Application FAQs

The deadline for applications to begin the program the following summer is November 1 of the prior year. The online OTCAS system is available from mid-July to December 1 for submitting application materials to VCU. Applicants can begin the process and add to their application throughout this time period until the November 1 deadline. OTCAS closes at 11:59 PM December 1.  We prefer applications to be submitted by November 1.  We will accept applications submitted before the closing of OTCAS December 1. Applications submitted after December 1 will be not be considered. Applications will not be reviewed until they are verified by OTCAS using official transcripts, letters of recommendation received, official GRE scores received and the VCU Graduate School Application submitted and fee paid. 

Applicants taking prerequisite courses during the fall semester will have the opportunity in December to update their Fall grades in OTCAS. Anyone who takes Fall courses must submit another transcript to OTCAS at the conclusion of the Fall semester to verify Fall grades. Applicants should receive status updates of their application as it moves through the review process.  Applicants can check the status of their application through OTCAS.

It is highly recommended that applicants routinely check their OTCAS application following submission for internal messages. It is ultimately the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all materials are received by OTCAS and that any questions regarding the application are cleared up in a timely manner.

Applicants are required to send official transcripts directly to OTCAS for verification as part of the application process. If you are taking courses in the Fall, please ensure that official transcripts are sent to OTCAS following completion of Fall courses. You do not need to send official transcripts to VCU for application.  VCU Graduate Admissions allows the EL-OTD Graduate Admissions Committee to use the verified electronic transcripts for admissions purposes.

If accepted into the EL-OTD program and accept the offer of admission, you will be required to send VCU official transcripts from every college or university that you have attended. Transcripts need to be received within 2 weeks of enrollment.  These are sent to:

Virginia Commonwealth University
Division of Strategic Enrollment Management
Office of Admissions
Graduate Admissions
PO Box 843051
Richmond, Virginia 23284-3051

No, letters of recommendation are completed electronically by your references through OTCAS. You supply the contact information and your references are contacted to complete the online reference form and upload a letter.

Submit your Personal Statement responding to the questions identified by OTCAS as part of the OTCAS application. The Valued Added Essay is submitted as a PDF attachment on OTCAS as a supplemental VCU requirement.

Please refer to OTAS FAQ's for further guidance: If you cannot answer your question from the FAQ's, contact OTCAS directly for further instruction.

Yes! The deadline to apply for Early Decision is Nov 1st.  See the Early Decision section for eligibility criteria.

Yes. Prerequisites do not have to be completed before applying. However, all prerequisites must be completed before classes start in late May. If you are in the process of completing prerequisite courses and you are accepted, you will be offered “Acceptance Pending Documentation”, contingent upon successful completion of any remaining prerequisite courses at the "A" or "B" level. All applicants who accept offers of admission to attend VCU must have official transcripts from every college and university attended sent to the VCU Graduate Admissions within 2 weeks of enrollment.  


Applicants will have the opportunity to update their OTCAS application with Fall grades. OTCAS opens your application for Academic Update for a short window of time, late December – early February, for you to make these changes. No other areas of the application will be available for revision. You will receive notification from OTCAS when this is available.


Yes, all 30 observation hours need to be completed by the application deadline of December 1st as this section cannot be updated. Thirty hours are the minimum number of hours required. You can certainly observe for as many hours as you have time for beyond that. You can continue to volunteer after the deadline for more experience if you choose.


Your unique experiences and the skills, qualities and characteristics that you have developed as a result of your experiences are a large part of the evaluation of the application.  It is critical that you highlight this in your written statements and the interview.   

Applications with strong written statements tend to stand out.  Your written statements are your introduction to the Committee.  The Committee recommends that you start your essays early in the process and that you continue to edit and refine them, so you have produced documents that represent you well.  

The Personal Statement and the Value-Added Essay are different.  In the Personal Statement, applicants should demonstrate a basic understanding of the profession of OT, knowledge of the breadth and depth of the profession, and how pursuing a degree in OT is compatible with personal and professional goals.  Observation experiences can help you in crafting your Personal Statement.  In the Value-Added Essay, we want you to be more personal, and highlight what would make you a valuable member of the next cohort of OTD students.   

Letters of Recommendation are another area that can be overlooked in the application.  When approaching references to write a Letter of Recommendation, make sure that you have chosen three persons that can write to your different attributes, strengths, and performance.  You want your letters to be distinctive, so it may help to provide your references with what you would like to be addressed in their letter.  Specific examples in letters are also very helpful.  One letter from an occupational therapy practitioner is preferred.  Make sure that this is someone that knows you and can write more about you than the fact that you observed for so many hours. 

You can follow up with the Admissions & Recruitment Committee at to determine what parts of your application could be strengthened. We are happy to help once the application cycle has closed and Committee work has been completed.   

The Graduate Admissions Committee looks at the GPAs of applicants in two ways - an overall GPA (OGPA) and a prerequisite GPA (PGPA).  Preference for overall GPA is a 3.0, and 3.25 for prerequisite coursework. 

In recent years the mean overall GPA has been around 3.5 and the mean prerequisite GPA has been around 3.8. This means that successful candidates are earning predominantly A grades in prerequisite courses.  The Prerequisite GPA is very important to the Admissions Committee because these courses are considered a better indicator of the knowledge that you will need for your OT courses.  The preference is for all prerequisite courses to be at the "A" or "B" level.  Prerequisite courses in which an applicant earned a grade of "C" can be retaken and only the highest grade will be used to calculate the prerequisite GPA.

This question is generally posed in relation to prerequisites. Community college courses are acceptable for prerequisites particularly for applicants who have completed their degrees. Courses taught at four-year colleges or universities are often more challenging. We encourage you to find the best courses that you can to prepare for graduate school. Think of the eight prerequisite courses less as hurdles that you need to cross in order to get into school, and more as building the necessary foundational knowledge for graduate study. The stronger and more comprehensive your prerequisite preparation, especially for anatomy and statistics, the more prepared you will be for the rigorous graduate courses that require that you build upon that requisite knowledge. Take the most challenging prerequisite courses that you can. But a grade from one school whether a community college or a university are evaluated equally.

Our human development prerequisite requirement is for lifespan human development. If you take a child development course, you will need to take a course with an adult perspective. A gerontology course is permissible. In this case it will take two courses, or 6 credit hours to achieve the lifespan perspective. The total required prerequisite credits in social science whether you have one or two development courses is 15 credits.

You must have two semesters in human anatomy and physiology with lab. If a college only offers a 4-credit anatomy course, you can take a 3 or 4 credit physiology course to fulfill this prerequisite requirement.

Given COVID-19, Pass/Fail grades are being accepted for the 2021-2022 application cycle.  Acceptance to the program is highly competitive and we prefer that all prerequisite courses have letter grades.  Ungraded courses will be viewed as neutral.  They will not hurt an application, but also may not make an application stand out. 

Clinical settings with OT can be found in most hospitals, outpatient clinics, schools, nursing homes, and home health agencies in your area. Use the internet to identify possible facilities and call to see if they provide OT services. We do not make specific recommendations, but the VCU Health System, Sheltering Arms, Children's Hospital, St Mary's, Henrico Doctors Hospital, Chippenham Hospital, Chesterfield County, Hanover County, and Henrico County and Richmond City Schools and many more facilities all employ OTs.


No, students admitted to the program are expected to complete all coursework in the curriculum. No credit is given for prior courses or work experience.

We encourage all applicants to attend an Information Session. Information Sessions allow applicants to meet faculty and current students in addition to providing information on VCU’s Entry-Level OTD program, the application process, and an overview of the College of Health Professions, and VCU/MCV campus. Sessions are being offered in person and virtually.  More information can be found here. If you still have unanswered questions, email your questions to or by phone at (804) 828-2219 from 9 AM - 4:30 PM weekdays.