Entry-Level Professional Master of Arts Degree
Admission Criteria and Prerequisites
Thank you for your interest in our occupational therapy program at the University of Southern California. The Entry-Level Master’s Program at the Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy begins with a summer session in mid-June each year. Please note the updated application timeline below. The application for the program that will begin in June of 2019 will become available through OTCAS on July 18, 2018.
In order to be considered for the Entry-Level Professional Master’s Program at the University of Southern California, applicants must complete the OTCAS application and the program specific requirements through OTCAS for the University of Southern California. The OTCAS application must be completed and verified prior to the date below. We recommend that you submit your OTCAS application at least three weeks prior to the deadline, as transcripts and other application materials may take three weeks or more to be processed by OTCAS. Please plan accordingly. The application deadline is:
- November 30th
Applications received after this date are also welcome and will be processed on a space available basis. For more information about late application submission please see this link.
Please read all of the information on this webpage carefully. We will post the most up to date information here.
Applications are not reviewed on a “first submitted” or “rolling” basis; they are simply reviewed when complete, around the time of the application deadline.
To apply, all applicants to the Master of Arts program must complete the OTCAS application and choose the University of Southern California, being sure to complete the required program materials for USC, including the following:
- Complete a baccalaureate degree with a minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 from an accredited college or university.* Note: If you completed a graduate degree we will consider your graduate GPA instead of your undergraduate GPA. If you have a question about your specific situation, please contact Liz Carley, Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting A–K), or Erin McIntyre, Assistant Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting L–Z).
- Send all of your official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended to OTCAS directly.
- International Students or Students who completed more than one semester at a foreign institution should visit the following links to determine what documents (such as transcripts and diplomas) are needed by USC, based on home country. The USC Office of Graduate Admission provides admission requirement details by country, and instructions and addresses for document submission. Applicants with foreign transcripts will need to submit official transcripts from all colleges attended (including domestic transcripts) directly to the USC Office of Graduate Admission. It is not necessary to submit a USC Application for Graduate Admission. Please contact the USC Office of Graduate Admission directly for questions about foreign transcript submission.
*USC does not require applicants to submit foreign transcripts to a third-party evaluator prior to being admitted; however, if you are applying to other programs that do require such an evaluation be submitted to OTCAS, we strongly recommend that you use the services provided by the International Education Research Foundation (IERF).
- Complete the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) general test within five years of planned enrollment with a minimum score of 153 on the verbal section, a 144 on the quantitative section, and a 3.5 on the analytical writing section.* Official GRE score reports should be sent to the ETS reporting code 1983. This code will send your official score report to USC through OTCAS.
*Applicants who fall slightly below any of the GPA and GRE general test admission criteria can be considered for conditional admission. If you have questions about your specific situation, please feel free to contact us.
- Submit three letters of recommendation (evaluations) from professors, therapists, and/or other professionals familiar with your capabilities and achievements. Recommendations (evaluations) should be submitted electronically through OTCAS.
- Submit a personal statement through the USC program specific questions section of OTCAS in response to the following prompt: How will your unique background and perspective enrich our program and the profession of occupational therapy? Describe the vision you have for yourself as an occupational therapist and how USC will provide a means to get there. Please highlight information that would not be discerned through other application materials such as transcripts, resumes, etc. (max. 3,000 characters, including spaces). Please note: the USC Admissions Committee will be focusing mainly on the personal statement included in the USC program materials section, written to this prompt, and not on the general OTCAS personal statement that is sent to all programs.
- Make sure to complete the other program specific questions for USC that are required through OTCAS.
- It is recommended to upload a resume or CV through OTCAS with your application.
- English Proficiency: If your bachelor’s degree was earned in a non-English speaking country and you are not a US citizen or permanent resident, scores are needed from an official TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or IELTS (International English Language Testing System). Students from some English-speaking countries may also need to submit scores. Scores should be submitted to USC directly prior to the admission deadline for which you are being considered. We require that the student have verification of the following scores within two years of intended enrollment at USC:
- A computer based TOEFL (iBT) score of 90 with no less than 20 on each sub-score; or
- A computer based IELTS of 6.5 with no less than 6 on each band score.
Students whose native language is English and/or students with a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. college or university are exempted from this examination. See the USC Office of Graduate Admission for more information about English-language requirements.
If you are an international student who has questions about program requirements for the TOEFL/IELTS, please contact Liz Carley, Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting A–K), or Erin McIntyre, Assistant Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting L–Z).
Prerequisite courses may be in progress when you apply as long as one course has been completed with a grade at the time of application. All prerequisites need to be completed prior to the start of the program if you are accepted.
You must have completed prerequisites:
- Within five years of planned enrollment.
- For a grade of a C or higher in each course (pass/fail not accepted**).
- With an average grade of a B (3.0 GPA) in all prerequisite courses completed at the time of application.
- From an accredited junior college, college, or university.
- Either in a classroom setting or on-line, however anatomy must be completed in a classroom setting (There are a few exceptions of online anatomy courses that have been approved. Please contact us directly for questions about this.).
- For the equivalent of three or four semester units each (with the exception of medical terminology which may be taken for one or two units or some approved certificate courses) as follows:
- Human Anatomy with laboratory;*
- Human Physiology;*
- Introductory Statistics;
- Developmental Psychology or Human Development (must cover the life span);
- Abnormal Psychology;
- Introductory Sociology or Introduction to Social/Cultural Anthropology;
- Medical Terminology**;
Four week intensive courses in human anatomy with lab and human physiology are offered from mid-May to mid-June (just prior to the start of the program) for those students who have been unable to complete them earlier.
*If Anatomy and Physiology are combined, students must take either 1) one combined Anatomy and Physiology course with laboratory worth 6-8 semester units, or 2) two sequential semesters of combined Anatomy and Physiology taken at the same school, totaling 6-8 semester units with a laboratory each semester.
**If Medical Terminology was taken as a certificate course, please email the admissions team with your certificate of completion. Because there is no mechanism on the OTCAS application to submit proof of completion for a certificate course, once the admissions team receives your email with the certificate of completion, this prerequisite will be marked as complete on your application.
Possible Background Checks
The University of Southern California Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy does not require background checks, drug testing or fingerprinting for admission into the Master of Arts program. However, an increasing number of health care facilities require USC students to provide this and other information in order to participate in clinical rotations at their sites. The successful completion of clinical rotations is required for the master’s degree at USC and is a prerequisite for being able to sit for the NBCOT® (National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy®) exam to practice as an occupational therapist. A felony conviction may affect a graduate’s ability to sit for the NBCOT® certification examination or attain state licensure.
For additional information, please contact Liz Carley, Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting A–K), or Erin McIntyre, Assistant Director of Admissions (for applicants with last names starting L–Z).
All applicants who are admitted to the entry-level master’s program will be required to complete certain health clearances prior to enrolling in the program. These health clearances are required in order to participate in clinical rotations, which are a requirement for the master’s degree. Please see USC Fieldwork Prerequisites for an overview of the prerequisites for these clinical rotations and enrollment in the program.
Please also refer to the Eric Cohen Student Health Center for the health clearance requirements for students enrolled in the professional program.
Please view our Frequently Asked Questions for more helpful information.
If you would like to know more, please use our Request Program Information Form, and we will be happy to send you a brochure about any of our programs.