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Occupational therapy is a science-driven, evidence-based profession that helps people of all ages to recover from injury, disability or illness and participate in activities of daily living. For example, they might help young children with disabilities participate fully in school or support older adults coping with physical or cognitive decline.

Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • Customized treatment programs to improve the ability to perform daily activities
  • Comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations
  • Performance skills assessments, treatment and evaluation
  • Adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training
  • Task and activity modification training
  • Guidance for family members and caregivers

Students interested in the pre-occupational therapy advising track must obtain a bachelor’s degree and complete the necessary prerequisites for the occupational therapy doctoral program. Students interested in occupational therapy should consult with a pre-health academic adviser to learn about requirements that are specific to the program and/or school to which they hope to apply.

Course Recommendations for Occupational Therapy

Not all the courses listed below may be required by all schools, and some schools may require other courses not included in this sample.  To find out about other Occupational Therapy programs and their requirements please visit, the AOTA site.

  • PSYCH 101: Introduction to Psychology
  • ANTH 103: Introduction to Anthropology
  • SOCY 101: Introduction to Sociology
  • Select one of the following:
    • BIOL/Z 101
    • BIOL/Z 151
    • BIOL/Z 152
  • BIOL 205: Human Anatomy
  • PHIS/Z 206: Human Physiology
  • PSYC 304: Life Span Development
  • PSYC 407: Psychology of the Abnormal
  • STAT 212: Concepts of Statistics


How to apply to an Occupational Therapy Program?

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

An OTCAS application including these items:

  • A personal statement that addresses: Why you are selecting OT as a career.
  • How an entry level doctoral degree in OT relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals.
  • How your personal and professional background will help you achieve your goals
  • A Value-Added Essay (on the OTCAS VCU Homepage)Evidence of the minimum of 30 observation hours under the supervision of a licensed OTR or COTA. OTCAS data fields request specific information about the supervising OTR or COTA, including facility name and address, supervisor name, address, telephone number, email, OT license number and state of license. This information will be required when completing the OTCAS application.
  • Three letters of recommendation.  Other appropriate references are former college or university professors, academic advisors, employers and other healthcare providers.


Important Qualities of an Occupational Therapist
  • A creative and adaptable approach to work
  • The ability to design and develop individual treatment programmes
  • A sense of humor
  • Good written and spoken communication skills
  • The ability to form good working relationships with a wide variety of people
  • Patience, determination and a positive attitude
  • The ability to motivate clients who are disappointed or frustrated
  • The ability to understand and accept other people’s priorities and lifestyles
  • A practical approach to problem-solving
  • A high level of mental and physical stamina
  • A strong desire to help people