Pre-Occupational Therapy

Prerequisite Courses

PrerequisitesMason Courses
Anatomy & Physiology with lab, 2 semestersBIOL 124 and 125 or BIOL 430 and 431
Biology with lab, 1 semester
(Strongly recommended)
BIOL 213/Cell Biology
College Physics with lab, 2 semestersPHYS 243 and 244
PHYS 245 and 246
Medical Terminology, 1 Semester HAP 202 or ATEP 201
(Same course taught through different departments)
English, 2 semesters* ENGH 101 and ENGH 302
*Honors College students fulfill this through the Honors Curriculum
Statistics, 1 semesterBIOL 214/Biostatistics or STAT 250/Statistics
Psychology, 3 semesters PSYC 100/Basic Concepts in Psychology
PSYC 211/Developmental Psychology
PSYC 325/Abnormal Psychology
Sociology, 1 Semester SOCI 101/Introductory Sociology
Cultural Anthropology, 1 Semester ANTH 114
Bioethics, 1 semesterPHIL 309
Anthropology or Sociology courses at the 200+ level
Can vary by school

Admissions requirements vary widely from program to program. Please check the prerequisites for schools to which you hope to apply. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), “Examples of what other students have majored in at the undergraduate level include biology, kinesiology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, liberal arts, and anatomy. It is important that you contact the educational programs to which you are interested in applying and make sure you have taken the necessary prerequisites for admission into their programs.”

A majority of the graduate occupational therapy programs require that applicants have completed volunteer hours observing occupational therapy practice. The number of hours and practice settings required vary and applicants should consult the program’s webpage and/or the AOTA website for the observation requirements for each program. Hours required or suggested by Virginia programs range from 30 to 50. The mentor at the observation site will be required to complete written verification that the applicant has completed the experience.

Recommended additional classes might include:

  • Research Methods
  • Upper Level Anthropology and Sociology courses
  • Rehabilitative Biomechanics (KINE 400 – must be proceeded by KINE 360/Strength Training Concepts and Applications)

Occupational Therapists
The website, Explore Health Careers, describes occupational therapy in the following way, “Occupational therapy (OT) is a science-driven, evidenced-based profession that enables people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health and prevent-or live better with-illness, injury or disability. OT services typically include: customized treatment programs to improve one’s ability to perform daily activities; comprehensive home and job site evaluations with adaptation recommendations; performance skills assessments and treatment; adaptive equipment recommendations and usage training; guidance to family members and caregivers.”


According to information available at the American Occupational Therapy Association website, “An entry-level degree for occupational therapists is the degree required to enter the profession and to be eligible to sit for the Occupational Therapist Registered (OTR) examination administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). Occupational therapy requires that the entry-level degree be a post-baccalaureate degree. Occupational therapist entry-level degrees are either master’s or doctoral degrees. Students who have successfully completed an accredited entry-level degree program may be eligible to sit for the national certification examination as an occupational therapist.”

In 2014, AOTA Board of Directors issued the following position statement on doctoral-level single point of entry for occupational therapists, “in response to the changing demands of higher education, the health care environment, and within occupational therapy, it is the position of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) Board of Directors that the profession should take action to transition toward a doctoral-level single point of entry for occupational therapists, with a target date of 2025. Support of high quality entry-level doctoral education for occupational therapists will benefit the profession, consumers, and society. The Board encourages a profession-wide dialogue on this critical issue.”

Employment Outlook and Earnings

The current Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook for Occupational Therapy is available online.

Applying to Occupational Therapy Schools
Information about accredited, developing and applicant programs and their application processes can be found at The American Occupational Therapy Association.

The Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) is the centralized application service for Occupational Therapy Programs. The opening date for application is in mid-July. Deadlines vary by program. Letters of reference should come directly from the evaluator to OTCAS directly. If required by program, GRE and TOEFL test scores must be entered on the OTCAS application. Any other scores should be sent directly to the program. OTCAS provides an overview of its process online.

Most schools require students to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) which is a standardized test to gauge a student’s ability to do well in a graduate program. The GRE is given year-round at computer-based test centers in the U.S., Canada, and many other countries. Appointments to take the test are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis. For more information about the GRE visit their website.

Occupational therapy programs in Virginia include:

James Madison University

Mary Baldwin University

Jefferson College of Health Sciences

Radford University

Shenandoah University

Virginia Commonwealth University