Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy (pre-professional)

Interested in the growing field of occupational therapy? Therapists work in many settings to help patients return to their homes and workplaces after rehabilitation. A strong foundation in the natural and social sciences as part of a well-rounded liberal arts education is considered excellent preparation for a graduate program in occupational therapy.

Central students succeed in securing acceptance into graduate programs with help from an on-campus pre-health coordinator, internship coordinator and academic advisers to ensure you complete the required courses, required hours of patient contact, maintain a GPA of 3.6 or higher and take advantage of many opportunities for research and professional development. Central’s pre-professional program prepares you to pursue occupational therapy education in graduate school. With the help of your adviser, you will choose a major such as biology or chemistry that best prepares you for further study.

The Real World


Successful Careers

  • Occupational medicine physician, Affinity Medical Group, Appleton, Wis.
  • Occupational therapist, Excel Physical Therapy, Omaha, Neb.
  • Medical direction occupation therapy, Genesis Health Systems, Eldridge
  • Occupational therapist, Arcadia Therapy Services, Phoenix, Ariz. 


  • Bio-Chem Club
  • Tri-Beta (national biological sciences honor society)
  • Health Professions Club
  • Exercise Science Club
  • CAAT (athletic training club)
Central College student

Graduate Placement

  • Creighton University
  • Bay Path College, Longmeadow, Mass.
  • Indianapolis University
  • St. Ambrose University
  • University of Minnesota, Rochester
  • Washington University


Students interested in the occupational therapy program are able to shadow local professionals for limited hours. Shadowing opportunities are available across the state including Pella Regional Health Center, Broadlawns Medical Center and Ottumwa Wellness Center.

Courses & Faculty

Students may major in any discipline that fits with personal and professional life goals. Regardless of major choice, students are required to successfully complete a series of courses in biology, psychology, social sciences and statistics. Students must also complete the GRE and gain experience in an occupational therapy setting.

The Central College Career Center provides the following activities to help pre-health students narrow career options: individual appointments to identify career options in the health field, job shadowing opportunities with local professionals or Central alumni, assistance with finding and applying for internships and summer opportunities, help with graduate school applications and much more. 

Occupational therapy (pre-professional) photo
Meet the faculty:
  • Glenn Barnett, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biochemistry, interest areas include biochemistry and molecular genetics
  • Anya Butt, B.A., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Biology, interest areas include geospatial technologies and applications, water resources, geosciences, natural disaster resilience and global health
  • Ellie Du Pre, B.S., Ph.D., Professor of Biology, interest areas include histology, human anatomy and physiology, epidemiology and environmental endocrine disruptors
  • Cathy Haustein, B.A., M.F.A., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include analytical chemistry, inorganic chemistry instrumental analysis, the extraction of alkaloids from natural products, fluorescence spectroscopy and fiction writing
  • Keith Jones, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Mark & Kay DeCook Endowed Chair in Character and Leadership Development and Professor of Psychology, interest areas include aging and adult development, character development, leadership, performance psychology, statistical analysis and how people learn during college
  • Nicole Palenske, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Biology, interest areas include human anatomy and physiology, environmental physiology and aquatic toxicology
  • David Pavlat, B.S., M.A., Ed.D., Associate Professor of Exercise Science, interest areas include physiology, kinesiology
  • John Roslien, B.S., M.S., Associate Professor Exercise Science, interest areas include professional leadership
  • James Shriver, B.S., M.S., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry, interest areas include organic chemistry, molecular engineering and design, supramolecular chemistry and anion binding
  • Jonathan Witt, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, interest areas include social problems, social inequality, popular culture, religion and sociological theory

The Central Difference

Individualized Attention

Thanks to Central's small class and laboratory section size, faculty can provide each student with individualized attention and the opportunity to develop skills necessary for graduate school. Our faculty members also provide personalized advising that ensures students meet the coursework requirements for graduate school. And to help students get into graduate school, faculty provide letters of recommendation that make a vital difference in the decision process for acceptance into medical programs.

Heartland Global Health Consortium

Central College is a founding member of the Heartland Global Health Consortium whose mission is to establish and expand multidisciplinary educational, research and service opportunities to inspire and equip students to become leaders in global public health. The consortium provides additional opportunities for students to participate in educational, global research and global medical service experiences.

Hands-On Research

Central faculty provide students with many research and professional development opportunities, of which students are encouraged to take full advantage while on campus. Opportunities include undergraduate research and presentations at scientific meetings, internships, shadowing programs, targeted service-learning opportunities related to career goals and much more.

Study Abroad

Students are encouraged to study abroad with one of Central’s international programs to enhance their development as global citizens, or with partner programs in Chicago, Washington, D.C. or New York City. Learn more about Central’s study abroad programs.


Central’s Vermeer Science Center was awarded the silver Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating from the United States Green Building Council, the first LEED-rated building in the state. Students have direct access to classrooms and laboratories equipped with state-of-the-art instrumentation and presentation technology. 

For occupational therapy students, Central’s exercise science building includes a dedicated classroom for the athletic training program that features stools, tables and a taping station instead of desks. The human performance lab features a hydrostatic underwater weighing tank, one of only three in the Midwest. The building uses LCD screens and classroom capture, which enables all classes to be videotaped for review by students. 

Central Pre-Occupational Therapy Students

Learn More

Want to find out more about occupational therapy (pre-professional) at Central? Contact us to learn more about this major and our other strong academic programs. Visit campus to observe classes and experience The Central Difference firsthand.