Occupational Therapy Interest Area

Information regarding interest area option in occupational therapy.

Occupational Therapy Interest Area

The RHS interest area in occupational therapy provides a broad foundation for students interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist.

The RHS interest area in occupational therapy provides a broad foundation for students interested in pursuing a career as an occupational therapist. Although we do not have a graduate program in occupational therapy at the University Park campus, we have an OT Club for students from any major who are welcome to join. For more information about the OT Club, please visit this website:  https://sites.psu.edu/otclub/

To pursue a career in occupational therapy students must first complete a bachelor’s degree in a related area that provides a broad educational background while also preparing students for the academic training required at the post-baccalaureate level.

To satisfy the requirements to be accepted into an occupational therapy graduate degree program, students are required to take a concentration of statistics and science-related courses and will need to complete volunteer work observing a professional occupational therapist in an actual work setting. Students will integrate what they have learned by completing a one-semester internship working in a community or medical setting under the supervision of an experienced practitioner.

Most students choosing this interest area will likely pursue graduate training to become licensed occupational therapists; however, with the broad focus of the RHS major, students will also be able to pursue a variety of human service or case management jobs in community or health settings.

Courses Related to the Occupational Therapy Interest Area

If students want to apply for a specific OT graduate program, they are advised to review the specific application criteria for their school of choice and to plan their coursework accordingly. Below is a list of courses typically required of all graduate programs in Occupational Therapy followed by a list of courses that are recommended by many programs. In addition to formal course work, Occupational Therapy graduate schools often require that applicants have 20-50 hours of observing an Occupational Therapist, usually in a variety of clinical settings.

Recommended Course Plan for Occupational Therapy (pdf)

Requirements by leading Occupational Therapy Graduate Programs (xls)

The recommended courses are noted below.  Additional information per course can be found on the University Bulletin.

Requirements for almost all programs:

  • Anatomy (KINES 202)
  • Physiology (BIOL 141) Physiology Lab (BIOL 142)
  • Introduction to Psychology (PSYCH 100)
  • Developmental (Lifespan) Psychology (PSYCH 212)
  • Abnormal Psychology (PSYCH 270)
  • Statistics (STAT 100 or STAT 200)
  • Introduction to Sociology (SOC 001)


Recommended for some programs:

  • Introduction to Biology, sometimes with lab (BIOL 110)
  • Medical Terminology (RHS 403)
  • Physics, sometimes with lab (PHYS 001)
  • Chemistry, sometimes with lab (CHEM 101, CHEM 106, or CHEM 110, LAB CHEM 111)
  • CHEM 111 Experimental Chemistry Pre-req. (CHEM 110 or CHEM 106)


Occupational Therapy Notes for Consideration and Planning

OT graduate programs are very competitive and based on application profiles of RHS students who have been accepted into these programs, as a general guideline, their admission profile consists of:

  • An average grade point average of at least 3.2/4.0. Performance in prerequisite classes are particularly important (grade of “B” or higher). 
  • Graduate Record Examination percentile scores of 70 or higher for each verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning and analytical writing of 4.0 or higher.
  • Completed the RHS internship in a setting that offers OT services under the supervision of a registered OT.
  • Positive letters of recommendations from RHS professors who can attest to the students' academic abilities related personal qualities needed to work as an OT.
  • A clearly articulated written narrative as to why the applicant is pursuing a career in OT and reasons for applying to a specific school.


Please note that these criteria serve only as a general guideline for RHS students when considering application to OT graduate programs. Parenthetically, there were situations where a student possessed all of these criteria and not been accepted into the program of their choice. Conversely, there were students who did not possess all of these criteria and were accepted into at least one accredited OT program. Clearly, your chances of gaining entrance to an OT program accredited by the American Occupational Therapy Association increases when you exceed minimum criteria posted by individual programs.


For more information about accredited OT programs, please visit: http://www.aota.org

 

Faculty consultants:

Students interested in this interest area should contact Dr. James Herbert or 863-3421. Students who wish to discuss OT graduate programs should make an appointment during open office hours (Wednesday 2:15 PM to 3:30 PM) or by appointment. Please be sure to bring a recent LionPATH audit of your academic record as an RHS student when the meeting is scheduled.