Pre-Occupational Therapy Programs and Pathways

St. Ambrose University began offering entry-level occupational therapy education in 1989, and the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) program is the first accredited entry-level doctoral program in Iowa. The curriculum emphasizes occupational justice and participation in occupation for people of all ages and abilities. Students learn in interactive, state-of-the-art labs in the Center for Health Sciences Education (CHSE) along with students in other professional programs within the university. The OTD program also offers outreach services at no cost to clients and health care professionals through Jim's Place, a home demonstration center highlighting innovative, independent living solutions. 

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) the employment of occupational therapists  is projected to grow 14% from 2021 to 2031. The Bureau states that this is much faster than the average for all occupations. The BLS states, "About 10,100 openings for occupational therapists are projected each year, on average, over the decade. 

Ambrose Advantages

  • Seamless transition from undergraduate to graduate education
  • Engage in an active pre-OT club that offers multiple opportunities to get involved within the community and the OTD program
  • Pathway for becoming a bilingual occupational therapist with opportunities to earn a certificate in Spanish for health and human service professionals.

Program Information

High School Pathway and ACA Pathway

High school students accepted at St. Ambrose and Loras College intending to pursue a doctoral degree in OT from St. Ambrose University will receive Automatic Conditional Admission if they meet the high school requirements below: 

  1. 20 hours of observation in 2 different settings with an OT during high school.
  2. Personal statement describing interest in OT
  3. 3.5 unweighted GPA

If accepted to the OT program, student must maintain the following minimum college requirements

  1. 10+ service hours a year
  2. Complete all remaining undergraduate coursework with a 3.3 cumulative GPA
  3. Complete all prerequisite coursework with a 3.0 prerequisite GPA, with no grades lower than a C in prerequisite courses.
  4. Students must participate in regular pre-OT advising sessions focused on professional development and service. 
  5. Students must participate in pre-OT club/ or events
First Year Automatic Conditional Admission

First Year St. Ambrose students interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in OT receive automatic, conditional admission if they meet the first year college requirements list below:

  1. Complete 20 observation hours with an OT in 2 different settings.
  2. Personal statement describing interest in OT
  3. 3.3 cumulative GPA by the end of second semester of First Year

If accepted to the OT program, students must maintain minimum college requirements:

  1. Complete 10+ service hours per year
  2. Compete all remaining undergraduate coursework with a 3.3 cumulative GPA
  3. Complete all prerequisite coursework with 3.0 prerequisite GPA and no grades lower than a C in prerequisite courses.
  4. Students must participate in regularly in pre-OT/ events

Full details can be found here.


The requirements for occupational therapy programs focus on the biological, physical, and social sciences. The specific course requirements for admission to occupational therapy programs differ for each institution, but all programs seek compassionate individuals who can solve problems effectively and efficiently without compromising patient care.

Many occupational therapy programs in the Midwest region require:

  • One year of Anatomy/Physiology
  • Upper level Social Science
  • Research Methods and Statistics
  • Biomedical ethics

Individual occupational therapy programs may have additional requirements. Click here to view the prerequisite coursework for application to the SAU OTD program

Apply Visit Info


Admissions Office
310 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

Roxanne Freeman
Occupational Therapy

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? Click on the visit button below to learn more about our virtual and in-person visit options.