Admission Requirements & Deadlines

The Occupational Therapy MS admission cycle opens on July 18 each year; admission requirements, deadlines, and procedures are updated on an annual basis. You are required to follow the guidelines posted on this page and on the Occupational Therapy Centralized Application Service (OTCAS) application as of the opening date for each admission cycle. Requirements are subject to change at any point before the application period.

Occupational Therapy MS 2021 Admission Cycle Criteria

You must satisfy each of these criteria to be considered for admission to the program. It is your responsibility to understand the admission criteria and review your application materials for completeness; neither OTCAS nor TU will notify you if your application is incomplete.

The currently posted admission criteria is for the OT MS 2021 Admission Cycle, which has a Fall 2021 entry term.

Please review the content of this page carefully. If you have additional questions, please review our Frequently Asked Questions web page or contact our Admissions Counselor.

Criteria Adjustments

Some Criteria Adjusted due to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Some admission criteria have been adjusted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Those criteria will be highlighted using this callout feature for easy identification.

We will continue to monitor the situation and adjust criteria as necessary. Please contact us if you are concerned about meeting any criteria due to the COVID-19 pandemic; we want to work with you so you can still apply if possible.

Application Submission and Verification Deadlines

A complete application must be submitted through OTCAS by October 1, 2020; materials must be verified by November 1, 2020 to be included in our review. It can take as many as 4-6 weeks for OTCAS to verify transcripts; therefore, it will be necessary to submit materials as early as possible. We have established our OTCAS submission deadline of October 1 to assist applicants in meeting the November 1 verification deadline.

It is your responsibility to complete and submit the TU application in OTCAS. OTCAS will notify you when your application is successfully submitted and verified, which also means that TU has access to the application materials; TU will not send you additional verification that your application has been received.

Undergraduate Degree by August 1

You must provide official transcripts through OTCAS proving that you have earned or are enrolled to earn an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college of university** by August 1, 2021. Applicants who have not earned a bachelor’s degree at the time of application will be required to provide additional official proof that the bachelor’s degree was awarded by August 1.

**see exceptions to this policy in the Graduate Admission Policies

Non-immigrant international students: See additional admission information in International Graduate Admissions.

3.25+ Last-60-Credit GPA

You must have a minimum GPA of 3.25 based on the last 60 credits of your undergraduate degree and any eligible post-baccalaureate coursework. Coursework included in this GPA is determined by counting back 60 credits from the most recent degree-seeking undergraduate semester. The only post-baccalaureate coursework eligible to extend this calculation are courses taken at the upper level (3- or 400 level) or graduate level.

Prerequisite Coursework Completion

You must have successfully completed at least 6 of the 10 prerequisite courses, one of which must be Human Anatomy & Physiology I, by the application deadline. You must complete all 10 prerequisite courses prior to entering the program.

Transcripts must be verified through OTCAS by November 1, 2020 for coursework to be considered in our review process. If you have incomplete prerequisites at the time of an admission offer, you will be required to provide additional official proof that the prerequisites are complete prior to entering the program.

Criteria Adjustment

Prerequisite Grade and Online Lab Exceptions

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the following exceptions have been approved for the 2021 Admission Cycle:

  1. For courses taken in Spring 2020 ONLY: we will accept a "pass" grade and/or a grade of "C" for any prerequisite course work.
  2. For courses taken in Spring 2020 and Summer 2020: we will accept online labs for any science prerequisite.

If you have concerns not addressed by these eceptions, please contact us directly to discuss your situation further.

With the exception of Physics, all prerequisite coursework must be completed with a grade of ‘B-‘ (2.67) or higher. Human Anatomy & Physiology I and Human Anatomy & Physiology II must each include an in-person lab and be completed within five calendar years of the application deadline: completed FALL 2015 or more recently for the 2021 admission cycle. Physics must include an in-person lab and must be completed with a grade of ‘C’ (2.0) or higher.

Online courses, ACE, or UExcel exams may not be used for Anatomy & Physiology I, Anatomy & Physiology II, and Physics. AP scores of 4 or 5 and CLEP scores of 60 or higher can be used for non-science prerequisites only if documentation of the actual score is provided. Otherwise, all prerequisite coursework must be taken through a regionally accredited 2 or 4-year institution and appear on an official transcript with a letter grade awarded.

If you are unsure if your coursework will satisfy our prerequisites, you are highly encouraged to submit an Entry-Level OT Graduate Program Prescreening Worksheet [PDF] well in advance of applying. Instructions for completing and submitting the worksheet are included in the document.

Prerequisite Coursework - expand for full detail

English Composition

Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: ENGL 102
An introductory course with a primary focus on expository writing. College Writing, Intro to Writing, and College Composition/Rhetoric are common titles. Introduction to Literature is rarely accepted and only will proof of expository writing focus.

Introduction to Psychology

Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: PSYC 101
An introductory course that surveys the field. Topics courses do not qualify.

Introduction to Sociology

Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: SOCI 101
An introductory course that surveys the field. Anthropology, Social Psychology, and Topics Courses do not qualify.

Abnormal Psychology
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: PSYC 361
A topics course in psychology studying disordered personal reactions to life. Also commonly titled Psychopathology.
Human Growth & Development
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: PSYC 203
A topics course, usually in psychology, studying research and theories related to human development throughout the life span: conception to old age/death. Also commonly titled Developmental Psychology. May be satisfied by one or a combination of courses.
Basic Statistics
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 3
TU Equivalent: MATH 231, MATH 237, PSYC 212, or ECON 205
A statistics-focused course that covers descriptive statistics (measures of central tendency). Major specific courses are often acceptable.
Medical Terminology
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 1
TU Equivalent: FMST 140 or KNES 215
An introductory course designed to increase familiarity with medical terminology used in health care settings. May be taken for one or more credits.
Human Anatomy & Physiology I
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 4
TU Equivalent: BIOL 221 + BIOL 221L
Must include an in-person lab and be completed within five calendar years of the application deadline: completed FALL 2014 or more recently for the 2020 admission cycle. First half of a two-course sequence studying human anatomy and physiology. Full two-course sequence must cover human cell biology; histology; skeletal, muscular, and nervous systems; and cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, excretory, endocrine, and reproductive systems. Sequence may also be split as Human Anatomy and Human Physiology.
Human Anatomy & Physiology II
Minimum Grade: B- (2.67)     Minimum Credits: 4
TU Equivalent: BIOL 222 + BIOL 222L
Must include an in-person lab and be completed within five calendar years of the application deadline: completed FALL 2014 or more recently for the 2020 admission cycle. Second half of a two-course sequence student human anatomy and physiology. See Human Anatomy & Physiology I for full list of sequence topics.

Minimum Grade: C (2.00)     Minimum Credits: 4
TU Equivalent: PHYS 202 or PHYS 211
A general, introductory course that must include the study of mechanics (Newton’s Laws). Must include an in-person lab. Does not need to be calculus based.


30 Human Service Hours (Observation Hours)


Human Service Hours Adjustment

This requirement has changed significantly for the 2021 admission cycle. Please review the revised requirement carefully.

If you have concerns not addressed by these changes, or would like to discuss a unique human service hour opportunity, please contact us directly to discuss your situation further.

A minimum of 30 Human Service Hours (called Observation Hours in OTCAS) across at least two different, qualifying experiences must be completed prior to entering the program. These experiences should be used to explore different settings and populations you will encounter as you study and practice OT.

At the time of application, you must have already completed at least 10 Human Service Hours at a qualifying experience and provide documentation of that experience. If you are admitted, you will have until August 1, 2021 to complete and document any remaining hours and experiences.

This requirement is subject to change given current events. If you are concerned about satisfying this requirement, please contact us directly. Unique situations and non-traditional experiences will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Human Service Hour Criteria

You must meet all of these criteria to satisfy the Human Service Hour requirement:

  1. Direct Interaction: Each experience must involve direct interaction with one or more individuals with a disability, illness, or other disadvantages. Strictly administrative experiences do not qualify.
  2. Minimum of 10+ Hours Per Experience:Each experience must total at least 10 hours to qualify.
  3. Minimum of Two Different Experiences: Each experience should vary in setting and/or population. Identical experiences (the same setting and population) can count toward the 30-hour minimum, but will not satisfy the minimum of two different experiences. Only one experience must be complete at the time of application.
  4. Completed within Two Years: The hours used toward this requirement must have been completed within two calendar years of the application deadline: dated October 2018 or more recently for the 2021 admission cycle.
  5. Supporting Documentation: You must include documentation, signed by your supervisor, supporting the hours completed. This documentation should be submitted in OTCAS, under Supporting Information > Observation Hours. Common forms of documentation include a brief letter or a log of hours. Supporting documentation must include all of the following:
    1. The setting you worked in (please be specific)
    2. The population you worked with (please be specific)
    3. The total number of hours completed within the 2-year timeframe
    4. The date range the hours were completed within
    5. The supervisor’s name, role, contact information, and signature
  6. List of Experiences in OTCAS: In the Program Materials > Towson University section of OTCAS, you must LIST your Human Service Hours experiences as follows:
    Setting, Population, Total Hours, Date Range, Supervisor
    Example: ABC Hospital, Adult Inpatient General Physical Rehab, 15 hours, May – June, 2018, Jane Doe OTR/L

The department reserves the right to contact Human Service Hour supervisors to confirm the validity of experiences.

Three References (Evaluations)

You must have three unique references, as defined by the criteria below, complete OTCAS Evaluations. You must enter each reference's contact information into the system. Then, the reference will receive an email from the OTCAS evaluation system directing them to rate your competence in 10 professional areas.

Required References

You must have one of each of the following reference types:

  1. Human Service Hours (Observation Hours) Reference: One reference must be a supervisor from one of your Human Service Hour experiences.
  2. Professional Reference: One reference must be an individual whom you have worked for or with in a professional setting.
  3. Academic or Professional Reference: One reference must be a current or previous instructor or an additional individual whom you have worked for or with in a professional setting.

Reference Guidelines

Follow these guidelines while selecting references:

  • All references received from supervisors of qualifying Human Service Hour experiences are considered professional
  • Each reference type must be satisfied by a unique individual; the same reference cannot satisfy more than one type
  • Family members, personal friends, and religious mentors may not serve as references
  • The reference should use the ‘relationship’ entry to clearly identify the type of reference they are satisfying
  • References must rate at least six of the 10 competencies for the reference to qualify; it is the applicant’s responsibility to understand this requirement, communicate it to their references, and determine if their references are able to meet this minimum.
  • References must submit their ratings through the OTCAS evaluation system; letters submitted by the applicant will not be reviewed

Personal Statement

The personal statement is an important part of your application and provides you with an opportunity to clearly and effectively express your ideas. You must write and submit an original personal statement reflecting on the following questions:

  • Why have you selected Occupational Therapy as a career?
  • How will a degree in Occupational Therapy relate to your immediate and long-term professional goals?
  • How will your personal, educational, and professional background help you achieve your goals?

TU requires you to follow specific guidelines outlined below; as such, you are required to submit your Personal Statement to the ‘Essay’ line in the Program Materials > Towson University > Documents section of OTCAS. If your TU Personal Statement is the same as your general Personal Statement, please simply upload in both places. Only essays uploaded in the Towson University section of OTCAS will be included in our review of your application.

Personal Statement Guidelines

  • Thorough Reflection: Ensure you have thoroughly reflected on all of the posted questions and have provided a meaningful, clear, full response
  • 500 Word Maximum: Your personal statement must be no longer than 500 words; APA formatting preferred
  • High Quality, Original Writing: Ensure your personal statement displays high, academic-quality writing skills and is your own original work. While you may use general feedback to inform the quality of your personal statement, no other person should directly edit or write any portion of your personal statement.


You must submit a current resume in the Program Materials > Towson University > Documents area of OTCAS. Relevant work history and leadership experience will be considered in the selection process; applicants may be asked for permission to contact current or prior employers.


After our initial review of applicants, top candidates will be invited to participate in a required interview between late November and early December. We will determine if the interview will be in-person or remote closer to the interview timeframe. The department will use the combined results of the interview and OTCAS application materials to make final admission decisions.


Your application will be reviewed as it stands at the time it is verified in OTCAS. This means your references, personal statement, Human Service Hour documentation, Resume, and any other supporting documentation and transcripts should be complete at the time you initially submit your application. Once your application is verified, we will not monitor for updates; any changes made after verification may not be included in our review.

The review process is conducted in stages, concluding with the Interview. Applicants will be notified of their standing via email at the conclusion of select stages. Meeting the minimum criteria does not guarantee admission to the program; approximately 30 individuals will be admitted to our OT MS program in 2021.

All offers of admission require the return of an intent statement by a specified deadline. If you are offered a position and fail to return the intent statement by the specified deadline, your offer of admission is revoked and the position is offered to the first person on the waitlist. The waitlist is maintained until the first week of classes and we make every effort to enter the first term with a full cohort.

Towson University Graduate Programs Application

You cannot complete the Towson University application until you are instructed to do so. The only application you must submit for initial consideration is the TU OTCAS application.

Deferral of Acceptance

Deferral of admission offers are not permitted at this time. If you are unable to accept an offer of admission, you must reapply if you wish to be considered in a future admission cycle.