Occupational Therapy

contact information
Dr. Shirley Wells
Program Director
Phone: (956) 665-2474
Department of Occupational Therapy
Social Work Occupational Therapy Building (SWOT) 1.300
Phone: (956) 665-2475
Fax: (956) 665-2476

Prospective Students


The Occupational Therapy program considers for admission those applicants who possess the academic and professional promise necessary for development as competent, caring members of the health care community.  To select these candidates a competitive admission framework has been established.  Within this competitive admission framework, multiple criteria are used to select the most qualified candidates from an applicant pool that exceeds the number of seats available.  Interested individuals are advised to complete their application as early as possible to ensure timely consideration.


1. Admission Requirements
Individuals applying for admission to the Master of Science in Occupational Therapy program must:
• Have a Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university by May 31st (or  before) of the year you are applying. A degree in any area of study will be accepted.
• Complete all prerequisites within 5 years of the February 1st application deadline. If  prerequisites are not completed then the application is considered incomplete and is not reviewed.
• Take the Revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE) within 5 years of the application deadline. If any component – verbal, quantitative & analytical writing is missing, the application is considered incomplete and is not reviewed.
• Apply for admission to the Graduate School of UTPA before applying to the Occupational Therapy program at  This must be current.
•  Apply to the OT program through the Centralized Application Service for Occupational Therapy Schools (OTCAS) online at   All required materials must be completed and submitted online by the February 1st application deadline. 
• Indication of volunteer hours and/or work experiences submitted through OTCAS.
• Provide three references (recommendations) submitted through OTCAS.
• The applicant must provide a Personal Statement submitted through OTCAS.
• Complete FERPA Consent Form and submit to the Occupational Therapy Department

No Admission Statement
An applicant not meeting the minimum graduate admission requirements for the University or the admission criteria for the graduate degree will not be admitted.  Admission to the graduate program is not guaranteed.  Applicants not admitted may follow the appeal process through the department chair or program director, the dean, then the Vice Provost of Graduate Studies whose decision is final.  Refer to the Graduate Catalog for more detailed information and options.
II. UTPA Graduate School Application

A. Graduate School Admission
Applicants must apply to the Graduate School of UTPA online at by the February 1st application deadline.  In order to be admitted to the MS in Occupational Therapy program, the student must first meet all requirements for admission to the Graduate School of UTPA

1. Online Application
The application to UTPA’s graduate programs can be completed online at

2. Application Fee
The University application fee of $50 can be paid online by credit card or electronic check (in the online application), or in the form of money order or check and sent to the Office of Payments and Collections.  In the case of money order or check, the applicant is responsible for submitting a copy of the receipt to the Graduate Studies office for documentation. All application fees are non-refundable.

3. Official Transcripts*
Official college transcripts are to be sent to the Graduate Studies office directly from all the institutions attended. If the applicant attended UTPA at any time, those official transcripts will be handled by the Graduate Studies office; however, the applicant is responsible for requesting official transcripts to be sent directly from all other institution(s).
*Transcripts must be sealed and sent directly from the institution to be considered official. Transcripts will be considered unofficial if they are hand delivered by the applicant or third party regardless if sealed by the institution. Failure to submit a complete/correct application and official transcripts from all institutions attended will result in one of the following: rejection of application, withdrawal of admission offer or disciplinary action including expulsion if the student is enrolled. All submitted documents become the property of UTPA and will not be returned. Admission documents will remain on file for one year if the applicant does not attend the University. Documents will be retained for seven years for students enrolled in a master’s level program and for ten years for students enrolled in a doctoral program. Please review the Student File Retention Schedule for more details.

IMPORTANT: Please request that your official transcripts be mailed directly to the address listed below. It is important that you include the office name and room number to ensure proper delivery.

The University of Texas-Pan American
Office of Graduate Studies
Administration Building Room 116
1201 W. University Drive
Edinburg, Texas 78539

III. Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy Application

The UTPA Occupational Therapy program uses the Centralized Application Service for Occupational Therapy Schools (OTCAS) for students applying to the Program.  All applicants to the Occupational Therapy program are required to submit their application to OTCAS ( with all required materials by the February 1st application deadline.  Please refer to the OTCAS website for instructions on submission of the OTCAS application materials.  Materials to be submitted to OTCAS include: official transcripts, GRE scores, letters of reference, and personal statement.

1.  Official Transcripts
Official transcripts of all college and university work must be submitted directly to the UTPA Office of Graduate Admissions and to OTCAS at OTCAS Verification Department, P.O. Box 9120, Watertown, MA 02471.

 2.  Prerequisite Courses
Applicant must show evidence of satisfactory completion of the following courses. All required prerequisite courses completed more than five (5) years prior to the February 1st application deadline will not be considered.

Anatomy & Physiology I (lecture & lab)            4 credit hours
Anatomy & Physiology II (lecture & lab)           4 credit hours
Basic Statistics                                                    3 credit hours
Psychology of Lifespan                                      3 credit hours
Abnormal Psychology                                         3 credit hours
Anthropology or Sociology                                 3 credit hours 
Medical Terminology                                          1, 2, or 3 credit hours
* Recommended:  Biomechanics, General Physics I, and Technical Writing.

•  Beginning 2014 the following courses will be required prerequisite courses:  Biomechanics, General Physics I, and Technical Writing.  (If you are planning to apply for the Fall 2014 class, these courses must also be completed by the February 1, 2014 application deadline.)

• If there are questions about a prerequisite(s), fax or email the course description(s), catalog description(s)of course(s), or syllabus(i) to the OT Department (Fax:  956/665-2476 or email at  Be sure to provide your contact information.

•  Waiver(s):  A waiver and/or substitution of any required prerequisite course may be petitioned to  the Chair of the Admissions Committee. You may do this by providing a written request for a waiver  along with supporting documents, your contact information, a copy of the course catalog or syllabus  and transcripts to the OT department (Fax: 956/ 665-2476 or email:

• A grade of "D" or "F" will not be accepted for any prerequisite courses.

• Students may re-take prerequisite courses.  The grades for the courses will be averaged together if they are taken within the 5 year time frame.  If more than 5 years has elapsed then grades outside the 5 year time frame will not be averaged.

3. Revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
The MS in Occupational Therapy program requires all parts of the Revised Graduate Record Examination (GRE) – verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing - for all applicants.  The Revised GRE must be taken within 5 years of the application deadline. There is no minimum score, but the applicant’s score is factored into the overall evaluation of the application.  If a component is missing a score, the application will not be reviewed and will be considered incomplete.  Official GRE scores are sent to the University of Texas-Pan American Graduate School but are self-reported on OTCAS.  The Office of Continuing Education offers an online GRE Prep course to prospective grad students.

 4. Letters of Reference
Reference letters are to be submitted electronically through the online OTCAS application system ( ). Please refer to the OTCAS website for instructions on submission of the OTCAS application materials.
5.  Volunteer and/or Work Experiences
There is no set number of volunteer hours or work experiences that you need to complete in order to be considered for admission into the program. Nor are you required to complete hours in occupational therapy through work or observation. However, it is vital that you have been exposed to volunteer and/or work experiences.  (Observations are not considered as volunteer or work experiences.) Your volunteer and/or work experiences are submitted through the OTCAS application.

6. Personal Statement
The Personal Essay should address (a) why you selected OT as a career and (b) how an Occupational Therapy degree relates to your immediate and long-term professional goals. Describe how your personal, educational, and professional background will help you achieve your goals. The personal essay is an important part of your application for admission and provides an opportunity for you to clearly and effectively express your ideas.

Do NOT personalize your essay for a particular degree institution.  You can NOT make any edits to your Personal Essay after you have e-submitted your completed application to OTCAS. Do not send a copy of the personal statement to the UTPA Occupational Therapy Department.

You are encouraged to compose your essay in a text-only word processor (e.g., Notepad), review your essay for errors, then cut and paste the final version into the text box above. Click the Save button and then return to the Personal Essay to review the formatting of your text. You are limited to approximately 1 page (4500 characters, including spaces). Some formatting characters used in programs like Word (angled quotes, accents, special characters) will not display properly. Take care to review your final text and to make the necessary corrections to the format.

7.  Personal Interview
Applicants may be required to participate in a personal interview with the MS in Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee.  If required, the Chair of the Admissions Committee will notify the applicant via phone or letter for an interview.

8. International Students
Applicants for whom English is not their primary language must have a minimum score of 550 on the TOEFL.

9. FERPA Consent Form
The admissions committee is composed of OT faculty and OTs from the community. Please sign the consent form allowing the OTs from the community to evaluate your application. If you do not wish to release your information please indicate this on the consent form. This will not affect the evaluation of your application. Form may be downloaded from the MS in Occupational Therapy web site at web site:
Signed form may be faxed to 956-665-2476, emailed to or mailed to the Occupational Therapy Department.

10. Centralized Application Service for Occupational Therapy Schools (OTCAS) (
Review all OTCAS instructions and program-specific admission requirements before you begin your application.
• The OTCAS program deadline indicates the date you must submit your web application to OTCAS. This is NOT the deadline by which your verified application must arrive at your designated programs.
• OTCAS is not responsible for any materials lost in the mail or for delays caused by the registrar's office. Express or certified mail does not guarantee expedient processing, nor does sending transcripts express or certified guarantee receipt by OTCAS.
• Allow up to 4 weeks for OTCAS to process and verify your application once your application, official transcripts, and fee are received.
• Your designated OT programs may require supplemental materials before your application is considered.
• Carefully review the instructions on this web site to prepare for the OTCAS application process.

Applicant Responsibilities
• Enter accurate and comprehensive data into the OTCAS application
• Compose a personal essay without assistance from others
• Arrange for OTCAS to receive official transcripts from every regionally accredited U.S. and Canadian college and university attended using the OTCAS Transcript Request form
• Pay the correct OTCAS application fee
• Arrange for application materials to be sent to OTCAS as required
• Print a copy of the completed application before e-submitting it to OTCAS
• Check application status frequently by logging onto the OTCAS web application
• Frequently check email and login to the application for important messages from OTCAS
• Personally respond immediately to all communication from OTCAS and programs
• Contact designated OT programs directly about admission decisions & admission requirements
• Contact OTCAS customer support staff about any OTCAS issues or questions, such as GPAs or missing documents
• Log off the OTCAS web application after each session to protect against unauthorized access to the application
• Maintain record of the OTCAS identification number

OTCAS Customer Service Information.  Customer Service is available Monday thru Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm EST.  Phone – (617) 612-2860, email –

OTCAS Applicant Portal Link.  For the 2013 admission deadline, the applicant portal will open July 6, 2012 at 

OTCAS Address.  All official transcripts MUST be sent to OTCAS at the address below:
 OTCAS Verification Department
 P.O. Box 9120
 Watertown, MA 02471

Paper letters of Recommendation.  If an applicant chooses to submit the paper Letter of Recommendation, OTCAS will accept the OTCAS Paper Request Form Only.  All Paper Letter of Recommendation MUST be sent to OTCAS at the address below:
 OTCAS Verification Department
 P.O. Box 9120
 Watertown, MA 02471

To be considered for admission to the MS in Occupational Therapy program, applicants must submit the following:
• UTPA Graduate School Completed Application 
 The MS in Occupational Therapy Graduate School application must be current.  A 2012 application may not be submitted for 2013. You must reapply.
• MS in Occupational Therapy Completed Application.
Applicants are required to submit their application to OTCAS.  Applicants are responsible for tracking the receipt of their application materials and ensuring submission of all required & verified documents.  Only applicants who submit completed applications with all required materials will be considered for potential entrance into the program. 

Start the application process early

A complete application contains:
• MS in Occupational Therapy application through OTCAS (
You must arrange for OTCAS to receive your application and all required materials. The OTCAS program deadline is NOT the date by which your verified application must arrive at your designated programs.
• Official transcripts
• Three online references (recommendations)
• All prerequisites completed within 5 years prior to the February 1st application deadline
• Revised Graduate Record Examination Scores completed within 5 years of the application deadline
• Indication of volunteer hours and/or work experiences
• Personal Statement
• FERPA Consent Form
• TOEFL of 550 (international students only)
• Bachelor’s degree must be conferred by May 31st before the program begins.
It is the student’s responsibility to make sure that all documents are received by the application deadline.

1. Selection and Notification Process
The Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee meets as soon as possible after the deadline to review each application. If required, the Chair of the Admissions Committee notifies the applicant via phone or letter for an interview. Once selections have been made, the UTPA Graduate School will send notification to all applicants indicating whether or not they have been accepted. No information regarding the status of an application is given over the phone. Once a selection is made, the status of your application will be available online at

In keeping with the UTPA policy, the Department of Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee does not discriminate against any individual on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, origin, sex, age, disability, veteran status, or previous major or college attended.

Applicants who acknowledge a felony conviction should be aware that the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) might bar persons with a felony record from taking the certification examination. The Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners (TBOTE) may deny persons with a felony record a state license to practice. For information regarding their requirements for certification following graduation, please contact:
• National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT),
• Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners (TBOTE),

The College of Health Sciences and Human Services requires a criminal background check before admission to the program.

Some personal information may need to be disclosed during the educational experience. For example, information may be required by a clinical education site or licensing board.   Prior notification will be given to the students

3. Required Practicum and Fieldwork Experiences
A minimum of one 10 week practicum (Level I) and the equivalent of 24 weeks of fieldwork (Level II) experience are required of all Master's students In Occupational Therapy. These field-based practical experiences provide students with the opportunity to work in an approved setting.  All students admitted to the OT program should expect to take at least one fieldwork experience outside the Rio Grande Valley. The practicum (Level I) is taken throughout the academic coursework component of the program and the fieldwork (Level II) experiences is after successful completion of all academic coursework and requirements.  Students have 24 months after completion of academic coursework to complete Level II fieldwork requirements as declared by ACOTE.  Students must complete and pass the equivalent of a minimum of 24 weeks full time Level II fieldwork to graduate but more may be taken. These practical experiences permit students to gain exposure working with persons with disabilities and rehabilitation professionals.

V. Deadline
Admission deadline is February 1st
* Applicants must submit all application documents and meet all requirements by the published deadline date in order to be considered for admission.

VI. Offers of Admission to the Graduate School
Official admission offers will be made only by the Office of Graduate Studies and are valid only for the semester requested on the application. Through the Online Application Web site, you will be able to view the status of your application. Students who are accepted but do not attend the semester requested on the application must submit an application for readmission to enroll for a later semester.

An additional application fee will be charged if the student reapplies more than one year from the semester originally requested. Re-Apply

VII. Program Contact Information
Program Website:
Campus Office: HSHE 1.130
Phone: (956) 665-3081 or 665-2475

This program is accredited by:
The Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE)
4720 Montgomery Lane
PO Box 31220
Bethesda, MD 20824-1220
Tel.: (301) 652-2682 (AOTA)
Fax: (301) 652-7711
(TDD): (800) 377-8555
Web site:   


Apply Now

Request More Information

Office of Graduate Studies