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Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapy helps people of all ages do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities. Occupational therapy has a holistic perspective, and considers the patient as an integral part of the therapy team. Occupational therapists can help people recover from injury and regain skills, help individuals with disabilities, and provide support for individuals experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

What does an Occupational Therapist do?

  • Helps patients overcome obstacles when they are experiencing difficulties in attempting to do everyday activities
  • Determines physical and mental abilities to create an informed treatment plan
  • Determines which daily tasks are the most important to a patient
  • Provides treatment and tools to patients to help meet patient goals and increase independence

Idaho State University does have an Occupational Therapy program offered on both the Pocatello and Meridian campuses.

Students looking to be admitted into an occupational therapy program need to complete a bachelor's degree before being admitted to occupational therapy programs. The following courses are common prerequisites for occupational therapy programs, however you should check individual programs for their specific requirements. See a Pre-Health Advisor for assistance with course planning.

Prerequisite Courses:



ISU Course

Human Anatomy and Physiology I & II and Labs

8 credits

BIOL 2227, 2227L, 2228, 2228L or BIOL 3301, 3301L, 3302, 3302L

General Chemistry I and Lab

5 credits

CHEM 1111, 1111L

Introductory Statistics

3 credits

MATH 1153

Cultural Anthropology

3 credits

ANTH 1102 or ANTH 2237 or ANTH 2238

Speech Communication

3 credits

COMM 1101

English Composition

6 credits

ENGL 1101, 1102

Developmental Psychology

3 credits

PSYC 2225, PSYC 3344

Abnormal Psychology

3 credits

PSYC 3301

Introduction to Sociology

3 credits

SOC 1101

Medical Terminology

3 credits

CPH/HCA 2210 or HO 0106

Additional Recommended Courses



ISU Course


4 credits

PHYS 1111/1113 or PHYS 1100

Professional Writing

3 credits

ENGL 3307

ISU's MOT Program Prerequisites

We recommend keeping a record of all extracurricular activities. Be sure to track contact information for supervisors and occupational therapists you work with or shadow, and write reflections on each activity. The Pre-Health Extracurricular Tracker can help with this and is found under the resources tab.

Shadowing and Volunteering

Shadowing occupational therapists and volunteering in the field helps you understand what the profession is actually like. The more experience and shadowing you can get, the more attractive of an applicant you become. Programs may have a minimum time requirement. For more information, see the Shadowing Guide.

Healthcare Experience

Any experience where you have direct patient interaction will make you a more attractive and prepared applicant.


Leadership in any setting will make you stand out from other applicants by showing you are actively preparing for your future in your career and community as well as showing that you are a strong member of a team.


More important for some programs than others. Consult with your pre-health advisor and research specific programs.

Core Competencies:

  • Knowledge
  • Professional Reasoning
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Performance Skills
  • Ethical Practice

AOTA Continuing Competence

A personal statement is a written description of your achievements, interests, and motivations as part of an application to a graduate program. Personal statements should answer the questions “Why did I choose occupational therapy?” and ”What motivates me?” You should begin writing your personal statement three to six months before your application process. For more information see the Personal Statement Guide.

Letters of recommendation are an essential part of your application. Most programs will require letters of recommendation, check with the individual programs for letter requirements. Some recommended letters come from a science professor, an occupational therapist who directly observed you, and a personal reference. You should avoid asking family members, clergy/bishops, and lab instructors for a letter of recommendation. Your letters will be submitted to OTCAS and then distributed to the schools you applied to. Schools will request your letters after receiving your primary application, so don’t delay submitting your primary application while waiting on your letters. For more information, see the Letters of Recommendation Guide. Consult your pre-health advisor if you have any further questions.

Before applying, ensure that you are researching schools and making sure they fit your needs and wants.

Applying to an occupational therapy program can be reduced down to these essential steps:

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)

The GRE or the MAT, depending on the program, is the test required for admission into an occupational therapy program. Register for the test you need to take once all the necessary coursework has been completed. Check with programs to determine what is a competitive score.

Primary Application

Primary applications are submitted through a central application service: OTCAS. The same primary application will be sent to all schools you apply to. OTCAS is open in mid July, and deadlines range from Fall to early Spring. Many schools opt for rolling admissions, so it is a good idea to submit early, however don’t rush and make a mistake! Take your time, and submit as early as you can. Most students take a few weeks to complete an application. Your application will include your GRE score, transcripts, extracurriculars, personal statement, and letters of recommendation.

Secondary Applications

In addition to your original applications, schools can request additional materials to be sent directly to them. If this is the case, they may wait until they receive all requested materials before looking at your application. Make sure to submit these materials as soon as possible. Additional materials will vary but can include a graduate school application or additional essays, etc. Additional fees should also be sent in at this time. Some schools screen applicants before requesting materials, and some request materials from everyone. This is a good time to prioritize applications. You are not obligated to send in additional materials.


Programs may invite you to interview with them. This often indicates you are an applicant of interest, and they want to get to know you better. Most occupational therapy programs hold interview days, where they bring in a group of applicants for the whole day to participate in a variety of activities related to the program and your application. For more information, see the Interview Guide.

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