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Pre-Occupational Therapy

Students who wish to eventually enter a occupational therapy professional program should be aware that a pre-OT program can be carried out at Idaho State University. Most OT programs require a minimum of two academic years of pre-OT work before a student can be considered for admission to the professional phase of the OT program. As a practical matter, competition for admission is so great that pre-OT programs of three or four years are not uncommon. Therefore, the pre-OT student is strongly urged to plan an academic major program to run concurrently with the pre-OT program. No specific major is required of the pre-OT student, although the following majors are the most common ones selected: Biology, Zoology, and Psychology.

What courses should the pre-occupational therapy student take? That is a difficult question to answer in a simple way. The reason is that there are substantial differences between the various OT programs in their pre-OT requirements. It is absolutely essential that each pre-OT student develop a list of OT programs that he/she plans to apply to for admission and to write to them for a list of specific pre-OT requirements. Visiting the web site for each program you are interested in is becoming the method of choice for obtaining up-to-date prerequisites. Competition for admission to these programs is sufficiently great that each student is advised to apply for admission to several OT programs (we would suggest about 2 - 5 programs).

Even though there are substantial differences between programs in terms of pre-OT requirements, it is clear that there are some courses that are required by all or nearly all of them. For example, they all require at least one year of chemistry, a semester each of human anatomy and human physiology, a year of general physics, and several semesters of psychology. The following courses can be used as a guide toward initiating a pre-occupational therapy program at Idaho State University. Remember, however, that you should get precise pre-occupational therapy course requirement information from several occupational therapy programs before progressing too far into your program.

ISU Courses Required for Entry into most Occupational Therapy Programs

CHEM 1111, 1112 General Chemistry 9 credits total
BIOL 1101, 1102 General Biology 8 credits total
BIOL 3301, 3302 Human Anatomy and Physiology 8 credits total
PHYS 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114 General Physics with Lab 8 credits total
PSYCH 1101 General Psychology 3 credits

ISU Courses Required for Entry into many Occupational Therapy Programs

PSYCH 2225 Child Development 3 credits
PSYCH 3301 Abnormal Psychology 3 credits
PSYCH 3341 Social Psychology 3 credits

Statistics course, such as:

*Math 1153 Introduction to Statistics 3 credits
PSYCH 2227 Basic Statistics 3 credits
BIOS 2221, 2221L Introductory Microbiology, lab 4 credits total
CHEM 3301, 3302, 3303, 3304 Organic Chemistry I and II, lab 8 credits total

*Recommended (this is the statistics course required by the ISU occupational therapy program)

As indicated earlier, each individual occupational therapy program will likely have a variety of specific requirements beyond those indicated above. In addition, the following concerns about general education requirements must be considered.

Many occupational therapy professional programs are B.S. level programs. Therefore, any student wishing to enter such a program before receiving a BS degree at the pre-occupational therapy school (such as ISU) must include courses in his/her pre-occupational therapy program which will satisfy general education requirements at the occupational therapy school. Therefore, entering an occupational therapy program prior to receipt of a BS degree from ISU will require that attention be given to the general education requirements of any university or college where one might be applying for entry into an occupational therapy program. On the other hand, if the pre-occupational therapy student chooses to earn a BS degree from ISU before entering an occupational therapy program at some other university, the only general education requirements that must be met are ISU's. Thus, planning to receive a BS degree at ISU before transferring to a school of occupational therapy would greatly simplify the pre-occupational therapy program. Several ISU students in recent years have been accepted into occupational therapy programs after only three years of pre-occupational therapy work (i.e. without a BS degree), so it can be done. It does require very close attention to details of the pre-occupational therapy program, however. As a general rule, we would highly recommend that the pre-occupational therapy student complete a BS degree before entering an occupational therapy program. This is because of the reasons expressed above, and also because a number of occupational therapy programs are now master's level programs (this is true of ISU's new occupational therapy program), so to be maximally competitive at all programs, a BS degree is advised. Note: this means that you would submit your application to the occupational therapy program during the final year of your BS degree program.

In addition to the above concerns about course work leading to acceptance into a occupational therapy program, it is also essential that students get some experience working with, working for, or observing, practicing occupational therapists. Such experience, which should be obtained over a reasonably long time (a year or more), demonstrates the student's interest in and knowledge of the profession. It will also provide the framework within which practicing physical therapists can provide meaningful letters of evaluation for the applicant. Many programs require some minimum number of hours of occupational therapy experience (often 200-300 hours) to be competitive for admission.

ISU Occupational Therapy Program Master of Occupational Therapy Pre-Requisite Requirements

(This program accepted its first class which began in the fall of 1998)

To be completed during baccalaureate training (the specific courses shown are those offered at ISU):

  1. Introductory biology with laboratory; BIOL 1101, 1102
  2. Anatomy and Physiology with laboratory, one year (two semesters); BIOS 3301, 3301L, 3302, 3302L
  3. Social Behavioral Science, 12 credits; includes sociology, abnormal psychology, cultural anthropology, human development
  4. General Chemistry with laboratory, two semesters (minimum 8 credits), CHEM 1111, 1112 (9 cr)
  5. General Physics with laboratory, minimum of one semester ; one year (two semesters) highly recommended; PHYS 1111, 1112, 1113, 1114 (8 cr total)
  6. Statistics, 3 credits; Math 1153
  7. English/Communication, 3 cr minimum: English Composition (ENGL 1101), Speech (SPCH 1101) and Technical Writing (ENGL 3307; recommended)
  8. Bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.

Knowledge of and exposure to the occupational therapy profession

Must have paid or volunteer experience in at least two different occupational therapy facilities under the supervision of an occupational therapist. This experience must be completed prior to the application deadline and within the last five years.

Each applicant must have a minimum of 80 hours of formally documented volunteer hours. A minimum of 40 hours must be in an inpatient acute care or rehabilitation hospital. There must also be a minimum of 40 hours in a community mental health setting, developmental center, hospice, or school system. Experience documentation forms are included with each application.

Specific questions concerning the occupational therapy program at ISU should be addressed to the Department of Physical and Occupational Therapy, ISU, Box 8002, Pocatello, ID 83209. Phone Number is 208-282-4095. You may also contact the "American Occupational Therapy Association" on their homepage at for additional information regarding Occupational Therapy, and occupational therapy educational programs. A full listing of OT programs in the U.S. may be accessed at this website.


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Pocatello, Idaho, 83209
(208) 282-4636

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