Admissions Requirements

Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy

The program invites applications from students who hold a baccalaureate degree by August 2025, in any area, granted by a college or university of recognized standing.  

Beginning with the 2023-2024 application cycle, our application will be available on OTCAS.

The MS application includes:

  • A completed OTCAS application form, including supplemental written responses and a CV.
  • Sign off on our Technical Standards
  • Healthcare Experience, documented on your CV (see below)
  • Three references, submitted electronically (see reference section below).

Beginning with the 2023-2024 application cycle, we will also be offering an option to apply directly to our accelerated MS/OTD program.  Applicants to this program will complete the MS application and an additional supplemental response.  

Pre-Requisite Courses

Category 1: The Sciences

  • A one-year (totaling six credits) combined anatomy and physiology course; or one semester of human anatomy and one semester of physiology. Applications can be initially reviewed if another science course has been taken. Acceptances are pending completion of anatomy and physiology.
  • A science course with a lab. If your anatomy or physiology course has a lab, it will also cover this requirement. 

Applicants can take science pre-requisite courses at any regionally accredited college or university, including community colleges and online courses.

Category 2: Psychology (9 credits)

  • A three credit course in abnormal psychology
  • A three credit course in developmental psychology or human development covering the lifespan (from birth to death). The lifespan requirement can be fulfilled by combining several courses that cover the lifespan (for example, Child & Adolescent Development and Adulthood, Aging, and Death together would meet the requirement.) Courses used to fulfill the life span requirement cannot be used to fulfill the remaining psychology requirement.
  • The remaining three credits can be in any other psychology course.

Category 3: Distribution requirements (12 credits)

  • One three credit course in English composition.  This may be fulfilled by a course marked by your university as writing intensive.  
  • One three credit course in introductory statistics.
  • One three credit course in the social sciences.  Social sciences include, but are not limited to: anthropology, archaeology, communication studies, economics, history, musicology, human geography, jurisprudence, linguistics, political science, public health, and sociology. Psychology courses cannot be used to meet this requirement.  
  • One three credit course in the humanities. The humanities include, but are not limited to: ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, history, human geography, law, politics, religion, and art.

To have an application considered for admission, at least one science course must be completed, one psychology course must be completed, and two distribution courses must be completed.

We ask that all applicants identify the courses that they will use to meet each pre-requisite requirement. We are not able to review your transcript and identify courses for you. If you have any questions about a course being accepted, please send the syllabus to  

If a student is accepted but has not completed all courses at the time of application, the acceptance is provisional. A grade of B or better in all outstanding courses must be attained prior to matriculation as an entering student.  

Courses in the sciences and psychology must be taken within 10 years of applying.  If you have taken these courses more than ten years ago but use the information in your work, please reach out to to discuss further.

Letter grades are required for all prerequisites; applicants taking classes Pass/Fail MUST have the registrar or the course instructor provide a grade equivalency. If a grade equivalency is not submitted, the lowest passing grade, typically a D, will be used. In this case, it is in the applicant’s best interest to repeat the course.

Note for Spring 2020 Grades: We understand that many colleges and universities moved to pass/fail grading in the Spring 2020 semester due to the impact of the coronavirus.  We will accept pass/fail grades for this semester.  As part of the admissions process, we may request further information about your Spring 2020 pass/fail grades.

Applicants who wish to submit Advanced Placement (AP) scores in fulfillment of a pre-requisite course must have scores that meet the criteria used by Columbia College. Depending upon the department, only scores of 4 or 5 are accepted. Please click here for details on acceptable test scores.  If your AP score does not appear on your college transcript, please have it reported to our office.  Our school code is 7707.

Note: We do not accept CLEP in lieu of coursework.


Three letters of reference are required. 

References should be able to speak to your ability to succeed academically in graduate study and your readiness and fit to become an occupational therapist. All applicants must submit at least one academic reference.  Other references can be academic, or from an employer, volunteer supervisor, or a health professional. Letters from relatives and family friends are not accepted. Contact information for references is submitted on the application and references are completed electronically.  

Healthcare Experience

Applicants must have prior knowledge of, or experience in, occupational therapy through observation, work, or volunteer experience.  This experience should be documented on your CV.  We do not require additional forms and do not have a required number of hours.  We expect to see evidence of what you have learned through your work or observation on your application (personal statement, other written responses, etc.)

We understand that shadowing and volunteer hours have been very challenging in the last few years.  We will not penalize applicants for not having traditional volunteer or observation hours.  Please include any OT related activities on your CV.

A CV template is available to those applicants who want to use it as a guideline (you are not required to use this formatting).

International Students

International students who have graduated from universities in non-English speaking nations are also required to submit the results of the TOEFL or the IELTS, including the written portion of the test.  

We also require a transcript evaluation from WES or CSSD (formerly CHESICC; for students who attended school in China) be submitted as part of your initial application package. 

For more information, visit Columbia's International Students and Scholars Office Website