Student Ambassador Blog | Jessica P
3 Ways to Pursue OT as an Undergrad
As many of you know, to practice as an occupational therapist in the United States you need a master’s degree. So that leaves a lot of people wondering – how do I get involved as an undergrad to prepare myself to become an occupational therapist? At USC as an undergrad, there are many ways to pursue occupational therapy from the minute you step on campus as a freshman:
1. Major in Occupational Therapy
If you know as a high school student applying to college, you want to pursue occupational therapy as a career then our Bachelor to Master’s (BS-MA) in Occupational Therapy is the major for you! The accelerated BS-MA program is a program where you get your undergrad and master’s degrees in just 5 years, instead of the traditional 6 years. The program follows a 3 + 2 format where your first 3 years you complete your undergrad courses and the last 2 years you complete your master’s courses.
During your undergrad years, you complete pre-professional courses as well as general education courses that all USC students take. Many students wonder if they can still have the “typical” college experience while being in an accelerated program, and let me tell you – you definitely can! As a BS-MA student, I was able to still take courses abroad, pick up a minor, while also participating in Greek life and student organizations.
2. Minor in Occupational Science
If you are an undergrad at USC, but aren’t already majoring in Occupational Therapy, you can join our amazing Occupational Science minor. Occupational Science was founded at USC in 1989. The OS minor classes are designed to complement any major and enhance students’ understanding of occupations, the things we do every day that occupy our time. There are students who are in a variety of majors such as accounting, chemistry, and theater, in addition to students who are planning on pursuing occupational therapy as their career.
There are classes like OT 310: Creativity Workshop where you get to explore your own creativity, OT 340: Occupational Foundations of Human-Animal Interaction which focuses on how animals contribute to human health, OT 350: Disability, Occupations, and the Health Care System where you learn about occupational opportunities and barriers in the health care system, and many more. Requiring only 20 units, the OS minor is flexible to fit into any undergrad’s schedule and provides classes that are hands-on and fun!
3. Join the Pre-OT Club
The Pre-OT club is a great way USC undergrads interested in occupational therapy can get involved. The club frequently has speakers come to present on topics such as neurodiversity, graduate admissions, and the health care field in general. They also hold site visits in the Los Angeles area to see various areas of practice and shadow clinicians.
No matter where you are on your path to pursue occupational therapy, USC has ways for you to explore whether this is the right field for you.