Application Guide

The minimum entrance requirement for occupational therapy programs vary depending on the school. Programs that only award a master or doctoral degree require a bachelor degree and specific science and non-science courses for admission. Programs that award a combined bachelor and master degree require specific science and non-science courses for admission. Some of the occupational therapy schools also require that prerequisites completed at institutions other than their own be submitted for approval PRIOR to applying. Applicants may also have to complete the General Record Examination (GRE) as a prerequisite for admission as well.

Most occupational therapy programs also require documented occupational therapy shadowing hours and/or volunteer experience with specific populations for admission. Competitive applicants will also have substantial health related and non-health related experiences.

Applicants seeking admission to an occupational therapy program should contact the programs that interest them for detailed information on specific prerequisites and admission requirements.

Application Information

Centralized Application Service: OTCAS - Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service

Cost: $125 to apply to one OT program. Each additional school is $45.

When to apply: Students will apply in the summer of the year preceding their planned matriculation. OTCAS opens in July.

Resources: OTCAS Application Instructions

Courses and Transcripts: The courses you have taken will need to be self-reported and you will also need to have official transcripts sent to the application service.

Most centralized applications will have a form to print off that will need to be attached to your transcript. You will be asked to enter information, grades and credits for every course that you have enrolled in at any U.S., U.S. Territorial, or Canadian post-secondary institution. Transcripts should be sent from the registrar’s office of all US and/or Canadian Schools attended.

You may order a transcript from the MSU registrar’s office from the registrar’s web site, There is no charge for sending transcripts. If you are taking courses during the spring semester, it is advised you wait until your spring semester grades are posted to your record as professional schools will want to see those grades.

    Entrance Exam

    Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

    Length: 3 hours and 45 minutes

    Sections: Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, and Analytical Writing. Explore individual section information by visiting our GRE page.

    Cost: The registration fee is $205 which includes the exam and scores sent to four schools. Sending scores to additional schools costs $27 each.

    Scores: 260-340 Verbal and Quantitative Composite, and 0-6 Analytical Writing.

    GRE Prep Resources: MSU Pre-Health advisors do not endorse any specific test prep resource, but we encourage you to explore each of the different options to determine which will best fit your needs. 

    Recommendation Letters

    OTCAS allows up to 5 recommendation letters. A minimum of 3 letters are required.

    While you must pay careful attention to the guidelines of each school that requests your letters, we suggest you identify the following people to request letters of evaluation from:

    • Two science faculty who taught you in a class
    • One non-science faculty
    • One individual working in the profession you wish to pursue (example: an osteopathic physician, dentist, physical therapist, pharmacist, etc)
    • One or two additional individuals who know you well from a work, volunteer or research experience


    Personal Statement

    The personal statement is a very limited in length essay that is used as a device to get a better understanding of the applicant.It is a very important element that should be prepared well in advance to the application and should be edited thoroughly by many different people, such as but not limited to, the writing center, friends and family.

    Length: 7,500 character limit for OTCAS participating schools.

    Prompt: Your Personal Essay should address why you selected OT as a career and how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals.

    What to include:

    • Why you selected this field of health care
    • What motivates you to learn more about health care
    • Pertinent information about you not included elsewhere in the application
    • Special hardships or experiences that have influenced your educational pursuits
    • Commentary on significant fluctuations in your academic record not explained in the application.



    This section gives applicants an opportunity to expand on their experiences. All of your work in leadership, clinical experiences, community service, research, publications, awards and honors are detailed in a single section.

    OTCAS requests that applicants enter their experiences among the following categories:

    • Employment: Paid work done outside of the OT field
    • Extracurricular Activities: Sports, clubs, and other activities offered through a college or university
    • Healthcare Experience - Paid and unpaid work in the health or a health-related field where you are not directly responsible for a patient’s care
    • Internships and Clinical Experience
    • Research: Research projects completed outside of the classroom
    • Teaching Experience
    • Volunteer: Volunteer work completed outside of healthcare.
    • Leadership Experience

    Observation Hours

    A separate category in the OTCAS application is listed for Observation Hours. OT schools often request shadowing experience, including a minimum for observation hours. Students are encouraged to check with individual OT schools for shadowing requirements.


    After submitting the primary application, and secondary applications if required, students may receive an offer to interview. Not all OT programs require an interview as part of the application process, but for the ones that do, they have indicated an interest in selecting you. Remember, you are not only preparing to answer their questions, you are preparing to ask your own. While they determine whether you are the right fit for the program, you need to determine if the program is the right fit for you.

    Schools use personal interviews with applicants to assess qualities such as maturity, interpersonal skills, and ability to articulate strengths and weaknesses. Be prepared to discuss why you wish to pursue a career in physician assistant and the experiences that have motivated you.