Becoming an occupational therapist (OT) can be a challenging road that requires perseverance, service, and academic rigor. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, occupational therapists help “people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities…[and] enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability.” Admission to occupational therapy programs can be extremely competitive, and schools review a candidate’s eligibility on multiple factors such as GPA, PT observation hours, GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, and service and volunteer experience. Pre-Occupational Therapy is considered an area of interest, in addition to your chosen major.
Occupational therapy schools accept a variety of majors, as long as a student fulfills all requirements for admission. To prepare for this profession, students must attend a postgraduate program in occupational therapy. Upon completion, students are required to take a national examination to become licensed for practice in a particular state. St. Edward’s University also offers a Bachelor of Arts in Kinesiology with a Pre-Occupational Therapy emphasis.
Grades are important to gaining admission, but you could have a 4.0 and still not get into an OT program. Most OT programs have minimum GPA requirements, but they vary by institution and may be low compared to the average GPA of applicants actually offered admission. You should plan on earning a 3.5+ GPA to be considered.
Prerequisites vary from program to program.
Service & Volunteerism
Occupational therapists and other healthcare professionals are expected to perform community service while in school. The Pre-Health Professions Office can assist you in researching service and volunteer opportunities; following are a few local opportunities.
Capital Area Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center
Austin State School
Hearthstone Nursing & Rehabilitation Center: (512) 388-7494
Wellness Matters Physical Therapy: (512) 275-0282
North Austin Medical Center
OT Connection - Pediatric Therapy Services
Little Tesoros Therapy Services
Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas (DSACT)
AGE Central Texas
Austin Child Guidance Center
Ride On Center for Kids (R.O.C.K)
Austin’s Communication Center
Central Texas Veterans Affairs
The Care Communities
Austin Volunteer Match
What Entrance Exam is Required and When Should I Take It?
The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is the required entrance exam for PT school. It assesses the following:
- Verbal Reasoning
- Quantitative Reasoning
- Analytical Writing
When selecting a test date, make sure your scores will be reported in time for your application deadlines (which vary from program to program). For computer-delivered tests, score reports are sent to your designated score recipients approximately 10–15 days after your test date. Please allow time for delivery of scores and processing by the institution.
You can take the computer-delivered GRE revised General Test once every 21 days, up to five times within any continuous rolling 12-month period. This applies even if you canceled your scores on a previous test. You may take the paper-delivered GRE revised General Test as often as it is offered.
How Do I Apply?
Review the application help center presented by the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) for details.