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. 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?

  • Our program is one of the largest in Wisconsin, and as the only public OT 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, 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.


To apply to the MS Occupational Therapy Program, you must submit all application materials through 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 .



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.

UWM Total Cost Estimator

Minnesota residents are eligible for the Minnesota–Wisconsin Tuition Reciprocity agreement Tuition Reduction Program.

Mandatory/Segregated Fees

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 also be additional course fees 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 .


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 assistantships 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 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.

Learn more about research/project assistantships at UWM .

UWM Fellowships & Awards

Applications for Graduate School Fellowships have due dates in late December/early January, so be sure to check if you plan to apply.

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 .

Other Financial Support



For information regarding application and admission to the OT program, please contact 414-229-4713 or OT-program@uwm.edu.



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:

6116 Executive Boulevard
Suite 200
North Bethesda, MD 20852-4929
301-652-6611 x2914

Mission, Vision & Values

Mission, Vision & Values

Our Mission

Our mission is to embody and promote inclusivity, and prepare a diverse body of scholarly, client-centered practitioners, educators, and scientists who will enrich the health, well-being, quality of life and occupational participation of the people, communities, and populations they serve, through innovative research, outstanding education, exceptional service, and leadership.

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 Rehabilitation Sciences & Technology.

Our Vision

We envision ourselves as a premier urban occupational therapy program and leaders in accessibility and inclusivity recognized worldwide through our collaborative partnerships with academic peers, field practitioners, alumni, present and future students, those they serve, and the public. This premier status is exemplified by our study and knowledge translation of the role of occupation and technology in the creation of a healthy and inclusive society locally, regionally, nationally and globally.

Our Values

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

  • Inclusivity in the cultures we create and decisions we make
  • Integrity in all that we do
  • Accessibility to promote optimal engagement
  • Collaboration to achieve excellence
  • Diversity of thought, perspective, and culture
  • Cultivation of lifelong learning through purposeful reflection, and the giving and receiving of informal and formal education
  • Innovation in creation of effective solutions
  • Enhancing the health, well-being, quality of life and participation of people, communities, and populations

Last updated 1/12/2020

Philosophy Statement

Philosophy 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



You must first meet the admission requirements of the UWM Graduate School . In addition to UWM Graduate School requirements, you must be prepared to meet the departmental requirements found under the Admission section in the UWM Academic Catalog .

Student Profile

Out of 401 qualified applicants, 32 students were accepted into the MSOT Program in 2020. Students who accepted their placement included 3 males and 29 females. The student cohort of 2020 includes 22 Wisconsin residents and 10 out-of-state residents.

Overall GPA Average3.563.673.62
Prerequisite GPA Average3.763.723.68
GRE Quantitative Average149150150
GRE Verbal Average150150152
GRE Writing Average3.944.054.17
Average Age242323



Our curriculum prepares the generalist occupational therapist for entry-level practice in a variety of environments and practice settings, including health care delivery systems, educational institutions, public health, and social service organizations.

Since no single theoretical model adequately prepares the generalist occupational therapy practitioner, 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 our curriculum.

It is organized by foundational concepts of occupation and occupational therapy, and will build on your culture, life experiences, and prior knowledge. You will have the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills in assistive technology, accessible design, professionalism, and leadership through coursework, fieldwork, and service-learning experiences.

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.

For information regarding the curriculum and for course descriptions, see the UWM Academic Catalog .

Year 1: Fall

PRPP 725: Gross Anatomical Kinesiology3
OCCTHPY 705: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation I3
OCCTHPY 707: Seminar I1
OCCTHPY 720: Application of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Theory3
OCCTHPY 721: Foundations of Professional Practice in Occupational Therapy
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1
Total Credits:13

1st Level I Fieldwork (January-April)

Year 1: Spring

OCCTHPY 620: Introduction to Assistive Technology and Rehabilitation Technologies3
OCCTHPY 703: Applied Neuroscience3
OCCTHPY 704: Musculoskeletal Analysis and Occupational Function3
OCCTHPY 706: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation II (Part 1)2
OCCTHPY 708: Seminar II1
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1
Total Credits:13

Year 1: Summer

OCCTHPY 540: Evidence for Practice3
OCCTHPY 706: Occupational Therapy in Physical Rehabilitation II (Part 2)3
OCCTHPY 719: Occupational Therapy in Psychosocial Practice3
Optional Electives/Thesis
Total Credits:9

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

Year 2: Fall

OCCTHPY 519: Therapeutic Communication3
OCCTHPY 542: Evidence for Practice II3
OCCTHPY 709: Seminar III1
OCCTHPY 740: Occupational Therapy with Children and Families4
OCCTHPY 880: Master’s Project1
Optional Electives/Thesis
Total Credits:12+

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 Adults3
Optional Electives for Early Spring:
OCCTHPY 718: OT in Acute Care
OCCTHPY 743: Advances in Child Centered Occupational Therapy
Total Credits:9+

Year 2: Summer

OCCTHPY 710: Comm. Models of Occupational Therapy Practice2
OCCTHPY 711: Professional Leadership of Occupational Therapists3
Optional Elective/Thesis
Total Credits:5

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
Optional Elective
Total Credits:8

Download the sequence of courses (PDF)

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.

Through SOTA you can express your 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 Associate Professor

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 (PTE)

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


Joyce Engel, Faculty Advisor

Volunteer Service

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 Education

Clinical Education

As part of the MS Occupational Therapy Program curriculum, you are required to gain practical, supervised experience in the field before graduation. Fieldwork is done at the graduate level. To fulfill this requirement, we have 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 OT-program@uwm.edu.

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 the background check once admitted to the program.

Professional Certification

Professional Certification

The National Board Certification in Occupational Therapy (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. You are required to pass the certification exam after completion of your coursework and field experience. See the passing rates of new OT Masters-Level graduates taking the NBCOT certification exam .

Graduation Numbers and Rates

The total number of graduates from the UWM MS Occupational Therapy Program during the 3-year period of 2018-2020 was 90 with an overall graduation rate of 95%

Program Type & Entrance YearProgram Cohort Graduation YearStudents Graduating/ Students EnteringGraduation Rate*
MSOT 2016201832/32100%
MSOT 2017201929/3194%
MSOT 2018202029/3291%

* 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 Outlook

Employment 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

Expected Growth

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.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Occupational Therapists .

Professional Organizations

Professional Organizations

Faculty & Staff

Faculty & Staff