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5 Tips for OT School Applications

Sarah Putt, MA, OTR/L

Are you planning on applying to OT school?

Here are some tips on how to stand out on your OT school application.


Firstly, let’s get to the basics. Before applying to an OT program, you need to complete the necessary requirements that are tailored to each program. Each program has its own prerequisites course list, hours requirement, and the number of letters of recommendation. Essentially, your course list could include (check with the schools you are applying to for specifics):

  • 1 year of biology with lab
  • 1 year of chemistry with lab
  • 1 year of English
  • Anatomy with lab
  • Physiology with lab
  • Abnormal Psych
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Medical Terminology

Volunteer Hours

Most programs require around 50-100 hours of observational or volunteer experience under the supervision of an OT. In order to stand out among other applicants, you should always aim for more than the required number of hours at the very least. Furthermore, it is also important to diversify your experience and settings as occupational therapy is an incredibly vast field with many different specialties. The more experience the better when starting an OT program.

Letters of Recommendation

As you take the prerequisite courses in undergraduate or elsewhere, a letter from a professor among those courses could be a great support for your application. Besides letters of recommendation from your professor, it is important to also obtain 1 or 2 letters (depending on the program) from an OT that you worked with. It would be wise to create long-term relations with the OT you volunteered with so you can have their support throughout your occupational therapy journeys. Overall, you are generally allowed up to 5 letter recommendations. 


Another major aspect of your application will be your GPA and GRE test score. A competitive GPA and killer GRE test scores would serve as a shining point in your application. However, do not worry if your scores are lacking, you can make it up with other commitments and experience relating to OT. You can definitely strengthen your application with more volunteer experience, running personal OT blogs or websites, and working as an OT aide to name a few things you can do.

The Wrap-Up

Essentially as an applicant, you need to showcase your passion and drive to enter the program and ultimately become an occupational therapist. It would be smart to have plenty of interview practices and ample time to write your personal statements. Entering this profession is competitive, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. With the right resume behind you, you’ll stand out among your peers.

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