Pre-Occupational Therapy Plan

The UT Martin Pre-Occupational Therapy (OT) Plan is designed to prepare students for application to an occupational therapy program.  By following the Pre-OT Plan recommendations, students will be eligible for admission into most Masters of Occupational Therapy (MOT) and Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT) programs; however, the undergraduate courses required for admission vary substantially from one institution to the next.  The courses listed below are intended only as a guideline and students are strongly encouraged to review the requirements for their school(s) of choice as they vary from school to school. 


Please note: The Pre-OT Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed below are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


Frequently Asked Questions


What does an occupational therapist (OT) do?
Occupational therapists take a functional deficit and put it in the context of a person’s life with a goal of improving the client’s quality of life.  Occupational therapists work with individuals of all ages suffering from physical, mental, or psychological conditions.  The field of occupational therapy is very broad and occupational therapists can be found in a variety of clinical settings including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, and rehab centers.  Because of the nature of the field, it is difficult to list the typical duties of an occupational therapist.  Depending on the client population and clinical setting, occupational therapists may, for example, help a child learn anger management skills, a stroke victim learn to hold a pencil, or an amputee learn to use adaptive equipment.     


Is there a demand for occupational therapists?
YES! According to the US Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, employment is expected to grow much faster than the average for all occupations through 2026.


What degree to do I need to become an occupational therapist?
The entry-level degree for occupational therapists is a Masters in Occupational Therapy (MOT). There is a growing number of doctorate (OTD) programs, but at this time a doctorate is not necessary to practice as a licensed occupational therapist. 


How many accredited MOT programs are there in Tennessee?
Three: Milligan College, Tennessee State University, and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.


How many accredited OTD programs are there in Tennessee?
Two: Belmont University and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga


What is the typical length of the professional program?
2-3 years


Are there any required admissions tests?
Yes, most MOT and ODT program require the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).


What application service do I use to apply to OT school?
Many schools use the Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service (OTCAS).


When should I apply?
Applications to OT schools should be submitted in the summer or fall of the year preceding the desired admission date.  For most students, this means that they will apply the summer after their junior year or the fall of their senior year. 


Do I have to have a bachelor’s degree to get into OT school?
Most likely. As of the 2017-2018 application cycle, all of the MOT and OTD programs in Tennessee require a bachelor's degree.


What kind of grades do I need to get into OT school?
Academic performance is crucial.  A GPA of 3.5 or higher is needed to be a competitive applicant.  Moreover, most OT schools require that all prerequisite classes be completed with a grade of “C” or higher.


What kind of OT experience do I need?
You don’t necessarily have to have work experience in the OT field; however, most OT programs require direct observation of the field prior to admission.  That direct observation can be gained through volunteering and shadowing an occupational therapist.  Many OT programs require documented observation hours (i.e., an occupational therapist has to verify that you observed during that time). 


How many hours of direct observation do I need?
There is no magic number for how much shadowing/observation you have to have because the number of hours required varies by program.  Check with the programs you are interested in to determine how many documented hours they required.  It is also a good idea to observe in as many different clinical settings as possible since many OT programs require that applicants observe in at least two clinical settings (e.g., a nursing home and a rehab clinic). 


Will I be a pre-OT major?
No.  The Pre-OT Plan is not a major and does not fulfill the requirements for a baccalaureate degree at UT Martin.  The courses listed in the plan are recommendations and are not required for degree completion unless also listed under the student’s chosen major. 


What should I major in?
As a pre-OT student at UT Martin, you can major in any area you choose.  The best major is the one in which you are the most interested and the most likely to succeed.  The most common majors for pre-OT students at UT Martin are Biology – Organismal Concentration and Health and Human Performance: Exercise Science and Wellness because many of the classes required by the OT schools are also required by those majors.  You may also wish to pursue a B.S. in Psychology or a B.S. in Sociology as an understanding of those fields is valuable when practicing occupational therapy.


What are the minimum requirements for OT? 
At a minimum, most occupational therapy schools require:

  • Medical terminology
  • 3 hours of human development/lifespan psychology
  • 8 hours of anatomy and physiology
  • 3 hours of general psychology
  • 3 hours of general sociology or anthropology
  • 3 hours of abnormal psychology
  • 3 hours of statistics
  • 4 hours of physics or kinesiology


What classes at UT Martin should I take as a pre-OT student?
While not an exhaustive list, the following courses are strongly recommended for students considering applying to OT school.  You should always check with your advisor and/or school(s) of choice before deciding which classes to take.   

  • Biology 130 Foundations of Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Diversity
  • Biology 140 Foundations of Biology: Cell and Molecular
  • Biology 300 Medical and Scientific Vocabulary
  • Child and Family Studies 100 Lifespan Human Development
  • Communications 230 Public Speaking
  • English 111 English Composition I
  • English 112 English Composition II
  • Human Performance 440 Eval in Human Performance OR Math 210 Elementary Statistics and Probability OR Psychology 318 Experimental Psychology II
  • Physics 101 Physics in Everyday Life OR Physics 150 Concepts and Demonstrations in Physics OR Physics 211 College Physics OR Exercise Science 305 Applied Human Movement
  • Psychology 101 Introduction to Psychology
  • Psychology 350 Abnormal Psychology
  • Sociology 101 Introduction to Anthropology OR Sociology 201 General Sociology
  • Zoology 251 Anatomy and Physiology I
  • Zoology 352 Anatomy and Physiology II


Where can I find out more about the field of occupational therapy?
American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)

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