Frequently Asked Questions

About the Profession

Occupational therapists help people to develop or adapt the skills they need for everyday living. A homemaker with rheumatoid arthritis learns to become more self-reliant using energy conservation and work simplification techniques. A high-school student with a spinal cord injury learns to navigate life from a wheelchair and to use technology to participate in the classroom. A child born with a developmental disability learns to play with other children. Occupational therapists work in many traditional and emerging settings. They may work as members of a health care team to provide needed rehabilitation services, or they may work with school systems or local agencies to help those in need to participate more fully in life.

Occupational therapy is a health profession dedicated to helping people participate fully in life. When people are faced with overcoming the effects of delay, deprivation, trauma, or stress, occupational therapists help them engage in occupations or everyday activities that are personally meaningful, socially satisfying, and culturally relevant. When occupational therapists focus on the pattern of occupations and the ways in which occupations shape people's lives, they act as agents of prevention, education, and restoration

The most satisfying aspect of an occupational therapy career is making a positive impact on the way people live their lives. Occupational therapists must be excellent observers of human behavior, good problem-solvers, great listeners, and persistent advocates for their clients. They find the most effective means of collaborating with their clients to achieve meaningful solutions. Effective occupational therapists display a combination of creative and pragmatic approaches, along with excellent interpersonal communication skills.

There are many opportunities for specialization in occupational therapy once you have graduated, passed the certification exam, and begun entry level practice in the field. Probably the most frequently pursued specializations are in the area of adult rehabilitation, pediatrics, and hand therapy. Emerging areas of practice include ergonomics, vision rehabilitation, community consultation, driver rehabilitation, and working with elders in assisted living. Occupational therapists may also work in Native American health centers, prisons and detention centers, industrial and corporate settings, rural communities, and in school systems. The possibilities for working in different settings with unusual populations also abound. The education you receive as an occupational therapy student provides you with the professional skills and attitudes, and critical thinking tools to make a significant contribution in many settings for many people who have not traditionally been served by occupational therapy.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor lists occupational therapy in the top 20 professions for projected job growth. The uniqueness of occupational therapy, its focus, habilitation and rehabilitation, its contribution to wellness and its ability to serve a wide variety of clients/patients in multiple settings, all bring a variety of employment opportunities to graduates. The Department of Labor expects occupational therapy to grow much faster than average, which means a projected growth rate of over 27 percent between 2014 to 2024.

Salaries vary according to geographic region. In South Carolina, the average starting salary is currently $55,000. The average salary for an occupational therapist in the United States is $80,150 per year.

Applying to the Program

Volunteering or working in an occupational therapy setting is compulsory to ensure that you find out whether you are selecting the right career. Applicants must volunteer, shadow, observe or work in an occupational therapy setting for at least 15 hours. Upon completion of your volunteer or work experience, you need to complete one of the occupational therapy program Reference Forms found within the university application.

Send three reference forms, one from the occupational therapy practitioner who supervised volunteer or work experience. The second and third references should be provided by major advisors or professors. References are submitted through OTCAS.

The minimum undergraduate GPA for entry into the program is 3.0. Recent incoming average cumulative GPA’s have been in the 3.6 range. The majority of successful applicants have a GPA between a 3.2 and a 4.0.

No. The GRE is no longer required for admission.

Yes, you need to have a bachelor's degree and complete the specific course prerequisites from an accredited college or university before you enter the program.

You need to complete a minimum of 12 hours of prerequisite coursework to application; however, all prerequisites must be completed prior to entering the program. See the form, "Plans for Remaining Academic Year", in the application supplemental forms section online. List courses currently in progress and ones you plan to complete prior to admission into the program.

 No, the program does not accept advanced placement, transfer of credit, or credit for experiential learning.

About the Program 

The occupational therapy division is based in the College of Health Professions. Interprofessional course work is built into the curriculum of all colleges at the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC). This ensures interaction between the variety of health professions, and awareness of the roles of each discipline so they work together to provide quality health care to the client.

The program begins at the end of May each year, and lasts for 9 semesters (3 years) or approximately 36 months.

Clinical and practical experiences take place throughout the program. During the first year, there are many opportunities to gain experience working in community-based organizations. These experiences are designed for you to engage in service learning with a variety of clients and health care professionals. During the second year, one-week intensive clinical experiences are arranged in a variety of health care facilities in and around Charleston. Finally, during the 7th and 8th semesters of the program, two full-time clinical experiences, spanning almost seven months, are arranged throughout the state and region.

Fieldwork education is an integral component of the occupational therapy course of study that provides students with opportunities to integrate didactic learning with clinical experience. The purpose of fieldwork education is to develop a cadre of competent, entry-level occupational therapy practitioners through guided observations and clinical interactions that combine critical thinking and the performance of clinical skills.

The Academic Fieldwork Coordinator and OT faculty consult with students to identify available fieldwork sites that best fit each student. Selecting sites requires careful consideration of many factors including personal attributes, clinical abilities, interest in areas of practice, financial resources, housing availability, and preferences for geographic location. Due to limited availability of fieldwork sites and fieldwork educators qualified to supervise students, there is no guarantee that students will receive their preferred choice of fieldwork placements, particularly in the state of South Carolina; therefore, students should be prepared to complete fieldwork in geographic locations other than South Carolina during both the didactic coursework (Level I Fieldwork) and clinical practicum (Level II Fieldwork) portions of the curriculum.

It is the practice of the OT program not to assign students to fieldwork sites where they have signed an employment contract, have a personal relationship with OT practitioners, have shadowed or volunteered and will be supervised by that same OT during fieldwork, worked in the last 3 years, or where immediate family has an employment history. Moreover, one of the two Level II Fieldworks must be completed in an inpatient adult setting (i.e., acute care hospital, sub-acute rehabilitation unit, inpatient rehabilitation hospital or unit, or skilled nursing facility (SNF)).

Some clinical sites require an interview for Level II Fieldwork. The MUSC Academic Fieldwork Coordinator coordinates the fieldwork interviews with the OT Student Coordinator at the clinical sites to provide the sites with the names and contact information of the students who will participate in the interview process. The clinical sites decide the process for a fieldwork interview at their site, how many MUSC OT students they will interview, and which students are offered a fieldwork placement.

Yes, students should anticipate incurring costs beyond tuition, fees, and books for fieldwork. Costs related to fieldwork include but are not limited to clinical education compliance and credentialing (CPR, drug screening, vaccinations, and other facility requirements), clothing/uniforms, food, housing, transportation, etc. because students may need to travel beyond the Charleston area or even away from SC for Level I and Level II Fieldwork experiences. There are three Level I Fieldworks completed in the Summer of Year 2, the Fall of Year 2 and the Spring of Year 2 and two 12- week clinical practicums (Level II Fieldwork – CP1: Summer Year 3 & CP 2: Fall of Year 3) are required for successful completion of the program. 

The OT program at MUSC allows for Level I Fieldwork to be completed outside of the United States but does not allow students to pursue Level II Fieldwork in international settings outside of the United States.

Our students consistently score above the mean on the national certification examination.

Program graduates are eligible to take the certification examination administered by:
The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc.
12 South Summit Avenue, Suite 100
Gaithersburg, MD 20877-4150
301-869-8492 (Fax)
The National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy

Detailed information about our graduation and NBCOT exam pass rates can be found on our Program Outcomes page.

If you have a felony conviction on your record, this may affect your ability to sit for the certification examination administered by NBCOT after you graduate; this can subsequently affect your ability to attain state licensure. Before applying to the OT program, you can contact NBCOT for information on their early determination program to assess examination eligibility. Go to NBCOT and read the Early Review section for further details.

Most students do not work during their first semester, which is a very busy short semester. Many students work part-time as their schedules permit and some students may qualify for work-study on campus.

Shadowing or observing in clinical settings is only allowed under special circumstances. The occupational therapy program is designed to provide various clinical experiences. The special circumstances are course-related activities or therapist-initiated opportunities arranged through a faculty member.

Student Services

Yes. For enrolled full-time students, the Wellness Center provides a weight room, aerobic gymnasium, racquetball and squash courts, swimming pool, indoor and outdoor track, and tennis courts.

Faculty teaching your classes will always help you. Individual and group tutoring sessions are available on campus through the Center of Academic Excellence at no additional cost to the student.

There is no student housing on campus. The MUSC housing office can assist students looking for accommodations. Call 843-792-0394 or visit the MUSC Housing page.


If you did not find the information you were looking for, view the Student Handbook (PDF) or the OT Health Advisors Handbook (PDF).