FAQs

A one stop shop for everything you need to know about our program

We do our best to include everything about our program on our pages, but this is an easily searchable (and printable!) page of the most frequently asked questions. Here you’ll find:

General admissions information

From prereqs to financial aid, here are the facts on admissions.

What are my chances of getting in?

Each year the size and qualifications of the applicant pool varies, so it is impossible to predict. Also, the admissions committee considers a number of factors when evaluating applicants. These factors include, but not limited to, GPA, GRE, work and volunteer experience, the OTCAS personal statement, UIC personal statement, and letters of recommendation. For Fall 2016, there were 535 applicants and we enrolled 46 students. That included 7 alternates that we admitted later in the spring.

It is increasingly competitive to get into UIC’s program, so you should present as strong an application as you can, and look into other programs as well. It is wise to consider referencing the American Occupational Therapy Association website to learn about other available programs.

When will I know if I get admitted?

You should be notified of your admission status on or before March 15.

What is the average GPA and GRE for students who were accepted into your program?

The average GPA for the last 60 hours of undergraduate work is a 3.77 on a 4.0 scale. The average GPA for the prerequisite courses is a 3.79 on a 4.0 scale. The range is typically between a 2.9 and a 4.0. Applicants with either a 60 hour GPA or a prerequisite GPA below 3.0 may be considered for admission if they have strengths in other areas. Students with a GPA below 2.75 are not typically admitted unless special circumstances have affected the GPA.

The minimum recommended score on the GRE Exam is 150 each for the verbal and quantitative sections, which is around the 40th-45th percentile. Scores below 150 are acceptable if the applicant’s GPA is sufficiently high to demonstrate adequate academic potential. The typical mean for accepted applicants on the verbal section is 157, which is approximately the 75th percentile. For the quantitative section, the typical mean is 153-154, which is approximately the 50th percentile. There is no minimum score for the writing assessment, although most accepted applicants earn at least a 4 out of 6 and the mean is typically 4.3-4.4.

How can I prepare for the GRE?

There are self-study materials that you receive when you sign up to take the test at www.gre.org. Some students who have a history of not doing well on standardized tests opt to take a course.

Do you require a set number of hours of volunteer/observation in OT settings as part of the application process?

No, we do NOT require a minimum amount of volunteer hours, but it is strongly recommended that applicants have at least 50 hours of experience with an occupational therapist prior to applying. This experience should ideally occur in at least 2 different practice settings, for example, a hospital and a community setting such as a school or outpatient clinic. Completing a larger number of hours and in varied settings does result in your application being evaluated more favorably by the admissions committee but it does not guarantee admission.

Do I need to have a specific major for my bachelor’s degree?

You can have a bachelor’s degree in any subject, all majors are considered equally. At UIC, the most common majors are psychology and movement sciences/kinesiology. However, students have a variety of majors in science, community health, social sciences, education, and more. The prerequisites are in place to ensure that you have the basic knowledge needed to succeed in the program, regardless of your undergrad major.

Can I apply without all my pre-requisites being completed?

You can apply, but the pre-requisites will need to be completed before you enter the program and begin your OT courses in the fall. The only pre-requisite you can take after starting the program is the cadaver lab. Students who cannot obtain a cadaver laboratory experience of 30 hours prior to enrollment at UIC can enroll in a special OT cadaver lab in the fall and spring of the first year of occupational therapy coursework.

If my prerequisite courses were taken more than 3 years ago, do I need to retake them?

If prerequisites were completed more than 3 years prior to beginning occupational therapy coursework, it is highly recommended that applicants review a current text prior to enrollment so that they have up-to-date knowledge. If prerequisites were completed more than 8 years ago, it is recommended that applicants retake the course(s) or complete an intensive self-study or course audit prior to enrollment.

Do I need to take my prerequisites at a four year university? Will I be penalized if I take them at my local community college?

You can take prerequisites at any accredited college or university, including a community college. While we prefer to see students take them at a four year school, we do not penalize students who take them at a community college, as this is often the best option for the student.

Are online courses accepted to meet prerequisite requirements?

Most online courses are acceptable if they are completed at a regionally accredited college or university, and if they meet other stated requirements such as number of credits. They must appear on a transcript. Lab courses, such as anatomy, are not typically completed online, although some schools have a rigorous lab component that is occasionally approved.

How do you determine which classes are used to calculate the prerequisite GPA?

The prerequisite GPA is calculated by looking at the courses that most closely match our six prerequisite requirements. Courses that are completed by the end of the fall semester (just after the application deadline) are counted in the prerequisite GPA.

If I retake a prerequisite, which grade do you count?

Both grades are averaged into the prerequisite GPA.

What is the cost of tuition? What will the total program cost be?

For 2016-17, tuition is projected to be $10,165 per semester for Illinois residents and $16,285 for non-residents. The total cost for the MS two year program is estimated to be $52,464 for Illinois residents and $84,050 for non-residents.

I am not from Illinois. Can I become an Illinois resident after I am admitted?

To establish residency, a person must reside in Illinois for one year primarily for other than educational purposes. If you are not a resident of Illinois, once you are a student, you cannot qualify for Illinois resident tuition rates. See the University of Illinois University Academic Programs and Services website for more details.

What is the length of the MS program? Can I attend part time?

The MS program at UIC is a fulltime, 23-month year program only. There is not a part time option.

When are the OT classes offered?

Classes are all offered during the day, typically between 8am and 5pm. Some electives are offered in the evening, but regular evening attendance is not required. There are occasionally some class related activities such as visiting community practicum sites that must be completed in the evenings or on a weekend.

What is the size of each OT class?

Most lecture classes have no more than 46 students.  Some lab classes have 19 students in them. For the problem-based learning courses, the 46 students are divided into 6 small groups. Each small group is typically composed of 7 or 8 students.

What type of financial aid is available? Are there any scholarships or jobs made available to OT students?

Due to being a state university, UIC does not offer merit scholarships for most incoming students. 2-4 scholarships are available for our top applicants and for up to two qualified underrepresented minority students who are selected to participate in our minority mentoring program. There are 14 scholarships offered throughout the year for enrolled students, with an average amount of $2000. Additional financial aid, typically loans, is available through the UIC Office of Financial Aid.

Information about different scholarships can be obtained by contacting the Office of Special Scholarship Programs or by doing a general search on Fastweb. A small number of hourly positions are available to qualified OT students. Assistantships are typically reserved for doctoral students.

I have more questions. Can I meet with someone for advising?

General information sessions are held one Friday a month at 2:00 PM, plus one Monday per month at 5:30 PM. Please visit our calendar for our upcoming session dates. Sessions are held at 1919 W. Taylor St., 3rd floor. Individual advising is offered at the end of the general session.

You can also email your questions to otdept@uic.edu. In addition, you can you can contact a current student for student related questions by emailing ots@uic.edu. If necessary, individual advising appointments can be scheduled by contacting otdept@uic.edu. Make sure you download all pertinent information and review it before you have an advising meeting.

Applying to the MS in OT program via OTCAS

Confused about the OTCAS applcation? Here’s some help.

Why do I have to apply using OTCAS rather than directly to UIC?

OTCAS stands for Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service. OTCAS is a Web-based service that includes a centralized application and set of requirements that are standard to all participating member schools. The applicant submits: one set of transcripts, one set of letters of recommendation, and one set of experience forms through a single source, OTCAS. The OTCAS staff processes and disseminates the applicant’s information to the schools designated by the applicant. This allows UIC to have a centralized data base for all of our applicants, making admission decisions and communication with applicants easier. It also makes it easier for applicants to apply to multiple schools.

Do I have to submit a fee to UIC and to OTCAS?

Yes, both fees are required as your OTCAS fee pays for the centralized database and your UIC fee pays for UIC personnel to evaluate your application.  The fee for the UIC Graduate College Application is $70.  The fee for the OTCAS application is $140, plus $60 per additional school.

What is the deadline for applying to the MS Program?

The OTCAS application and the UIC Graduate College application must be submitted electronically by December 1 at midnight Eastern Standard Time. All applications must be complete, with all transcripts and letters of recommendation submitted and fees paid by January 15.

How do I submit my transcripts to OTCAS?

Transcripts and a list of your courses and grades must be submitted via OTCAS instructions. There are two steps:

  1. Sending transcripts to OTCAS via the instructions on the Coursework page
  2. Entering each course you have completed and your grade, using a personal copy of your transcript. You will also enter courses you plan to complete. Using the Special Classification drop down menu, indicate if it was an honors section or study abroad or in any other category. Click on the “Instructions” button at the top for detailed instructions.

Once completed, OTCAS will verify your grades against your transcripts, which you will have to send directly to OTCAS. You do not need to send your transcript to UIC. We will access it from OTCAS once it is verified. If you are taking courses in the fall, update your grades on your OTCAS application and send a transcript to OTCAS as soon as grades are posted.

Do I need to forward my transcripts to the UIC Office of Admissions as well?

No. Do not respond to emails from the UIC Office of Admissions stating to submit your transcripts to UIC.  The department will forward your verified transcript(s) from OTCAS to the UIC Office of Admissions.

When do I need to take the GRE? Can I retake it?

The GRE exam should be taken no later than one month before the application deadline to allow time for the scores to arrive at UIC (November 1 for the December 1 final deadline). The GRE exam can be repeated, but one month must elapse between each attempt. Retake scores will be accepted until January 15. See the GRE website for info on testing locations and schedule. Please use UIC code 1851 to have your scores sent to UIC.

What materials should be submitted to OTCAS?

The following materials are submitted to the OTCAS Application System:

  • Occupational Therapy Application Form
  • OTCAS Fee ($140, plus $60 per additional school)
  • Completion of the Experiences, Achievements, and Observation Hours tabs under the Supporting Materials section if you have experiences to report.
  • OTCAS Personal Statement
  • UIC Specific Personal Statement, details below
  • Original transcripts
  • Letters of Recommendation: Three professional letters, personal references not acceptable. Electronic submissions are preferred, but paper forms are accepted.

What materials should be submitted to UIC?

Instructions for required UIC-specific brief personal statement

An additional UIC-specific brief personal essay is required.  Please answer the questions below in one coherent essay of 400 words or less.

Why is the UIC OT program a good match for you and why are you a good match for UIC? Think about the kind of OT you want to be, and how UIC will provide a means to get there. Answer the question by explaining how the UIC OT program links with your career plans and your prior experiences, interests, values or background.

I had special circumstances that affected my grades and achievement. Can I submit something to explain my situation?

UIC does allow applicants to submit an optional 3rd essay/supplemental statement. It must be no longer than 400 words. Submit the statement as an attachment and email to otdept@uic.edu. In the subject line indicate “Supplemental Statement from (your name here).” It must be submitted at the same time as your OTCAS application or it will not be considered. If either of the below conditions apply, you may submit a supplemental statement as part of your application:

  1. You had at least one semester of lower grades due to a personal situation such as a serious problem with your health, family or finances. “Lower grades” is defined as at least one grade point below your overall gradepoint average. For example a student with a 3.8 GPA had a semester at 2.8 or below. Your statement should indicate what the situation was and how it affected your grades during a specific time period, and, if applicable, steps you took to prevent it from continuing to have a negative effect on your academic performance.
  2. You experienced major personal challenges or hardships that influenced your role as a student, employee or family member. This could include an illness or disability experience, family crisis, discrimination, financial hardship or similar challenge that was significant. Describe the challenge and how it affected you, and what you have learned from it that is relevant to occupational therapy.

Applying simultaneously to the Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD) program

If you’re not yet an occupational therapist, you can co-apply to our master’s and OTD programs, or apply to the OTD program after beginning the MS program.

What are the requirements if I want to simultaneously apply to the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program?

UIC MS in occupational therapy students who want to enter the field with knowledge and skills beyond the OT master’s degree can complete the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree by co-enrolling in the MS program and the OTD program. This post-professional degree prepares students to fulfill roles as advanced practitioners, educators, and leaders or managers. OTD students must already be certified occupational therapists or be co-enrolled in the UIC MS in Occupational Therapy program.

Students who are interested in matriculating in both the MS and the OTD programs can either apply to the OTD simultaneously with the MS, or can wait and apply to the OTD after beginning MS coursework. Students must be accepted into the MS program to be eligible for consideration for admission into the OTD program. Students who are simultaneously applying for the OTD must obtain, follow, and complete the instructions for that program.

In addition to the MS program, how long should it take me to complete my OTD?

Unlike the MS, you have an option to attend full or part time for the OTD. The OTD program is about a year to a year and a half addition to the MS program for full-time students, depending on if you have already taken electives concurrently with your MS courses.

International Applicants

Are you an international student? Here are some things you need to know.

Do I have a special deadline?

It is strongly recommended that international applicants, whose transcripts are not in English, apply by October 1 to allow adequate time to review academic credentials.

Do I need to take an English proficiency exam?

Applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The test score cannot be more than two years old. The Department of Occupational Therapy’s minimum total score is 93 with subscores of Writing 24, Speaking 22, Listening 25 and Reading 22 (Internet-based TOEFL). UIC’s Institutional Code for TOEFL is 1851. Visit www.ets.org for more information.

Is there an exemption policy for the TOEFL?

No, the TOEFL is required of ALL applicants who are non-native English speakers.

What additional materials do I need to submit to UIC?

International applicants must provide an original transcript in their native language AND a translated copy in English to UIC and OTCAS. Translations should be on a translator’s letterhead and should be literal (not an interpretation) from an ATA certified translators, court-appointed translators, or from the consulate.

A Detailed International Academic Credential Report is also required for international applicants, in addition to original transcripts AND the ATA translation. The evaluation must be completed by one of the following companies. However, an ECE translation is strongly preferred. Make sure to get a course-by-course report.

Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE) P.O. Box 514070 Milwaukee, WI 53203-3470; Phone 414-289-3400

World Education Services, Inc. (WES) P.O. Box 11623 Chicago, IL 60611-01623; Phone: 312-222-0882

International applicants will also need to submit the Declaration and Certification of Finances form and a copy of their bank statement. Please mail this information to the Department of Occupational Therapy or email it to otdept@uic.edu.