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

Admissions for the MS in OT program have been suspended as we are preparing for the launch of the entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) degree program.

UIC is transitioning to an entry-level OTD degree program in fall 2022. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) has granted UIC’s entry-level OTD program Candidacy Status. The first admission cycle is open for the entry-level OTD program, which is two years and 9 months in length, with enrollment starting in August 2022.

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 2020, there were 475 applicants and we enrolled 46 students.

It is 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 3.82 on a 4.0 scale.  The range for accepted applicants is between a 3.15 to a 4.0.  The average GPA for the prerequisite courses is a 3.79 on a 4.0 scale. The range is for accepted applicants is between a 3.08 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.

Scores below 150 on each section of the GRE are acceptable if the applicant’s grade point average is sufficiently high to demonstrate strong academic potential. The typical mean for accepted applicants on the verbal section is 156, which is approximately the 75th percentile. For the quantitative section, the typical mean is 154, which is approximately the 54th 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 about a 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.  The department accepts either the “at home” or the test center version of the GRE.  The tightly controlled home-administered version  was initiated in Spring 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. GRE has announced that the “at home” option will continue to be available “as long as COVID-19 is a concern, so that students can opt to take the test from the safety of home.  It remains available even in areas where test centers have reopened, so students can choose which option works best for them.

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

If you are unable to complete volunteer or observation hours, do not let that deter you from applying to UIC’s program. While 50 hours of OT observation is a recommended minimum, UIC does not require a minimum number of hours. In addition to OT observation, UIC considers non-OT volunteer roles, service organization experience, and employment.

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 rehabilitation science, 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 an in-person or human anatomy online dissection laboratory experience of 30 hours prior to enrollment at UIC will be required to enroll in an OT-specific in-person or online cadaver 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 who get a grade of ‘C’ in anatomy or who have had their anatomy course more than three years ago will be required to take the cadaver lab.  Acceptance of online or in-person anatomy lab courses will be determined on a case-by-case basis upon admission.

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 2020-21, tuition is projected to be $10,761 per semester for Illinois residents and $17,195 for non-residents. The total cost for the MS two year program is estimated to be $54,995 for Illinois residents and $87,872 for non-residents.

In addition to tuition and fees, students must also be prepared to pay for books and supplies, lab fees,  health documentation storage fees, and fieldwork related costs (i.e. transportation to and from fieldwork site, travel, parking, housing, and meals).  See the tuition table for an estimated breakdown of costs.

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.  Electives are optional, and 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 with limited scholarship funds, UIC does not offer merit scholarships for most incoming students. However, we do reserve one or two one-semester assistantships for our top applicants who have relevant research or clinical experience. The selected students will work as a research assistant on a funded study or do research as part of our minority mentoring program. There are 16 scholarships offered throughout the year for enrolled students, with an average amount of $1800. The first scholarship competition is in the middle of the fall semester. 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.  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 application? 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 $150, plus $65 per additional school.

Are there fee waivers available?

For OTCAS, at the beginning at the start of the cycle, a limited number of fee waivers are provided to qualified applicants on a first-come, first-served basis. Each fee waiver covers only the initial application fee, so if you wish to apply to additional programs, you are responsible for the remaining balance. If you received a fee waiver during a previous cycle, you may still apply for another in the next cycle.  You may request a fee waiver as soon as you create an application, but keep in mind that fee waiver funds can be quickly depleted. Contact customer service at 617-612-2860 before you submit a fee waiver request to determine if waivers are still available.  For more information on fee waivers for your OTCAS application, please visit the OTCAS Help Center.

For the UIC Graduate Application, there are a small number of applicable waivers.  Unfortunately, financial hardship waivers for graduate  applications are not granted.  For more information, please visit the UIC Office of Admissions website.

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 11 PM Central Standard Time. Applicants must submit their completed applications to OTCAS and submit the UIC Graduate Application and fee by this date.

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.  We recommend taking the GRE by November 1st so that your scores are in by the deadline.  The GRE exam can be repeated, but one month must elapse between each attempt. Retake scores will be accepted until January 10.  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 ($150, plus $65 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 allows 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 the below condition applies, you may submit a supplemental statement as part of your application.

Condition for optional supplemental statement: If you earned a grade of C or below in one or more of the 6 prerequisite courses required by UIC, you may submit a supplemental statement directly to UIC. Your statement should describe the semester(s) and year this occurred, what year of college you were in (e.g. sophomore, junior, senior), the situation, how your grade(s) were affected, and, if applicable, the steps you took to prevent the situation from continuing to have a negative effect on your academic performance. Indicate if you retook the course(s) in which you received a grade of C or below and what the retake grade was.

If you choose to send a 3rd essay/supplemental statement and do not meet these criteria, it will not be included in your application review.

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 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 and OTCAS?

Please refer to the requirements per country/territory to determine which credentials are needed in your case on the UIC Office of Admissions website. Documents issued in a foreign language should be submitted along with certified, literal English translations.  For the purposes of application review, only a PDF copy of the credentials should be submitted online to your UIC graduate application. Official, sealed credentials will be requested only from admitted applicants intending to enroll.

A mandatory, non-refundable $100 International Credential Evaluation Fee will be assessed for all graduate and professional 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.

In addition, a  Detailed International Academic Credential Report is also required for international applicants. The evaluation must be completed by one of the following companies below. However, an ECE translation is strongly preferred.  Make sure to get a course-by-course report.  The Detailed International Academic Credential Report should be sent to OTCAS via the instructions on the Coursework page.

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