Interested in Applying to an Occupational Therapy Program? The Time is Now

On July 19, 2017 the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application System, better known as OTCAS, opens for programs that start in the fall of 2018. OTCAS allows prospective students to apply to multiple occupational therapy programs at one time.  Many OT Programs in Illinois, including Lewis University’s, are members of OTCAS.

Before you start your OTCAS application be sure to consider these 5 things:

  1. Do you know what the career of occupational therapy entails? Many prospective applicants are attracted to occupational therapy because they want to help people and because of the very promising job market. However, not many people know that occupational therapists work in a variety of different practice settings. Occupational Therapists work in hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, public school systems, in-home patient care, private clinics, and community-based organizations. As valued members of the healthcare team, occupational therapists provide services to children and adults with a variety of conditions that impact their physical and mental health. More information about considering a career in occupational therapy can be found at the American Occupational Therapy Association.
  2. Do you want a master’s degree or a doctoral degree in occupational therapy? Individuals wanting to become occupational therapists can obtain either a master’s degree or a doctorate in occupational therapy. The decision whether to pursue one type of degree over another is a personal one. Graduates from both types of degree programs are qualified for the same entry-level positions and typically earn the same wages. The American Occupational Therapy Association’s Commission on Education provides more information on the difference between the two degrees:
  3. Do you know which schools you want to apply to? Getting into an occupational therapy program is a competitive process. Many prospective applicants apply to multiple schools and some do not get accepted the first time they apply. Some applicants target schools in a particular state or region in the country. Others may target public or private schools. When looking for a school, it is important to find the best fit for you. The American Occupational Therapy Association maintains a list of occupational therapy programs at
  4. Do you meet all of the application requirements? Each occupational therapy program has different requirements. These requirements are often listed on the college or university’s website and on their OTCAS page. Some common requirements include undergraduate transcripts, GRE scores, recommendation letters, volunteer hours, essays, and prerequisite coursework.
  5. Do you have a plan for funding your education? The cost of tuition for occupational therapy programs can range between $60,000-100,000 for a two to three year program. Most occupational therapy programs are fulltime with courses offered during the day. Some occupational therapy students work part-time during the evening or on weekends. Other students find it difficult to juggle the demands of work, classes, homework, and field experiences. Financial assistance may be available for eligible applicants.

With so many options for programs, there’s never been a better time to enter the field of occupational therapy. If you are ready to apply, congratulations on taking the first step of becoming an occupational therapist. For more information on how to apply to occupational therapy programs using OTCAS, go to:


About Dr. Susan Cahill

Dr. Susan Cahill is a former Associate Professor and Director of the MSOT Program at Lewis University. She is a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) and a member of the AOTA Commission on Practice. Visit to learn more.

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