University of Wisconsin–Madison

Application Process

Application Timeline

This is a general timeline for preparing and submitting your application. If you do things earlier than we list here, all the better. In addition to using the information on our website, be sure to use the OTCAS instruction manual and the guidance AOTA makes available on We have also prepared a guide for completing the OTCAS.

Fall before you apply

Research Schools

For a list of all OT programs, visit the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).  For tips on choosing schools, visit our Selecting Schools page.

Make a list of your activities outside of class

  • Hours, dates, locations, contacts
  • Write answers to these questions for each activity: What was the name of your role?What did you do? What did you learn? How were you different after the activity compared to before it?
  • Use your answers to these questions to draft descriptions of each activity.

Identify and start talking with possible letter writers


Spring before you apply

Study for the GRE

Some, but not all, occupational therapy programs require the GRE. To hear how other students have prepared, visit our exam tips page.

Write personal statement

For tips on writing your application essay, check out our Personal Statements page.

Request letters of recommendation

Most schools require 2-3 letters of recommendation.  For tips on how to build relationships with faculty, visit our Letters of Recommendation page.


Summer that you apply

Complete the centralized application

Most, but not all, occupational therapy programs use a centralized application called OTCAS, which opens in early July. The OTCAS costs $125 for the first school, and $45 for each additional program. The centralized application includes:

Complete school-specific supplemental application

Some, but not all, OT programs have a supplemental application.


Some, but not all, OT programs have finalists interview. For help preparing for interviews, visit our Interview Preparation page.