Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
The MSOT degree prepares generalist clinicians with the knowledge and skills to work as direct care providers, consultants, educators, managers and advocates for clients.
Our curriculum trains practitioners to develop their unique occupational lens. Curricular threads intersect and overlap so that each student engages with their coursework in a personalized way. Students learn how to select and use appropriate theories, models of practice, and frames of reference to guide the occupational therapy evaluation and intervention process. They are able to evaluate and apply research literature and evidence to support practice. Students develop professional behaviors that are consistent with the occupational therapy code of ethics, governmental requirements, professional standards and institutional policies. Click here to view the MSOT curriculum grid.
Graduates enter practice with the following competencies to:
- Use evidence to inform occupational therapy assessment and intervention across the continuum of care
- Develop community programming
- Exercise sound, professional judgement and clinical reasoning
- Value and encourage interprofessional collaboration
- Promote an inclusive culture of humility and sensitivity
- Use current technologies and informatics
For students interested in pursuing a PhD in the future, the MSOT degree program also includes the option for students to study with faculty scientists. Students have exposure to topics in participation, public health, aging, children and youth, mental health, work and industry, and neurorehabilitation.
An experiential portion of the curriculum — six months of full-time fieldwork supervised by experienced clinicians — follows the two years of academic coursework for a total of 80 credit hours. The MSOT degree program is a 28-month, full-time program.
With the MSOT degree, you will be eligible to sit for the NBCOT examination to become a practicing occupational therapist. The exam is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT), located at One Bank Street, Suite 300, Gaithersburg, MD 20878. NBCOT’s phone number is (301) 990-7979 and its web address is www.nbcot.org. See our NBCOT Pass Rate.
A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification exam or attain state licensure.
Applicants must possess personal qualities of character, integrity and motivation, as well as the capacity to perform essential functions suitable for a career in occupational therapy. All applicants must successfully pass a drug screening, criminal background check, and family and child services review. The admissions committee takes the following factors into consideration:
1. Undergraduate education
A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college/university or enrollment in an affiliated 3-2 program and satisfactory completion of all prerequisite coursework. Prerequisite courses can be taken online or outside of the degree-granting school, as long as they are from an accredited institution. Advanced placement (AP) courses and test scores do not count for prerequisites. The following six prerequisite courses (3 semester hours each) must be completed with grades of B or better and at least four of the six courses must be complete at time of application:
- Abnormal Psychology
- An abnormal psychology or a psychopathology course fulfills this requirement.
- Developmental Psychology
- You may choose a child development or a lifespan course that includes learning principles and motor, language, cognitive, emotional and social development.
- Life Science
- Must be 200 level or above; no lab is required. Suggested courses include but are not limited to human anatomy, neuroanatomy, comparative anatomy, pathophysiology, zoology, genetics, botany, ecology and cognitive neuroscience.
- Must cover the organization of cells into tissues, organs and organ systems in humans. A course titled “Anatomy and Physiology” is acceptable; however, if the course is part of a two-part sequence, both courses must be completed to be able to fulfill prerequisites. One part can fulfill the life science prerequisite, with the second part for the physiology prerequisite.
- Social Science
- Suggested courses include, but are not limited to, other psychology courses, sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, public health, epidemiology, gerontology and urban studies.
- You may choose behavioral, educational, psychological or mathematical statistics. Business statistics does not fulfill this requirement.
2. Graduate Record Exam (GRE)
The GRE must be taken no more than five years prior to application. Quantitative, verbal and analytical writing scores are required. Our current mean scores are 153 quantitative, 156 verbal and 4.0 analytical writing.
3. Prerequisite and cumulative GPA
A grade of B or better is required for all prerequisite courses, and a 3.25 cumulative GPA is required for the MSOT and OTD programs.
Three letters of recommendation are required from:
- A professor, teacher, or academic advisor. 3-2 applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from their advisor.
- A person who supervised you during observation experiences.
- A person of your choice, other than a relative or family friend, who can speak objectively about your strengths. A work supervisor or another teacher is recommended.
5. OT-related experience
A minimum of 30 hours of occupational therapy-related experience or observation is required. We encourage applicants to visit different sites to experience the diversity of the OT practice. Activities such as volunteering as a camp counselor for children with disabilities or working as an aide at an assisted living facility count toward this requirement as they provide exposure to populations that interface with OT. It is strongly recommended, but not required, that a portion of the hours include observation with one or more occupational therapists.
6. Understanding of OT and strong writing skills
Applicants must demonstrate both in their personal statement.
7. Life experience
Participation and leadership in extracurricular activities, work, research or other pursuits is encouraged.
8. International students
TOEFL (and TWE, if Paper-Based Test) should be taken no more than one year prior to application. Transcripts from universities outside the United States must be reviewed by a credentialing agency. Click here for more information.
How to Apply
Washington University participates in AOTA’s centralized application system for occupational therapy educational programs, OTCAS. Students manage their applications online and may apply to more than one school at a time. Washington University does not require a separate application or fee.
The Program admits one class each year in the fall. Applicants typically begin the admission process during the preceding fall and must complete all required elements by the December 15 deadline.
The application process is as follows:
- The OTCAS system is open for applications in July for those applying for admission the following fall. OTCAS opens in July for fall 2020 admissions.
- Your application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and GRE scores must be submitted to OTCAS by December 15.
- Once completed, “OTCAS applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis.” Click here for OTCAS frequently asked questions about the deadline. In our experience, it can take two to four weeks before an application is verified by OTCAS and released to us for review.
- Once completed OTCAS applications are released to us, they are reviewed in the order in which they are received.
- Admission decisions may be made prior to the December 15 deadline. Applicants are encouraged to complete the application process well in advance of the deadline.
- Applicants will be notified of admissions decisions as soon as possible. The time required to review applications and respond to applicants will vary depending on many factors, including application volume.
Your application, official transcripts, three letters of recommendation and GRE scores must be submitted to OTCAS by December 15. For the GRE, select "MISSOURI" as the state where we are located. The Washington University OTCAS code for the GRE is 0081; the occupational therapy code is 0618.
Washington University encourages and gives full consideration to all applicants for admission, financial aid and employment.
The School of Medicine is committed to recruiting, enrolling and educating a diverse student body.
The Program in Occupational Therapy is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE’s telephone number, c/o AOTA, is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is www.acoteonline.org.
A felony conviction may affect a graduate's ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.