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Course Prerequisites

(updated 13MAR2024)

Prerequisite course work or approved equivalent coursework MUST be taken for a grade. CLEP, AP and high school courses may not be used to fulfill a prerequisite course. Any coursework with a grade of C- or below will not be considered toward fulfillment of the occupational therapy prerequisites. If a course is repeated, only the highest grade achieved in the course will be used in calculating the prerequisite GPA. Applicants must have a prerequisite cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale with at least a 3.0 in the science prerequisite courses (anatomy, physiology & physics/kinesiology) and a 3.0 in the non-science prerequisites (all other courses). The average science prerequisite GPA is 3.5 and the average non-science prerequisite GPA is 3.8. In addition to a minimum 3.0 prerequisite GPA, applicants must have a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA of all of their university coursework. You can use this website to calculate your GPA.

Applicants must complete the prerequisites listed below. The science prerequisite courses-anatomy, physiology and kinesiology/physics- must be complete and graded prior to submitting your OTCAS application. Additionally, 6 of the 8 prerequisites must be complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the application year. That means only 2 non-science prerequisites courses can be taken in winter/spring term prior to starting the OT program in the fall. Applicants will update grades in OTCAS via the academic update in December. All prerequisite coursework must be completed no later than May 15, prior to starting the program in the fall. OT prerequisite courses may not be taken the summer immediately preceding the start of the OT program.

Science Prerequisite Courses

These courses must be complete and graded prior to submitting your OTCAS application. Applicants must have a science prerequisite GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale.

  • Human Anatomy with lab Must be taken within the past 5 years. Online labs are accepted, however, students should understand that this could be a disadvantage since we have a full cadaver dissection as part of OC TH 6050-Body as a Component of Occupation. 
  • Human Physiology
  • Kinesiology or Biomechanics or General/College Physics Please ensure that your kinesiology course description is similar to the approved courses from the U of U- KINES 3092 or KINES 3093 

Non-Science Prerequisite Courses

Only 2 of these courses may be completed in the winter/spring prior to starting in the OT program. Applicants must have a non-science prerequisite GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 point scale.

  • Human Development through Lifespan or Developmental Psychology through the Lifespan One course or a course series, must cover entire lifespan, birth to death. 
  • Abnormal Psychology or Adult Clinical Psychology or Psychopathology
  • Sociology or Cultural Anthropology or Health Ed or Special Ed or Gerontology (2 courses)
  • Statistics

Starting with the 2024 application cycle, medical terminology is no longer required.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate English language proficiency, strong word processing ability, and functional Internet use.

University of Utah students should run a degree audit report for pre-Occupational Therapy Studies to track the progress of OT prerequisites.

Suggested Classes for The U and Other Regional Universities

Suggested classes for the University of Utah and other selected universities in the region, including:

For institutions outside of Utah, please contact our Academic Advisor, Kelly Brown.

Required Tests

  • GRE - Not required
  • English Proficiency if English is not the first language
    • TOEFL-Students must achieve a score of at least 90-91 (Internet based). You may contact the University of Utah Testing Center.
    • IELTS-Students must achieve a score of at least 7.0.
    • Applicants who have received a US Degree and have not left the country for more than two years since receiving the degree may use the degree as proof of English proficiency.

Experience or familiarity with occupational therapy

Experience or familiarity with occupational therapy through observation of occupational therapy practitioners (at least 40 documented hours in at least two settings). Some facilities may require a formal letter prior to allowing you to observe. The 2nd setting may be completed by one item from either list below with 30 hours of OT observation. 

In the instance you are unable to shadow at this time, familiarity with OT can also be demonstrated through submitting documentation of the following: chose one experience from list #1 AND one experience from list #2. Upload your record of completion and/or reflection paper to the documents section on OTCAS.

List #1 (Choose 1)

Must have proof of completion

  1. Successful completion of the online shadowing experience.
  2. A grade of B or higher in an Introduction to OT course offered through a college or university. For those in Salt Lake, the U of U offers OC TH 3000 and SLCC offers OTA 1020.  The course must be complete at the time of application submission.

List #2 (Choose 1)

Must include a reflection paper (no longer than 2 pages ) describing the experience and how it shaped your understanding of the profession.

  1. Caretaker Experience: Describe a time when you were a caretaker and how that shaped your understanding of occupational therapy.
  2. Occupation Prerequisite: Take a course (6 week minimum) in which you learn a novel challenging skill (knitting, karate, etc.).
  3. OT Interview: Interview an occupational therapist.
  4. Attend a professional OT association event: Options include the American Occupational Therapy AssociationUtah Occupational Therapy Association or other state association event, or the Coalition of Occupational Therapy Advocates for Diversity host a number of events or webinars (some free or reduced for students). Attend one event.

Fieldwork Prerequisites

Failure to pass requirements imposed by fieldwork sites and the National Board for Certification of Occupational Therapists (NBCOT) may negatively effect student eligibility for fieldwork placements and to sit for the national certification exam. Requirements include but are not limited to the following: criminal background checks, drug screening, and health/immunization requirements.

Students who claim an exemption to immunizations must know that:

  • there are a limited number of sites who will allow unvaccinated individuals to participate in any activities;
  • they may not get their desired sites;
  • they will not go to any medical facility; and,
  • they may have to delay their graduation, in order to ensure that they get the variety of sites required to meet accreditation requirements.

Prerequisite Waiver

If an applicant believes the requirements have been met for a prerequisite course but may not have taken the specific course listed may request a waiver or course substitution. The prerequisite waiver form must be submitted with a letter and appropriate documentation substantiating the request. Waivers must be submitted by October 1 prior to the application deadline for the waiver to be considered for the current application year.

Character Review

A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or in attaining state licensure. For more detailed information, please visit NBCOT's Character Review.