Prerequisites for Occupational Therapy Assistant Programs

Searching for Occupational Therapy Assistant programs can lead you to wonder – how many prerequisites are required to begin?

Prerequisites for occupational therapy assistant programs all depend on the school you choose. Many OTA programs require students to complete as many as 10 prerequisite courses before applying. However, St. Catherine University’s Online Occupational Therapy Assistant (OTA) program only requires students to complete 4 college-level prerequisite courses as part of the application process. These prerequisite courses include:

  1. General Anatomy and Physiology with Lab
  2. Medical Terminology
  3. General Psychology
  4. Lifespan Developmental Psychology

These prerequisite courses not only help prepare you to succeed as an OTA student but give you the flexibility to choose how soon you would like to apply.

Whether you have a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree, your future as an OTA student at St. Catherine University could be closer than you think.

Liberal Arts and Sciences Core Requirements

Depending on your previous education, in addition to prerequisites, you may have to complete some or all of the liberal arts and science (LAS) core requirements. Consisting of 18 credits, these courses make up for any general education credits you may have missed. For example, if you are a recent high school graduate or a student with some college credits, these courses can get you up to speed and prepare you to become a well-rounded and thoughtful clinician. The Online OTA program’s required LAS courses consist of:

  1. The Reflective Life
  2. Health Care Ethics
  3. The Sacramental Life
  4. Power, Inequality, and Social Change
  5. Human Ecology
  6. Short Story

“Students are responsible for completing 4 of the 6 LAS courses before applying to the OTA curriculum,” says Jessica Larson, Admissions Support Coordinator for St. Catherine University. “They can take the two remaining LAS courses with the core OTA classes.”

Now that you know more about the prerequisites and liberal arts and science (LAS) requirements, your first course of action is to speak with an admissions counselor.

Speak With an Admissions Counselor

Committed to helping you create an academic timeline based on your previous education, your admissions counselor will build a positive rapport with you from the very start.

While working with him or her, be sure to express how soon you would ideally like to start the program. Your counselor will help you figure out the best sequence and timing for completing any LAS and prerequisite courses you need to take in order to apply to the OTA program in your target timeframe. He or she will also help you determine if any courses you’ve taken in the past may already meet the prerequisite requirements. “For students who have already taken prerequisites, it’s my job to verify that they transfer and fulfill the program requirements,” says Jessica.

If you would like to begin the program as soon as possible, your admissions counselor can develop an academic plan to determine your quickest route to apply. Again, depending on your previous education, you may have to dedicate up to 3 full-time semesters of prerequisites and LAS coursework. Keep in mind the amount of coursework you are comfortable completing at once – this is something your admissions counselor will need to know right from the start in order to help you plan for success.

The following pathways can give you an idea of how long it will take you to complete prerequisites and apply to the program:

Choose Your Path:

1) I only have a high school diploma or passing GED score

In this case, no LAS courses would transfer in. This means you will have to complete all 4 prerequisite courses, along with 4 of the 6 LAS courses before applying to the professional sequence. If you take 8-12 credits a semester, it may take you anywhere from 2-3 semesters before applying to start the professional sequence of OTA courses. You will get a customized program plan to show you your path.

2) I have some college experience but I don’t have a degree

In this case, the time it takes you to apply will depend on the LAS courses that transfer in. This could take you anywhere from 1-2 semesters of LAS courses before applying to start the professional sequence of OTA courses.

3) I have a bachelor’s degree

In this case, 4 of the 6 LAS courses would transfer in as long as it’s from a regionally accredited bachelors degree program. You will have to have completed all 4 prerequisites before applying to the professional sequence.  You should be able to start the professional sequence of OTA courses much sooner than others.

Why Are Prerequisites Important?

“Prerequisites are essential because they lay the groundwork for everything you do as an occupational therapy assistant student,” says Jessica. “If you don’t know the basic concepts and terms involved in being an OTA, you aren’t going to know how to formulate plans and exercises for patients.”

The required prerequisite courses play a pivotal role in your success as an OTA student at St. Catherine. For example, if you’re a career changer who has been out of school for a few years, the prerequisite courses can help fine-tune your study skills and perhaps introduce you to online learning.

Where Can I Complete My Prerequisites?

While you’re encouraged to complete your OTA prerequisites through St. Catherine University, the program also accepts course credits from other accredited institutions. Before registering for prerequisites at another institution, as Jessica mentioned earlier, you’ll want your admissions counselor to verify that the courses offered by this school will satisfy the requirements.

“If you are currently taking classes at another institution or if you plan to, we can help you find classes that transfer,” says Jessica. “It’s helpful for us to discuss up front what transfers and what doesn’t – this saves time, money and energy.”

“Choosing to take prerequisites through St. Catherine may be your smartest option,” says Jessica. “This will introduce you to St. Catherine’s online learning management system (LMS), Canvas, which can help you feel more comfortable and confident with OTA fundamentals before diving into the core curriculum.”

Discover Your Path Today

Prerequisites for occupational therapy assistant programs shouldn’t stress you out, they should excite you! Now that you have an idea of how long it can take you to complete prerequisites and apply to the OTA program, it’s time to get to work.

To find out what prerequisites you may have to take before starting the Online OTA program, contact an admissions counselor today.

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