What is OT and how do I know it’s a fit for me?

Occupational Therapy makes it possible for people to live life to the fullest.  Many people face daily challenges – a refugee new to America, an injured worker returning to work, a child with autism at school, a grandfather who has had a hip replaced, a young adult with a traumatic brain injury, a mother with depression.  Occupational Therapists help people learn new ways to do things they used to do but, for whatever reason, can no longer do them.  Occupational therapy helps people be successful in doing what is important to them.

An occupational therapist should be resourceful, compassionate, a good listener, a creative problem-solver and interested in health, science and the arts.  Occupational therapy is a perfect blend of life science (anatomy & physiology) and social science (psychology & sociology).  Occupational therapists have knowledge of the person and the environment and how to support the person in what they want and need to do.  Occupational therapists make a difference.

What is Occupational Therapy? (blog)

What is it like to be an occupational therapy student? Liza Young, MOT Class of 2018, BS in English, writes about her experiences in a blog she's titled "TheOccupassionist."

Expected Learning Outcomes


Current salary information can be obtained from the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics - Occupational Outlook Handbook.  Below is a 2011 Salary Survey table published by Advance OT.

(Click to enlarge.)


Occupational Therapy Resources

The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) is the professional organization for occupational therapy.  You can access career information including a detailed description of the profession, type of work done, and employment opportunities by visiting www.aota.org

The Utah Occupational Therapy Association is the state occupational therapy organization.  You can learn more about occupational therapy in the state of Utah by visiting www.utahotassociation.org.

Why the Occupational Therapy program at the University of Utah?

The professional program leading to a Master of Occupational Therapy is rooted in occupation and occupational science. Central to the teaching mission of the Division are occupation based, strong occupational therapy skills, professional skills and research. The program has numerous innovative teaching components including a Level II fieldwork focus on health settings and community-service settings. We are committed to educating strong clinicians for the unfolding future.  According to US News, our program is ranked in the top third of all USA OT grad programs (47/156)!

NBCOT Program Statistics

Students are encouraged to attend an information session prior to meeting with the advisor. The information session will cover the profession of occupational therapy and the Masters in Occupational Therapy program at the University of Utah, program prerequisites, admissions procedures and the program itself.

Information sessions are held at 520 Wakara Way in Research Park. Located on the North side of the street, just west of the Marriott Hotel. Signs on the front door will direct you to the room.

The information sessions are free and open to the public. There is no registration necessary. Students do not need to bring anything with them except for questions about the profession and the program.

On-Campus Information Sessions

  • Monday, May 9, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, June 13, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, July 11, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, August 15, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, September 12, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, October 10, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, November 14, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm
  • Monday, December 12, 2016, 4:00-5:00pm

Area Institution Information Sessions

Information sessions are also held at area institutions. Please check back here to see when we'll be in your neighborhood.

-Upcoming Visits-

  • Utah State University, Graduate School Fair, Taggart Student Center Ballroom
    September 19, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Weber State University, Graduate School Fair, Shepherd Union Building Ballroom
    September 20, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Brigham Young University, Graduate School Fair, Wilkinson Student Center
    September 21, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Utah Valley University, Graduate School Fair
    September 22, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • University of Utah, Graduate School Fair, Olpin Union Ballroom
    September 23, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Southern Utah University, Graduate School Fair, Sharwan Smith Center Ballroom
    September 26, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Dixie State University, Graduate School Fair, Student Activity Center
    September 27, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • University of Utah Major Expo, Olpin Union Ballroom
    September 38, 2016, 10:00 - 2:00
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho, Graduate School Fair, BYU-I Center
    ???, 10:00 - 3:00
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho, OT Information Session

Advisor Information

The advisor for the Division of Occupational Therapy is Kelly Brown kelly.brown@hsc.utah.edu. Students in Utah should attend an information session prior to individual advising. To schedule an individual appointment, scroll up on this page and on the right side you’ll see a button, “Book Now.”

University of Utah students should run a degree audit report (DARS) for the pre major Occupational Therapy to see how courses taken fit with OT prerequisites. How to run a DARS report. Students do not need to bring a copy of this report to an advising meeting.

Want to try a new degree-planning tool? The Graduation Planning System is designed especially for U! Learn more at www.gps.utah.edu.

Release of Information

Student records at The University of Utah are governed by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and its implementing regulations. A student must authorize the University of Utah to release information to any 3rd party, such as a spouse, parent or even themselves via the telephone or email.

To authorize a Release of Information, students can go to their CIS (http://cis.utah.edu) page, click Student, look for the STUDENT RECORDS box and click on FERPA Release Consent link.  The RELEASE FORM will open in a new window.

Transfer and General Advising Information

Students needing general university advising for general ed and/or bachelor degree requirements or information on transferring courses to fill those requirements should contact University College at 801-581-5146 or email. A list of the University of Utah's graduation requirements may be found in the undergraduate bulletin. University College has provided a GPA calculator for your convenience.

The Vision

The vision of advising within the College of Health is to cultivate a rich, diverse, educated, and healthy community through outreach, recruitment and advising.

The Mission

The mission for advising in the College of Health is to provide a confidential and reliable place in which to advise future and current students interested in fields or programs related to the College of Health with accurate information on how to successfully navigate their academic goals, the academic institution, and their academic field during their time at the University and to prepare them for their future after the University.

Updated 20APR16

Below is a list of prerequisites for the Occupational Therapy Program. The list does not represent every class that might fill the prerequisite. This information is subject to change without written notice or obligation. Students are urged to make contact at least once a year with the Academic Advisor.

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisite course work or approved equivalent coursework MUST be taken for a grade. CLEP and AP credit 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). In addition to a 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.

All prerequisite courses listed below must be completed by the end of the spring term (April or May) prior to the fall semester for which they are applying unless noted. OT prerequisite courses may not be taken the summer immediately preceding the start of the OT program.

  • Kinesiology or Biomechanics or Physics*- one course in kinesiology, biomechanics or general/college physics. The lab, if available, is highly recommended but not required. Must be complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the year the application is submitted. Note: applicants will update grades in OTCAS via the academic update.
  • Human Anatomy with lab* - one course taken within the past 5 years.
  • Human Physiology* - one course.
    Applicants must have a grade for either Human Anatomy or Human Physiology complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the application year. The other course may be completed in the winter/spring term. Note: applicants will update grades in OTCAS via the academic update.
  • Human Development through Lifespan or Developmental Psychology through the Lifespan* - one course or the equivalent. Must cover entire lifespan, birth to death. Must be complete and graded by Dec. 31 of the year the application is submitted. Note: applicants will update grades in OTCAS via the academic update.
  • Anthropology - one course in cultural anthropology.
  • Abnormal Psychology - one course.
  • Sociology or Health Ed or Special Ed or Gerontology - one course from one of these areas. First Aid/CPR and personal health courses will not fill this requirement.
  • Statistics - one course.
  • Medical Terminology - one course.
  • Studio Arts Course - one course in an area of arts or crafts (painting, pottery, knitting, woodworking, etc). Art history, music, theater, dance, photography or survey classes will not count as fulfilling this prerequisite. 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. 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 (DARS) for pre-Occupational Therapy Studies to track the progress of OT prerequisites.

Want to try a new degree-planning tool? The Graduation Planning System is designed especially for U! Learn more at www.gps.utah.edu.

Suggested Classes for The U and Other Utah 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.

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.

Required tests

  • GRE - Graduate Record Examination
    • Must be taken so the scores are received by Division by the admissions deadline of the year of application. Send your scores to the designated institution code 1982. (This is new as of 28Aug2015.) GRE test scores are only valid for 5 years.
    • If a student has multiple tests, we will take the highest component score from each test.  For example, we will take the higher verbal from first test and the higher quantitative from the second test.
    • Primary consideration will be given to applicants with an analytical writing score of 3.5 or higher. Average analytical writing score of those offered admissions for 2015 was a 4.2. We see an average of 150 on each verbal and quantitative sections.
  • 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.

Students taking OCTH 3000 Introduction to Occupational Therapy (through the U of U, Division of Occupational Therapy) 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 Activities, Accomplishments, and Recognitions - OT and Health Related Volunteer, Observation, and Service Experiences.

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.

Important Admission Change

Starting in fall 2015, all students must have a bachelor’s degree completed prior to starting the occupational therapy program. (as of April 1, 2013)

Application to the Division of Occupational Therapy

Warning Application Deadline sign

The application deadline for the Division of Occupational Therapy is November 18, 2016 for fall 2017 start. Students should start the application process early.

Last updated 23JUL15

A completed application includes the following:

  1. A minimum of 50 contact hours between at least 2 settings with a minimum of 8 hours in one setting. Hours are recorded into OTCAS so keep a log of the facility name, OT name and contact info, dates and number of hours. 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. If a students is taking an introduction to occupational therapy course to meet the hour requirement, the course must be complete or in progress at the time of application submission.
  2. GRE official test results. The test must be taken early enough so that the University of Utah receives the scores by the application deadline. The University of Utah GRE Institutional Code is 1982
  3. Complete the prerequisite courses.
  4. TOEFL Test if English is not an applicant's first language. The test must be taken early enough so that the Division of Occupational Therapy receives the scores by the application deadline. You can view score requirements at prerequisite courses under required tests.
  5. Application to OTCAS must be received and marked as complete in OTCAS by midnight EST (that's 10:00 PM in Utah) on November 18, 2016. Verification is not required by this date. A complete application in OTCAS is a submitted application, fees paid and receipt of all university transcripts. Applications not marked as complete by OTCAS by the deadline date will not be considered. Start your application early to ensure all components are received and complete in OTCAS by the deadline. To learn more about the OTCAS application process and to get started, please go to the OTCAS website at http://otcas.liaisoncas.com/applicant-ux/#/login.
  6. Official university transcripts submitted to OTCAS showing completed prerequisite coursework and courses in progress. Transcripts may take 3-4 weeks to deliver. Be sure to plan for this when submitting your application.
  7. Three letters of reference submitted to OTCAS using their electronic using forms. At least one (1) reference must be from an occupational therapist under whom observation hours were spent. The other references should come from an individual who knows the applicant professionally (employer, professor, etc.). The reference should not be a relative of the applicant. Arrange for OTCAS to receive all of your references by the application deadline. The OTCAS application may be submitted without receipt of the reference. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all references have been received by the application deadline.
  8. Academic Update in OTCAS must be submitted after the completion of fall semester to enter in fall semester's grades and list planned courses for spring (if any). The academic update is opens in mid December. The academic update must be submitted by January 10. Applicants will be required to submit a transcript showing completion of fall courses to OTCAS.
  9. Application to the University of Utah Graduate School. Students must have a bachelor’s degree completed prior to the start of the Occupational Therapy program in the fall. Students applying to the Division of Occupational Therapy must also apply to the University of Utah Graduate School using Apply Yourself by November 18, 2016. AY will start accepting applications for 2017 in July 2016. Please be aware that a copy of official transcripts from EACH college that you have attended, including the University of Utah, needs to be uploaded to the application site. Additionally, the online Graduate Application has several sections. Please fill out the Basic Information Section. However, as a MOT applicant, you do NOT need to complete the sections on Resume, Statement of Purpose, Writing Sample nor Faculty. You do NOT submit Letters of Recommendation on this application, either. We use this information from OTCAS. A decision will not be made on the graduate school application until the OT application process is completed.

PLEASE NOTE: Incomplete or inaccurate files/forms WILL NOT be reviewed.  It is the responsibility of the student to ensure receipt of all application materials with OTCAS and University of Utah Admissions not the Division of Occupational Therapy.

Admissions Process

After the deadline, application files are reviewed to determine eligibility based upon receipt of all application materials and completion of prerequisite coursework with a "C" or better.

Once eligibility is determined, each student's academic background will be reviewed on an individual basis for admission. All completed applications will be evaluated by the Admissions Committee in the Division of Occupational Therapy. Qualified applicants are invited for individual interviews. The interview process is a critical one; through the interview process, we gain an understanding of the candidate, his/her academic preparation and insight into his/her potential as a future OT. Serious applicants must be willing to travel to campus in mid February for interviews. Finalists are judged on the basis of the interviews in conjunction with the rest of the application. Interviews for fall 2017 start will be held in mid-February.

Approximately thirty-four (34) students will be accepted into the fall semester class. Notification will be by mid-March. Because there are a greater number of well-qualified students interested in the field of occupational therapy than the University is able to accommodate, there is competition for the limited number of positions available and although well-qualified some applicants are not able to be admitted. We had a total of 190 applicants in the applicant pool for 2015. Of those 190 applicants, 128 were complete and qualified. We interviewed 84 applicants. Qualified students who do not receive an initial offer of admission may be offered an alternate spot. Alternate students will be offered admission should a spot become available. Students must return the Alternate Notification Form to remain on this list. We do not maintain a waiting list from year to year. If a student is not selected for admission, the student will need to reapply the following year.

application process flow

The Division of Occupational Therapy at the University of Utah is committed to policies of equal opportunity and nondiscrimination on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age, or status as an individual with a disability in all of its programs and activities, including but not limited to, student admissions and student financial assistance. Reasonable prior notice is needed to arrange accommodations.

Hepatitis B for Incoming Students

Hepatitis B vaccination is a series of 3 time sensitive injections.  The 2nd injection is administered one month after the first, and the third injection is given 6 months after the second.  Therefore, students are advised to begin the series of vaccinations as soon as they begin the application process in order to complete the series before admission.  Most, if not all, OT programs require these immunizations so it is well worth the applicant’s time to get them completed regardless of where they are admitted.

Admission Offer

When a student is offered admission, the actual acceptance of those students selected for the next fall semester is contingent on the following:

  • Verification of completion of all prerequisite courses and bachelor's degree.
  • Receipt of a non-refundable fee of $500.00 to hold class place. This fee is applied to fall semester tuition.
  • Admission to the University of Utah Graduate School.
  • Completion a criminal background check. The cost of which is the responsibility of the student.
  • Completion of CPR certification from the American Heart Association Basic Life Support (BLS) for Healthcare Providers 1 & 2-Rescuer CPR and AED for adult, child and infant is universally accepted and is now the is the only CPR program accepted for the University of Utah Department of Occupational Therapy. We do not accept CPR from the American Red Cross. The skills practice and Skills testing portion must be done in the classroom, NOT online. Proof of current certification needs to be submitted to Certified Background Check prior to the start of the MOT program.
  • Proof of immunization. Submitted to Certified Background Check.
  • Proof of health insurance coverage prior to participating in fieldwork in January.

Tuition Rates

The Board of Regents and the University of Utah Administration have designated the Occupational Therapy program as one of the programs with differential tuition for all students.

Students will be required to pay an increased amount of tuition--in addition to regular tuition. These monies will be earmarked to come specifically to the Division of Occupational Therapy to help support our programs and curriculum.

There will also be fees for certain classes and labs. View tuition rates.

Scroll down to Occupational Therapy. Click on the applicable residency to see the current rates.

Program Costs

Program costs, as compiled by the Division of Occupational Therapy, based on the income accounting rates and additional fees per course.


The MOT Program at the University of Utah has been approved by the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP) of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE)! This program enables students in Alaska, Arizona, Hawai'i, Montana, and Wyoming to attend graduate school in Utah at the resident rate. For more information, please visit: http://www.wiche.edu/psep


Residency Requirements

Tuition at the University of Utah is charged at differential rates for residents versus non-residents. If you are admitted as a non-resident, we strongly recommend that you read the University’s Institutional Policy on residency reclassification which may be found here: http://admissions.utah.edu/apply/residency