UW-Madison OT Program - MS in Occupational Therapy (MSOT)

OT student doing research with child


Main Office

Occupational Therapy
School of Education
2120 Medical Sciences Center
1300 University Avenue
MadisonWI  53706-1691

Tel: 608/262-2936
Fax: 608/262-1639

Email: otoffice@education.wisc.edu
or by contact form
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MS in Occupational Therapy

Application Procedures (How to Apply for Admission)

This "Application Procedures" link will open in a new web page. The OT Program urges you to fully read and comprehend the Admission Criteria, below, before you act on the application procedures.

Advising Video!

Interested in learning more about the UW-Madison MS-OT Program? Check out this Advising Video with Admissions Coordinator Alexia Rebne, recorded Oct. 14, 2016. Seeking further information? Please contact the UW-Madison OT Program Admissions Coordinator with any questions, otadmission@education.wisc.edu.

Tuition, Scholarship and Financial Aid

Information on financial aid opportunities available to Occupational Therapy Students.

Admission Criteria

Non-discriminatory Policy

UW-Madison OT Program admissions do not discriminate based on race, sex, gender identity or expression, religion, color, creed, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry or age.

Baccalaureate level/ Bachelor's Degree

  • The UW Graduate School's admission requirements include a bachelor's (or comparable) undergraduate degree. The undergraduate degree will need to be from a regionally accredited institution of higher education.
  • The undergrad degree must be complete by the time you start classes in the UW MS-OT Program. If you anticipate getting your undergrad degree in the Fall or Spring before you start UW's OT program the following Summer (June), then you may submit your application with courses in-progress, and UW OT may accept you as early as November 1. All OT offers of admission are, however, provisional until final undergraduate degree and grades are reviewed and accepted and UW OT conducts a Criminal Background Investigation with acceptable results.
  • Undergraduate degree can be in any major (field of study). We advise prospective applicants to choose an undergraduate major that interests them. Prospective applicants may find it helpful if they choose a major with a curriculum that provides the UW MS-OT Prerequisite Coursework, although with sufficient planning these prerequisites can normally be taken as electives in almost any major. Some common undergraduate majors of past MS-OT students include Psychology, Biology, Rehabilitation Psychology, Human Development, Kinesiology, Sociology and Public Health.


  • The UW OT admissions evaluation will be done using transcript data that applicants submit via OTCAS. When applicants are first applying, UW OT does not need (or want) to receive printed ("official") transcripts. Please do, however, be sure that you send your transcript(s) to OTCAS the way it requires. Click "Application Procedures", above, for details.
  • Applicants who are selected for (and who accept) an offer of admission to UW OT will, then, and only then, need to submit an official transcript to UW OT to document completed courses and grades up to the time of selection.
    • The UW OT Program will expressly notify you if it needs your transcripts sent directly. Please don't send transcripts to UW OT until expressly requested.
  • If the transcript submitted at the time of admission selection shows a Baccalaureate degree that is still in-progress, then another official transcript will have to be submitted later, once the degree has been awarded, to document official degree conferral.
    • UW Grad School policy allows the degree conferral to be documented after OT classes have begun. The UW OT Program will provide specific details in personal correspondence to admitted students.

GPA (Grade Point Average) oF 3.0 (or better)

  • The UW Graduate School admits students based on the GPA for approximately the last 60 credits of the Bachelor’s Degree. The UW Graduate School minimum GPA is 3.0, although the OT Program may request a GPA waiver for an applicant whose qualitative factors are felt to be particularly strong. If your last-60-credit GPA seems likely to be under 3.0, you might wish to communicate with the OT Admissions Coordinator about your circumstances.
  • The Grad School's GPA evaluation, to establish its GPA minimum, normally won't consider courses beyond the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree. In certain cases, though, an advanced degree might be relevant.
  • The MS-OT Program, doing a quantitative as well as a qualitative evaluation, may take notice of courses beyond the bachelor's level and may consider grade averages other than that for the last-60-credits, e.g. prerequisites GPA or cumulative GPA.  If you have a degree beyond the bachelor's (or courses toward such a degree), please list the details in your application (initially, via OTCAS).

To view median GPA data for recently selected students, please see the Characteristics of Applicants Offered Admission on the program webpage.


  • Several foundational courses, regardless of undergraduate major, are required for UW OT admission. Be sure that you carefully read and understand the Prerequisite Coursework.
    • Equivalent courses from other accredited institutions of higher education are generally acceptable to meet prerequisites.
    • If you are in doubt about our prerequisites, or about whether your courses meet them, you may contact Alexia Rebne, UW OT Admissions Coordinator at otadmissions@education.wisc.edu.

GRE Scores (and TOEFL for Foreign Students)

  • Applicants may instruct the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) provider, ETS, to send an electronic (online) report of scores to UW-Madison. The GRE "Institution Code" for UW-Madison is 1846. A "department code" isn't necessary, because GRE scores are maintained at and distributed from the institution-level at UW-Madison. Depending on the number of other institutions to which you request reporting, ETS may charge a fee for an online report.
  • The GRE must be completed prior to the application deadline. After arrival of electronic scores, the UW Grad School admissions system will match your scores to your UW-Madison Graduate School Application. Take care that you provide "personal identity data," e.g. name, date of birth, social security number or other identifiers, exactly  the same way on both your GRE application and your UW Grad School online admission application. Even small discrepancies may compromise (delay or prevent) the matching of your GRE scores to your admission application..
  • Scores and percentiles must be either electronically transmitted by ETS to UW-Madison, which will upload them to your online application, or must be reported by you in OTCAS, or both. We encourage applicants to use ETS electronic submittal to UW-Madison. If an applicant is unable to have scores electronically submitted when applying, then UW OT will provisionally rely on scores reported via OTCAS. Admitted students will be required to provide electronic reporting. Please note that the OT Admissions Committee will not  review any application and will not  reach an admission decision until GRE scores, including percentiles, are available. GRE scores-&-percentiles are pivotal to a calculation of UW MS-OT academic factors (click on "Application Procedures", above, for details). We urge you to plan ahead so you can complete the GRE and obtain all percentile results before the UW MS-OT application deadline.
  • Your GRE test-date, to be valid, must be not more than five years prior to applying.
  • GRE Website
    • TOEFL Scores: Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must arrange to test and report English proficiency. The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or equivalent scores must be sent to UW-Madison. Refer to English Proficiency on the Graduate School Admission Requirements page.

The UW MS-OT Program sets no GRE minimum for admission. To view median GRE data for recently selected students, please see the Characteristics of  Applicants Offered Admission on the program webpage.

UW OT TOEFL (or equivalent) requirements are as described at the UW-Madison Graduate School English proficiency site.

Letters of Recommendation

  • The MS-OT program requires three letters of recommendation.
  • The Program feels you are best served by requesting recommendation by a respected person (such as a professor, an academic advisor, a supervisor, or an occupational therapy practitioner). The person should know you well enough to address whether and how you display the following qualities: leadership skills, maturity, responsibility, skill in communicating, and interpersonal skills. You may wish to inform the person that the UW OT Program will be looking for these qualities.
  • It is also beneficial if your recommender can comment about the depth and breadth of your pre-occupational therapy experience and why you show positive potential for success in the field of occupational therapy.
  • Standard submission of letters of recommendation is electronic (online) via OTCAS.
    • The technology of the UW-Madison Graduate School online application allows applicants to give contact information for persons from whom recommendations are requested. The UW Graduate School would then email instructions to those person so they could submit online recommendations directly to the UW Graduate School. 
      • That should, however, not be necessary for OTCAS users. All required letters of reference can be submitted via OTCAS.
      • If you feel that you have special reasons for wanting more than the letters-of-reference via OTCAS, or for a letter-of-reference specific to and only for UW-Madison, then we recommend that you consult the OT Admissions Coordinator on the advisability of the additional letter(s).

Statement of Purpose/Reasons for Graduate Study

  • Length of the statement: Adhere to OTCAS guideline (7,500 characters, including spaces)
  • Statement of purpose should communicate the prospective applicant’s reasons for wanting to become an occupational therapist and for feeling that job satisfaction and success are likely to result.
  • Statement allows the prospective applicant the opportunity to highlight experiences, related skills, and personal attributes which make them an exceptional candidate for the field of occupational therapy. Example categories are mentioned under Letters of Recommendation.
  • As the Statement of Purpose is one of the most important components of the application, a prospective applicant is encouraged to critically examine/ re-write &/or proofread it, even multiple times, if necessary to the desired result. It is allowable and encouraged to seek theoretical guidance in composing a personal statement from resources such as the UW-Madison Writing Center (available only to UW-Madison students). The Statement itself should be the applicant's own work.
  • Submission of the Statement of Purpose is via OTCAS.
    • An upload via the UW-Madison graduate school application (or direct entry via the application form) is technically permitted, but the UW MS-OT program expects that applicants will submit their statements with OTCAS. See further discussion on the Application Procedure page of this site. 


  • Observation, volunteer, or paid experience in at least two different settings serving persons across the lifespan with physical, behavioral or mental health disabilities; observation of Occupational Therapists or Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants providing actual services is highly recommended.
  • Minimum of two different practice settings with at least two different populations.
    • Examples of practice settings include: Inpatient/ Acute/ Outpatient Hospitals; Outpatient Clinics; Skilled Nursing Facilities; Schools; Mental Health Facilities; Community-Based Practices; and Industrial Rehabilitation.
    • Examples of populations include Pediatric, Adolescent, Adult, Geriatric.
  • Completion of an orientation to occupational therapy course (e.g. Occ. Ther. 100 at UW-Madison) is valuable experience, but the course does not qualify as a practice setting; two others would still be needed.

For information about the documentation of the OT Observational Experience please visit the Application Procedure web page.

Seeking further information? Please contact the UW-Madison OT Program Admissions Coordinator with any questions, otadmission@education.wisc.edu.

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