Before You Apply


UIC’s entry-level OTD degree program has been granted Candidacy Status for accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). Consistent with ACOTE policy, the program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates are eligible 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 (OTR). ACOTE is located at 6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200, North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929. ACOTE’s telephone number c/o AOTA is (301) 652-AOTA and its web address is

Holistic admissions process

The department’s thorough holistic admission process uses a balanced and equitable approach that considers multiple factors, including experience, background and personal characteristics, as well as traditional metrics such as grades and test scores. Our goal is to consider each applicant’s attributes that promote success as a student and a professional.

Start planning now

Early preparation is the key to a smooth and successful application and admission process. The UIC OT admissions process is competitive. For fall 2021 admission to the MS program, there were 415 applicants for a target class size of 46 students. The entry-level OTD program will enroll 40 students per year.

Pre-advising and resources

Two information sessions are held monthly throughout the year. Each session gives an overview of occupational therapy, the UIC OT program and the admissions process. Individual advising is available afterwards.

The information sessions are currently held online in response to campus directives regarding COVID-19.  After you are registered, you will receive an email the day before the session with log-in details.


Know your deadlines

Applications for fall 2022 are due Dec.1, 11 p.m. CST. The recommended international student deadline is Oct. 1.

Check your requirements

Applicants must apply online through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application System (OTCAS). All courses are entered by the applicant through the OTCAS portal and transcripts are sent to OTCAS to verify entries. Applicants must also complete the UIC application and submit the required fee.

Admission requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree completed by the time of entry into the program (or Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions for high school students, see below). All undergraduate majors are considered equally. At UIC, the most common majors are rehabilitation science, psychology and movement sciences/kinesiology. Other majors include science, community health, social sciences, education and more.
  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (B average) for all baccalaureate and graduate coursework. Exceptions may be made if other components of the application, including GRE, are higher than cohort average. GPA is also calculated on the six prerequisite courses, including fall coursework (see below for prerequisites). Students with a GPA below 2.75 are rarely admitted except in special circumstances. Fall grades must be received by  January 10 for applications to be considered complete for review by the admissions committee.
  • Completion of six prerequisite courses by the time of enrollment, with a grade of B minus or above. Special circumstances resulting in a grade below B minus must be described in a supplemental statement (see instructions below).
  • GRE (the general test). Scores should be sent directly from the Education Testing Service to UIC. The minimum recommended score on the GRE is 150 verbal and quantitative (40th-45th percentile). Scores below 150 are acceptable if the applicant’s GPA demonstrates strong academic potential. Retake scores will be accepted until Jan. 10.
  • Experiences. Record your volunteer, work and extracurricular experiences in OTCAS.
  • International students: If English is not your native language, you must take an English proficiency test. Check the International Students section of the Applying page for more information.


You must complete six prerequisite courses before enrollment, earning a grade of B minus or above. The prerequisite GPA is calculated from the courses that most closely match UIC OT requirements. Prerequisite courses do not have to be completed by the time of application. Each course must be the equivalent of at least three semester hours unless otherwise noted.

Required prerequisite courses:

  • introduction to anthropology, sociology, or social psychology: one course.
  • psychology: two courses, either child psychology or child development and abnormal psychology. Human/lifespan development fulfills the child development requirement if the course is one semester with at least half focused on child development.
  • statistics: one course offered in psychology, sociology, statistics, math or similar department. A research methods course is not acceptable.
  • human anatomy: one course, with 30 hours of human cadaver lab study required.* Minimum of four semester hours.
  • human physiology: one course with lab, covering all structures and functions of the body.
  • medical terminology: not required, but recommended. Students may also complete a self-study course in medical terminology upon acceptance.

If a prerequisite was completed more than three years ago, we recommend reviewing a current textbook before enrollment. If the course was completed more than eight years ago, we recommend retaking the course or completing an intensive self-study before enrollment.

Courses taken at a four-year university are preferred, but community college courses are accepted. Most online courses from a regionally accredited college or university are acceptable if they meet other stated requirements.

Online anatomy and physiology labs will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis upon admission.

Advanced placement credit is not accepted for prerequisite requirements.

While the UIC OT department strongly prefers transcripts with regular A-F grades for prerequisites, courses with a grade of CR (credit), S (satisfactory) or P (pass) will be accepted if A-F grades are not available.

*Students who cannot obtain an in-person or human anatomy online dissection laboratory experience of 30 hours with emphasis on the musculoskeletal and nervous systems before enrollment must enroll in an OT-specific, in-person cadaver lab or online anatomy dissection lab at UIC in the fall of the first year of occupational therapy coursework. This is the only prerequisite that can be completed after enrollment.

Applicants must take a UIC human anatomy lab course if they earned a grade below B minus in anatomy or completed an anatomy course more than three years ago. Acceptance of online or in-person anatomy lab courses will be determined on a case-by-case basis upon admission. If accepted students earned a grade of CR, S or P in an anatomy course, they may be required to take a UIC human anatomy lab course in the fall of the first year of occupational therapy coursework.

Statement required for prerequisite grades below a B minus

UIC requires applicants to submit a supplemental statement of no more than 400 words in the “UIC Questions” section of the OTCAS application if an applicant has a grade of below B minus in a prerequisite, even if the course was retaken for a higher grade. In the case of a retake, both grades will be calculated in the prerequisite GPA. The application will be denied if a supplemental statement is not submitted, even if the course was retaken for a grade of B minus or above.

The statement should include the semester(s) and year the grade occurred, class year (sophomore, junior, senior), the situation, how grade(s) were affected and, if applicable, the steps taken to prevent a continuing negative effect on academic performance. If the course was retaken, include the new grade.


A minimum number of volunteer hours is not required, but we strongly recommend at least 50 hours of experience with an occupational therapist before applying. This should include at least two different practice settings (such as hospital and community settings). If you cannot complete volunteer or observation hours, do not be deterred from applying. In addition to OT observation, UIC considers non-OT volunteer roles, community service, organization experience and employment.

Completing a large number of volunteer hours in varied settings results in a more favorable evaluation by the admissions committee, but does not guarantee admission. Use our template to keep a log of hours, activities and reactions to refer to when you apply.

Special circumstances related to COVID-19

In the OTCAS application, students can request consideration for COVID-19-related circumstances that affected their potential for admission. The statements will be reviewed by the admissions committee.

Health documentation, BLS/CPR certification and drug screen/background check

Because occupational therapy students interact with patients and clients during clinical training and fieldwork, vaccinations for specific communicable diseases, or tests verifying immunity, are required before enrollment. Documentation of vaccination for COVID-19 is also required.

To begin course-related clinical experiences and fieldwork, students must satisfy drug screening and background checks for history of criminal offenses. Results may affect a student’s ability to participate.

Upon enrollment, students must have Basic Life Support (BLS)/Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification at the health care professional/provider level through the American Heart Association or the American Red Cross. Classes from other organizations will not be accepted. The BLS/CPR class must contain an in-person skills check. Courses can be 100% classroom taught or “blended” (part online and part in-person), but classes held entirely online will not be accepted. Students must maintain their certification until graduation.

Required technological competencies

Students are expected to possess technology competencies including using Internet search engines, receiving email messages, utilizing the Blackboard learning management system, using virtual instruction platforms (e.g. Zoom), creating and editing a document in a word processing program, and creating and editing slides. Students who do not have these competencies can utilize numerous online resources to build these skills.

Prepare your documents

Your application will include transcripts, personal statement, UIC-specific personal essay and three letters of recommendation. Refer to the Applying page for specifics.

The application process is paperless. Uploaded documents must be in PDF format, no larger than 5 MB. Portfolio PDFs and secured PDFs that require a password are not compatible.

International students may be required to submit additional materials. See the International Students section of the Applying page for more information

Have your test scores sent in advance

GRE scores are required for all applicants. Scores should be sent directly from Education Testing Service to UIC. If you have taken the GRE within the past five years, you must request that scores be sent from ETS to UIC. Institution Code: 1851.

The in-home GRE, which is proctored remotely, is also acceptable.

To prepare for the GRE, review the self-study materials available when you sign up for the test.

International students: If your native language is not English, you must submit Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores to UIC directly from ETS. UIC’s Institutional Code is 1851. Paper score reports will not be accepted.

Illinois residency

To establish residency, a person must reside in Illinois for one year primarily for other than educational purposes. Nonresidents do not qualify for Illinois resident tuition rates. See University of Illinois University Academic Programs and Services for details

Guaranteed Professional Program Admissions (GPPA)

Highly qualified and motivated students applying to enter UIC as freshmen can simultaneously apply for admission to the entry-level OTD program. Applicants must be familiar with occupational therapy through volunteer or work hours, or personal experience. If accepted as a GPPA student by the university and department, admission into the entry-level OTD program four years later is guaranteed if undergraduate degree and performance criteria are met. Those criteria include maintaining full-time status and a 3.5 overall GPA at UIC; completing all required prerequisite courses at UIC with a grade of B or above; and attaining minimum GRE scores of 152 on the verbal section, 148 on the quantitative section and 4.0 on the analytical writing portion. In addition, 100 hours of OT-related work or volunteer experience before Dec. 1 of senior year is required.

Think about funding

Most UIC OT students rely on student loans, available through the Office of Financial Aid. Scholarships are reserved for enrolled students only. Recruitment or merit scholarships are not offered to applicants. About 16 endowed scholarships are offered for fall and spring semesters, with an average award of $1,800. Scholarships are awarded for academic achievement as well as financial need.

Up to three graduate hourly positions are available annually for entry-level OTD students. These positions pay about $25 per hour, for a variable number of hours per week (usually eight to 12). Other positions are often available in other campus departments and offices.

Assistantships, with a partial waiver of tuition and fees, are primarily reserved for Ph.D. and post-professional OTD students. The Mentored Research Experience for Underrepresented OT Students provides a one-semester research experience for a Black or Latinx student with research experience or a high level of research interest.

There is limited availability of assistantships for entry-level OTD students in OT, but teaching or research assistantships may be available in other departments on campus.