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Prep Materials & Application Process


1. Research Occupational Therapy Schools.
Candidates should research the academic rigor of a program, the clinical experience offered, and the availability of faculty and support services. Of course, the cost of the program, availability of financial aid, and the location and environment of the college can be contributing factors in deciding which program is best suited to the candidate. Deciding on a program that best fits the applicant’s needs is a very personal process. All schools produce graduates who are competent and capable of providing quality occupational therapy care. The applicant must decide what values are personally important and then use those as a basis for evaluating the various programs.

Some factors to consider:

  • What is the focus of the school’s training and does it match the applicant’s interests and needs? Clinical opportunities? Research opportunities? Specialty training? Options for a combined degree? Qualifications of teaching faculty? Qualifications of clinical faculty?
  • What is the structure of the curriculum in terms of what is taught and when? How early does the student see patients? Opportunity for electives? Externships? Community service? Part-time work?
  • What academic resources are available to students? Faculty availability? Numbers and diversity of patients? Community settings? Hospital settings?
  • What services are available to students? Tutoring? Peer advising? Student government? Stress counseling? Housing? Medical care? Parking? Extracurricular activities?
  • Where is the school located? Is a rural or urban setting more desirable? Cultural or sports availability?

2. Attend the Summer Institute for Future Scientists in OT
The American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTA/AOTF) offer a 1-day program that will match potential student scientists with doctoral and post-doctorate mentors. Program participants will meet with leading occupational therapy scientists to address topics such as possibilities within OT science, considerations when evaluating potential doctoral programs, and career opportunities as a scientist.  Participants will also attend the annual Occupational Therapy Summit of Scholars. 

3. Review the OTCAS website.
OTCAS is the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service. Through this service, applicants may file one application and send it to multiple schools. All schools and colleges participate in OTCAS.

4. Make a list of your activities.
Activities may include:  employment, internships, volunteer, etc., outside of class, in addition to: hours, dates, locations, contacts; and your role and what you learned

5. Identify possible faculty for letters of recommendation.


1. Study for the GRE.
Go to the Graduate Records Exam (GRE) website for more information on sample exams and an online GRE tutorial.

2. Write a personal statement.
For tips or assistance on writing your application essay, or to have your personal statement critiqued, please make an appointment with a career counselor in the Career Center.

3. Request letters of recommendation.
Schools vary in their letter of recommendation requirements. Please check with individual schools. Most will generally require 3 letters of recommendation from professors, therapists, and/or other professionals familiar with your capabilities and achievements. Recommendations should be submitted electronically through OTCAS.


1. Complete OTCAS, the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service.

The centralized application includes:

  • Biographical Information
  • Colleges and universities attended
  • Academic course history
  • Personal Statement
  • Work & Volunteer Experiences
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Honors
  • Letters of Recommendation

2. Complete school-specific secondaries or supplemental application.
Some occupational therapy schools may require a secondary or supplemental application that is unique to each school. It is your responsibility to check the requirements for each school to make sure all requirements have been fulfilled.

3. Interview Preparation.
Applicant finalists will be asked to participate in interviews. For help preparing for interviews, please make an appointment with a career counselor in the Career Center.