How to Apply

Applications are handled annually using the OT Centralized Application Service (OTCAS). OTCAS provides a full-service, web-based application and admissions process for prospective occupational therapy program applicants.

Once recommended for acceptance to the Program, you will need to apply to and be accepted by the UWM Graduate School.

For more detailed information on this process, check out the Admission section below. For application deadlines, please refer to the UWM Graduate School website.

Pay for School

Tuition rates

For detailed and up-to-date tuition rates, visit the UWM Bursar Office website.

The MS in Occupational Therapy Program is looking for dynamic graduate students to support in our Master’s Degree Program. There are a number of opportunities for financial assistance during your graduate work.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistants support delivery of undergraduate curriculum at UWM. Appointments begin in mid/late-August and are for one academic year (9 months), renewable and dependent on funding. These part-time graduate assistantship positions provide a modest stipend and an excellent experience working closely with faculty.

Learn more about teaching assistantships at UWM.

Research or Project Assistantships

Research assistantships (RA) or project assistantships (PA) may be available pending individual faculty funding cycles. Only students admitted to Health Sciences Graduate Programs will be considered for a RA or PA appointment.

Please contact the faculty member you are interested in working with to learn more information about available RA or PA positions.

Learn more about research assistantships at UWM.

Other Financial Support

Contact Us

For information regarding application and admission to the OT program, please contact (414) 229-4713 or

Occupational therapy is a profession as diverse, unlimited and creative as the people it serves. As an occupational therapist, you’ll use the “occupations” of work and productive activities, play, leisure, social participation and self-care to reduce impairment and teach skills to clients who have physical, developmental, emotional or mental health disabilities across the lifespan.

You’ll design therapies as basic as bathing, dressing or eating, or as complex as operating a computer with modified control switches. As diverse as these therapies are, they share a common goal: promoting health, wellness and full engagement in everyday routines so that your clients can lead satisfying lives.

Why choose us?

  • UWM’s Occupational Therapy program is one of the largest in Wisconsin. As the only public Occupational Therapy Program in the Greater Milwaukee area, we offer a top-notch academic experience at a fraction of the cost of private schools.
  • Our urban location and deep community ties ensure ample options for your required fieldwork experience. We partner with more than 300 clinic sites in Milwaukee and across the United States.
  • We’re known for our unique specialization in assistive technology and offer a certificate in Assistive Technology and Accessible Design. Our Assistive Technology Laboratory features state-of-the-art equipment that is unmatched in the state.
  • We’re home of the Rehabilitation Design and Disability (R2D2) Center, a multidisciplinary research center where occupational therapy, assistive technology, exceptional education, communication sciences and disorders, engineering and universal design experts support discovery and application of new knowledge.
  • You can add specialized skills by choosing electives such as acute care, modalities, hand therapy, low vision and trauma counseling.
  • You’ll work with OT faculty who are among the strongest in the nation in terms of their professional credentials and research productivity.



UW-Milwaukee’s College of Health Sciences Occupational Therapy Program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) through 2020. ACOTE can be contacted at:

4720 Montgomery Lane
Suite 200
Bethesda, MD 20814-3449
(301) 652-6611 x2914

Mission, Vision & Values

Mission, Vision & Values

Program Mission

Our mission is to enrich the health, well-being, and occupational participation of people, organizations, and populations through our innovative research, outstanding education, and exceptional service. The Occupational Therapy Program Mission is based upon the mission of the University of Wisconsin System, the mission of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the mission and vision of the College of Health Sciences, and the mission of the Department of Occupational Science and Technology.

Program Vision

We envision ourselves to become a premier urban occupational therapy program recognized worldwide by our academic peers, field practitioners, alumni, present and future students, those they serve, and the public. This premier status is exemplified by our study and promotion of the role of occupation and technology in the creation of a healthy society.

Program Values

The Mission and Vision of the Program of Occupational Therapy are guided by a commitment to the following values:

  • Integrity in all that we do
  • Collaboration to achieve Excellence
  • Diversity of thought, perspective, and culture
  • Accessibility to promote optimal engagement
  • Commitment to enhancing the health, participation, and quality of life of all people.

Philosophy Statement

Philosophy Statement

Occupations are activities that bring meaning to the daily lives of individuals, families, and communities and enable them to participate in society. All individuals have an innate need and right to engage in meaningful occupations throughout their lives. Occupational therapy enhances participation in healthful, meaningful activities and thereby improves people’s lives across the lifespan.

Occupations occur within diverse social, physical, cultural, personal, temporal, or virtual contexts. There is a dynamic relationship between factors intrinsic to the individual, the context in which the occupation occurs, and the characteristics of the activity (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011, p. S65). Occupational participation is affected by environmental, social, developmental, psychological, learning, biological, and many other processes and factors. The occupational performance and the experience of each individual is unique, yet there are also commonalities in responses to interventions by occupational therapy practitioners.

Occupational therapy focuses on individuals’ engagement in meaningful occupations that support their health and quality of life. Occupational therapy practitioners conceptualize occupations as both a means and an end to therapy; that is, there is therapeutic value in occupational engagement as a change agent, and engagement in occupation is also an ultimate goal of therapy (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011, p. S65).

Occupational therapy is based on the belief — and increasingly, on evidence – that “occupations may be used for health promotion and wellness, remediation or restoration, health maintenance, disease and injury prevention, and compensation or adaptation. The use of occupation to promote individual, community, and population health is the core of occupational therapy practice, education, research, and advocacy” (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2011, p. S65).

Our fundamental belief is that each individual has the potential to engage in occupations that promote maximum function, adaptation, and quality of life, as well as prevent and mediate dysfunction. Human engagement in occupations is one of the main mechanisms for developing adaptive responses to an ever-changing environment. The environment, with its physical, social, and cultural characteristics, is both responsive to and facilitative of the performance of occupations. Engagement in occupation develops human worth, dignity, quality of life, and purpose across the lifespan. Each individual has the right to pursue a satisfying life and achieve his or her highest level of function and independence. The engagement in meaningful daily occupations and the adaptations used to successfully complete them are key to achieving one’s highest potential.

The education of occupational therapy practitioners at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee embraces occupation, and its requisite performance skills, as the unifying core for the theories which drive clinical practice. Occupation is affected by numerous processes, including behavioral and psychological factors, variations in chosen or required tasks, the physical and social environment, biological and health factors, assistive technology and tools, society, and culture. Graduates of our program learn to identify causal processes which are related to occupational dysfunctions and strategies to overcome these problems. Our graduates are prepared to function as scholarly practitioners with the skills necessary to identify best practices and to make sound clinical decisions in responses to client and public need in the future health care environment. Sound professional clinical reasoning requires identification and integration of best published scientific research with clinical experience and client values. Promoting the development and use of new evidence – that is, scientific research – is a necessary professional responsibility.

An understanding of how adults learn shapes the learning environment for students in the program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Students learn through experiential, hands-on, active learning strategies incorporated into their coursework as well as through traditional reading, discussing, and writing. These activities provide the opportunity to understand, integrate, synthesize, apply the knowledge learned, and assimilate clinical relevance. Activities to make valued contributions to the community are encouraged. Role playing, case studies, and application of the clinical reasoning process reinforce reflection and summation of lessons learned. Students are assessed on how well they integrate novel ideas and insights generated by critical thinking into their existing analytical and interpretative frameworks through projects, reports, examinations, by performance on fieldwork, and ultimately, by their success as occupational therapists.

Reference: American Occupational Therapy Association. (2011). The philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65 (6 Suppl.)



The Department of Occupational Sciences and Technology (OS&T) welcomes students from other academic areas at UW-Milwaukee, as well as students transferring to UWM from other institutions.

To apply to the UWM Graduate School for graduate studies in occupational therapy, you must first meet the admission requirements of the UWM Graduate School.

In addition to UWM Graduate School requirements, those applying into the program must meet the departmental requirements found under the Admission heading on the UWM Graduate School website.

For more admission information, visit the UWM Graduate School website.

Student Profile

Out of 553 qualified applicants, 32 students were accepted into the MSOT Program in 2016. Students who accepted their placement included 2 males and 30 females. The student cohort of 2016 includes 10 Wisconsin residents and 22 out-of-state residents.

Overall GPA Average3.513.573.54
Prerequisite GPA Average3.683.813.76
GRE Quantitative Average153152150
GRE Verbal Average155154151
GRE Writing Average4.1743.85
Average Age242524



Sequence of Courses

The following tables list the sequence of courses that are required of all students admitted directly to the Master of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy Program (this does not include students in the BSMS Occupational Therapy Program). Please note that the sequence of courses is subject to change if deemed necessary by the Occupational Therapy Program faculty and staff to better meet the learning needs of students.

First Semester (Fall)

Total Credits:11 G,
3 U/G
KIN 325: Anatomical Kinesiology U/G3
OCCTHPY 519: Therapeutic Communication U/G3
OCCTHPY 720: Application of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Theory3
OCCTHPY 540: Evidence for Practice I U/G
OCCTHPY 590: Seminar I1
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1

Second Semester (Spring)

Total Credits:14
OCCTHPY 703: Applied Neuroscience3
OCCTHPY 704: Musculoskeletal Analysis and Occupational Function3
OCCTHPY 705: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation I3
OCCTHPY 542: Evidence for Practice II U/G3
OCCTHPY 590: Seminar II1
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1

1st Level I Fieldwork (Jan-April)

Summer Session

Total Credits:8
OCCTHPY 721: Foundations of Professional Practice in Occupational Therapy2
OCCTHPY 719: Occupational Therapy in Psychosocial Practice3
Required Elective 3

2nd Level I Fieldwork (after summer courses-August or third semester- Fall)

Third Semester (Fall)

Total Credits:14
OCCTHPY 620: Introduction to Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Technologies U/G3
OCCTHPY 740: Occupational Therapy with Children and Families4
OCCTHPY 706: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation II5
OCCTHPY 590: Seminar III1
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1

Fourth Semster (Spring)

Total Credits:8
OCCTHPY 725: Occupational Therapy Field Service I
(off campus Jan-Mar)
OCCTHPY 710: Community Models of Practice (6 wks.)2
Optional Elective

2nd Level I Fieldwork Sept- Nov (unless completed in Summer)

Summer Session

Total Credits:6
OCCTHPY 711: Professional Leadership of Occupational Therapists3
Required Elective3
Optional Elective

Fourth Semester (Fall)

Total Credits:8
OCCTHPY 810: Critical Evaluation of Theory, Research, and Practice (3 wks.)2
OCCTHPY 735: Occupational Therapy Field Service II
(off campus Oct-Dec)

For information regarding the graduate curriculum and for course descriptions, see UWM’s Graduate School website.

Get Involved

Get Involved

Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA)

SOTA offers opportunities to all levels of Occupational Therapy students to become actively involved in a college-level association that is linked with both the state and national level OT associations.

SOTA offers a vehicle for students to express their ideas and opinions, be an advocate for occupational therapy, become acquainted with the workings of an organization, volunteer in the community, raise funds for charity organizations, and become involved in campus activities. The organization is dedicated to ensuring a successful organization for future OT students and creating cohesion, good communication and unity between students and faculty.


Heidi Plach, Faculty Advisor
Clinical Assistant Professor
(414) 229-2687

Pi Theta Epsilon

A specialized honor society for Occupational Therapy students and alumni recognizing and encouraging superior scholarship among students enrolled in professional entry-level programs at accredited schools across the United States.


Kris Barnekow, Faculty Advisor
Associate Professor
(414) 229-7151

Volunteer Service

The Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research provides the UW-Milwaukee campus with different opportunities to volunteer throughout the city and beyond. Each week of the year there are opportunities to make a real difference in Milwaukee and beyond by working to improve the environment, mentoring local kids, stocking shelves at a food pantry, serving breakfast to Milwaukee’s homeless community, engaging in an alternative spring break, and helping older adults.

Learn more about volunteer opportunities at

Clinical Education

Clinical Education

As part of the MS in Occupational Therapy Program curriculum, you’ll be required to gain practical, supervised experience in the field before graduation. Fieldwork is done at the graduate level. To fulfill this requirement, we enjoy affiliations with more than 400 professional clinic sites in the greater Milwaukee area and throughout the US.

For more information about our affiliates, contact (414) 229-4713 or

If you have been asked to have a criminal background check done in preparation for placement in fieldwork, you will get instructions and an access code for completing a background check once admitted to the program.

Professional Certification

Professional Certification

The National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy, Inc. (NBCOT) is a not-for-profit credentialing agency that serves the public interest by developing, administering, and continually reviewing the certification process for the occupational therapy profession. Students in occupational therapy are required to pass the certification exam after completion of coursework and field experience. The link below will take you to the web page that displays the passing rates of new OT Masters-Level graduates taking the NBCOT certification examination for programs in Wisconsin and other states.

NBCOT passing rates:

Graduation Numbers and Rates

The total number of graduates from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Master of Occupational Therapy Program during the 3-year period of 2013-2015 was 99 with an overall graduation rate of 96.1%.

Graduation YearStudent Entering/GraduationGraduation Rate

Employment Outlook

Employment Outlook


The median annual wage for occupational therapists was $78,810 in May 2014. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $52,670, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $112,950.

In May 2014 the median annual wages for occupational therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)$86,690
Home healthcare services$86,010
Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists$82,230
Hospitals; state, local, and private$78,400
Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private$68,250

Expected Growth

Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Occupational therapy will continue to be an important part of treatment for people with various illnesses and disabilities, such as Alzheimer’s disease, cerebral palsy, autism, or the loss of a limb.

The need for occupational therapists is expected to increase as the large baby-boom generation ages and people remain active later in life. Occupational therapists can help senior citizens maintain their independence by recommending home modifications and strategies that make daily activities easier. Therapists also play a large role in the treatment of many conditions and ailments commonly associated with aging, such as arthritis and stroke.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition, Occupational Therapists

Professional Organizations

Professional Organizations

Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff