Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Offered at the Doisy College of Health Sciences, Saint Louis University's undergraduate degree in occupational science prepares you for a Master of Occupational Therapy, the minimum educational requirement to become a licensed occupational therapist.

OT students

Major in Occupational Science

You’ll study the principles of occupational science beginning your freshman year. 

Students who meet all program requirements can enter directly into SLU's Master of Occupational Therapy program, earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in five years.

Along with a foundation in occupational science, coursework and field experiences in research and service, SLU’s undergraduate occupational science curriculum includes a liberal arts education in the Jesuit tradition with an emphasis on interprofessional health collaboration. You’ll also have the ability to minor in any area of interest, study abroad for a semester or participate in regional, national and global service opportunities.

SLU pre-OT students are matched with a faculty mentor who supports their professional development. Undergraduate students have opportunities to conduct research and produce projects and papers acceptable for publication and presentation at professional conferences.

There are two track options for studying occupational therapy at SLU:

  • OCS 1000: Seminar in OT Practice
  • OCS 1010: Introduction to OS and OT
  • OCS 3120: Study of Occupation
  • OCS 3220: Contexts of Occupation
  • OCS 3320: Development of Humans as Occupational Beings
  • OCS 3520: Occupational Health and Wellness
  • OCS 3620: Lived Experience of Disabilities
  • OCS 3720: Critical Perspectives of Culture, Occupation and Justice
Internships and Careers

Upon completing an accredited educational program and receiving a master’s degree or entry-level clinical doctorate degree in occupational therapy, graduates are required to successfully pass the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) examination. Most occupational therapists work in school systems, medical centers and long-term care facilities.


SLU’s occupational therapy faculty are certified occupational therapists who are nationally recognized within their profession and dedicated to developing competent graduates who are responsive to the needs of society.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Freshman admission criteria includes a minimum GPA of 3.2 on a 4.0 scale; an ACT composite score of at least 24, with no subsection lower than 22 (or equivalent SAT scores); four years of high school science, including chemistry, biology and preferably anatomy or physics; four years of math; and four years of English. Admitted OT students have an average GPA of 3.7 and average ACT composite score of 26.

Students should apply by Dec. 1. Late applications are not considered. Admission decisions will be made Feb. 1.

Transfer Application Requirements and Deadlines

 The program reserves five to 10 seats for qualified sophomore transfer students with entry beginning at either the fall or spring term. Additionally, one to five seats are reserved for junior transfers entering at beginning of the fall term. Transfer students must have a minimum 3.2 cumulative GPA, write a 500-word personal essay and  have minimum 20 hours of experience in a variety of occupational therapy practice settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes, schools or community organizations. Students must have their 20 hours of experience documented in the journal of experiences.

Students should apply by Feb. 15 for fall entry and Sept. 1 for spring. Essays and journal of experience should be sent to the department at ot@slu.edu.

Accreditation and Program Outcomes

The occupational therapy program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), located at 4720 Montgomery Lane, Suite 200, Bethesda, MD 20814-3449. ACOTE's telephone number, c/o AOTA, is 301-652-2682. Information on accreditation standards can be found on their website. Learn more about program outcomes and technical standards and view the student handbook.

Graduates of the program are eligible to take the national examination for certification as an occupational therapist, which is administered by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT). After successful completion of this exam, the individual will possess the credentials of an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or attain state licensure.

In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT Certification Examination.

Unique Program

Based in Occupational Science 

SLU’s OT program is one of five in the country that is based in occupational science, which offers you a unique preparation and perspective as a practicing therapist. You’ll also gain practical experience in clinical settings around the St. Louis metro area, including local schools and private practices.