Explore the necessary steps to pursue a rewarding career in occupational therapy, including understanding prerequisite coursework, preparing for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and navigating the application process through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Gain insights into recommended timelines and valuable tips for each stage of your journey toward becoming an occupational therapist.

The graduate program requirement varies by school. Students will need to check the admissions requirement for each school to which they plan to apply as requirements do vary. Some programs also require observational hours as part of admission.

Generally, most students take:

    • General Biology
    • Human Anatomy and Physiology
    • Statistics
    • Psychology

Please check with each program to see which exam is required for admission. Not all programs require exams.

The GRE has six sections:

  • Analytical Reasoning (one section with 2 tasks)
  • Verbal Reasoning (2 sections)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (2 sections)

When should I take the GRE?

Students should take the GRE when they feel ready. Generally, the GRE is taken your junior year of college. Scores need to be back in time to meet the program deadlines.

Create a study plan for the GRE:

Step 1: Gather Information about GRE

Step 2: Take a practice test

Step 3: Gather study materials

Step 4: Make a study calendar

Step 5: Study!

Step 6: Prepare for test day

How many times should I take the GRE?

Ideally, you should take the GRE once when you are prepared. Students may decide to re-test to improve their score. Check with the individual program to see how they will consider your scores for admission.

How long are GRE scores valid?

GRE scores are valid for up to five years from your test date. Students should verify with each program if they will need newer scores.

Is the exam expensive?

The GRE exam costs $205.

The Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) application opens in July and closes a year later in June. Students need to review the OTCAS calendar to ensure they are meeting OTCAS application deadlines. Each program will also have its own deadline in which materials need to be submitted to OTCAS.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to check the deadline for each school. If schools offer rolling admission, then it is best to apply early. Students who apply after November may have a harder time gaining admission as seats may be filled.

OTCAS GPA factors in all coursework taken, regardless of the college or university’s forgiveness policy.

Students who face financial hardship may be eligible to receive a fee waiver to help with the cost of application.

  • Students need to check admissions requirements for each program to view if there is a recommended major that is more likely to be considered for graduate admission when they apply. Otherwise, students can major in anything at the undergraduate level if they take the coursework required for admissions, which varies by school.
  • All occupational therapists complete an Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) education program and must pass the National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) to be able to practice.


  • Sign up on the pre-health listserv.
  • Start researching the admissions requirements for occupational therapy program you wish to attend.
  • Make sure you are registered for the correct science courses (general biology) your first year.
  • Join the Pre-Health Club on campus.
  • Focus on your grades and develop good time management and study skills to help you start successfully.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Think about what aspect of healthcare interests you and gain experience through part-time employment, job shadowing, research, and/or volunteering. Make the experience meaningful to you, not simply because you think it looks good.
  • Get to know faculty to ask for letters of recommendation when you are ready to apply.
  • Attend admissions fairs, open houses, or events at the schools you are interested in to learn about the different programs and to become familiar with each school’s admissions process.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Make a study plan and begin reviewing for the GRE (if required).
  • Ensure that you have met or are meeting the requirements for admissions to the different programs you are interested in.
  • Register and take the GRE (if required).
  • Create a profile on the OTCAS website and begin work on your application. Take your time on the application so you do not make mistakes and delay your application being accepted.


  • Continue to focus on grades.
  • Submit supplemental fees and applications promptly.
  • Respond to interview requests promptly and professionally.
  • Notify all occupational therapy schools of your decisions as early as possible.
  • Email prehealth@seattleu.edu of your final decision.
  • Send thank you cards as a courtesy to everyone who assisted you.
  • Complete the FAFSA for the occupational therapy school you plan to attend.