I recently got accepted for my Masters in Occupational Therapy and I am super excited about it! I wanted to share some tips on how to make the process a little bit easier! Schools will either offer a Masters or Doctorate, as many programs are moving to Doctorates, I will be sharing my Masters applying experience.
Get a Bachelors Degree
Most schools do not care what you have your bachelors in, as long as you have taken the proper prerequisites courses. Some of the most common majors for OT’s are listed here! I majored in Health Science, which was perfect way to set me up for a career in OT. The program is designed with courses to help prepare students who want to go into a career in Clinical Medicine. Here are some of the courses I took that I felt prepared me well:
Health Care Ethics
Evidence Based Healthcare
Needs of the Aging
American Sign Language
Complete the Prerequisites
OT school’s each require their own individualised list of courses that are required for their program. Here is a list of some of the most common:
Anatomy and Physiology I and II
It is best to aim for at least a B or a 3.0 in each of these courses to improve your chances of being accepted. Some schools won’t even look at your application if you do not need their minimum grade, so be sure to check that out!
Start early with these! The more you have the better! Most schools will give you a minimum requirement of hours they would like you to have. My suggestion is to do at least 100 hours, as that is what the average number applicants do. Starting early can be an easy way to accumulate these hours over time. It is also good to do your observation hours in multiple settings. Occupational Therapy is very different depending on the setting you are in. It will also show that you have been exposed to a variety of settings and know more about the different core practice areas of the profession. I ended up doing over 100 hours for my application. I did inpatient rehabilitation and productive aging, outpatient children and youth, health and wellness, mental health and rehabilitation.
Most of OT graduate schools are on a centralised system knowns as the Occupational Therapy Centralised Application Service (OTCAS). This makes it super easy when applying, you only have to submit everything once. The OTCAS has a generalised personal statement that each school requires as well as some schools have additional supplements. The personal statement entails”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. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you to achieve your goals.” While the additional supplements, focus on why you want to go to that specific school and how that would help you achieve your long term goals.
Ask early! Don’t wait till the last minute to ask for recommendations. It is best to give your recommender at least a month to write the recommendation. These can be from a professor. advisor, boss, or anyone who can speak of your professional experience. Some schools also require a letter from an Occupational Therapist. My suggestion would be to arrange a OT observation over the course of a few weeks to help form a relationship with one. I asked my old boss from work, one of my public health professors and an OT I shadowed for a few weeks.
I hope this was helpful for anyone who is interested in applying! Feel free to comment any tips, tricks, or questions! Good luck!