Occupational Therapy

Occupational Therapy is a healthcare profession that focuses on helping individuals develop, regain, or maintain the skills necessary for daily living and meaningful participation in activities. Occupational therapists (OTs) work with people of all ages who may have physical, cognitive, emotional, or developmental challenges that affect their ability to engage in activities or occupations.

The goal of occupational therapy is to enable individuals to participate in meaningful activities that promote health, well-being, and independence. OTs use a holistic approach, considering the physical, emotional, social, and environmental factors that influence a person's engagement in activities. They work collaboratively with clients, their families, and other healthcare professionals to create individualized treatment plans.

Here are some key aspects of the occupational therapy career:

  • Evaluation and assessment: Occupational therapists assess individuals' abilities and limitations through various methods, including interviews, observations, and standardized assessments. They identify the areas of difficulty and determine appropriate interventions.

  • Treatment planning and intervention: Based on the assessment, occupational therapists develop treatment plans tailored to the individual's goals and needs. They use various therapeutic techniques and interventions to help clients improve their functional skills, adapt to challenges, and achieve their desired outcomes.

  • Activities and interventions: Occupational therapy interventions may include activities such as therapeutic exercises, sensory integration techniques, adaptive equipment training, cognitive retraining, and mental health interventions. These activities aim to enhance clients' physical, cognitive, emotional, and social functioning.

  • Client-centered approach: Occupational therapy emphasizes the client's goals and priorities. OTs collaborate with individuals to set meaningful goals and work towards achieving them. They also consider the client's values, interests, and personal circumstances throughout the intervention process.

  • Work across settings: Occupational therapists work in various healthcare and community settings, including hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, mental health facilities, home care, and private practice. They adapt their practice to meet the needs of different populations and address a wide range of conditions and challenges.

  • Collaboration and education: OTs work closely with other healthcare professionals, such as physicians, nurses, speech therapists, physical therapists, and social workers, to provide comprehensive care. They also educate clients, families, and caregivers about strategies and techniques to support participation in daily activities.

  • Advocacy and support: Occupational therapists advocate for their clients' rights, access to services, and environmental adaptations. They may provide guidance and support in navigating community resources and assistive devices to enhance clients' independence and quality of life.

    Occupational therapists make a significant impact in improving people's quality of life by promoting participation, well-being, and overall functional abilities.

Academic Preparation

Academic requirements can vary by program and whether you are pursing a MOT (master of science in occupational therapy) or a OTD (doctorate of occupational therapy). Some programs are even phasing out of their MOT programs for new students.
Article: MOT vs. OTD: Which Degree Should You Pursue?

For a list of accredited OT programs, please use this directory.
A list of CA programs can be found here

Sample coursework can include:

Human Anatomy Lecture/Lab BIOL 113/114 3/1
Human Physiology Lecture/Lab BIOL 115/116 3/1
General Psychology PSYCH 101 3
Statistics MATH 101 4
Intro Sociology or Cultural Anthropology SOC 150; N/A 4
Medical Terminology N/A  
Lifespan/Developmental Psychology N/A  

It is important to look at the schools you are interested in for their specific requirements. Here are links to requirements for OT programs highly desired by USF applicants: 


It is essential to get experience and exposure with OT's and within an OT setting. The USC Chan Occupational Therapy program provides a list of potential opportunities throughout the country. It is also common to reach out to local OT centers and programs.

Application Components

Most programs use OTCAS, a centralized common application service. The application opens each July and individual program deadlines can vary. 

  • Personal Statement
  • Letters of Evaluation (3) 
  • GRE score (if required)
  • Observation Hours