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College of Arts and Sciences


Pre-Occupational Therapy (OT) Curriculum

The “pre-occupational therapy curriculum” is just a list of courses that are required for admission to OT school. It is NOT an academic major, a minor, or an emphasis area. Prerequisite courses can vary between OT schools, so it is important to check with individual schools about their requirements and deadlines.

Admission to OT schools is not solely determined by prerequisites. Other factors are weighed as well, such as GPA (overall and prerequisite), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) scores, evidence of care for people through service and employment experiences, leadership roles, observation and shadowing experiences, and other personal characteristics. Gaining entrance into OT school is highly competitive, and students who are accepted usually surpass the minimum requirements.



What Should I Major In?

Occupational Therapy programs do not require a particular major. Many students choose to major in Kinesiotherapy or Therapeutic Recreation through the College of Nursing and Health Professions or Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Sciences. Other majors are acceptable, however, including those in the sciences, humanities, social sciences, and business-related areas. It is important for students to choose the major in which they feel comfortable and would like to work in should they not enter Occupational Therapy as a career.

Students wishing to pursue an OT program in Mississippi should apply to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, MS after taking the required courses at a four-year institution such as USM. The UMMC OTD program has received candidacy status from the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), allowing them to enroll students; the first doctoral class was admitted in 2018, and their ODT program has officially replaced their previous Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) program.



Occupational Therapy School Possibilities

There are three options available for students wishing to work in the Occupational Therapy field. Advanced degrees in occupational therapy (MOT and OTD) offer students the most flexibility in terms of practice, opportunities, and salary. Students who obtain either an MOT or an OTD from accredited programs are eligible to sit for the licensure exam to become a licensed Occupational Therapist; while both degrees are licensure-eligible, many schools are transitioning into offering OTDs only as these provide both a greater knowledge base and an increase in available opportunities.

The final option is to pursue an Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program. These are frequently offered at community colleges and provide students with the opportunity to receive an Associate's Degree and sit for the OTA licensure exam. OTAs are more limited in practice than fully licensed Occupational Therapists. If you do not want an advanced degree, please consult the AOTA "Find a School" resource.

The only Occupational Therapy program in Mississippi is at UMMC in Jackson, MS. They have phased out their MOT program and have entered into an OTD program as of Summer 2018. While other schools exist in the surrounding states, it is important to research their residency requirements and out-of-state enrollment rates.

Local Occupational Therapy Schools

College/University Location Degree Type Accreditation Status* Website
Alabama State University Montgomery, AL MOT Accredited
Tuskegee University Tuskegee, AL MOT Accredited
University of Alabama at Birmingham** Birmingham, AL MOT Accredited / Applicant
University of South Alabama Mobile, AL MOT Accredited
Louisiana State University**

New Orleans, LA

Shreveport, LA

MOT Accredited / Applicant

University of Mississippi Medical Center** Jackson, MS MOT Accredited / Candidacy

*The accreditation process for ACOTE consists of three stages. Those listed with "Applicant" status have applied for accreditation review and are not yet allowed to enroll students in their applicant programs. Those listed with "Candidacy" status have passed the applicant phase and are currently undergoing program review; they have been alllowed to enroll students and, while not yet fully accredited, are nearing completion of the process. Those listed with "Accredited" status are fully accredited with no enrollment restrictions.

**These schools are in the process of transitioning from MOT programs to OTD programs; it is expected that these MOT programs will be phased out over the coming years as their OTD programs reach accredited status.

***Though UMMC currently has MOT students in enrollment, the MOT applications have closed and they are now only accepting students for their OTD program. Once their most recently enrolled MOT students graduate, the MOT program will no longer be offered.



Requirements for Applicants

Occupational therapy schools have multiple requirements for admission. These can vary significantly between schools, so students should be sure to check with their desired schools for specific requirements and deadlines.  

The following list of courses meet only the minimum requirements* of the UMMC OTD program.

  • PSY 110

  • PSY 360** or MAT 115

  • PSY 275

  • BSC 250/L & 251/L***

  • PHY 111/L

  • Advanced biological or physical science (300+)****

  • MLS 201 recommended but not required

*While the courses listed are the only courses required by UMMC, several of these courses have prerequisites at USM. PSY 360 (and other advanced psychology electives) have PSY 110 as a prerequisite. The prerequisite for PHY 111/L is MAT 103. BSC 250/251 (and other advanced biology electives) require BSC 110/111.

** This is the recommended statistics course, though UMMC will also accept elementary (MAT 115) or introductory statistics courses.

*** The order in which students take BSC 250/L & 251/L does not matter. These courses may also be replaced with one semester of Human Anatomy and one semester of Human Physiology; however, this separated course sequence is not offered in its entirety at USM at the undergraduate level.

**** It is recommended that students take additional advanced electives in the biological, physical, and psychological sciences to be a truly competitive candidate.


Non-Course Requirements

Students must provide evidence of 24 hours observation in at least three occupational therapy clinical departments at the time of application to UMMC. Observation must be done with either an occupational therapist or a certified occupational therapy assistant in a clinical department or practice within the two calendar years preceding the application deadline. It is up to the individual student to set up his or her own observation hours. The “Verification of Observation Form” is located on the UMMC Doctor of Occupational Therapy website that applicants will have to use in order to certify the number of observation hours. 

Students applying to the UMMC program must ensure their GRE scores are received by the university before the application deadline.



Suggested Course Sequence & Strategies for Success

The suggested course sequence below is merely a guideline for timely completion of UMMC required courses. Courses to fulfill the major must be worked into the student’s schedule.

Students must consult the USM Undergraduate Bulletin, the USM Class Schedule, and their primary academic advisor. During the last semester of the Sophomore year, students should develop a more detailed plan for the Junior and Senior years as many upper-level courses are offered only in specific semesters and/or on a rotating two year cycle. 



Year 1



BSC 110&L OR BSC 111&L a 4h BSC 110&L OR BSC 111&L a 4h
MAT 101 b  3h MAT 103 b  3h
ENG 101 c   3h ENG 102  3h
Two required courses course d  6h PSY 110  3h
    One required course d 3h

a   The order in which students take the introductory Biological Sciences (BSC) courses does not matter; 110 covers molecular and cellular topics whereas 111 covers ecology and organisms.

b   Placement in mathematics (MAT) courses depends on the student’s ACT subtest score. Consult the prerequisites for the math course you plan to take. Calculus is required for some majors in the USM College of Arts and Sciences but is not required by most occupational therapy schools. 

c    Placement in English Composition courses depends on the student’s ACT English subtest score.

  • ACT English subtest score 16 or below:  ENG 99E (Expanded Composition Studio) and ENG 100E (Composition I expanded)

  • ACT English subtest score 17-19:  ENG 100E (Composition I expanded)

  • ACT English subtest score 20 or above:  ENG 101 (Composition 1)

d   “Required” courses include those in the General Education Curriculum and in the major and/or minor as well as "recommended courses" and "approved electives" suggested by occupational therapy school admissions programs. Students planning to take advanced chemistry should take CHE 106/107 as early as possible, and students planning to take advanced physics should take MAT 167 as early as possible, followed by PHY 201/202.


Strategies for Success

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

  • Students should focus on doing well in their academic studies, particularly the required science, behavioral science, and math courses. Students should study for long-term retention of knowledge for use in veterinary school.

  • Students should become involved with extracurricular activities, including meaningful community service learning, volunteer activities, and leadership positions that will demonstrate effective interactions with diverse people and effective time management skills. UMMC recommendes volunteering with at least four different organizations. Students should maintain a record of the dates and total hours spent performing such activities. The record should include meaningful encounters and the personal importance of each activity. This will be needed when it comes time to apply to occupational therapy school.

  • Students should start getting some hands on exposure to occupational therapy. Students should note that the required, formally recorded observation hours at UMMC should occur in the two years prior to application.

  • Students may join AED (Alpha Epsilon Delta), the National Health Preprofessional Honor Society, as associate members at any time even if they do not fulfill the requirements for full membership (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements). Full members are inducted during the Spring semester. Applications and instructions for membership are available at the preprofessional office.




Year 2



BSC 250/L 4h BSC 251/L 4h

PHY 111&L

4h 4 required courses d 12h
PSY 275 3h    
One required course d 3-4h    


Strategies for Success

  • Students should continue to follow strategies from Year 1.

  • Students could start in the second semester of their sophomore year getting the 24 hours observation in at least three occupational therapy clinical departments within two years of the January 15th senior year application deadline required by UMMC.

  • Students are typically inducted into AED, the national Health Preprofessional Honor Society, in the Spring semester of the Sophomore year, but may be inducted in Junior or Senior year (must be enrolled at Southern Miss for a minimum of three semesters and meet specific course and GPA requirements).

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.





Year 3



Classes to fulfill major and complete OT prerequisites



Classes to fulfill major and complete OT prerequisites


Strategies for Success
  • Students continue to apply strategies from Year 1 and Year 2

  • Students should continue observing occupational therapists and recording these observations.

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.

  • The application process may begin the summer after Year 3. Students should plan to take the GRE if required in order to fulfill all application requirements.




Year 4



Classes to fulfill major and complete OT prerequisites


Classes to fulfill major and complete OT prerequisites



Strategies for Success

  • Students should be continuing with the application process and strategies for success from previous years. If the application was not begun in the summer after Year 3, applications should begin this year.

  • Students should make sure all application materials - including documentation of observation hours - are together and ready.

  • Students should visit the preprofessional office for advisement and/or to answer any pertinent questions.




The Application Process

The application process usually begins in the Fall semester of the fourth year. Applications to UMMC program can be accepted starting on July 1 of the year prior to matriculation. The application deadline for the summer entering class is on January 15th of the year you plan to attend. Students should always remember to consult the specific programs to which they plan to apply for specific deadlines.


Students apply online directly to the UMMC School of Health Related Professions.

  • Applicants must complete Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher learning.
  • Applicants must have minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. (Applicants interviewed and accepted typically have a higher GPA.)
  • A minimum grade of C is required on each course accepted for entrance requirements.
  • If a course is repeated, both grades are used in calculating the GPA.
  • Applicants must meet the technical standards of the program.



The Interview

Students are advised to practice their interview skills BEFORE attending their first interview. For interview preparation at USM you may use the online Perfect InterviewTM resource. You can also sign up for mock interviews through Career Services or the preprofessional office (contact information below).   



For More Information about a Career in Healthcare, Contact the Preprofessional Office

Dr. Jeffrey Evans 

Preprofessional Advisor 


Phone: 601-266-4315 

Office Location: Bobby Chain Technology Center (TEC 100)

Destiny DeLancey

Preprofessional Advisor


Phone: 601-266-4636

Office Location: Liberal Arts Building (LAB 212A) 


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