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.
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.
Some students already have a B.A., B.S., or above and decide to pursue becoming an Occupational Therapist. It is recommended that such students visit the preprofessional office for additional advisement. It is common for these students to take their missing prerequisite science or non-science courses for OT school here at USM as post-baccalaureate students, work on the other non-course requirements while taking courses, prepare for and take the GRE, and then apply to OT school(s).
Some students may choose to pursue a second major, while others enroll in prerequisite courses as a non-degree-seeking student. In either case, students must go through the University's Undergraduate Admissions office to be either admitted (new students) or re-admitted (former students) prior to enrollment.
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 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.
*Many schools are in the process of transitioning from MOT to OTD. 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.
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 meets only the minimum requirements* of the UMMC OTD program.
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.
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.
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 “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.
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.
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. Other schools may utilize the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application System (OTCAS).
To be eligible for admission to the UMMC OTD program: