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.
In the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) MS Occupational Therapy Program, 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.
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 .
UWM MSOT Cost of Attendance* (PDF)
*Illustrations based on current costs, and are subject to change.
For the most up-to-date information, visit the UWM Enrollment & Financial Services website . Be sure you are viewing the Health Science Masters Fee Schedule for the appropriate semester.
Minnesota residents are eligible for the Minnesota–Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity agreement Tuition Reduction Program.
These funds are earmarked for the support of certain student services. See the Mandatory/Segregated Fees document for the appropriate semester on the UWM Enrollment & Financial Services website .
Additional Course Fees
There may be additional course fees (in addition to regular tuition) that could include differential tuition, distance education fees, or special course fees. To see if your courses have additional fees, go to web.uwm.edu/registrar/tools/fee .
At this time Teaching Assistantships are generally awarded to PhD students in the Department of Occupational Science & Technology. 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.
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 an 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.
UWM Fellowships & Awards
UWM & CHS Scholarships
Complete the FAFSA then go to the UWM Panther Scholarship Portal . Sign in using your PAWS credentials and complete the General Application and the CHS application. You may save your work and return to the portal at a later time. Additional information can be found at uwm.edu/scholarships .
State & National Scholarships/Awards
UWM Emergency Grant
The UWM Emergency Grant is funded by several private contributions and is available to students when they have unforeseen circumstances that may negatively influence their academic success. You can be awarded up to $1,000 for non-academic expenses (e.g., car repairs, medical bills, rent, utilities, child care, food, etc.). Learn more at uwm.edu/emergencygrant .
Mission, Vision & ValuesMission, Vision & Values
Our mission is to promote inclusivity, enrich the health, well-being, quality of life and occupational participation of people, communities, 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.
We envision ourselves becoming a premier urban occupational therapy program and leaders in accessibility and inclusivity 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 and inclusive society locally, nationally and globally.
The Mission and Vision of the Program of Occupational Therapy are guided by a commitment to the following values:
- Inclusivity and Integrity in all that we do
- Accessibility to promote optimal engagement
- Collaboration to achieve Excellence
- Diversity of thought, perspective, and culture
- Innovation in creation of effective solutions
- Commitment to enhancing the health, well-being, quality of life and participation of people, communities, and population
Last updated 3/21/2017
Philosophy StatementPhilosophy Statement
The Philosophy of UW-Milwaukee’s Occupational Therapy Program
Strong link to AOTA Philosophy
The OT Program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee fully embraces AOTA’s Philosophical Base of Occupational Therapy (AOTA, 2011, p. S65).“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 Participation in these occupations influences their development, health, and well-being across the lifespan. As such, participation in meaningful occupation is a determinant of health” (AOTA, 2011, p. S65).“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” (AOTA, 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 engagement in meaningful occupations that support their health, well-being and quality of life for all people, populations and communities. “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” (AOTA, 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” (AOTA, 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 a key mechanism 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.
Educational Preparation of Occupational Therapists
The education of occupational therapists at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee embraces occupation, and its requisite performance skills, as the unifying core for the theories which drive occupational therapy 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, technology, (including assistive, therapeutic, and occupational technology), society, and culture. Graduates of our program learn to develop effective solutions that facilitate participation in everyday living (AOTA, 2016). Hence, our graduates are prepared to function as client-centered scholarly practitioners with the skills necessary to identify best practices and make sound clinical decisions in response to client and public need in the future health care environment. Sound professional clinical reasoning requires identification and integration of best published scientific research combined with practice 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, service learning, fieldwork, advocacy and leadership activities. These enriched approaches to learning when combined with reading, reflecting, discussing, and writing create practice readiness to take on an active role in an inter-professional team. These learning tools provide the opportunity to understand, integrate, synthesize, apply the knowledge learned, and assimilate clinical relevance. Role-playing, case studies, and application of the clinical reasoning process reinforce reflection and summation of lessons learned. Activities to make real-world valued contributions to the community are encouraged. Students are assessed on how well they integrate novel ideas and insights generated through critical thinking into their existing analytical and interpretative frameworks through projects, reports, examinations, performance on fieldwork, and ultimately, their success as occupational therapists.
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2011). The philosophical base of occupational therapy. American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 65 (6 Suppl.)
American Occupational Therapy Association. (2016). AOTA unveils Vision 2025. Retrieved from aota.org/AboutAOTA/vision-2025
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 in the UWM Academic Catalog .
Out of 542 qualified applicants, 32 students were accepted into the MSOT Program in 2019. Students who accepted their placement included 1 male and 31 females. The student cohort of 2019 includes 23 Wisconsin residents and 9 out-of-state residents.
|Overall GPA Average||3.65||3.56||3.67|
|Prerequisite GPA Average||3.83||3.76||3.72|
|GRE Quantitative Average||151||149||150|
|GRE Verbal Average||152||150||150|
|GRE Writing Average||4.11||3.94||4.05|
The curriculum of the Occupational Therapy Program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee prepares the generalist occupational therapist for entry-level practice in a variety of environments and practice settings. These include health care delivery systems, communities, educational institutions, public health, and social service organizations. It is organized by foundational concepts of occupation and occupational therapy, and builds on the culture, life experiences and prior knowledge inherent in each student.Since no single theoretical model adequately prepares the generalist occupational therapy practitioner, the integration of knowledge, theories and conceptual practice models from social, natural, and physical sciences combined with theories of occupation and sensitivity to culture and diversity, provide the building blocks of the curriculum.The program emphasizes the development of critical thinking skills and data-driven decision making to prepare the graduate to become a scholarly practitioner focused on client-centered care (see illustration (PDF)). Knowledge of occupation, occupational performance, contexts, research, and psychosocial aspects of practice provide a unifying theme throughout the curriculum. Opportunities for acquiring knowledge and skills in assistive technology, accessible design, professionalism and leadership are integrated throughout.
Graduates are prepared to assess the quality of information upon which evaluation and intervention decisions are based, evaluate intervention outcomes, and improve practice as scholarly practitioners focused on client-centered care. Students engage in fieldwork and service learning experiences throughout the program that reflect the curriculum building blocks.
For information regarding the curriculum and for course descriptions, see the UWM Academic Catalog .
Year 1: Fall
|PRPP 725: Gross Anatomical Kinesiology||3|
|OCCTHPY 705: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation I||3|
|OCCTHPY 707: Seminar I||1|
|OCCTHPY 720: Application of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Theory||3|
|OCCTHPY 721: Foundations of Professional Practice in Occupational Therapy||2|
|OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project||1|
1st Level I Fieldwork (January-April)
Year 1: Spring
|OCCTHPY 620: Introduction to Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Technologies||3|
|OCCTHPY 703: Applied Neuroscience||3|
|OCCTHPY 704: Musculoskeletal Analysis and Occupational Function||3|
|OCCTHPY 706: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation II (Part 1)||2|
|OCCTHPY 708: Seminar II||1|
|OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project||1|
Year 1: Summer
|OCCTHPY 540: Evidence for Practice||3|
|OCCTHPY 706: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation II (Part 2)||3|
|OCCTHPY 719: Occupational Therapy in Psychosocial Practice||3|
2nd Level I Fieldwork (after summer courses – August, or third semester – Fall)
Year 2: Fall
|OCCTHPY 519: Therapeutic Communication||3|
|OCCTHPY 542: Evidence for Practice II||3|
|OCCTHPY 709: Seminar III||1|
|OCCTHPY 740: Occupational Therapy with Children and Families||4|
|OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project||1|
2nd Level I Fieldwork (Sept-Nov, unless completed in Summer)
Year 2: Spring
|OCCTHPY 725: Occupational Therapy Field Service I|
(off campus Jan-Mar)
|OCCTHPY 744: Advanced Occupational Therapy for Aging Adults||3|
|Optional Electives for Early Spring:|
OCCTHPY 718: OT in Acute Care
OCCTHPY 743: Advances in Child Centered Occupational Therapy
Year 2: Summer
|OCCTHPY 710: Comm. Models of Occupational Therapy Practice||2|
|OCCTHPY 711: Professional Leadership of Occupational Therapists||3|
Year 3: Fall
|OCCTHPY 735: Occupational Therapy Field Service II |
(off campus Oct-Dec)
|OCCTHPY 810: Critical Evaluation of Theory, Research, and Practice (3 wks.)||2|
Get InvolvedGet 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.
Diverse-OT, UW-Milwaukee Chapter
Diverse-OT is a local chapter of a national non-profit organization that provides opportunities for discussion and education on equity and inclusion to advance the cultural climate within the Occupational Therapy Program and the greater UW-Milwaukee campus. Diverse-OT also endeavors to partner with students from underrepresented groups to build a strong multicultural occupational therapy student body who are knowledgeable and equipped to address inequities in health outcomes among historically marginalized populations.
Diverse-OT engages in a variety of efforts aimed toward achieving our organization’s goals. These include supporting the recruitment and retention of underrepresented students interested in health-related programs through resource provision and mentorship, seeking out guest speakers with expertise in the intersection of health and underrepresented populations, integrating equity and inclusion into the UWM MSOT student experience, and fostering community engagement through partnerships with local community organizations. Diverse-OT strives to serve as a model for student organizations across the nation pursuing efforts towards achieving equity in health and well-being for persons, groups, and populations.
Tamicah Gelting, Faculty Advisor
Clinical Assistant Professor
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.
The UWM Center for Community-Based Learning, Leadership, and Research provides the campus with different opportunities to volunteer throughout the city and beyond. There are opportunities to make a real difference 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 at uwm.edu/community/students .
Clinical EducationClinical 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 OTfirstname.lastname@example.org.
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 CertificationProfessional 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. See passing rates of new OT Masters-Level graduates taking the NBCOT certification examination for programs in Wisconsin and other states .
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 2017-2019 was 96 with an overall graduation rate of 97%
|Program Type & Entrance Year||Program Cohort Graduation Year||Students Graduating/ Students Entering||Graduation Rate*|
* Graduation calculations based on graduates successfully completing the minimum requirements of the degree within 150% of the published length of the program.
- MSOT: 10 semesters from start of program (assuming 3 semesters/year)
- BSMS: 15 semesters from start of program (assuming 3 semesters/year)
Employment OutlookEmployment Outlook
The median annual wage for occupational therapists was $84,950 in May 2019. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $56,800, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $121,490.
In May 2019 the median annual wages for occupational therapists in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:
|Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)||$90,830|
|Home healthcare services||$89,220|
|Offices of physical, occupational and speech therapists, and audiologists||$87,190|
|Hospitals; state, local, and private||$85,510|
|Elementary and secondary schools; state, local, and private||$74,670|
Employment of occupational therapists is projected to grow 16 percent from 2019 to 2029, 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.
Professional OrganizationsProfessional Organizations
Visit these websites for current information and other resources regarding our profession.
- Advance Healthcare Network for Occupational Therapy Practitioners
- American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA)
- American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF)
- American Therapeutic Recreation Association
- National Association for Home Care and Hospice
- National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT)
- National Council for Therapeutic Recreation Certification
- National Park and Recreation Association
(National Therapeutic Recreation Society Branch)
- Wisconsin Occupational Therapy Association (WOTA)
- Wisconsin Park and Recreation Association
(Wisconsin Therapeutic Recreation Society Branch)
- World Federation of Occupational Therapy (WFOT)
Faculty & StaffFaculty & Staff
- Justin Almquist, MA
University Services Program Associate
- Kris A. Barnekow, PhD, OTR/L, IMH-E®
- Joyce M. Engel, PhD, OT, FAOTA
- Tamicah Gelting, MS, OTR
Clinical Assistant Professor
- Carol Haertlein Sells, PhD, OTR, FAOTA
- Mark V. Johnston, PhD, FACRM
- Katie A. Jopp, MSOTR/L
Clinical Assistant Professor
- Jay Kapellusch, PhD
Associate Professor, Chair
- Phyllis King, PhD, OT, FAOTA, FASAHP
Professor, UWM Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs
- Randy Kohl, MS, CTRS, CPRP, CBIS
- Nancy Nelson, PhD, MBA, OTR, CHT
Clinical Associate Professor
- Heidi L. Plach, MS, OTR
Clinical Associate Professor, Academic Fieldwork Coordinator
- Alyssa Schnorenberg, MS
Researcher, Lab Manager
- Michelle Silverman, MS, OTR
Clinical Assistant Professor, ATAD Certificate Coordinator
- Bhagwant Sindhu, PhD, OTR
Associate Professor, OT Program Director, Graduate Program Coordinator
- Brooke A. Slavens, PhD
- Roger O. Smith, PhD, OT FAOTA, RESNA Fellow
- Virginia Stoffel, PhD, OT, FAOTA
- Julie Thomas
- Patricia Thomas, MPA, CTRS
Clinical Associate Professor, Occupational Science and Technology Program Director and Therapeutic Recreation Certificate Coordinator
- Inga Wang, OTR/L, PhD
- Dana Washburn, MS, OTR/L
Clinical Assistant Professor