Sep 25, 2023  
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Pre-Occupational Therapy

Occupational therapists are health care professionals trained to empower individuals to reach their own goals and to maximize their independence in personal care, work, school, play and leisure activities. They work with individuals of any age and in a variety of settings from neonatal intensive care units and other hospital settings, to community locations such as schools, work sites, and homes. Occupational therapists are uniquely qualified to identify and assess the functional limitations of individuals with disabilities and to develop strategies to remediate, compensate, or adapt for those limitations. These strategies include ways to overcome attitudinal and environmental barriers and to identify and improve access to assistive technology and services as a means of increasing occupational performance and satisfaction.

The pre-occupational therapy curriculum is designed to prepare students for admission to USD’s program in Occupational Therapy. Students are free to major in the discipline of their choice and complete the prerequisite coursework as part of their Bachelor’s degree work at USD. All students must have a strong foundation in the biological and behavioral sciences, excellent communication skills, and knowledge of the field of occupational therapy including health and social factors relevant in healthcare today. 

Additional information regarding the USD Occupational Therapy program is available by contacting: Department of Occupational Therapy, 605-658-5999, (; Graduate School, 605-658-6140; Academic & Career Planning Center, 677-5381; or Health Professions Advisors, 605-658-6226 or 658-6334.

Jessica Messersmith
College of Arts & Sciences/Associate Dean for Academics
Arts & Sciences 110


Pre-Occupational Therapy students must complete the following USD prerequisite coursework or their equivalent for enrollment in the USD Doctor of Occupational Therapy Program.  A minimum of 7 of the 9 required prerequisite courses including 2 of the 3 required science courses must be completed prior to application.  One course may not fulfill the requirement for multiple prerequisite courses.  All prerequisite courses must be completed by June 1 in the year of matriculation into the program.


Accelerated OTD Programs:

  • Neuroscience, B.S.-Cognitive Neuroscience Specialization with OTD standard program and Accelerated OTD Program
  • Kinesiology and Sport Management, B.S. with OTD standard program and Accelerated OTD Program
  • Health Sciences, B.S. with Clinical Studies Specialization with OTD standard program 

3+3 PROGRAM OPTION (by application to the program through OTCAS) 

This program is available, by application, to eligible University of South Dakota students in the Neuroscience, B.S.-Cognitive Neuroscience specialization, B.S.-Kinesiology and Sports Management, and B.S.-Health Sciences with Clinical Studies Specialization  

The following restrictions apply: 

  1. be enrolled in a USD undergraduate program; 
  2. earn 90 undergraduate credits by the end of the junior year;
  3. meet all major, distribution, general education, and testing requirements in accord with institutional and regental policies, guidelines, and requirements by the end of the junior year; 
  4. have at least a 3.25 cumulative GPA by the end of the junior year, and earn the following scores on the GRE: 40th percentile rank Verbal, 45th percentile rank Quantitative and a writing score of 4.0; 2 
  5. submit to the Occupational Therapy program a statement of interest regarding entry into the 3+3 program option by the beginning of the third semester; 
  6. receive a letter of recommendation from the Neuroscience, BS program director attesting not only to the student’s intellectual strengths, but also to the student’s maturity, work ethic, and overall readiness for graduate school (in addition to the letters required from an occupational therapist or other health or social service provider and an employer as part of the standard OT admissions process); 
  7. complete the standard application for admission to the OT Program through OTCAS. This may be completed as early as the sophomore year of the undergraduate curriculum if the following requirements are met and maintained: overall GPA of 3.5, science GPA of 3.2, No Cs in pre-requisite courses, GRE completed with minimal scores as defined above. 

2If a 3+3 program applicant moderately deviates from these requirements, and demonstrates evidence of extraordinary character, leadership, and maturity, the Occupational therapy program reserves the right to make an exception and grant admission in that case.