FAQs -Admissions

What are the differences between the entry-level Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) and entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) programs?
All students are initially accepted into the MSOT program, with the program goal of developing exceptional occupational therapists, primarily in the clinical role.
Didactic and experiential coursework in the 24-month MSOT program is focused on gaining knowledge and demonstrating proficiency in clinical skills across the lifespan and across types of conditions. All students are engaged in evidence-based scholarship, and skills in clinical reasoning and professionalism will be facilitated and demonstrated through a variety of instructional methods.

MSOT students who pursue the OTD will build on the skills demonstrated during the primary phase of the program, as they engage in an additional year of education. In addition to excellence in clinical skills, OTD students will advance their scholarly outcomes through additional learning opportunities in research, leadership, and advocacy skills through coursework and the capstone experience. The four primary areas of the community-focused capstone experience are clinical practice, research, education, and/or program development. The OTD experiences will include consideration of appropriate community-based involvement.

Where do I find the information on the application processes that are required?
For the OTCAS, go to the OTCAS website. For the East Carolina University (ECU) Graduate School application, go to the Graduate School website. You can find application information through the “Apply” button under the “Admissions” tab.

How many students are accepted into the programs?
Currently the Department of Occupational Therapy is accepting up to 26 MSOT students per academic year.

What should be in the reference letters submitted through the MSOT application?
Although OTCAS requires three letters, two will be reviewed for admission. Please see the “How Do I Apply” page for specific details as to what the references should address in their letters. It is typical that references are written by former professors, undergraduate advisors, employers, or occupational therapists.

Are volunteer or shadowing hours required?
Volunteer or shadowing hours are not required. However, the ECU occupational therapy programs strongly encourage volunteer experience to help demonstrate commitment to the community and leadership skills. In addition, shadowing is important because it will help you understand if this is a career that is suited to your personality, knowledge, and abilities. Volunteering can be done with any organization or group, but shadowing with occupational therapists will assist you in understanding the various roles of occupational therapists, the types of settings that employ occupational therapists, and many diagnoses that require occupational therapy services. This information can be included on your resume.

Do you admit students before the application deadline?
MSOT applications may be submitted beginning July. We do not do rolling or early admissions. All applicants are reviewed together after the application deadline.

What happens after the Occupational Therapy Admissions Committee receives my application?
Please see Application Timeline for an approximate breakdown of the application timeline.

When do I find out about the Admission Committee’s decision?
Please see Application Timeline for an approximate breakdown of the application timeline.

Is the essay important for my MSOT application?
The essays are one measure of the MSOT application and give the applicant an opportunity to highlight his or her special abilities, skills, talents, and experiences. The answers should reflect genuine impressions about you as an individual and future professional. This is a very important component of the application and should be taken seriously by the applicant.

Are there quotas in your programs for in-state students? Out-of-state students?
All qualified, interested applicants are considered for admission, regardless of the state of residence.

What type of GPA is required for admission?
The occupational therapy programs requires a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale. Please see Application Requirements for more information or review the Admitted Student Profile for the average GPA of the incoming class.

What GRE scores are required?
The Admissions Committee reviews verbal, quantitative, and writing scores on the GRE. A limited number of GRE fee waivers are available through the ECU Graduate School. If you are interested in this waiver, please e-mail OTADMISSIONS@ecu.edu. Additionally, ETS offers a GRE Fee Reduction program for individuals with demonstrated financial need, for those who are unemployed, and for national programs that work with underrepresented groups. For more information, please see https://www.ets.org/gre/test-takers/general-test/register/fees.html. Please see Application Requirements for recommended scores or review the Admitted Student Profile for the average scores of the incoming class.

What type of degree is required for the entry-level master’s program?
All applicants must have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited four-year institution. ANY undergraduate degree is acceptable. Please see the Admitted Student Profile for a display of degrees from MSOT students in the program.

Do the prerequisite courses have to be completed prior to starting the MSOT program?
Yes, absolutely all prerequisite courses must be completed with, at minimum, a B- (2.7) prior to starting the program. The exception is the medical terminology course requirement, which can be completed by passing an exam, but the exam must be completed before the start of the first semester with a passing grade. You may apply to the program while completing the prerequisites, but at least 4 of the anatomy/physiology prerequisites must be completed by the October deadline and it is recommended that 15 of the 25 credits are completed before the October deadline.

What if I think a course I have taken meets one of your MSOT prerequisites, but I am not sure?
Please see Application Requirements for a chart of prerequisite courses from common institutions. Email the course description or syllabus for any course that is not taken at ECU to the Department of Occupational Therapy Director of Admissions or Admissions Coordinator for advice at otadmissions@ecu.edu.

Can I work and go to school at the same time?
The curriculum is very demanding and requires a student to devote a great deal of time to completing course assignments. It is not recommended that students be employed outside of the university while enrolled in the program. External work can place you in a state of conflict with classmates when completing group work, which is a large part of many courses. However, some graduate assistantship positions are available throughout the university and within the department, which are designed for students who need to earn additional funds. At the end of the curriculum, students will be working full time (40+ hrs) on a fieldwork assignment for six months and will find it very difficult to maintain employment. We encourage applicants to plan accordingly.

How long are the full-time programs?
The entry-level MSOT program is 24 months, including summer. The last 6 months of the 24 months are spent in the field completing Fieldwork II. The entry-level OTD program is 34 months, including summer.

Do you have any scholarships available? How do I apply for these?
Information on scholarships is available through the ECUAWard Portal and available for students currently enrolled in the program.

Can I transfer into your program from another university?
At this time, ECU MSOT program does NOT accept credits from OT students transferring from another school’s OT program. These students are encouraged to apply to ECU MSOT program with the post-baccalaureate applicants.

Does the program offer specialization in any areas of practice?
The accrediting body ACOTE has standards that require an entry level program prepare students as a generalist. Thus our occupational therapy programs are designed to prepare graduates for practice in all settings. Occupational therapists should anticipate working with a variety of individuals of all ages and should be competent in all types of practice. The programs focus on teaching clinical reasoning skills and evidence-based practice a therapist can use when approaching novel situations. Through the selected research projects , students can enhance their knowledge and experience in a particular area of practice.

What are the types of fieldwork required?
There is a 1 week supervised fieldwork experience, 40 hours, during each of first Spring and Summer Semesters. Once all academic course work has been successfully completed, MSOT students will complete two separate full-time supervised 12 week internships in a variety of settings and during the last Spring and Summer semesters. Once all academic didactic course work has been successfully completed. OTD students will complete two separate full-time supervised 12 week internships in a variety of settings and during the last Summer and Fall semesters.

Do I have to have an area of research interest?
Research is required for completion of the program and is considered an integral part of a good graduate curriculum. However, a beginning graduate student may not have ideas for research that they would like to pursue. The faculty members have developed a process to share their interests, to encourage students to explore interest areas, and to learn the research process in progressive steps. All students will have completed a project in which they have an expressed interest upon graduation. Past projects can be viewed on the Masters Projects website.

Where will I live?
ECU does not have on-campus graduate housing. However, the allied health campus (where the occupational therapy program and classes are housed) is separate from the primary campus. There are several affordable apartment complexes in very close proximity to our building. Most of these apartment complexes only rent to graduate students and professionals. It is encouraged that students live in close proximity to campus for ease in meeting with peers for group projects and class community opportunities; however, some students do chose to commute on a daily basis.

What is the cost of the program?
Please see Estimating Program Cost.