What is Occupational Therapy?
Occupational therapy is a discipline that aims to promote health by enabling people to perform meaningful and purposeful activities. In its simplest terms, occupational therapists and occupational therapy assistants help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities (occupations) (www.aota.org).
What is Pre-Occupational Therapy Education?
Pre-occupational therapy education provides students with a sound background in the natural and social sciences necessary for admission to an occupational therapy program. Essentially, it involves a defined set of pre-requisite courses. Eastern University intentionally does not have a formal “Pre-Occupational Therapy” major. Instead, the pre-requisite courses are incorporated within the course work required of other majors, such as biology, psychology, athletic training and exercise science. This allows students to obtain knowledge and skills in an area that will allow them to obtain a job related to their major, if, for whatever reason, graduate school attendance needs to be deferred. A degree in “pre-occupational therapy” or “allied health” limits the scope of what one can do upon graduation.
What is Occupational Therapy Education?
Occupational Therapy (OT) professional education refers to the education that prepares graduates for entry into practice of occupational therapy. All OTs must receive a graduate degree from an accredited occupational therapist program before taking the national licensure examination that allows them to practice.
Presently, entry level occupational therapy education programs are offered at 2 degree levels; Doctor of Occupational Therapy (DOT) Degree and Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT). Both degree programs prepare students to be eligible to sit for the OT Licensure examination in all 50 states.
What undergraduate major best prepares you for graduate education in occupational therapy?
Biology, psychology and health related majors like athletic training and exercise science are the most common areas of study for the pre-professional phase of occupational therapy education, as these majors compliment occupational therapy very well. However, it is very important to understand that the pre-requisites for graduate studies in occupational therapy can be coupled with any major. In other words, a student does not have to study in a health related field to be accepted into occupational therapy school. A student could major in music and take the OT pre-requisites while studying music. What is critical is that the earned GPA for both the undergraduate education as well as the pre-requisites is high.
Why would you want to study at Eastern for your undergraduate preparation for graduate studies in occupational therapy?
Regardless of the area of undergraduate studies, all students who attend Eastern University will be taught by dedicated faculty who bring integrity, expertise, commitment and Christian faith to the classroom. Those students who major in exercise science and athletic training, which are the most common pre-professional majors for occupational therapy, will gain extensive hands-on experience in our state of the art laboratory which houses a variety of equipment including: a Wingate Peak Monarch Cycle Ergometer and software, a Quinton Treadmill and Electrocardiograph, a metabolic cart, a hydrostatic weighing tank.
Students will study a curriculum that is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs (Exercise Science) and Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (Athletic Training).
It is a curriculum that has an intentional cohesiveness which promotes a deeper understanding through logical sequencing which in turn results in a richer understanding overtime.
At Eastern, our Pre-professional students are actively involved in the Athletic Training or Exercise Science Clubs and participate in a variety of activities such as Health Fairs, the Special Olympics, and Journal Clubs and attend professional conferences in their related disciplines.
The advising at Eastern is impeccable. Students meet with their advisors and develop a four year plan that will enable them to earn their undergraduate degree and meet the pre-requisite requirements. However, the advising does not stop there. The student’s advisor meets with the students on a regular basis to ensure the application process to graduate school is on schedule. Moreover, there is interview preparation and advice on post-application protocol. This is unique to Eastern.
What are some the graduate schools into which Eastern students have been accepted?
Most of our students remain in the Philadelphia area to attend graduate school. The following are the graduate schools that have been most recently attended by our students: Thomas Jefferson University, Hahnemann-Drexel University, Temple University.
Is a Bachelor’s Degree required for admission to graduate school for occupational therapy?
Most occupational therapy education programs require an earned bachelor’s degree prior to admission into the graduate program. There are, however, some programs that offer a 3 + 3 program which involves 3 years of specific pre-professional (undergraduate/Pre-OT) coursework followed by admission into a specific professional program. This involves an agreement between the undergraduate and the graduate programs or institutions. At Eastern, we purposefully do not have such agreements because we believe it is critical that students graduate with a Bachelor’s degree that will provide them with a set of skills that can be utilized upon graduation. These agreements between undergraduate and graduate institutions do not guarantee admission into the professional phase of the occupational therapy education. Oftentimes, students and their families misinterpret the relationship between the institutions and interpret the existence of such as a relationship that guarantees admission.
Is it competitive to get into graduate school for occupational therapy?
Admission into an occupational therapy education program is competitive! Occupational therapy programs look for students with high grade point averages, especially in the science and math courses. In addition, documented volunteer or paid experience in the health care field is often a prerequisite for admission to most programs. Students are also required to take the Graduate Record Examination for acceptance into most institutions. It is important for students to recognize that there are a limited number of programs across the country and program size is quite small. In fact there are oftentimes more than four times the number of applicants than spaces available in most programs. Therefore, it is critical that students during their undergraduate preparation maintain a very high GPA.
What are the admission and application requirements for Schools of Occupational Therapy?
Common Admission and Application Requirements for Schools of Occupational Therapy include:
- Completion of a special application to the occupational therapy program
- Completion of all prerequisite courses with a high overall grade point average
- A high grade point average in all the science and math prerequisite courses
- Documented clinical experiences with the required number of hours varying among programs
- Letters of recommendation (as specified by the program)
- Written essays (usually required as part of the admissions application process) on topic (s) specified by the program
- Graduate Record Examination Scores