The Grammarphobia Blog

Occupational therapy

Q: I’m in the process of applying to graduate schools to study occupational therapy. Within my essay, I’m confused about whether I should capitalize “occupational therapy” or leave it in lowercase. Please, please help. I really want to be accepted!

A: You’re raising an issue of style here, not grammar, so there’s no right or wrong.

The usual style is to lowercase “occupational therapy” unless it’s part of a title (like “School of Occupational Therapy”). But the usual style will only get you so far.

If you really want to be accepted, check out the graduate schools’ catalogs and other material to see how they capitalize “occupational therapy.” Then do whatever they do.

The catalogs will probably cap the phrase in reference to a school (or program, institute, department, etc.) of occupational therapy. You should also determine whether they capitalize it in an ordinary generic reference (as in “patients who need occupational therapy”). In other words, imitate the graduate schools’ own styles for the different usages.

Academic institutions do a lot of unnecessary capitalizing, so don’t expect them to follow the usual rules for style.

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