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Frequently Asked Questions

Observation Hours Notice

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTHSC Occupational Therapy Program has suspended the observation hours admissions requirement. As an alternative to traditional shadowing hours, we are requiring our applicants to complete an online occupational therapy (OT) shadowing experience course. The link and password for the online OT shadowing course will be available on OTCAS when you are completing application. 

What is the application due date?

  • Early application is January 5 and Standard application is March 5.

Do I send all my information to OTCAS?

  1. You will send original transcripts and all references to OTCAS for verification. 
  2. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTHSC Occupational Therapy Program is suspending the observation hours admissions requirement. If you have completed in-person observation hours, you will need to upload the observation form(s) in OTCAS. If you are unable to submit them on OTCAS, you can email your signed observation forms directly to the OT department @ If you have not completed a minimum of 40 observation hours in at least two settings, you will need to complete the online shadowing course described below. (See: Are in-person observation hours a requirement?)

Where do I get and send forms for observation hours?

Note: In-person observation hours are no longer a requirement. If you have already completed observation hours, the link for the form can be found below; however, the online shadowing course will still be a requirement if you have not completed a total of 40 observation hours in two different settings.

What if I have missed the deadline to apply?

What “counts” in admission?

  • Overall GPA
    Science GPA
    GRE plus Writing Assessment
    Admission Essay
    Previous Experience/Job Shadowing
    Applicants should have a 3.0 to apply. In rare cases, students with a strong (above 40%) GRE score and below a 3.0 GPA may also be considered. To be competitive, a GRE score of 300 and a writing score of 3.5 are recommended.

    The graduate student will need a foundation in general knowledge and evidence of critical writing and thinking skills. We look very carefully at your essay for evidence of knowledge and motivation for the field and mastery of writing skills. Related work or volunteer experience and observations in OT programs act in your favor and help you to be more certain that you are making the right choice. Positive preprofessional evaluations give you an edge. Extracurricular activities also help you, especially if they are related to health care or if they demonstrate leadership. We take a holistic approach to admissions, it is not solely based on academic performance, however academic success is an important factor as you must maintain a 3.0 to stay in the OT program.

What kind of GPA do I need to have?

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 is strongly recommended. Please note we calculate all GPAs from all institutes attended.

Is a bachelor’s degree required for admission?

Yes. A bachelor's degree is required for admission to the program.

Can I take my prerequisites at UTHSC?

  • No, prerequisite courses need to be fulfilled by August 31st before you begin the program in January. Contact your local universities, colleges, and community colleges for prerequisite course offerings. See our website for equivalency tables or contact the OT department with questions.

Do you offer an undergraduate program or courses?

  • No. UTHSC OT program only offers a Masters of Occupation Therapy program.

Is an interview required?

  • Yes.

Are in-person observation hours a requirement?

  • No. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTHSC Occupational Therapy Program is suspending the observation hours admissions requirement. As an alternative to traditional shadowing hours, we are requiring our applicants to complete an online occupational therapy (OT) shadowing experience course. The interactive 6 module course provides an overview of the various settings where occupational therapists work and explains the philosophy and process of OT. 

    Within each module, there are slides that contain specific questions with prompts such as “answer the following questions” and “complete assignment.” You are not required to answer the questions or complete the assignments. The goal for completing the course is for you to become familiar with the information presented so that you gain a better understanding about the role of occupational therapy practitioners with individuals across the lifespan.

    The link and password for the online OT shadowing course will be available on OTCAS when you are completing application. If you would like to complete the shadowing course prior to accessing OTCAS, please send an email to and request the course link and password. 

If I completed in-person observation hours, where do I get the forms?

  • You can find forms for observations hours online. The completed observation forms should be submitted with your OTCAS application. If you have not completed a minimum of 40 observation hours in at least two settings, you will need to complete the online shadowing course described above.

I am a student at UTK, UTM or UTC. Can I just transfer into your program?

  • Everyone must submit an application to be considered for admission to the program. No preference is given to UT students.

I am an out-of-state resident. What are my chances of being admitted?

  • The College of Health Professions strives to create a diverse student body that is representative of a wide range of social, economic, and ethnic backgrounds and maintains excellence in each program. All qualified in-state and-out of-state individuals who meet the admissions requirements for the academic programs offered by the College are encouraged to apply and will be considered fully. However, as a state-supported institution, preference for admission will be given to residents of the state of Tennessee who have the same qualifications as non-resident applicants.

How do I establish residency in Tennessee?

  • You need to contact the Office of Enrollment Services for that information at 901.448.5560.

Can COTA’s enter the MOT program without further coursework?

  • COTA’s are strongly urged to apply, however, candidates must have earned a bachelor’s degree and provide evidence of meeting the prerequisite courses is required.

Will courses from my COTA academic institution transfer?

  • It depends. Each applicant’s transcript must be reviewed and a determination made. Course descriptions may be requested.

Would it be to my advantage to complete an OTA program first?

  • No. The only exception would be if you wish to work for a time as a COTA or if you wish to have it as a back-up plan. To do that plus get all the prerequisites for our program probably would take you three years. The best reason for completing a COTA program is that you have chosen that as your career. Certain individuals who are COTAs do decide to return to school to become OTRs, but that is the exception rather that the rule. Like volunteer experience, work experience as a COTA or PTA may give you a slight edge in admission, but you will have to weigh the costs and benefits of taking this route for yourself.

It has been more than 5 years since I took some of my science courses. Will I have to take them over?

  • The anatomy and physiology and kinesiology courses must be taken within five years of planned enrollment. 

I had to retake some of my science courses because I got D’s the first time. Will this hurt my chances?

  • All prerequisites must be a grade of C or higher. All repeated course grades are averaged.

Would it be to my advantage to take more science courses than the minimum required?

  • Yes, especially elective courses in anatomy, kinesiology, comparative vertebrate and human physiology. Even if you have A’s and B’s in your required science courses, you could benefit from additional coursework. If you have all C’s in your science courses, you will need to take additional science coursework. The advanced science courses at the UT Health Science Center are difficult. Students must have a very strong background to be successful in completing these courses.

Can higher level courses count for general requirements?

  • Higher-level courses may substitute for general requirements. Please contact us at for questions about specific courses.

Does it matter whether my science courses have a laboratory component?

  • Yes, all science classes must have laboratory component with the exception of Kinesiology.

My school’s developmental psychology course does not cover the lifespan. Will it fulfill the prerequisite?

  • No. Students need an understanding of development from conception to death. Discuss with your advisor the possibility of other departments, such as education, offering this course. If there is a question, you may submit a copy of the course syllabus with your application. You may also take the psychology sequence, which is two or three courses in some institutions.

What should I take for electives?

  • Remember that no more than four semester credits in activity-based courses may be accepted for transfer. Also, remember this is your chance for a liberal arts education. Take courses that are of interest to you. That’s the meaning of elective. No course will be wasted if you decide to become an occupational therapist. An engineering course could assist in the development of technology. You may own your own private practice one day, so business courses could be useful. If you have a penchant for languages, remember occupational therapists work all over the globe. Spanish speaking individuals, in any career, will be in great demand. So, enjoy the freedom to choose electives while you can.

What is the GRE code for your program?

  • The UTHSC OT GRE code is 1986.

Can I go part-time?

  • No, at this time we only offer a full-time program.

Will I be able to work while attending your program?

  • This is a very demanding program. Although we cannot prohibit your working while in school, many students find it difficult to do so because the program is extremely demanding. Students are expected to be present and available for class from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Fieldwork attendance is mandatory.

Do you provide scholarships?

  • The Office of Financial Aid is very helpful in identifying alternative resources. That office may be contacted at (901) 448-5568. Scholarships are also awarded to students once they have entered the program.

Will I be responsible for fieldwork expenses?

  • Yes. Room and board are not covered in tuition costs for either the three Level I (two weeks) or the two Level II (six months). The student must secure and pay all room and board, travel, and miscellaneous (scrubs, drug tests, etc.) expenses. A very small number of fieldwork settings offer stipends or student lodging, but that is the exception. At least one three-month fieldwork outside of the Memphis area is required.

Can I live on campus?

  • No, UTHSC does not provide housing on campus. You must find other arrangements.

How long does it take to find employment?

  • Occupational therapists are in high demand. Most students have job offers before they graduate.

What salary can I expect as a certified occupational therapist with a Master’s in Occupational Therapy?

  • This varies according to setting or geographic area. The most recent graduates’ salaries were between 65K and 75K. Experienced therapists are generally much higher.

Is Physics still a prerequisites class?

  • No, a Kinesiology class is now required.

For questions or additional information, please contact the UTHSC MOT Program at 901.448.8393 or

Last Published: Jul 9, 2020