Pre-occupational therapy

  • Are you interested in interacting directly with patients and providing compassionate care?
  • Are you an active listener and good communicator?
  • Are you interested in how the human body works and moves?
  • Are you interested in how people cope with and recover from illness and/or injury
  • Can you motivate people?

Occupational Therapy may be right for you!

Pre-OT is NOT a major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. It is a statement of your intention to apply to OT programs. You will still need to select a major to complete a degree at UWL. 

Declaring a Pre-OT track will help you determine common requirements for OT programs in our region. However, each program's requirements vary. When selecting coursework, it is important to consult the websites of the programs to which you plan to apply.

Occupational therapists help people across the lifespan participate in the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of everyday activities.  Common interventions include helping children with disabilities to participate fully in school and social situations, helping people recovering from injury to regain skills, and providing supports for older adults experiencing physical and cognitive changes.

More information can be found on the UWL OT Program website and via the AOTA.

There isn't one single experience that is favored by OT program admissions, but consider gaining work or volunteer experience where you are either:

a. working with and/or observing an OT

b. helping people with activities of daily living. CNA and "direct care" positions are a great way to do this, but you can also volunteer for on-campus programs and/or at nursing homes, assisted living facilities, special programs, or any place where you gain experience helping others.

The UWL OT Program's website shows some of the characteristics you should look to develop as you gain experience. 

Additionally, you should do what you can to become more aware of the profession - read articles about OT, go to related presentations, join the Pre-OT Club, etc. 

Some advantages of joining the Pre-OT club:

  1. Advisory information and updates about OT
  2. Periodic visits from the OT faculty, Health Professions Staff, and OT/PT professionals
  3. Community service opportunities related to OT
  4. A peer group to help support you
  • Applications: Most OT programs participate in the centralized application system "OTCAS". This is a single online site where you can submit most or all of your applications. The admission "cycle" usually starts in July, and you'll need to consult each programs' website for application deadlines. The importance of GPA varies from program to program, but a strong GPA is expected. 
  • Testing: Most programs will require the GRE exam. For more info about standardized testing, go here
  • Selecting programs: To learn about the various programs where you might apply, the OT Program Directory via the AOTA is a good place to start. Always then consult the individual programs' websites for the most accurate and up to date info. 
  • Timeline: The UWL OT Program's timeline page gives a good sense of the process of applying.

Once you've determined that you're on track to complete the prerequisite courses for your programs of choice, it's a good idea to have these programs do a "transcript review" to double-check your work.