University of Southern California
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Please note: Due to late revisions, some text on this page differs from what appears in the printed version of the USC Catalogue. The changes appear below as highlighted text, with corresponding explanations appearing in the right margin.

Bachelor of Science

The undergraduate curriculum leads to the Bachelor of Science with a major in occupational therapy. Professional study begins in the summer preceding the senior year. Major academic course work is completed during the senior year. Admission to the graduate school, successful completion of the Master of Arts degree and successful completion of six months of internship is required for eligibility to sit for the National Board for Certification as an occupational therapist. (See here for description of the M.A. degree program.)

Admission Requirements

The major in occupational therapy is a competitive program, which requires all interested students to apply directly to the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. Applications from underclassmen are reviewed as they are received during the academic year, once the student has reached sophomore standing. Juniors must apply by January 15 for the program beginning the following summer. Sophomore students wishing to begin taking classes during the junior year must apply by April 30. Students are selected competitively according to the number of spaces available. Every effort will be made to notify each applicant of the admission decision as rapidly as possible.

Students may enter USC declaring pre-occupational therapy (POT) as their pre-professional emphasis at the freshman, sophomore or junior level. Students transferring from other institutions need to enter USC no later than the first semester of their junior year.

Two admissions applications are required for transfer students, one for the USC Undergraduate Admission Office and one for the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy. See the Admission section of this catalogue.

Requirements for admission are:

  1. A cumulative grade point average of at least 2.75 in undergraduate courses completed
  2. A grade of "A" or "B" in occupational therapy prerequisite courses
  3. Completion of all College of Letters, Arts and Sciences general education requirements by the beginning of the senior year
  4. Exposure to and exploration of occupational therapy as a career choice
  5. Understanding of occupational therapy as demonstrated in autobiographical statement
  6. Satisfactory health status for professional activities and demands. No applicant will be denied admission on the basis of race, religion, creed or disability.

Application Procedures

Applications will be reviewed when the following materials have been received by the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy:
  1. Completed departmental application form
  2. Official transcripts with grades from all colleges or universities attended
  3. Autobiographical statement including reasons for wanting to enter the profession, concept of occupational therapy, experience, personal data, skills and accomplishments
  4. Three letters of recommendation from professors, employers or other professional people not related to applicant, sent directly to department or delivered in a sealed envelope. Admitted students must complete all prerequisite course work by time of entry into the department (the department must be informed of grades as completed and applicants should keep the department informed in writing of their plans and progress).


The deadline is January 15 for the program beginning in June, and April 30 for students wishing to begin course work as a junior.

Program Requirements

A total of 128 units is required for the Bachelor of Science degree. An occupational therapy major cannot count any 300-level OT course toward the B.S. degree.

Prerequisite Courses

As an OT major, you must have completed all prerequisites:

  • Within the last five years
  • Prior to the start of the senior year with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (pass/fail or grades below a C are not accepted)
  • All courses from an accredited junior college, college or university
  • Either in a classroom setting or online, however anatomy must be completed in a classroom setting
  • Each course totaling three or four semester units (with exception of medical terminology which may be 1 or 2 units) as follows (course numbers refer to USC courses, but prerequisites can be taken at any accredited college or university):
      BISC 212L will be replaced by EXSC 301L in fall 2009.
    • Human Anatomy with laboratory* (BISC 212L or OT 260)
    • Human Physiology* (OT 261)
    • Introductory (General) Psychology (PSYC 100)
    • Developmental Psychology or Human Development (PSYC 336L)
    • Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 360)
    • Introductory Sociology or Cultural Anthropology (SOCI 200 or ANTH 201)
    • Medical Terminology (effective Summer 2009)
    • Gerontology or Adult Development (recommended but not required)

    *If anatomy and physiology are combined, students must take two sequential semesters with a laboratory each semester.

Four-week intensive courses in human anatomy with lab and human physiology are offered from mid-May to mid-June (just prior to the start of the program) for those students who have been unable to complete them earlier.

Students who wish prerequisite credit for courses transferable from another institution must gain departmental approval for such courses prior to entry into the occupational therapy program.

The division offers two of the six required prerequisites:

OT 260Human Functional Anatomy for the Occupational Therapist3
OT 261Human Physiology for Occupational Therapists 3

General Education Requirements

The university's general education program provides a coherent, integrated introduction to the breadth of knowledge you will need to consider yourself (and to be considered by other people) a generally well-educated person. This program requires six courses in different categories, plus writing, diversity and foreign language requirements, which together comprise the USC Core. See here and here for more information.

Major Requirements

Required courses Units
OT 405Occupational Therapy Skills Theory I4
OT 415Medical Lectures4
OT 420Developmental Concepts and Occupation4
OT 440Foundations of Occupation/Kinesiology2
OT 441Foundations of Occupation/Neurology2
OT 452Occupational Therapy, Theory and Practice/Physical Disabilities4
OT 453Occupational Therapy, Theory and Practice/Psychosocial Dysfunction4
OT 463Occupational Therapy Skills Theory II2
OT 464Occupational Therapy Skills Theory III4
OT 465Advanced Occupational Therapy Theory — Psychosocial3
OT 466Advanced Occupational Therapy Theory — Physical Dysfunction3
OT 467Advanced Occupational Therapy Theory — Pediatrics3
OT 468Advanced Occupational Therapy Theory — Adolescence, Adulthood, and Aging3
OT 485Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy2

Electives may be taken to make a total of the 128 units required for graduation. Enrollment in occupational therapy courses is limited to students selected by the Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy.

Scholastic Standards

Undergraduate students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 (A = 4.0) in required courses at least two out of the three semesters for continuation in the program and to be admissible to the master's program.


Prerequisite advisement is available from the department.

Minor in Occupational Science

The department offers a minor in the dynamic new discipline of occupational science. It is one of a select few programs in the world that offers undergraduates the opportunity to explore this field.

Unlike other creatures, humans are innately driven to fill their time with interesting, meaningful activities, which scholars call "occupations." That is, humans need to be occupied. These occupations have a profound impact on physical and mental health, one's sense of well-being and the experience of quality of life. Occupational Science seeks to understand the precise nature and function of occupations and the critical effect of daily activity on human beings. Scientists working in the field examine questions such as: what is the relationship between childhood occupations and adult competency and achievement; what constitutes a healthy balance of work, rest and leisure; what factors contribute to a good fit between a particular individual and his or her occupations; as well as many other issues.

The minor in occupational science requires a total of 20 units including a gateway course (OT 250) plus four upper division courses selected from seven course offerings. It is open to all majors at USC. An occupational therapy major cannot count any 300-level OT course toward the B.S. degree.

Lower Division: Gateway course Units
OT 250Introduction to Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy4

Upper Division: 4 courses required Units
OT 300Occupational Expressions of Diverse Identities and Lifestyles4
OT 320The Nature of Human Occupation: Form, Function, and Meaning4
OT 325The Biosocial Context of Human Occupation4
OT 330Perspectives on the Daily Life of Families4
OT 333xSports Ethics4
OT 350Disability, Occupations, and the Health Care System4
OT 360Creating the Self through Narrative: Acts of Life Story Production4
OT 375The Narrative Structure of Social Action: Narrative, Healing, and Occupation4