Navigating the Occupational Therapy Program Application Process

The Occupational Therapy Central Application Service (OTCAS) allows OT applicants to use a single web-based application and one set of materials to apply to multiple OT education programs. The purpose is to facilitate the admissions process for applicants and programs, promote the physical therapist profession and educational programs to a broad spectrum of applicants, and provide rich applicant data for institutional, regional, and national analysis.

A list of participating programs are available on the OTCAS website. Not all professional OT education programs participate in OTCAS. Applicants who wish to apply to a NON-participating OTCAS program must apply directly to the institution using the OT program’s local application.

OTCAS does not have a dedicated application cycle. You must submit your OTCAS application by 11:59 EST on or before the posted deadline set by your designated program(s). Please note that  OTCAS does not enforce deadlines and will forward your verified application to your designated OT programs even if your materials arrive after the deadline. You may start your OTCAS application as soon as it is available.

Each OTCAS program may have selected a firm or soft deadline. Programs may move from a soft to a firm deadline at any point during the cycle.

  • Firm Deadline – You cannot apply to the program after the deadline has passed.
  • Soft Deadline – You can still apply to the program after the deadline has passed, but the program may give less or no consideration to your file if you apply after the deadline.

Many OT programs have multiple deadline dates or operate on a rolling admissions basis.

We recommend that you apply early! OTCAS processing may take up to 4-5 weeks once all required materials are received.

In addition to the OTCAS application, OT programs may require you to send a supplemental application, fee, and materials directly to the institution. The supplemental application deadline may be the same as the OTCAS deadline or different. Review your OT programs admission requirements for supplemental instructions.

OT programs may also require competitive applicants to visit the campus for an interview. The interview format varies by institution. Applicants may be required to speak with a single faculty member, a student, an occupational, or a panel of interviewers; or participate in an orientation program.  Applicants should be prepared to discuss why they have chosen to pursue a career in occupational therapy and how they perceive the role of occupational therapists in health care. During the interview, applicants may be rated on their oral communication skills, professional behaviors and attitudes, ability to interact in a group, knowledge of the profession, ability to solve problems, and motivation to pursue a career in occupational therapy. The applicants’ written communication skills may also be measured with an on-site essay.