Occupational therapy is a rapidly growing field that aims to improve patients' everyday lives, and you can begin your education today at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. We offer a rigorous curriculum paired with exciting learning opportunities that will prepare you well for a career in occupational therapy.
As an occupational therapist, you'll work with children and adults who have physical, cognitive or emotional disabilities that interfere with their ability to function independently and engage in daily activities. Blending scientific knowledge of the human body and mind with an understanding of the numerous individual, social and environmental challenges associated with disability, you'll help find ways for your clients to lead happier, easier and healthier lives.
Pre-occupational therapy is not a major at UW-Eau Claire, but rather a declaration of your intention to continue your education and enroll in an occupational therapy graduate program. No specific undergraduate major is required for a career in occupational therapy, but many UWEC students choose to major in rehabilitation science, exercise science or psychology with a minor in kinesiology.
In order to become an occupational therapist, you must earn a master's degree (MOT) or a clinical doctorate (OTD) in occupational therapy. Most OT programs require a high GPA, a competitive Graduate Record Examination (GRE) score, letters of recommendation, observational or actual work experience in occupational therapy and a completed application with the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). Science aptitude and strong communication skills are also expected. Our exceptional faculty and career advisors are aware of these requirements and will ensure that you gain the knowledge and experiences necessary for acceptance into graduate school.
Eau Claire has several major medical facilities in the region that provide state-of-the-art health care and opportunities for pre-occupational therapy students to volunteer, observe and intern. UWEC specifically has strong ties to Mayo Clinic Health System through a research collaboration, as well as Marshfield Clinic and Sacred Heart Hospital.
Relevant student organizations. On-campus student organizations — like the Pre-Professional Health Club — will connect you with students who are also interested in becoming occupational therapists. These extracurriculars are an excellent way to volunteer, job shadow and learn about potential graduate schools and employers.
Innovative facilities. UW-Eau Claire is one of only a few schools of its size with a career center dedicated to supporting pre-occupational therapy students. The William J. and Marian A. Klish Health Careers Center offers one-on-one advising, opportunities to meet with professional school admissions representatives, connections to health-related clinical research and volunteer opportunities, and workshops designed to provide effective tools for career development and competitive applications.
Community outreach. Pre-occupational therapy students can get involved with the community through various community outreach and volunteer programs. Popular program choices for pre-OT students include P.R.I.D.E, which serves children and adults with cognitive, sensory and physical disabilities by providing skill development and fitness instruction; and the Community Fitness Program, which aims to improve health and wellness in the Chippewa Valley.
Exceptional preparation. While pursuing your major at UWEC, you'll have access to several pre-occupational therapy advisors as well as peer advisors. This team can help you with things like planning out your semesters, finding your major, preparing for the Graduate Record Exam (which is required for admission to some occupational therapy programs) and securing field experience.
Pre-occupational therapy program details
- Offered: in person
- Campus: Eau Claire
- Students are able to choose a major and/or minor that best aligns with their career goals.
UWEC student organizations related to pre-occupational therapy
- Pre-Professional Health Club
- Kinesiology Club
After earning your undergraduate degree from UWEC, your next step toward becoming an occupational therapist is earning your master's degree in occupational therapy (MOT) or a clinical doctorate (OTD) in occupational therapy. After completing your master's degree or clinical doctorate, you will be eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam and become a licensed occupational therapist in the state where you choose to practice.
What can I do with an MOT or OTD?
As a licensed occupational therapist, you'll be a critical member of a comprehensive treatment and health care team. You will frequently consult with physicians, physical and speech therapists, nurses, social workers, psychologists, vocational counselors, teachers, other allied health specialists and family members on how to best help your patients.
As a pre-OT student, your curriculum can be customized to fit the admissions requirements of your chosen MOT or OTD program. Admissions requirements vary by school due to differently structured programs, so it is important for students to research and identify early where they plan to apply so their undergraduate experience can be planned accordingly. Pre-occupational therapy advisors are available to you during your time at UWEC to help you plan out your semesters.
No matter your major, you will be prepared to take the Graduate Record Exam, which is required for admission to most graduate-level occupational therapy programs. The exam consists of three sections: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning and analytical writing. It is often taken in the spring semester or summer following the junior year.
What classes do pre-occupational therapy students take?
Students interested in a career in occupational therapy may focus on these topics during their undergraduate career:
- Human anatomy and physiology
- Biomechanical kinesiology
- Exercise physiology
Learn more about pre-occupational therapy in the UWEC course catalog.
A few majors that would best support a career path in occupational therapy include: