General Overview

Occupational therapists (OT) help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations). Common occupational therapy interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.


Occupational therapy services typically include:

  • An individualized evaluation, during which the client/family and occupational therapist determine the person's goals
  • Customized intervention to improve the person's ability to perform daily activities and reach the goals
  • An outcomes evaluation to ensure the goals are being met and/or make changes to the intervention plan

Areas of practice in occupational therapy include:

  • Children and Youth
  • Health and Wellness
  • Mental Health
  • Productive Aging
  • Rehabilitation, Disability, and Participation
  • Work and Industry

(The American Occupational Therapy Association, 2016)

Choosing a Major

OT Programs do not generally require a specific major. Some majors include many of the prerequisites commonly associated with occupational therapy programs; this will allow the student to reduce the number of additional courses that required to meet both the major requirements and the prerequisites of many OT programs.

The admissions requirement information presented here should be used only as a guide when planning your pre-OT curriculum. It is important that you do not interpret these guidelines as definitive statements regarding admission requirements or policies of individual OT programs. We strongly recommended that students contact each occupational therapy program they plan to apply to in order to understand specific course prerequisite and admissions criteria.

Declaration and Progression Standards

As a Pre-OT student, you will be subject to performance standard reviews twice a year once you have completed ≥ 9 credit hours in the designated Pre-OT prerequisite courses (listed below). You must achieve and maintain a Pre-OT Prerequisite GPA of ≥ 2.80 to maintain your Pre-Occupational Therapy declaration. Since occupational therapy programs usually consider all course attempts during the admissions process, the GPA calculations for the Pre-OT Program include all course attempts. If your academic performance standards fall below a 2.80 Pre-OT Prerequisite GPA, you are at very high risk for not being admitted to an occupational therapy program. Therefore, if you are unable to attain or maintain this GPA standard you will be administratively dropped from the pre-OT minor.

Pre-Occupational Therapy Coursework

To review required coursework fro the Pre-Occupational Therapy Minor, follow this link to the JMU Undergraduate Course Catalog.

Admissions Criteria and Academic Record

All accredited occupational therapy programs are at the post-baccalaureate (master’s or doctoral) degree level. Currently, there are 157 colleges and universities that offer accredited master’s-level programs in occupational therapy and 6 accredited doctoral-level programs. Further information on OT educational programs can be found at the American Occupational Therapy Association

Academic performance is a critical factor in the OT programs admissions process. Many programs have a minimum Grade Point Average (GPA) requirement and review the overall GPA and the GPA from selected prerequisite courses. They may also examine the applicant’s transcript for evidence of academic consistency, course load and improvement in grade performance over time.

Preparation Timeline

Most OT programs admit one group of students per year and the starting dates vary. Some programs require that all prerequisites be completed at the time of application while others are satisfied when all prerequisites are completed by the time of enrollment.

The application deadline for the JMU Occupational Therapy Program is December 1st. Applications submitted by the due date are reviewed first and given earliest consideration for entry into the program, after the deadline applicant consideration will depend on enrollment numbers.


Some OT programs require 40 to 100 hours of volunteer experience with occupational therapy professionals. It is important for Pre-OT students to track your own shadowing, volunteer, and/or clinical experience hours. OT programs will vary in how they request you to report his information. 

Letters of Recommendation or Evaluation

All occupational therapy programs require submission of letters of evaluation (LOE) as part of the application. Students should establish relationships with faculty within the university as well as with employers in OT work place settings. Letters of evaluation from a professor or health care professional are typically preferred over personal references.

OT Schools and the GRE®

Some OT Programs require candidates to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), though this is not standard practice. PPH advises students to research individual program admission requiremetns to determine if the GRE is necessary for application to your schools of interest.

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE®)

The GRE General Test features question types that closely reflect the kind of thinking you'll do in your professional health program:

  • Verbal Reasoning - Measures your ability to analyze and evaluate written material and synthesize information obtained form it, analyze relationships among component parts of sentences and recognize relationships among words and concepts.
  • Quantitative Reasoning - Measures problem-solving ability using basic concepts of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and data analysis.
  • Analytical Writing - Measures critical thinking and analytical writing skills, specifically your ability to articulate and support complex ideas clearly and effectively.

Learn more about the content and structure of the GRE® General Test from Educational Testing Services (ETS). Also you can find information about GRE® registration, test centers and dates through the ETS GRE® website.

Test Preparation Services

There are many types of test preparation resources that vary in cost and approach. PPH Advising deos not endorse any of the providers below, but are happy to speak with you about how you might identify the style of preparation that best fits your needs.


Cost Level

Educational Testing Service (ETS)

Free - Low

Khan Academy




McGraw-Hill Education


Clayborne Education

Low - High

Princeton Review

Low - High

Manhattan Prep

Mid - High

NextStep Test Prep

Free - High

Kaplan Test Prep

Free - High

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