MS in Occupational Therapy (Entry-Level Degree)

Note: Admission to the MS in OT program has been suspended with the  launch of the entry-level Occupational Therapy Doctoral (OTD) degree program in August 2022.  The final cohort of MS students was admitted in Fall 2021 and will graduate in 2023.

UIC transitioned to an entry-level OTD degree program effective Fall 2022. The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) has granted UIC’s entry-level OTD program Candidacy Status. The second admission cycle is open for the entry-level OTD program, which is two years and 9 months in length, with enrollment starting in August 2023.

Current MS in OT students have the option to apply to co-enroll in the post-professional OTD program (P-OTD).  The P-OTD is completed after completing the MS in OT degree program, and students can earn both degrees in about three years as a full-time student.  The P-OTD program will continue to be available after the entry-level OTD program is fully launched.

The Master of Science (MS) degree is for students who have a bachelor’s degree in another subject. This course-only program prepares students to be eligible for a national certification examination and for practice as an occupational therapist.

The MS program has an option for students to apply to co-enroll in the MS program and the post-professional OTD program. The post-professional OTD is completed after completing the MS, and students can earn both degrees in about three years if full-time. 

Admission Requirements

Applicants can obtain application information from the department’s website. MS applicants must submit an online application through the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) and must also submit a UIC graduate student application directly to UIC. Applicants are considered on an individual basis. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements.

  • Baccalaureate Field Any field, no restrictions. Baccalaureate degree in any field plus completion of the following prerequisites with a grade of C or above prior to enrollment: one introductory course in anthropology or sociology (equivalent to ANTH 101 or SOC 100); two courses in psychology—child psychology or child development (equivalent to PSCH 320) and abnormal psychology (equivalent to PSCH 270); one course in statistics (equivalent to PSCH 343); one course in human physiology with laboratory, covering all structures and functions of the body; and one course in human anatomy with laboratory for a minimum of 4 semester hours (laboratory with 30 hours of human cadaver lab study required). A two-course sequence in human anatomy and physiology is acceptable if it includes the cadaver laboratory (equivalent to KN 251 and KN 252). A cadaver lab is offered at UIC concurrent with the first two semesters of occupational therapy course work for accepted students who have not yet completed this requirement. All courses must be the equivalent of at least 3 semester hours unless otherwise noted.
  • Grade Point Average At least 3.00/4.00a calculated on the last 60 semester (90 quarter) hours toward the first bachelor’s degree and subsequent graduate course work.
  • Tests Required GRE General. It is recommended that the applicant score at least at the 60th percentilea on each section: verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing. There is no minimum score required.
  • Minimum English Competency Test Score
    • TOEFL total score 80, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Speaking 20, and Writing 21  (Internet-based TOEFL (iBT)
    • IELTS 6.5, with subscores of 6.0 for all four subscores, OR,
    • PTE-Academic 54, with subscores of Reading 51, Listening 47, Speaking 53, and Writing 56.
  • Letters of Recommendation Three required.
  • Personal Statement Two required; one general and one UIC-specific essay.
  • Achievements: Achievements are also rated and considered, including work and volunteer experience, research hours, language fluency, international experiences, and personal disability experience.
  • OT Observation/Volunteer Work: A specific number of hours of observation or volunteer work are not required; however, it is recommended that applicants have at least 50 hours of experience with an occupational therapist prior to application. Many applicants have over 200 hours of OT observation or volunteer experience.
  • Program policy for submission of non-U.S. (foreign/international) course work: 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.

If prerequisites were completed more than three years prior to beginning occupational therapy course work, it is highly recommended that the applicant review a current text prior to enrollment so he or she has up-to-date knowledge. If prerequisites were completed more than eight years ago, it is recommended that the applicant retake the course(s) or complete an intensive self-study prior to enrollment. If the anatomy course was completed more than three years prior to beginning the occupational therapy courses, or if a grade of C or below was earned in the anatomy course, a 30-hour human cadaver lab will be required. This lab will be offered at UIC across the fall and spring semesters of the first year, and includes 30 contact hours.


Applicants who do not meet the GPA or GRE expectations, but who demonstrate strengths in other areas, may be considered.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements:

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 72.
  • Course Work All MS students are required to successfully complete the following courses to meet graduation requirements and to be eligible to sit for the national certification examination (see below for details regarding certification). All elements of the program must be completed within five years.
Required Courses
Theories of Occupational Therapy
Occupational Performance in Adults and Adolescents
Medical Conditions
Development of a Therapeutic Self
Introduction to Occupational Therapy Practice
Research in Occupational Therapy
Occupational Performance in Children
Human Structure and Function
Synthesis I
Occupational Therapy Practice: Psychosocial Aspects of Occupational Performance
Fieldwork Level IA
Occupational Therapy Practice: Functional Movement and Mobility
Occupational Therapy Practice: Cognition and Perception in Action
Contexts of Occupational Therapy Practice
Assistive Technology and the Environment
Fieldwork Level IB
Synthesis II
Introduction to Advanced Practice in Occupational Therapy
Fieldwork Level IC
Fieldwork Level IIA
Fieldwork Level IIB
Synthesis III
Leadership and Management in Occupational Therapy
Seminar in Occupational Therapy
  • Comprehensive Examination None.
  • Thesis, Project, or Course-Work-Only Options Course work only. No other options available.

The occupational therapy program is accredited by:

Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
6116 Executive Boulevard, Suite 200
North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929
(301) 652-AOTA

Graduates of the MS program offered by the UIC Department of Occupational Therapy 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 graduate will be an Occupational Therapist, Registered (OTR). In addition, most states require licensure in order to practice; however, state licenses are usually based on the results of the NBCOT certification examination. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT certification examination or obtain state licensure.

Tuition and Fees

The total cost associated with the Master of Science Degree program includes graduate tuition, the occupational therapy program tuition differential, fees and assessments. Information regarding all MS-related costs can be found on the admissions website. Fees include a general fee, service fee, health service fee, and a Chicago Transit Authority Fee. Also included is a health insurance fee which can be waived with proof of insurance. The assessments are for building maintenance, library upgrades and technology. Graduate tuition, professional tuition, the tuition differential, fees, and assessments are subject to change.