Occupational Therapy

Admission Requirements Degree Requirements

Mailing Address:
Department of Occupational Therapy (MC 811)
1919 West Taylor Street
Chicago, IL 60612-7250

Campus Location: 311 AHSB
Program Codes: 20FS1511MS (Professional/Entry-Level MS); 20FS5000OTD (OTD)
Telephone: (312) 996-6901
E-mail: OTDept@uic.edu
Web Site: http://www.ahs.uic.edu/OT
Head of the Department: Yolanda Suarez-Balcazar

Director of Graduate Studies: Brent Braveman (Professional/Entry-Level MS); Gary Kielhofner (OTD)

The Department of Occupational Therapy offers a Professional Master of Science degree for students who have a bachelor’s degree in another area. This program prepares students to be eligible for a national certification examination and for practice as an occupational therapist. Students are admitted in a course-only option but may petition to complete a graduate project or thesis. Students may focus on an area of clinical practice specialization (pediatrics, psychosocial, gerontology, physical disabilities) or on a role such as management and public policy, private practice, school system therapy, clinical education, or clinical research. Students may elect (on faculty approval) either a scholarship of discovery (research track) or scholarship of application (project track).

The Department of Occupational Therapy offers a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree that provides students with advanced professional knowledge and skills in advanced therapeutic work, administration and leadership, and/or professional education. Students ordinarily choose a primary and secondary area of focus.

Two PhD programs are available to students who wish to complete advanced preparation for research. These programs are in the areas of Disability Studies and Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Rehabilitation. Please refer to the Disability Studies section of the graduate catalogue for a description of the PhD in Disability Studies and the Kinesiology, Nutrition, and Rehabilitation section for that program.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must obtain supplemental application materials from the department or Web site. Applicants are considered on an individual basis. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements

Professional Master of Science Degree (Entry-Level Degree)

  • Baccalaureate Field Any field, no restrictions. Baccalaureate degree in any field plus completion of the following prerequisites
    with a grade of C or above prior to enrollment: one course in anthropology or sociology (equivalent to ANTH 101 or SOC 100); two courses in psychology—child psychology or child development (equivalent to PSCH 320) and abnormal psychology (equivalent to PSCH 270); one course in statistics (equivalent to PSCH 343); one course in human physiology with laboratory, covering all structures and functions of the body (minimum of four semester hours); and one course in human anatomy with laboratory for a minimum of 4 semester hours (laboratory with 30 hours of human cadaver lab study required). A two-course sequence in human anatomy and physiology is acceptable if it includes the cadaver laboratory (equivalent to KN 251 and 252). A cadaver lab is offered at UIC for accepted students who have not yet completed this requirement.
  • Grade Point Average At least 3.00/4.00a calculated on the last 60 semester (90 quarter) hours toward the first bachelor’s degree and subsequent course work.
  • Tests Required GRE General; combined verbal and quantitative scores should be at least 1000a. GRE Writing assessment; no minimum score is required.
  • Minimum English Competency Test Score
    • TOEFL 550 (paper-based); 213 (computer-based); 80, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21 (iBT Internet-based TOEFL), OR,
    • IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores.
  • Letters of Recommendation Three required.
  • Personal Statement Required. Experience Form is also required.

If prerequisites were completed more than 3 years prior to beginning occupational therapy coursework, it is highly recommended that the applicant review a current text prior to enrollment so he or she has up-to-date knowledge. If prerequisites were completed more than 8 years ago, it is recommended that the applicant retake the course(s) or complete an intensive self-study prior to enrollment. If the anatomy course was completed more than five years prior to beginning the occupational therapy courses, or if a grade of C was earned in the anatomy course, a 30 hour human cadaver lab will be required. This lab will be offered at UIC in the spring of the second year, concurrent with the second semester of occupational therapy.

Doctor of Occupational Therapy

  • Prior Degrees Students must have completed a bachelor’s degree. Students who have already earned a graduate degree or completed graduate work may, if approved, transfer that credit in order to meet some of the requirements of the OTD degree.   The OTD Admissions Committee reserves the right to determine the appropriateness of any graduate work completed by an applicant and may limit transfer credit.

    Students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in OT will have two options: (1) admission and matriculation directly into the OTD program, in which case the student will complete a minimum of 90 hours, or (2) concurrent admission and matriculation into the department’s MS degree program and the OTD. In this case, the student’s master’s degree would be earned after completing the required 36 hours, and a minimum of 58 additional hours would be taken before the OTD is awarded. Both of these options require the student to matriculate full time for 3 years.

    Students who have earned a master’s degree previously may be admitted to the OTD program. Up to 32 hours of the previous master’s degree can be approved for application to the OTD requirements. A minimum of 60 hours would be taken before the OTD is awarded. Students will be required to matriculate full time for a minimum of three semesters to complete the OTD requirements postmaster’s. Part time students would matriculate for a longer period.
  • Grade Point Average A minimum of 3.00/4.00a for all work beyond the baccalaureate level and at least 3.00a for the final 60 semester hours (90 quarter hours) of undergraduate study.
  • Tests Required GRE General with a combined score of at least 1000 for the verbal and quantitative sections.
  • Minimum English Competency Test Score
    • TOEFL 550 (paper-based); 213 (computer-based); 80, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21 (iBT Internet-based TOEFL), OR,
    • IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores.
  • Letters of Recommendation Three references pertaining to the applicant’s academic skills, accomplishments, and potential for doctoral study are required.
  • Personal Statement Each applicant is required to submit a 3–5 page statement addressing his or her goals for professional doctoral study and career development. A curriculum vitae is also required.

a Applicants who do not meet the GPA or GRE requirements, but who demonstrate strengths in other areas, may be considered.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements:

Professional Master of Science Degree (Entry-Level Degree)

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 36.
  • Course Work In order to qualify for certification as an occupational therapist, students in the professional degree program must elect clinical courses beyond the 36 credits required for graduation. Contact the Department of Occupational Therapy for more information on these required courses.
  • Required Courses: OT 500, 510, and 595.
  • The professional master’s degree has been fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). It is located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, P.O. Box 31220, Bethesda, MD 20824-1220. AOTA’s telephone number is (301) 652-AOTA, and its Web site is http://www.aota.org. UIC graduates are able to sit for the national certification examination for the occupational therapist administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam the individual will be an occupational therapist, registered. Most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
  • Comprehensive Examination None.
  • Thesis, Project, or Course-Work-Only Options Thesis or project optional. Students may earn the degree through course work only.
  • Thesis: Students who elect to complete a thesis must earn at least 8 hours in OT 598.
  • Project: Students who elect to complete a project must earn at least 4 hours, but no more than 8 hours, in OT 597.
  • Course Work Only: Students who elect to complete the course-work-only option must earn at least 36 semester hours in required and elective courses to obtain the MS degree and a total of 73 hours to be eligible for the national certification examination.


Doctor of Occupational Therapy

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 90 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate. Credit may be awarded for other relevant graduate work completed at UIC or another accredited institution. Any credit will be determined on an individual basis by the Admission Committee. All students are required to earn a minimum of 58 semester hours in formal course work in the program.
  • Course Work Core Courses (18–26 hours): OT 500, 510, 590, 595, and either 530, 531, or 532. 
  • Concentration Courses (20 hours): Students select a primary and secondary concentration from the following three options: Advanced Therapeutic Work, Administration and Leadership, and Professional Education. The combination of courses for the concentration will be chosen by the student in consultation with the advisor and must be approved by the curriculum committee.
  • Elective Courses: Students choose 10–16 hours of elective courses which may be taken from within and/or outside the department.
  • Field Examination Required.
  • Thesis, Project, or Course-Work-Only Options Project required. No other options are available.
  • Project: Students must complete at least 20 hours of OT 592.