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Pre-Occupational Therapy Resources

Considering a Career as an Occupational Therapist

Occupational Therapists help a wide variety of patients develop, recover, and improve the skills needed for daily living and working. Occupational therapists typically need to be creative, flexible problem solvers to help each patient with their individual obstacles.  Compassion, patience, and effective communication skills will help you succeed in working with a wide variety of people.

See also:
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook – Occupational Therapists

Pre-Occupational Therapy is not a major at CWU. However, you can meet many of your OT program prerequisites here at CWU at the same time you are earning your CWU bachelor’s degree, with some planning on your part.  Students typically choose to major in healthcare and science fields, though for most OT programs there is no preferred major.


How to Become an Occupational Therapist

After you earn a B.A. or B.S. degree, you will need to have a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from an accredited school, completed fieldwork experience requirements, and be licensed for the state in which you work.  The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy [NBCOT] administers the licensing certification exam. You’ll also need to complete continuing education courses throughout your career to keep your certification.  Admission requirements differ for each OT School. Begin searching for the right school for you with this List of ACOTE Accredited OT Masters Programs and review the OTCAS Occupational Therapy Centralized Application process.  A strong application will have OT job shadowing / observation hours with two different therapists, perhaps an interview with an OT, and at least 40 hours volunteering your time assisting people with disabilities.


CWU Coursework Relevant to Occupational Therapy

Because of the wide range of variance in prerequisite requirements, check these prerequisites against your list of potential schools. The following courses are typically required for entry into an occupational therapy graduate programs in Washington State, but schools may have other specific requirements for admission.

  • Chemistry (any college level course)
  • ENGL 101 and 102, English Composition
  • BIOL 355 and 356, Human Anatomy and Physiology (*Prerequisite BIOL 183, or BIOL 220, or EXSC 350 and EXSC 351)
  • IT 101 or CS 101, Computer Applications
  • MATH 311(Prerequisite Math 130, or higher) or PSY 362 (no prerequisite), Statistics
  • SOC 107, Principles of Sociology
  • PSY 101, General Psychology
  • PSY 313, Developmental Psychology
  • PSY 449, Abnormal Psychology

The following courses are typically recommended:

  • ANTH 130, Introduction to Cultural Anthropology
  • SOC 327, the Sociology of Health
  • Additional coursework in Anthropology, Sociology, and/or Psychology at the 200 level or above
  • COM 354, Business and Professional Speaking


CWU Pre-Occupational Therapy Advisor and Faculty Contact

Questions about pre-occupational therapy?  We highly recommend that students interested in pre-occupational therapy contact an advisor or faculty contact as early as possible.

Patrick (Pat) Coffey
Advising for students with interest in pre-occupational therapy study paired with Clinical Physiology, or Exercise Science majors.

Faculty Contact:
Dr. Susan Lonborg
Department of Psychology
Office: Psychology Building, Room 394
Phone: (509) 963-2397


Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between physical therapy and occupational therapy?
Occupational Therapists focus on helping people with the tasks of daily living. They may help individuals who suffer from trauma or have disabilities to achieve independence. Occupational Therapy is typically offered as a master's program. Physical Therapists focus on physiology and muscle groups that relate to physical activity. They may help people develop balance and range of motion to lessen pain and increase strength after injury. Physical Therapy is typically offered as a doctoral program.


Other Resources

Eastern Washington University Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) (Cheney, WA)
University of Puget Sound School of Occupational Therapy (Tacoma, WA)
University of Washington Master of Occupational Therapy (Seattle, WA)
The Student Doctor Network

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