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)

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

Admission Criteria

Non-discriminatory Policy

The UW-Madison OT Program admission practice does 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 MS-OT Program classes. If you anticipate getting your undergrad degree in the Fall or Spring prior to beginning UW's OT program in the following summer, then you may submit your application with courses in-progress, and you may be accepted as early as November 1.  However, all offers of admission are provisional until final undergraduate grades and Criminal Background Investigation results are reviewed and accepted.
  • Undergraduate degree can be in any 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.


  • When applicants first apply, UW OT does not require printed (official) transcripts. The OT admissions evaluation will be done using transcript data that applicants submit via OTCAS according to OTCAS requirements. See "Application Procedures", above, for details.
  • Applicants who are selected for (and accept) an offer of admission to UW OT will have to submit an official transcript to document their courses and grades completed up until the time of selection. This is currently necessary to meet UW Grad School policy on admissions reviews.
  • If the Baccalaureate degree is still in-progress at the time of admission selection, then a second official transcript will have to be submitted to document the degree once it is conferred.
    • UW Grad School policy allows the degree conferral to be documented after OT classes have begun.

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 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 normally will not include additional courses, if any, taken beyond the completion of the Bachelor’s Degree. In certain cases, an advanced degree might have relevance. If you have a degree beyond the bachelor's (or courses toward such a degree), please list the details in your application.
  • The MS-OT Program 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.

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


  • Several specific courses are required for UW OT admission. Be sure to carefully read the Prerequisite Coursework.

GRE Scores (and TOEFL for Foreign Students)

  • Applicants should instruct the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) provider to send scores to UW-Madison. The GRE Institution Code for UW-Madison is 1846.
  • The GRE may be completed after the UW Grad School online application is submitted. Upon delivery of scores, the UW Grad School admissions system will match them to the online application. The OT Admissions Committee, though, will not review an application until scores are electronically transmitted to UW and uploaded to the online application. Plan ahead to complete the GRE (allowing scoring and transmittal time) before the UW MS-OT application deadline.
  • The GRE must be completed not more than five years prior to applying to be valid.
  • GRE Website
    • TOEFL Scores: Applicants whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English, must arrange to have Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores 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 requirements are as described at the Graduate School english proficiency site.

Letters of Recommendation

  • The MS-OT program requires three letters of recommendation.
  • It is wise to ask a respected individual (such as a professor, an academic advisor, a supervisor, or an occupational therapy practitioner) who knows you well enough to address how well you display the following qualities: leadership skills, maturity, responsibility, skill in communicating, and interpersonal skills.
  • 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 individuals to whom the Graduate School would then email instructions for submitting online recommendations directly to the Graduate School. 
      • That should, however, not be necessary for OTCAS users.
      • If you have special reasons for wanting more than the three letters allowed via OTCAS, 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.
  • As the statement of purpose is one of the most important components of the application, a prospective applicant is encouraged to critically examine/proofread the personal statement. It may be wise to seek assistance in composing a personal statement from resources such as the UW-Madison Writing Center (available only to UW-Madison students).
  • 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. 

Resume - not required of applicants who use otcas

A resume upload via the UW-Madison graduate school application is technically permitted, but the intention of the UW MS-OT program is for applicants to capture their relevant background in the "Extracurricular Activities..." section of OTCAS. If you wish to submit a resume via the UW grad school online application, please consult the OT admissions coordinator as referenced on the Application Procedure page of this site.

An approved resume upload would be via the "Supplemental Application" of the UW-Madison graduate school application. Although no specific format would be required, the submittal should not exceed two pages in length.

OT Observation Experience

  • Minimum of 40 hours of shadowing, observation, paid or volunteer service under the supervision of an occupational therapy practitioner (OTR/COTA) is required prior to applying for admission.
  • 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) will count toward 10 hours of observation. 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.

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