Frequently Asked Questions

Please review these frequently asked questions as needed during your application process. If you have additional questions, contact us at OTD@uark.edu for the fastest response.

Touring the Program Site

Hello, I would like to schedule an on-campus visit. How do I do that?

Please contact our program directly to schedule on campus tours (subject to faculty/staff availability) as far ahead of time as possible. Informational meetings will be held virtually during the 2021 cycle. Please confirm dates as these are subject to change. Times vary and will be at either 9 a.m. or 5 p.m.

2020-2021 Schedule
Sept. 14 Virtual Jan. 19 Virtual
Oct. 19 Virtual Feb. 16 Virtual (Register)
Nov. 16 Virtual March 9 Virtual (Register)
Dec. 14 Virtual  April 20 Virtual (Register)

You can also schedule campus visits through the Graduate School. Note: Visiting with program faculty members is subject to their availability.

Meeting with Faculty

Does establishing a relationship with a faculty member in the OTD program put me at an advantage over other candidates?

No. Our admissions decisions are based on multiple highly structured factors and do not include faculty-applicant relationships.

Is it to my advantage to contact the program director Sherry Muir and OTD@uark.edu if I have questions or needs during the application process?

Although you may contact any faculty member at any time, all admissions-related questions are forwarded to otd@uark.edu and are addressed by the admissions team. Admissions decisions are made by multiple team members, and decisions will always come through the program director.

I was wondering if the UofA has any type of OT advisors, or just someone familiar with the program who would be willing to meet with me to discuss my progress, different OT schools, and recommended courses to take.

For currently enrolled undergraduate UA students, graduate students or students not currently enrolled at the University of Arkansas, please contact Aaron Abbott, assistant director of graduate recruitment. He can guide you on your next steps toward fulfilling requirements for application and admissions.

Submitting the Application

When is the best time to submit my application for your program in OTCAS?

The best time to submit your Occupational Therapist Centralized Application Service application is as soon as you have collected everything you need for the application. Keep in mind that OTCAS verifies all documents submitted, which may extend the time it takes for us to respond to it by up to a month. Earlier applications may result in more time to plan a campus visit/interview.

Do I have to have the CASPer exam complete before I submit my application?

No. Feel free to submit to get the verification process done in OTCAS. Take the CASPer — Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics — on the next available date. We will not respond on your application until we receive the CASPer results, which we check frequently.

How does the rolling admissions work?

For the spring 2022 start date, you may apply as early as August 2021 to reserve your spot. Strong applicants who have at least five prerequisite courses completed with a plan to complete all courses by Aug. 31, 2021, will be considered. Submit your application as soon as you meet these criteria. You do not need to be finished with your program until December 2021.

CASPer

It looks like there is only one time to take the CASPer available. What do I do?

We have set up multiple dates for taking the CASPer, averaging two per month. Please contact CASPer directly to inquire about available dates. If you continue to have difficulty with this, please contact us at OTD@uark.edu .

Student Fit

What kinds of students are you looking for in your selection process?

Our students have a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences. Students will do best in our program if they are able to integrate information from multiple sources — including their own experiences — to create strategies, solve challenges and innovate solutions in their own lives.

In what ways does the work of this department/program reflect and foster understanding of the diversity of our society and campus community?

The department works toward an vision of society where every person has the opportunity to experience a fulfilling life through participation in health-promoting occupations and universal access to occupational therapy services. The college as well as the university work to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for scholars and students. Our inclusive vision is enacted by faculty who actively engage in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion service across the University of Arkansas and University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences campuses. For example, Dr. Mark Koch is a contributing member of DEI committees for both institutions. He participates in mentoring programs with students from marginalized groups and recently participated in several campus-wide initiatives to mitigate racism by creating spaces for open, honest dialogue. He also serves on the board of a local shelter for women with histories of trauma, exploitation and incarceration. Other faculty volunteer in the community, facilitating support groups for people experiencing occupational deprivation and injustice.

Do I have to have a pre-OT degree to be eligible for your program?

No. Most of our students do not have pre-OT degrees. We encourage students who are interested in applying to do so regardless of their academic or professional background. Non-healthcare backgrounds such as, but not limited to, engineering, architecture, agriculture, design and business will bring novel perspectives and opportunities into our ever-evolving, occupation-centered profession.

Do I need to be from a specific major or field to be eligible to apply for the OTD program?

No. We actually really like the perspectives of people who come from diverse areas of study. You are required to successfully complete the prerequisites specified on our admissions page to be eligible. These prerequisites may require additional courses outside of our requirements to access them.

What if I have been out of school for a while due to parenting, working in my current career or just exploring my options?

We recognize and value the tools, skills and perspectives that non-traditional students bring into our program and ultimately into our profession. Prerequisites must be completed within seven years of application to ensure that information is usable and somewhat fresh for the student. We consider exceptions for this if the applicant has been working in an environment that requires regular use of the skills gained in a particular course. If you believe that your experience fits into this category, please write otd@uark.edu, briefly describe your circumstance and request a prerequisite waiver form.

My expected graduation date is May 2021. Does that mean I will not be able to apply for the program until after graduation in 2021?

No, you can apply for the class that will start in 2022 . The application OTCAS portal is open from Aug. 6, 2020, to May 5, 2021, subject to change based on availability of class space.

What if I apply for your program through the UA Admissions website?

The U of A admissions website is for accepted students only. All applicants must apply through OTCAS to be considered for admission into our program. There are no refunds for applicants who apply through the U of A Admissions website before they have been advised to do so by the UA/UAMS OTD program.

Admissions Statisics

What are your admissions statistics, and how do you grade applicants?

We do not provide any information on our processes and some statistics outside of our organization. All information that we will provide to applicants is listed on this FAQ page.

How many students does your program accept each year?

The maximum number of students we accept per cohort is 32.

What is your real grade cutoff for considering students?

We believe that excellent students and professionals represent more than a high grade-point average. Other factors such as interpersonal skills, demonstration of good problem-solving, solid ethical grounding and a broad base of life experiences factors into our admissions decisions. The lowest cumulative GPA we will consider is a 3.0 for both the last 60 credits and prerequisites, which are required for starting program coursework. Our program is academically rigorous, and academic success in undergraduate courses is highly correlated with readiness for graduate-level work. All students must pass a comprehensive national board exam after completing program requirements to be licensed and registered as professionals.

Will you have a waitlist?

Yes, we will have a waitlist for the 2022 start date.

Overall GPA under 3.0

My overall GPA is below a 3.0 because it takes into account coursework that I took nearly 20 years ago. Since that time, I have completed a B.A. (GPA: 3.45), M.A. (GPA: 3.67), and the prerequisites (GPA 4.0). Will my application still be considered?

The Graduate School GPA minimum requirements for acceptance is a 3.0 in the last 60 hours taken. We will only consider applications that meet this requirement. Please be sure to put a note in OTCAS under “comments” if you want to be sure that we exercise this calculation. Please note that if you have an earned master’s degree or higher, GPAs are not factored into your application for program eligibility at the university Graduate School level. You are still required to submit all transcripts as other factors are considered.

Parent / Significant Other Interactions with Faculty / Staff

Is it OK for a parent, family member or significant other to take part in, coordinate or arrange any aspect of my admissions process, course eligibility or enrollment?

No; it is the policy of our program to interact only with the applicant or student for reasons of privacy and professionalism. Communications should originate from the applicant or student. This includes, and is not limited to, program information beyond basic overview, course arrangements, schedule questions, course questions, grades, qualifications, application processes and assessment appointments.

Letters of Recommendation / References

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

The best letters of recommendation come from people who can speak to your ability to perform in a graduate-level academic setting and attest that you are a good candidate for the OT profession. Be sure you choose people who you know well and can write a strong letter on your behalf. Letters from relatives and friends are not acceptable for this requirement.

Transcripts

If I email you a copy of my transcripts, can you review them?

It is our program policy not to review potential applicant transcripts. Please refer to our admission requirements. If you would like to sit down with someone to review your transcripts and help you determine what you will need to apply, please contact Aaron Abbott, the University of Arkansas Graduate Admissions coordinator for guidance.

My concern is that my school will probably not have my official transcript ready for OTCAS submission timely as my last final is not until just before my graduation.

We realize that you may not have final transcripts by the OTCAS deadline. Transcripts submitted are most optimal for consideration if at least three of your prerequisite courses are reflected. Performance in prerequisite courses is directly correlated with success in the courses you would be taking if accepted into our OTD program. You will need to regularly update us on your progress toward meeting prerequisite and undergraduate degree requirements if you are conditionally accepted into the OTD program.

Neuroscience Prerequisite

I have taken (insert course title). Does it satisfy the neuroscience prerequisite?

Courses that satisfy the neuroscience prerequisite requirement must emphasize the structures and functions of the brain/nervous system as they relate to motor planning, sensory processing, executive functioning, (i.e. behavior) etc. and cover impacts on the entire body. Here are two examples of accepted courses.

  • PSYC4183 — Behavioral Neuroscience — Examination of the biological basis of behavior. Surveys the anatomy, physiology and pharmacology of the mammalian brain and examines brain mechanisms underlying a wide range of behaviors and cognitive processes. Prerequisite: Six hours of psychology, not including PSYC 2013. [Group B course]
  • BIOL 4793 — Introduction to Neurobiology — 3 Hours — Exploration of the neurological underpinnings of perception, action and experience, including how sense receptors convert information in the world into electricity, how information flows through the nervous systems, how neural wiring makes vision possible, how the nervous system changes with experience, and how the system develops. Prerequisite: BIOL 2533.

A more extensive list of alternative, accepted courses are listed on our admission requirements. Most students have found at least one of these choices on their campus or in their community.

Other Prerequisites

Will you accept my (insert exact name of prerequisite course) if I completed it at XYZ community college / university?

As long as you completed the course at a regionally accredited college or university and it fits the credit requirements, we will accept the prerequisite.

Will you review the syllabus for (insert exact name of prerequisite course) to make sure it will be accepted?

We do not review syllabi or course descriptions from approved course titles, including the approved substitutions for the neuroscience course that are listed on the OTD website. If you are asking for an exception or substitution, we are happy to review course descriptions to assist you in finding a good fit.

If I complete the statistics course over the summer at XYZ University (not my regular school), do you know what the equivalent class would be?

Any undergraduate statistics course is accepted, as long as it is 3 credits. If you have a choice, consider taking the course within science, psychology, sociology or education as they often include applications to assessment that will be useful in the future.

If I take a course or a number of courses at different schools from where I will graduate, will that lessen my chances of getting into your program?

No. Many factors are considered during the application review and selection process.

I took a medical terminology course that was not 3 credits. Will you accept it?

No. You will need to repeat that course with a 3-credit medical terminology course to satisfy the program prerequisite requirement.

Will you accept a Straighterline Medical Terminology course?

Yes. As long as it is 3 credits.

My school does not offer XYZ prerequisite. Do I still have to take it?

Yes. Online options from other universities that meet the requirements of the prerequisite are generally accepted. Remember that anatomy and physiology courses must have lab components. You may also take courses at other universities, as you are able to arrange them.

Will my prerequisite transfer?

Transfer credits do not apply to this program. If accepted, students are required to take all courses in the curriculum as scheduled.

Shadowing Requirements

I’m confused about the forms I need to turn in about shadowing—which ones do I turn in and where?

You will find two forms available to you on our website:

  • OTD verification form (PDF). If you have another form that includes observation information and a signature/evaluation from the OT you observed, you may use that form instead. This form is only if you do not have another form to use. Please upload these detailed forms into the main OTCAS portal.
  • OTD observation form (PDF). This form is required of all applicants. Please compile all of your observation information — this one is not as detailed — and put into the UA/UAMS OTCAS portal where instructed.

I have already completed all of my shadowing hours throughout the past year, most of which I did elsewhere. Do I need to do an additional form for your program?

If you used a school form to verify your shadowing experiences, we will accept that form. If you need one, please use the OTD Verification Form (PDF) in lieu of a school form.

Can you help me find places to do my observation hours?

It is the applicant’s responsibility to identify and coordinate clinical observations. Because of multiple factors, we cannot recommend or arrange observational hours.

What clinics are receptive to students observing?

Consider reaching out to hospitals, schools and outpatient OT programs in your area. Consider alternative settings where OTs work, i.e. hippotherapy and aquatic clinics. During these times of physical (social) distancing, some clinics and facilities may be more available than others.

Student Life

What is the start date for your program if I am accepted?

The UA/UAMS OTD Program starts in the spring intersession every year around Jan. 2 — the course offered 1-2 weeks prior to the start of the spring semester.

If I am accepted, what will my schedule be like? Can I work full time?

The OTD program is full time, and courses are offered during the day. It is highly recommended that students limit or suspend working as they are able to give themselves time for the rigorous requirements for successful completion. Every semester is different, and courses may be offered between 8-5 daily, with some outside field trips, group work and other requirements during non-scheduled course hours. Most of these will be communicated to students at least 1 month prior to the event unless they depend on individual student group scheduling.

Is it possible to do the OTD program part time?

No, it is not possible to do part time in our program.

Tuition

Is there a cost sheet we can review together for this program? We did see the cost sheet based on graduate hours, but since this is a doctoral program, we figured the cost might be different. Also, when would we know about financial assistance? These may be questions specifically for financial aid and if so, would you mind forwarding me that way?

Here is some information that may help you with getting an estimate on costs and some links as well that may help.

As far as financial aid, you will have to talk to the financial aid office directly and their number is 479-225-9231.

Does your program have opportunities for scholarships or graduate assistant positions to help lessen tuition costs?

We do not have GA positions for our students at this time due to the number of hours required in these positions. We will communicate scholarship and other funding opportunities as we receive them. It is recommended that all applicants and students seek grant and financial aid resources independently or with the guidance of a person who specializes in facilitating funding. We have no recommendations for people who may assist you.