What Do Occupational Therapists Major In?

what do occupational therapists major in

It’s the age old question that all eighteen to twenty-somethings who are trying to figure out their careers ask: what should I major in? With so many choices today, making the decision on what to study for four years in undergrad can be overwhelming!

Fortunately, since you are here reading about occupational therapy, it’s pretty likely that you have at least decided that you want to become an occupational therapist! Or maybe you’re here to find out more about OT so that you can decide whether or not occupational therapy is the right career for you. Either way–let’s take a look at the top majors occupational therapists choose.

Good News!

While it’s true that choosing your major is a huge part of beginning your career, there is some good news: because occupational therapy is such a broad field, you can study pretty much anything you want to in undergrad so long as you complete the appropriate prerequisite courses to get into an OT graduate program. (Not sure what those prerequisites are? Take a look at this post for more insight.)

So take a deep breath–you can make any major work with a career in OT! However, there are definitely some courses of study that lend themselves well to a career in occupational therapy.

Majors to Consider

Because OT is a health-focused profession, it is certainly helpful to choose a major that is geared more towards health, science, or psychology. Take a look at these suggestions:

Exercise Science

Perhaps the number one choice of major for prospective OT students is exercise science. This is because occupational therapy is a hands-on career that requires understanding of physics, kinesiology, and biomechanics–all of which will likely be required to obtain an exercise science degree.

Choosing this major will also set you up for success as an OT by providing you with a solid scientific foundation. Classes such as biology and human anatomy will help you to fine-tune your study skills (which you’ll certainly need in OT school) while also helping you to understand the human body as a whole.


Believe it or not, many occupational therapists actually started out studying psychology before they discovered the field of occupational therapy! It seems that many people are interested in helping others, yet do not want to spend their workdays sitting across the table from somebody else in talk therapy. OT is a great alternative for these people!

Occupational therapy actually has its roots in mental health, so the two fields of study are closely linked. Spending your undergraduate degree learning about how the mind works will certainly set you up for success in working with complex individuals struggling with various disabilities and injuries.

Health Sciences

As a health-focused profession, future occupational therapists will certainly benefit from studying health sciences in general. This major will likely take you through courses such as biology, chemistry, public health, and even healthcare management.

If you know you’re interested in the healthcare field but are still unsure where you’d like to specialize, health sciences is a great choice of major. If OT is just one possibility out of many other health-related fields for you, then take the pressure off and continue exploring your options while gaining the general knowledge base for the healthcare field.

Meet the Requirements–and Get Creative!

In general, your actual major can be pretty much anything. What really matters is that you have completed the requirements to get into the occupational therapy graduate program of your choice.

Each school’s requirements are a bit different, yet there are a few which are pretty much universal for all programs. This includes keeping up at least a 3.0 GPA, obtaining relevant shadowing and volunteering experience, and completing of all the necessary prerequisite courses for your program.

Overall, you can make any major work when applying to occupational therapy schools. So if you are all tied up in knots worrying about which major to choose–let it go, friend! Choose something that interests you, and know that any degree will be valuable in the end. And make sure you plan some time to volunteer and take those prerequisites for grad school!

Have a question? Send me an email! I’d be happy to help you along your OT journey!

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