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Pre-Professional Programs: Pre-Occupational Therapy

General Information

Central Washington University (CWU) does not offer a degree program in Occupational Therapy or Pre-Occupational Therapy. "Pre- Occupational Therapy" is a non-degree advising program through which a student can prepare for admission to a professional Occupational Therapy program at another institution. CWU does offer prerequisite courses necessary for successful admission to such a program.

There are four universities in Washington and Oregon that offer degrees and professional training in the field of Occupational Therapy: Eastern Washington University, University of Washington, University of Puget Sound, and Pacific University. All of these programs grant graduate degrees and therefore require students to have a bachelor's degree before admission.

Requirements for admission vary among the professional schools. The information contained in this handout should serve as a general summary of those requirements. For general information about the Occupational Therapy profession, employment outlook, and professional training programs through out the U.S., visit the American Occupational Therapy Association website ( More detailed information about each of the above programs, as well as information about other schools, is available from the Pre-Occupational Therapy advisor or by visiting the internet web sites noted in this handout.

Take some time to study these pages, and then make an appointment with the Pre-Occupational Therapy advisor to discuss Pre-Occupational Therapy in general, prerequisite coursework, scheduling, and choice of a major.

The Pre-Occupational Therapy advisor here at CWU is:

Dr. Susan Lonborg 
Department of Psychology
480 Psychology Building

What you need to do while at CWU:

  • Decide on a degree program and work toward your Bachelor's Degree

    Since Pre-Occupational Therapy (Pre-OT) is not a degree program, you will need to decide on what degree to declare. The Bachelor of Arts in Biology ( is a good choice, as is a Psychology major ( However, you can decide to pursue any number of degrees if you so choose.
  • Take the proper prerequisite courses (and do well!) 

    Unfortunately, not all professional OT schools have the exact same prerequisite requirements. The list below consists of the primary coursework needed to prepare for admission to all four Washington and Oregon programs. For details about prerequisites for each program, visit the program websites noted later in this handout.

    Please note:
    1. Some courses require prerequisites*; check the catalog!
    2. Course substitutions are sometimes possible must be approved by the professional program(s) of interest.
    3. Your goal should be mostly A's and B's, no D's.
Human Anatomy and Physiology*BIOL 355 and BIOL 356
(EXSC 250 and 351 can substitute at EWU and UPS)
General ChemistryCHEM 111 or 181 including lab
Introductory Physics
(PU will accept EXSC 250 as substitute)
PHYS 111 and 111 lab
General PsychologyPSY 101
Developmental Psychology*PSY 313 or 314
Abnormal Psychology*PSY 449
Principles of SociologySOC 107
Statistics*PSY 362 or MATH 311 or BIOL 213
English Composition or Technical Writing*e.g. ENG 310
Public Speaking (EWU only, recommended)COM 207
Intro. to Occupational Therapy (EWU only)contact EWU
Medical Terminology (EWU, PU only)contact EWU/PU

  • Get some exposure to the field of OT

    All Pre-Occupational Therapy students will need to gain intern experience working under the direction of a licensed Occupational Therapist. In general, it isnever too early to begin your internships; the more time you intern, the better; and the more varied your internship settings, the better. Such internships may be paid or voluntary (most are voluntary). Be sure to obtain documentation of your experience from your internship supervisor. In Ellensburg, contact:

    Kittitas Valley Community Hospital
    (509) 933 8677 or 962-7322

    Ellensburg Community Schools
    Special Services
    (509) 925-8117

    Also, contact local nursing homes. They often employ Occupational Therapists.
  • Take the Graduate Record Exam

    Most graduate OT programs require that you take the Graduate Record Exam. Your scores will be a part of your application. You should arrange to take this far enough in advance of application deadlines so as to allow your scores to be a part of your application - this usually means late in your junior year of early in your senior year at CWU. Detailed information on the GRE can be obtained from CWU Testing Center (Boullion 125; 963-1847); or online at
  • Apply to the school(s) of your choice

    The application process can be quite time consuming and must be completed well in advance of your beginning the graduate program. All programs start with the fall term and applications are due as early as December of the previous year. In most cases, separate applications must be made to the OT program and the university's graduate school. Admission is competitive, thus application to more than one school is encouraged.

WA and OR Occupational Therapy (OT) Programs

For specific information (philosophy, prerequisites details, GPA requirements, length of program, admissions, application material, costs, scholarships, etc.) about the Washington and Oregon programs, be sure to visit the following web sites: 

Eastern Washington University, Spokane, WA

University of Washington, Seattle, WA

University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, WA

Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR

WA and OR Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) Programs

Occupational Therapy Assistants work under the supervision of an Occupational Therapist. OTAs must complete a two-year education program, usually offered at a community college. In Washington, there is only one such program.

Green River Community College