The Complete Guide to Studying Occupational Therapy in Malaysia

What is occupational therapy? Learn more about this in-demand field and check out the job opportunities, pathways, entry requirements, and fees.


Have you ever wondered who helps individuals with disabilities regain their independence and improve their quality of life? What about individuals with chronic pain or physical limitations? Well, that’s the work of an occupational therapist!

If you’re interested in helping individuals improve their daily functioning and overall quality of life and exploring various therapy techniques and devices that can improve someone’s life, pursuing an occupational therapy course could be the right choice for you. 

In this course guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about pursuing occupational therapy in Malaysia, including what it is, how to become an occupational therapist and the best universities to study occupational therapy. 

#1. What is Occupational Therapy?


Occupational therapy is a healthcare field that focuses on helping individuals develop, improve or regain their ability to engage in daily activities. This can range from buttoning shirts and holding utensils to driving and even getting out of bed. People who benefit from occupational therapy are those who are at risk for, or have experienced, illnesses, injuries, disorders, disabilities or trauma. 

The role of an occupational therapist spans wider than improving mobility and function. Apart from teaching patients movement techniques, they also identify their patient’s needs, assess the patient’s surroundings and suggest devices that can make their lives easier. This could be through bathroom grab bars or bed hoists, electric toothbrushes, stabilising utensils or walking sticks.

In addition, occupational therapists also provide mental health help for patients struggling with their disability and assist younger patients with special needs (e.g. ADHD, autism, physical disabilities etc.). 

By studying an occupational therapy course, you’ll learn the fundamental principles and practical skills that will help you gain a comprehensive understanding to become a qualified occupational therapist. 

Perdana University

Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Occupational Therapy

The first private university in Malaysia to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

#2. Entry Requirements for Occupational Therapy

a) What are the subjects required to study occupational therapy?

In general, you’ll need to have studied these subjects at SPM level or equivalent to pursue your studies in Occupational Therapy:

  • Mathematics
  • Two science subjects from Biology, Physics and Chemistry

As for A Levels, STPM or equivalent, you need to take the following subjects if you want to study a Degree in Occupational Therapy:

  • Two Science subjects from Biology, Physics and Chemistry

b) Occupational Therapy Degree requirements

To pursue a Degree in Occupational Therapy, you need to complete a pre-university programme and meet the entry requirements:

  • A Levels: Minimum 2Ds, including 2 Science subjects from Biology, Physics or Mathematics, and Chemistry
  • STPM: Minimum CGPA of 2.33, including a GPA of 2.33 in 2 Science subjects from Biology, Physics or Mathematics, and Chemistry
  • Foundation in Science: Minimum CGPA of 2.33, including a GPA of 2.33 in 2 Science subjects from Biology, Physics or Mathematics, and Chemistry
  • Diploma: Minimum CGPA of 2.75
Important Note: Entry requirements for some universities may be higher, so do make sure you check the details carefully.

#3. Studying Occupational Therapy in Malaysia

a) What subjects will you study in an occupational therapy degree?

As part of your occupational therapy studies, you will learn the fundamental principles of occupational therapy and how to apply them to solve problems related to mobility, function and mental wellbeing across all ages.

Here are some of the subjects you may cover during your occupational therapy degree:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Kinesiology and biomechanics
  • Occupational therapy for orthopaedic and surgical conditions
  • Psychology and psychiatric conditions
  • Orthotics and prosthetics 
  • Occupational therapy for paediatrics
  • Occupational therapy for geriatrics
  • Contemporary modules such as sexuality and disability, and occupational therapy for innovation and entrepreneurship

Throughout your studies, you’ll also undergonumerous clinical placements where you’ll be treating real life patients in clinical settings under the supervision of your lecturer. You may also be required to undergo an undergraduate research project and/or an advanced clinical placement at the end of your degree. 

b) How long is an Occupational Therapy course?

A Degree in Occupational Therapy typically takes 4 years to complete.

c) How much does it cost to study Occupational Therapy in Malaysia?

An Occupational Therapy programme could range from RM60,000 – RM80,000.

#4. Your Education Pathway for Occupational Therapy


Upon completion of your SPM or equivalent, you’ll need to complete a pre-university or a Foundation in Science programme. 

Thereafter, you can pursue a Degree in Occupational Therapy. The 4-year programme will provide you with in-depth theoretical knowledge as well as clinical practice to ensure you’re competent to be an occupational therapist. 

Upon graduating your degree, you’ll need to register with the Malaysian Allied Health Professions Council (MAHPC) in accordance with the Allied Health Professions Act 774 in order to practise as an occupational therapist. With this licence, you can work in various healthcare and education centres as a registered occupational therapist. 

Most occupational therapists will also register as a member with the Malaysian Occupational Therapy Association, which grants you automatic membership with the World Federation of Occupational Therapists (WFOT).

#5. Should You Study Occupational Therapy?


a) Is occupational therapy right for you?

If you’re wondering whether occupational therapy suits you, here are some questions to think about:

  • Are you passionate about helping others and making a positive impact on their lives?
  • Are you empathetic, patient and able to establish trust with individuals from diverse backgrounds?
  • Are you interested in understanding the impact of physical, cognitive and emotional challenges on daily functioning?
  • Can you think creatively and develop personalised interventions to address each person’s unique needs?
  • Do you have excellent communication and interpersonal skills?
  • Do you have good grades in science subjects?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, studying a Degree in Occupational Therapy may be the right choice for you.

b) Skills required to pursue occupational therapy

Here are some key skills a good occupational therapist should have:

  • Ability to solve problems creatively by customising treatment plans that address patient’s needs
  • Great communication skills and ability to relay medical information in a digestible and easy-to-understand manner
  • Active listening skills
  • Ability to empathise and be vulnerable to patients
  • Good social perceptiveness to recognise why people react the way they do
  • Patience to deal with people of varying personalities

#6. Jobs with an Occupational Therapy Degree

An occupational degree will open doors to a variety of job opportunities in the healthcare and education sector. This includes working at NGOs, community organisations, hospitals, clinics, rehabilitation centres, community mental health centres, special education centres, specialised therapy centres, as well as universities. 

Here are some of the careers you can pursue with an occupational therapy qualification:

  • Occupational therapist
  • Ergonomist
  • Social worker
  • Community mental health worker
  • Health coach or mentor
  • Medical equipment sales representative
  • Lecturer

Perdana University

Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Occupational Therapy

The first private university in Malaysia to offer a Bachelor’s Degree in Occupational Therapy

#7. Best Institutions for Occupational Therapy in Malaysia

If being an occupational therapist is where your passion lies, then check out some of the best institutions for occupational therapy in Malaysia.