses you will need to take before starting OT coursework. Many required courses are consistent among schools, but there are often minor variations. When you apply, schools will likely want to know the answers to questions like these:   
      1. How many credit hours did you complete?
      2. Was the institution where you earned these credits accredited?
      3. Did you complete the course online?

Contact your target schools if you are unsure if a specific course meets their requirements.

    1. Timing of Admission Requirements — OT programs vary on application timing. Some schools will allow you to submit an application and be admitted with certain requirements still pending. Other schools may reject an application due to incomplete requirements. Understanding these requirements before submitting any information will save you time and money.
    2. GPA and GRE — Review stated grade point average (GPA) guidelines for each school. Some schools have a firm GPA requirement and will not consider applications that fall below the requirement. Other schools may still consider an application based on other merits. GRE (Graduate Record Exam) requirements also vary from school to school. Many schools opt to remove the GRE requirement or require a different assessment. Take time to review the stated cutoff scores.
  1. Learn the OT profession. Most occupational therapy programs require observational or volunteer hours. This time investment aims to help you understand the roles OTs serve and ensure that you are best prepared to enter the profession. The number of hours and the type of setting required will vary.
  2. Prepare to interview. Most OTD and MOT schools require an interview during the admissions process. The interview is your chance to market your value to join the OT program and to evaluate if your target school is the best fit for your needs. Be prepared to talk about your motivation to become an occupational therapist and your readiness to learn at a graduate level. Also be ready to discuss your understanding of an OT’s role in health care based on your research and time spent in observation.
  3. Ask questions. Do not hesitate to contact your target schools. Be sure to clarify any questions you have regarding admission requirements and what makes that program special and your best option to train you for your career.

Learn about Huntington University’s OTD program distinctives, admission requirements, and more at huntington.edu/OTD. HU’s OTD program is located in Indiana and Arizona.

Written by
Nathan Hawkins