Pre-Occupational Therapy: Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts (B.S. or B.A.) in Biology with a Concentration in Exercise Science
The pre-occupational therapy (OT) program at Marian University is an undergraduate educational track that prepares you to be a competitive candidate for admission to an OT graduate school after completing your bachelor's degree.
Occupational therapists treat ill, injured, and disabled patients of all ages with the goal of helping them develop, recover, or improve the motor skills required for daily life, including employment.
Becoming an occupational therapist is academically challenging, but it's also personally and professionally rewarding. Not only will you help improve quality of life for patients who have autism, missing limbs, cerebral palsy, and Alzheimer's disease, among others, you'll enjoy a lucrative career that's in demand.
- The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay for an occupational therapist in 2017 was $83,200 per year.
- Through 2026, the employment outlook is expected to grow by 24 percent, a rate that's much faster than average compared to other professions.
In 2017, the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) reported there were 158 accredited master's degree and 15 accredited doctoral degree programs in the U.S, with dozens of other schools in the process of becoming accredited.
- After completing a bachelor's degree, which typically takes four years for most full-time students, earning a master's in OT will take about two years. If you choose to pursue a doctoral degree, your studies will take about three years.
- Admission into most OT schools is highly competitive. AOTA reports nearly 45,000 students applied for 7,395 spaces nationally in an OT master's degree program in 2016. In total, 16 percent of those who applied to an OT master's program were admitted and 18 percent of those applying for a doctoral program were admitted. Most students apply to multiple schools to increase their chances of acceptance.
Why choose the pre-occupational therapy track at Marian?
Marian's pre-occupational therapy program takes the guesswork out of preparing for admission to the OT school of your choice.
Every college and university is unique. Some weigh their admission decisions on certain areas of your application and academic preparation more heavily than others. These strengths, listed in decreasing order of importance, are typically ranked more highly than others.
1. Completion of prerequisite coursework
- You will not be accepted for admission to most OT schools if you have not completed all prerequisite coursework.
- As a student in our pre-OT track, you'll complete required prerequisite courses by the end of your junior year, well before it's time to apply for the OT programs of your choice.
2. Grade point average (GPA)
- According to U.S. News & World Report, the nation's top OT schools in 2016 were Boston University (BU) and Washington University in St. Louis (WUSL), both of which tied for first place. BU requires a minimum 3.0 GPA to be considered for admission while WUSL requires a 3.25 minimum GPA.
- Requirements for minimum GPA vary. In general, the higher your GPA on a science-intensive undergraduate transcript, the more you will stand out from other applicants. We recommend you strive for a minimum 3.5 GPA.
- Marian's curriculum is specifically sequenced to gradually challenge you at increasing levels of difficulty. Faculty and peer tutors will support and help you learn the knowledge and skills required to master your coursework, including that included in the GRE.
3. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
- Most OT schools require applicants submit scores for the GRE, a standardized test required for admission by thousands of professional schools. Learn more about the GRE.
- Combined with carefully selected general education requirements, Marian's pre-OT curriculum maximizes your exposure to content, problem-solving, and critical analysis tested in the GRE. We recommend you strive for 300+ on your combined GRE scores to be most competitive.
4. Clinical experience
- Be sure you understand the clinical experience requirements for admission. Most OT programs require you to have some clinical observation (job shadowing) or related experience. While every school is different, the number of clinical hours for direct OT observation can range from 30 to 100.
- Having relevant clinical experience distinguishes you from other applicants. Some schools may also look more favorably on applicants with volunteer and community service hours.
- We recommend Marian students look for opportunities to work with developmentally disabled children and adults, veterans, the elderly, and other types of patient populations before graduation. You may want to join Marian's chapter of Best Buddies, for example. Read AOTA's blog on "32 creative ways to gain OT experience and diversify your resume."
5. Letters of recommendation
- As a student in the Department of Biology at Marian University, you will work closely with teaching and research faculty, building personal relationships needed for strong letters of recommendation for admission to the OT school of your choice.
- Building your professional network through clinical experience is also useful for securing letters of recommendation.
6. Research Experience
- While research is not required for admission to most OT programs, having research experience can work in your favor when schools must choose between borderline candidates or multiple candidates competing for the same spot.
- Marian's "Research Across the Curriculum" model embeds authentic scientific research experience within our core curriculum, enabling you to become familiar with the scientific process, develop the ability to critically read scientific and medical research, and contribute in a meaningful way to evidence-based health sciences.
- We embed research experience in your freshman and sophomore years, leaving you more time to pursue work, internship, and volunteer experience during your junior and senior years.
Many Marian University students gain clinical experience by working as health aids in local schools, hospitals, and clinics. Others may work for research, advocacy, and cause-based organizations, like the Autism Society of Indiana, Brain Injury Association of Indiana, or the Arthritis Foundation as well as summer camps for youth with disabilities.
For information about internships and possible internship opportunities, talk with one of our faculty advisors and staff at The Exchange.