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Occupational Therapy

Want become an occupational therapist? Most students choose to major in biologychemistry or sport and exercise science from UNC before going to occupational therapy school, but you can choose any undergraduate major.

Choosing a major outside of the sciences might extend the time it takes you to earn your degree as you'll also need to complete the graduation requirements for that major.

Contact Information

NHS Advising Center



Ross Hall, Room 1210

Suggested courses

Each occupational therapy school has it's own list of prerequisites. Two semesters of each are usually required for most O.T. schools:

  • One semester general biology
  • One semester anatomy with lab
  • One semester physiology with lab — check with individual school for details
  • Chemistry — requirements vary greatly by program, check with the school for details
  • Two semester english 
  • Two to three semesters psychology 
  • One semester statistics 
  • One semester medical terminology 
  • One semester sociology or anthropology

Illustration of footsteps


During your time here, you should do your best to stick to this timeline. It will help make sure you're ready for O.T. school.

  • First Year

    During your first year, it's important that you focus on your coursework and learn how to be a successful student. Knowing how to study and manage your time is critical and can help you earn a strong GPA. You should also:

    • Begin to work on prerequisite courses, especially both semesters of biology (BIO 110 and 111) and chemistry (CHEM 111 and 112)
    • Shadow an occupational therapist — either over breaks or during the summer
    • Research various medical careers
    • Join the Pre-Health Professionals Club (PHPC) student organization
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
  • Sophomore Year

    You should continue doing as best you can in your courses to earn a strong GPA during your sophomore year, as well as continuing to look for community service and shadowing (or other clinical experience) opportunities. You should also:

    • Continue completing prerequisite courses
    • Look for leadership and research opportunities
    • Meet with your pre-health advisor
    • Consider who to ask for letters of recommendation
  • Junior Year

    During your junior year, you should still strive to earn a strong GPA as well as continuing your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities. You should also:

    • Finish your science prerequisite courses
    • Conduct research in your major
    • Study and take the GRE
    • Fill out and submit the OTCAS application — learn more below
    • Submit letters of recommendation
    • Work on your personal essay
    • Meet with you pre-health advisor
  • Senior Year

    You should continue your community service and shadowing (or other clinical experiences) and leadership activities during your senior year, as well as continue your research experiences. You should also:

    • Meet with your pre-health advisor 
    • Prepare for and go to O.T. school interviews

How to apply to Occupational Therapy school

Start by completing the OTCAS application. This will then be sent to the occupational therapy schools of your choice.

  1. You will need to complete and submit your application along with your official transcripts to OTCAS. Each application includes a space for your personal essay, coursework history, list of activities, GRE score and the names of your recommenders (letters of recommendation are typically sent directly to each O.T. school).
  2. Once school receive applications you may be sent a secondary application. It requires additional information and ask short answer/essay questions. Fill out applications and send to each school.
  3. After reviewing your application and letters of recommendation, schools may then invite you for interviews.
  4. From here, you will either be accepted, denied or placed on a waitlist for each school. The next choice is all yours!

General information about applicants

Students accepted to O.T. school typically have an overall GPA of 3.7 and a GRE score of 309.

OTCAS logo

The application opens in July.

Start Your OTCAS Application