the best ot majors based on setting

The best OT undergrad major based on setting

Most OT students major in psychology, but theres not a perfect major. When i was in undergrad, I had never heard about OT and my degree was in cultural studies.

With that said, I think the best OT major depends on the type of setting you want to do. If you’re certain you want to be an OT, find a major that compliments your program, but choose a major you enjoy so you set yourself up for success.

In this article, I’ll discuss undergrad majors to help you decide the OT setting that’s right for you.

What’s the best major for OT?

While most OTs major in psychology, exercise science, education, or kinesiology, there’s not a perfect major for OT school.  Sometimes having a unique background will make you stand out more in your interview. 

There are plenty of OTs who already have psychology degrees, but if your degree is in anthropology or marketing, you already have an interesting story. 

I’m not saying you shouldn’t major in psychology.  I’m saying you should do your undergrad in something you are passionate about, even if it’s not related to OT.

The best major for pediatric OTs

If you’re thinking about pediatric OT, you’re part of the majority of OTs enrolling in OT school. You may have thought about kinesiology or psychology, but you might want to consider childhood development.

Courses in childhood development will help you understand the physical, social, and cognitive changes as a child develops to adulthood, and this can boost your confidence as you learn more about pediatric OT

Other Majors to consider

  • Communication Studies
  • Psychology
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Human development
  • Communication studies
  • Neuroanatomy
Pre-OT course

The best major for acute rehabilitation

In acute rehab, you’re usually helping the older adult population with their activities of daily living. A great major to prepare you for rehab is biology, psychology, exercise science, or kinesiology.  

You’ll notice that I’m not giving one choice, because there isn’t a major that’s best. Choose a major you’re passionate about and add electives from psychology, exercise science, and kinesiology.

  • Interpersonal communication
  • Anthropology
  • Conflict resolution
  • Health Science

The best major for Hand therapists

Hand therapists are great problem solvers and tend to think more like physical therapists or medical doctors.  They have a keen interest in anatomy and physiology, and a great major may include biology, exercise science, or kinesiology.  

If you’re interested in hand therapy, you’re one of the few. Take any anatomy course, and look into working as a hand therapy technician to get more experience.

Be sure to check out my other page on how to land a job in hand therapy after OT school.

  • Human Dissection
  • Microbiology
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Medical terminology

The best major for mental health OTs

Most OTs working in mental health have a background in psychology. I would recommend majoring in psychology and have a minor in something related to health like exercise science or nutrition.  

I think the best mental health OTs are finding ways to motivate their patients to participate in meaningful activities and that includes meal preparation, social participation, and exercise.  

  • Conflict Resolution
  • Interpersonal communication
  • Specialized courses in psychology

The best major for acute care (hospital based)

For acute care, you might consider a degree in exercise science, psychology, or biology.

Working as an OT in acute care is similar to acute rehab but you will need to know much more medical terminology. Acute care is all about making sure your patient is medically stable for therapy and discharge planning.

  • Medical terminology
  • Pathophysiology

I still don’t know which major to choose

If you still can’t decide, setup a coaching call. I’d be happy to help you get on track with your OT journey to help you figure out the best path based on your individual needs. I can also give you tips for interviewing, OT salary, cost of tuition, or any other questions you might have.


As you can see, there’s not a perfect major for OT school. One major won’t cover everything, and that’s why I think it’s important to choose a major that you enjoy. If that happens to be related to OT, even better.

I hope you enjoyed this article. Definitely check out my other articles for OT students and subscribe to my newsletter for more OT tips and tricks.