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Course Prerequisites

(updated 12MAY2023)

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 one course in the following areas. The science prerequisite courses-anatomy, physiology and kinesiology/physics- must be complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the application year. These courses may not be completed in the spring prior to starting in the OT program. Additionally, 8 of the 10 graded prerequisites must be complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the application year. Applicants will update grades in OTCAS via the academic update in December. That means only 2 non-science prerequisites courses can be taken in winter/spring term prior to starting the OT program in the fall. All prerequisite coursework must be completed by the end of winter/spring semester, 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 by Dec. 31 of the application year. 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
  • Medical Terminology

Studio Arts

This must be a hands-on/doing the art or craft course such as painting, pottery, knitting, woodworking, etc. Art history, music, theater, dance, photography or survey classes will NOT count as fulfilling this prerequisite. High school course are not accepted. A grade is not required for this course. This must be a formal course (lifelong learning, college, school district, community education, art store, etc.). The class must be at least 16 hours in length. If taken in the community, students must provide a certificate of completion or a letter from the instructor. An in person studio arts class is ideal, however there are online versions of arts that don't require a lot of equipment like drawing. This should be uploaded into OTCAS in the Program Materials section under Documents, then Catalog Course Descriptions.

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.

    Contact Hours with an Occupational Therapy Professional

    As a part of the application process students will be required to have a minimum of 50 hours contact with an occupational therapist (OTR). It is required that the student observes, works, or volunteers in at least two different settings. The second observation may be as few as 8 hours and counts toward the 50 hour minimum. You will be required to enter this information as part of your application, so keep a log of the facility name, OT name and contact info, dates, and number of hours. Some facilities may require a formal letter prior to allowing you to observe. The minimum observation hours must be complete at the time an application is submitted. An applicant may continue observation above and beyond the minimum after the application has been submitted.

    Students taking OC TH 3000 Introduction to Occupational Therapy (through the U of U) with a B grade or higher will be able to waive 25 of the 50 hours and will only be required to have contact with one setting other than the class. Students completing an Introduction to OT course with a B grade or higher at another institution may waive 15 hours and will similarly only need one additional site. The Introduction to OT course must be completed prior to or in progress at the time of the admission deadline for the observation hours to be waived. When completing the OTCAS application, list this course under Supporting Information, Observation Hours.

    Applicants may complete an online OT shadowing experience. One option is the Online OT Shadowing Experience (OTSE). There are other options as well.  Applicants will list this experience under Observation Hours in OTCAS for 10 hours and this will count for one site. Applicants will need to upload the completed Assignment and Reflection Documentation packet  in OTCAS under Documents, Observation Hours. Please be sure that your responses are recorded and saved on the document prior to uploading it to OTCAS. Applicants will need to complete the remaining hours in person.  

    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.