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Psychology Career Path: Occupational Therapy

Potential Career Paths

  • Occupational Therapist (MSOT, OTD)

Action Steps for Students

To become more involved in Psychology Pre-Occupational Therapy path or learn about the profession, here is what students can do:

  1. Visit the American Occupational Therapy Association.
  2. Volunteer in hospitals or other physical or occupational therapy settings.
  3. Schedule a meeting with an occupational therapist to discuss the profession.

What is Occupational Therapy?

Occupational therapists work with individuals who have experienced some form of disability, whether mental, emotional, physical, or developmental, to improve their abilities to perform the tasks needed to function in their daily lives, whether in the home, at school, or in the workplace. For example, an occupational therapist might help individuals with permanent disabilities, such as spinal cord injuries or cerebral palsy, to use specialized equipment, such as a wheelchair, so that they may live productive, satisfying lives. An occupational therapist might help people with mental disorders to develop skills that would enable them to live independently. This might include learning time management, budgeting, and other similar skills. He or she might work in schools with children who have developmental challenges to enhance their learning skills, in work settings with adults to assist individuals who have sustained a work-related injury to adapt to their workplace, or in homes with elderly people to help them to plan their living spaces to reduce the likelihood of falls.

Once a student completes his or her bachelor’s degree, the student will apply to a master’s or doctoral program in occupational therapy.

To practice as an occupational therapist, an individual must: (1) graduate from an accredited occupational therapy program; (2) successfully complete a period of supervised fieldwork experience; (3) earn a passing score on a national exam; and (4) fulfill state requirements for licensure as an occupational therapist.

The purpose of the psychology pre-occupational therapy track is to provide students with a comprehensive background in psychology while insuring that students who want to become occupational therapists complete the necessary prerequisites for graduate programs in occupational therapy.

Undergraduate Course Requirements

Students who are interested in pursuing a career in Psychology Pre-Occupational Therapy should be sure to work with an adviser to develop an academic plan that is tailored to their interests. The plan should lead to the completion of coursework that is required for admissions to a professional program in occupational therapy.

University and College Requirements

In addition to the suggestions for the Psychology Pre-Occupational Therapy, be sure to complete all other university and college requirements, including the foreign language requirement.

The center staff recommend beginning the foreign language requirement in the first year. NOTE: Students may begin with a class higher than 1110 depending on foreign language placement test results. It is possible to place out of the foreign language requirement. Therefore, it is recommended that students take the placement test for any foreign language completed in high school.

Required Courses in Psychology

The following courses are highly recommended for students planning on pursuing a graduate degree in occupational therapy:

  • PSY 2720 Psychology of Personality (3)
  • PSY 3420 Adulthood & Aging (3)
  • PSY 3250 Psychology of Health & Illness (3)
  • PSY 3440 Psychology of Gender (3)
  • PSY 3710 Intro to Clinical & Counseling (3)

Additional Recommended Courses

  • EXPH 3200, 3205 Biomechanics + Lab (4)
  • EXPH 2200 Applied Kinesiology (3)
  • BIOS 4130, 4135 Human Neuroscience + Lab (4)
  • HLTH 2300 Medical Terminology (3)

Note: Be sure to check prerequisites for all coursework

Extra-Curricular Recommendations—Sciences & Mathematics

  • BIOS 1700, 1705 Biological Sciences I: Molecules & Cells + Lab (4)
  • BIOS 1710, 1715 Biological Sciences II: Ecology, Evolution, Animal and Body Systems and Lab (4)
  • BIOS 3010, 3015 Human Anatomy + Lab (4)
  • BIOS 3420 Principles of Physiology and Lab (4)
  • BIOS 3450, 3455 Human Physiology + Lab (4)
  • PHYS 2001 Intro to Physics (4)

Extra-Curricular Recommendations—Social Sciences & Humanities

  • SOC 1000 Intro to Sociology (3)
  • SW 1000 Intro to Social Work (3)
  • PHIL 1300 or 3310 Introduction to Ethics (3) OR Moral Problems in Medicine (3)

Fieldwork and Research in Psychology

It is highly recommended that students interested in Psychology Pre-Occupational Therapy participate in research in a psychology lab and engage in fieldwork in settings related to the student’s particular area of interest.

Volunteer Hours

Most professional programs in occupational therapy require students to complete volunteer hours with an occupational therapist in an occupational therapy setting prior to submitting an application to their program. The number of hours varies widely from one program to another. Prior to the senior year, students should check the admissions requirement for programs that interest them. Students may receive credit for their volunteer work by registering for PSY 3910.