Before You Apply
Our entry-level OTD degree program has applied for accreditation and has been granted Candidacy Status by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), 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 www.acoteonline.org. The program must have a preaccreditation review, complete an on-site evaluation, and be granted Accreditation Status before its graduates will be 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). In addition, all states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination. Note that a felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.
UIC will learn ACOTE’s decision regarding accreditation of the entry-level-OTD in December 2024, in advance of the graduation of the first entry-level OTD cohort in May 2025.
Holistic admissions process
The department’s thorough holistic admission process emphasizes a balanced and equitable approach that considers multiple factors including experience and attributes, as well as traditional metrics such as grades.
Completion of requirements does not guarantee admission. The admissions committee considers many factors. Our goal is to consider each applicant’s strengths that will promote their success as an occupational therapy student within our program and ultimately as an occupational therapist.
Start planning now
Early preparation is the key to a smooth and successful application and admission process. The UIC OT admissions process is competitive. 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. After you are registered, you will receive an email the day before the session with log-in details.
Can’t make it to an info session? We’ve put together some resources to help you learn about our program on your own.
Know your deadlines
Applications for fall 2024 are due Dec.1, 10:59 p.m. CST. The recommended international student deadline is Oct. 1. Additional materials, such as official transcripts and letters of recommendations must be submitted by Jan. 10.
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.
The department prides itself on implementing a thorough and fair holistic admissions process.
Admission is competitive. Completion of requirements does not guarantee admission. The admissions committee, composed of four faculty members, considers many factors including:
- 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 is expected, however exceptions can be made if other components of the application, are higher than the average for the applicant cohort. In addition, applicants are expected to have a 3.0 prerequisite GPA including any of the 6 prerequisite courses they have completed. The average GPAs for accepted applicants are typically in the 3.6-3.8 range. Applicants with either overall 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.
- Completion of six prerequisite courses by the time of enrollment. Prerequisites do not need to be completed by the time of application but will need to be completed before applicants enter the program and begin OT courses in the fall. The only prerequisite that can be taken after starting the program is the cadaver lab, which can be completed at UIC during the first year, concurrent with other OT courses. It is recommended applicants submit a supplemental statement (see instructions below) if they received a grade of below B minus in a prerequisite, whether or not the course was retaken. In the case of a retake, both grades will be calculated in the prerequisite GPA. The UIC OT department does not accept Advanced Placement credit to meet prerequisite requirements or allow transfer of credit from other institutions to meet the entry-level OTD requirements. Academic credit is not provided for pre-enrollment employment or volunteer experiences.
- Experiences. Record your volunteer, work and extracurricular experiences in OTCAS.
- Achievements: Special achievements are also considered, including awards and recognitions, and exemplary accomplishments.
- 3 Letters of recommendation using the OTCAS form, from instructors, advisors, work supervisors, or volunteer supervisors. Personal references are not acceptable.
- OTCAS personal statement, addressing choice of career, experiences to date, and short-term and long-term goals.
- UIC Essay: Students answer the following questions: Why the entry-level OTD? Why UIC? In what ways are you a good match with the mission of UIC’s occupational therapy program and the university?
- Supplemental Statement (optional): UIC allows applicants to submit an optional supplemental statement if the applicant has a grade of below a B minus in a prerequisite, whether or not the course was retaken.
International Applicants only:
- English Proficiency Exam: Applicants whose native language is not English must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Check out the International Requirements to see if this applies to you. The E-OTD’s minimum score for the internet-based TOEFL is 93, with subscores of Reading 22, Listening 25, Speaking 22, and Writing 24. The test score cannot be more than two years old.
- University policy for submission of non-U.S. (foreign/international) coursework: International applicants must provide an original transcript in their native language AND a translated copy in English. Translations should be on a translator’s letterhead and should be literal (not an interpretation). UIC only accepts translations from 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 (see below for details). A mandatory, non-refundable $100 International Credential Evaluation Fee will be assessed for all graduate degree-seeking applicants who have post-secondary coursework taken outside the United States. International applicants who have only U.S. coursework are not required to submit this fee. Payment of the fee will be requested online through the application system.
You must complete six prerequisite courses before enrollment. Each course must be equivalent of at least three semester hours unless otherwise stated below. 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. The only prerequisite that can be taken after starting the program is the cadaver lab, which can be completed at UIC during the first year, concurrent with other OT courses. It is recommended applicants submit a supplemental statement (see instructions below) if they received a grade of below B minus in a prerequisite, whether or not the course was retaken. In the case of a retake, both grades will be calculated in the prerequisite GPA.
Required prerequisite courses:
- Introduction to Sociology: Introduction to Anthropology or Social Psychology is also acceptable.
- Developmental Psychology : A Child Development, Child Psychology or Lifespan Development Course is also acceptable
- Psychopathology: Must cover child and adult conditions.
- Statistics: One course offered in math, statistics, psychology, sociology, or similar department. A research methods course is not acceptable.
- Human Anatomy: Must cover all body systems. 30 clock hours of human cadaver lab study is required. The lab can be completed at UIC after enrollment. A 2 course sequence in combined Human Anatomy & Physiology is acceptable if both courses are completed at the same school. Minimum of four semester hours.
- Human Physiology: Must cover all body systems. Lab required. Will accept exercise physiology lab if general physiology lab is not available. A 2-course sequence in combined Human Anatomy & Physiology combined is acceptable if both courses are completed at the same school.
- 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 to determine if they meet the prerequisite requirement.
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 five 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.
Recommended statement for prerequisite grades below a B minus
It is recommended that UIC applicants submit a supplemental statement of no more than 2500 characters if the applicant has a grade of below B minus in a prerequisite, whether or not the course was retaken. In the case of a retake, both grades will be calculated in the prerequisite GPA.
The statement should include the semester(s) and year the grade below a B minus 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. Indicate if you retook the course(s) in which you received a grade below a B minus and the retake grade, as well as the semester and year it occurred.
Record your experiences in OTCAS, including details about your experiences in a variety of situations and roles: employment, volunteer, observation of occupational therapy, extracurricular (college organizations), leadership roles, community service, internship, study abroad, research, and personal disability experiences. It is recommended, but not required, that applicants have at least 50 hours of volunteer observation experience with an occupational therapist prior to application. While UIC does not require a prescribed number of experience hours, the admissions process values experience of different types, and includes a rating of experiences as part of the admissions review process.
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.
Letters of recommendation
Submit three letters of recommendation in support of your application. Personal references are not acceptable. Recommenders are usually faculty, academic advisors, teaching assistants, or work or volunteer supervisors.
OTCAS Personal Statement
Submit a personal essay that addresses why you selected OT as a career, relevant experiences and how an OT degree relates to your professional goals.
UIC-specific personal statement
Submit a maximum 400-word, UIC-specific essay on these topics:
- Why is the UIC OT program a good match for you?
- Why are you a good match for UIC?
- What kind of OT do you want to be? How will UIC provide a means to get there?
- How does the UIC OT program connect with your career plans and prior experiences, interests, values and background?
If English is not your native language, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Check the International Students section of the Applying page for more information.
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 may be reviewed by the admissions committee on a case-by-case basis.
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.
As described in the “What To Expect” section of the website, all prospective students are asked to review the Technical Standards provided via the link below. The Technical Standards describe the performance abilities and characteristics that are necessary to successfully complete the requirements of the E-OTD curriculum and provide effective and safe health care. Students matriculating into the E-OTD program and seeking reasonable accommodations due to a disability or wanting to explore the accommodation options at UIC are asked to contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) in advance of the Fall 1 semester. To set up or explore accommodations, complete the steps described on the DRC website: https://drc.uic.edu/students-2/new-to-drc/. The steps involve completing the online Student Registration Form and calling the DRC at (312) 413-2183 to schedule an intake appointment.
Required technological/computer competencies & technological support
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.
UIC has multiple platforms and resources to support your use of technology during the program (e.g., Blackboard, UIC’s course management system).
- The Information Technology @ UIC (https://it.uic.edu/)
- The IT Service Delivery and Support https://help.uillinois.edu/TDClient/37/uic/Requests/ServiceCatalog?CategoryID=158
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
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. 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.
There are multiple scholarship options for our enrolled students. As a state university, we have a growing, but still limited pool of scholarship funds available for incoming and enrolled students. UIC may offer a small number of merit scholarships for admitted students, based on their OTCAS applications. We reserve the majority of our scholarships for enrolled students. Every fall and spring semester, the department awards about ten endowed scholarships, ranging from $1000 to $2500, with the average being $2000. The scholarships are for academic achievement and/or financial need. The college also has a scholarship for financial need and another for community service. Most scholarships can only be used for tuition and fees. We also encourage you to conduct your own personalized search for scholarships through sites like fastweb.com.
Up to three graduate hourly positions are available annually for entry-level OTD students. These positions pay about $28 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 typically require 10 hours a week of work and provide a monthly stipend of about $1,300 in addition to a partial tuition and partial fee waiver. Availability of these positions is variable because they are created as new grants get funded or teaching needs emerge. We may also have a limited number of research assistantships available based on funds from the department and Dean’s Office, including the Mentored Research Experience for Underrepresented OT Students program. The Mentored Research Experience for Underrepresented OT Students program provides a one-semester research experience for a Black or Latinx student with research experience or a high level of research interest. Assistantships are prized but highly competitive so plan accordingly.