According to The American Occupational Therapy Associations (AOTA), occupational therapy helps people with an injury, illness, or disability learn or re-learn to do everyday activities. For adults, this could include activities like getting dressed, cooking, and driving. For children, this could include activities like learning or playing. Occupational Therapy got its name from its focus on helping patients with everyday activities—or “occupations".
AOTA requires students pursuing a career in occupational therapy to enter the profession with a post-baccalaureate degree. The Occupational Therapy (OT) profession has a dual entry education program. Students interested in the profession may complete a master’s or doctorate level program. UWM offers a master’s in OT (MSOT). Successful completion of an undergraduate degree is required for entry into a graduate program. Students may complete any undergraduate degree in preparation for a graduate level OT Program as long as all prerequisite courses and other requirements are met.
The UWM bachelors degree in Occupational Science and Technology (OST) prepares student exceptionally well for the UWM and other graduate level OT Programs. The foundation courses of the degree include the human anatomy, human physiology, psychology, statistics, and natural science with a lab courses that are common prerequisites for graduate OT Programs. The core courses of the OST degree allows students to delve into content in the areas of disability, assistive technology, health, medical conditions, and other contemporary issues in the area of health and disability. Within the curriculum, there is also a sequence of four research courses, which helps students gain knowledge and skills required for graduate level research.
The OST degree has four tracks to allow focused study: Applications of Assistive Technology, Disability and Occupation, Human Factors, Injury and Performance and Therapeutic Recreation. All tracks help students to work in the area of disability. The Disability and Occupation track and the Applications of Assistive Technology track are ideal for students interested in OT graduate education.
Paid and unpaid experience working with individuals with a disability, shadow experiences with OTs in different settings, and a strong personal statement are also often requirements for application to different graduate OT Programs. It is important to work with the Pre-Occupational Therapy (Pre-OT) advisor MacKenzie Kougl MS beginning in freshman year or upon entry to the OST Degree (or other degree) Program in order to plan all needed activities into your college career. Having the Pre-OT designation on your transcript record will allow you access to key information about UWM OT Program information sessions, assistance with your application, student organizations, and more. With the Pre-OT designation students may apply to the UWM Masters in Occupational Therapy Program through the Early Admission Program. This is an advantage over students applying through the regular Occupational Therapy Comprehensive Application System (OTCAS).
The UWM Occupational Therapy (OT) Program's vision is to be a leader in accessibility and inclusivity recognized worldwide by our academic peers, field practitioners, alumni, present and future students, those they serve, and the public. Students from diverse backgrounds are encouraged to apply to the program. UWM’s OT Program is one of the largest in Wisconsin. As the only public OT Program in the Greater Milwaukee area, we offer a top-notch academic experience at a fraction of the cost of private schools. You may find the UWM OT Program admission requirements on the College of Health Professions and Sciences Occupational Therapy MS catalog page.
Successful completion of UWM's Bachelor of Science Degree in Occupational Science and Technology (OST) prepares you extremely well for graduate education in Occupational Therapy (OT). Courses cover topics in the areas of disability, assistive technology and universal design, disability and occupation, and much more. Please see the Disability and Occupation Track or the Applications of Assistive Technology Track of the OST degree. For more information about the BS in Occupational Science and Technology, you may wish to contact Patricia Thomas, MPA, CTRS, OST Program Director. Please note, completion of the OST degree does not guarantee admission to UWM's MSOT program.
It is important to note while admission to an OT program is competitive, there are many individuals and resources available at UWM to help you prepare a quality application. UWM's Student Success Center offers supplemental instruction and tutoring. The Writing Center offers one on one sessions. The Career Planning and Resource Center offers assistance with resumes and securing paid and unpaid experiences in the area of disability, rehabilitation, and OT. The Student Health and Wellness Center provides on campus health and mental health services. Many of the instructors who teach in the OST degree have a background in rehabilitation, disability, and/or health. One of the best resources for success is the Pre-Occupational Therapy Advisor. It is important to work with MacKenzie Kougl, MS, the Pre-OT Advisor, as early in your undergraduate career as possible.
I’m a new student. How do I start?
You are assigned an academic advisor upon admission to UWM. New Student Orientation (NSO) helps those who are new to campus learn and understand the enrollment process and enroll in classes for their first semester at UWM! You should ask to have the designation “Pre-Occupational Therapy” added to your academic record.
Who is my advisor?
When should I meet with my advisor?
Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor at least once per semester to ensure timely progress to graduation.
- Enrolling for spring semester?
Schedule an appointment with your advisor in October or November.
- Enrolling for fall semester?
Schedule an appointment with your advisor in March or April.
Students are also welcome to schedule an appointment with their advisor at any time to discuss academic challenges, career opportunities, or any other questions.
How can my advisor help me?
CHS boasts professional academic advisors who understand the challenges of balancing academics, work, family, and the social aspects of college life. Advisors partner with you to:
- Explore your academic and career interests
- Plan the sequence of your courses
- Prepare for course enrollment
- Access tutoring and other academic support
- Identify opportunities for campus involvement
- Connect you to campus resources
- Plan for graduation