Occupational Therapy Requirements

Most occupational therapist education programs require applicants to earn a bachelor's degree prior to admission into a professional occupational therapy program.

  • Certain coursework
  • Good GPA
  • Test scores (GRE)
  • Experience
  • Recommendations

A competitive applicant for OT programs will have taken the recommended coursework (see below), have a GPA of 3.3-3.5, taken the GRE, have good references, and have some OT experience (~40 hours of shadowing, observation, volunteer etc . . .).

There is some variation in the pre-requisite coursework needed at the undergraduate level. Below is a listing of the undergraduate coursework required by most programs as well as some additional coursework that may be required by some programs.

Minimum Pre-Requisites:
  • Biol 130 – Cells to Organisms
  • Biol 150 – Organisms to Ecosystems
  • Biol 300 - Human anatomy
  • Biol directed study - Human physiology
  • Psyc 100 – Principles of Psychology
  • Psyc 250 - Psychopathology
  • Psyc 260 or 265 – Development Psychology
Additional courses for some programs:
  • Another one or two social science courses, for example Anth 110 – Cultural Anthropology

Usually a biology or psychology major works well for preparing for occupational therapy school.


Lawrence has a cooperative degree program with Washington University at St. Louis, in which a student will receive a BA from Lawrence and a MS in Occupational Therapy from WUStL.  This program involves only three years at Lawrence, followed by 2.5 years at WUStL, so saves one year of total schooling.  For more details, see the LU cooperative degree programs page.


The length of professional occupational therapy programs is typically 2.5 years and the average cost per year for programs in 2017-18 range between $20,000-$70,000


To practice as a occupational therapist in the US, you must earn a OT degree from an accredited occupational therapist education program, pass the NBCOT exam, and apply for licensure by the state you wish to practice in.


Washington University