Physical and Occupational Therapy Online Masters Programs

Online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy programs explore topics such as kinesiology, sport management and rehabilitation. Many graduate programs in these fields include professional development and advanced technical courses. Plus, students are often able to plan-out their courses to align with career goals. Whether you are drawn to learn more about injury prevention, exercise program design or adaptive technology, there is much to discover.

Why earn a masters degree in Physical Therapy Online?written by Rana Waxman

Online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy: Basics

The way Online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy programs are formatted may vary between the schools that make such degree programs available. In some schools, online programs mirror their campus counterparts and students could look for features such as career counseling, academic advising and enrollment counseling.

Flexible curriculum – Distance students might virtually attend lectures that have been prerecorded, or take part in video conferenced live lectures, it really depends on the program and university. Either way, busy adults might gain some flexibility in that they complete coursework at times and in places that fit their schedules, if deadlines are met.

Convenient for at-work adults – Typically, these programs are structured for the student and professional who wants to maintain a career and busy life. In fact, online learners may get to take all courses online except for a brief residency.

Interactive – A residency may be held at a main campus and could provide the opportunity to perform hands-on work and to learn the latest concepts and methods in person. Sometimes, as well, the university may use this time to offer face-to-face practical mentoring. Students could also use this time to build relationships with peers and faculty and potentially develop important contacts or attain new insight.

Clinical Practicum – Furthermore, while distance students take courses through web technology, they are often able to complete required supervised practicum in their local communities or workplace. This way, one might learn a new skill or theory and then apply it in real time.

Types of Online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy

Most online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy programs are in related fields to both occupational therapy and physical therapy. Why? We’ll look at some reasons, alternatives, and learn about sponsored programs in kinesiology, athletic training and assistive technology below.

Online Masters in Physical Therapy Programs

Online Masters in Physical Therapy are not common since the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) is now the entry-level education. That said, interested students who already have their Masters in Physical Therapy (MPT) could consider an online post-professional (transitional) DPT degree program. These programs might enable PTs to stay current and work towards a new level of credential.i

Online Masters in Occupational Therapy

Students must hold a Masters in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) from an accredited program to be licensed as an occupational therapist. That said, per the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE) there are no accredited entry-level occupational therapy programs that are 100% online. Some programs may, however, offer some courses or parts of courses online.ii

Online Master of Science – Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services

For students who want to enable persons with disabilities to live more independently but do not want to pursue a MSOT degree, a Master of Science – Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services (MS-ATHS) degree may provide an alternative. An online MS-ATHS could prepare graduates to integrate the links between physical disabilities and assistive, adaptive and access technologies. Full-time online students might earn their degree in about two years.

Admission Requirements – Applicants to an online MS in Assistive Technology Studies program generally need a Bachelors degree and minimum 3.0 GPA, and TOEFL scores if necessary.

Curriculum – Students might learn how to explain and interpret product design and function, assess AT users’ needs, interpret the legal and political history of assistive technology, and develop relevant delivery protocols.

In some universities, these topics may be covered in about 10 courses (30 credits) of seminars, research methods, and directed study. Also, students may need to take courses in a set sequence where each successive course builds on the one prior.

One of the first courses could explore the basis of human function from the psychological and physiological points of view in relation to design and usability of assistive technology (AT). From there, students could discuss the history, law, policy and financial aspects of AT for users and professionals.

As the program progresses, other courses might help students to design and develop assistive technology interventions, as they study functional independence across the lifespan. Review a few examples of course topics below, and then refer to individual schools for full details.

  • Functional Biology
  • Injury Pathology
  • Assessment
  • Counseling in Assistive Technology

When asked, 71% of Assistive Technology Trainers reported they had a Masters degreeiii

Online Masters in Athletic Training Programs

Online Masters in Athletic Training Programs could cover areas such as management, sport and disability, and injury prevention, although curriculum is linked to program emphasis. A Masters degree in Athletic Training program could have classroom and clinical components. Some programs favor science and health-related courses, such as biology, anatomy, physiology, and nutrition. Online sports management masters by contrast might stress the business side of sports.

The Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE) accredits athletic trainer programs, which might include post-professional and residency athletic trainer programs.iv

Online Master of Science in Sport Management

An online Master of Science (MS) in Sport Management could meld business and finance courses with current issues in sports.

Admission Requirements – Applicants usually need a Bachelors degree from an accredited institution. Other furnished material might include transcripts, references, a personal essay and resume. In some universities, it may be suggested that recent graduates with less than three years of professional work experience have a 3.0 GPA. Admission requirements do vary, so make sure to refer to individual schools for full details.

Curriculum – Students in an online MS in Sport Management may take about 36 credits, with some courses devoted to core requirements, and others to electives. Core sport management courses might cover financial management and operations methods for sports facilities and special events. Students might also take courses about sport sponsorship and marketing as well as a course on sport and the law.

Tracks – Candidates may be able to tailor their studies through an area of emphasis such as sport leadership, sport tourism and hospitality management, parks and recreation, and athletic administration.

Sport Leadership: A focus in sport leadership could address the operational and financial aspects of a sports franchise or organization. Students might also take courses in media relations and executive strategy.

Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management: A focus in Sport Tourism and Hospitality Management might highlight courses in sales strategies, international sport management, the management of facilities, and special events.

Parks and Recreation: A focus in Parks and Recreation could focus on tourism and hospitality for community recreation and park management programs. Coursework could therefore cover topics such as trends and issues in recreation management, leadership, and administrative procedures.

Athletic Administration: A focus in Athletic Administration could include courses in organizational theory and psychology. Other courses might discuss inter-scholastic and intercollegiate athletics, human resources, emergency procedures and office management.

Online Master of Health Science: Athletic Training

An online Master of Health Science (MHS) in Athletic Training typically offers an interdisciplinary set of core courses that explore health issues from various points of view.

Admission Requirements – Applicants may need a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in the health sciences or prior work experience in a healthcare or health-related field. Aside from transcripts, a resume or CV, and references, candidates may need to furnish proof they are a Licensed Athletic Trainer and/or Certified Athletic Trainer.

Curriculum – Often, a MHS degree entails the completion of about 36 credits, with most credits weighted to core courses, and the rest to Athletic Training. Core MHS courses could cover topics such as psychosocial strategies for healthcare, ethics, organizational leadership and policy in healthcare.

Athletic Training courses could cover leadership and business as well as evidence-based health-related courses in injury prevention and emergency athletic training. Some examples of other possible course topics are listed below. That said, course names vary, so students should refer to individual schools.

  • Sport and Disability
  • Imaging
  • Concussion in Sport
  • Sport and the Female Athlete

Online Masters in Kinesiology Programs

An online Masters in Kinesiology program is a post-professional exercise science program with a broad scope of health and fitness topics. Typically, it is planned-out to build on the prior experience in exercise physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics or related fields.

Individual programs may be approved by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) Education Recognition Program (ERP). The ERP recognizes regionally accredited academic institutions for their educational programs that have met, and continue to meet, educational guidelines recommended by the NSCA.

Admission Requirements: Some schools with online Master of Science (MS) in Kinesiology programs cover human movement, health and fitness and healthcare professionals. Candidates might need a Bachelors degree along with licensure or certification in their field. Applicants usually need to furnish transcripts, references, resume and a copy of their credential(s). Interested students should scan individual program requirements for a list of approved certifications.

Curriculum – An online MS in Kinesiology could help students gain holistic knowledge and skills in several key areas. Curriculums usually focus on evidence-based practice and research methods with coursework divided between a kinesiology core and track/certificate courses.

  • Functional Anatomy
  • Exercise Physiology
  • Functional Assessment
  • Behavior Change
  • Exercise Program Design

Kinesiology core courses could also explore human movement science, motor control, biomechanics and nutrition. Students might also learn about motivation and how to tailor an exercise program to various client needs, abilities and aims. There may also be instruction is injury prevention techniques, flexibility, core strength, speed, strength and more.

Tracks: Online Kinesiology Masters students may be able to customize their studies through an emphasis in areas such as sports conditioning, exercise and sport psychology, geriatric exercise science, corrective exercise, or adaptive sports.

Sports Conditioning Track: A focus in sports conditioning could cover sport-specific fitness measurements and performance tests. A course in speed, agility and quickness could cover both physiology and methods to help others develop these qualities. Other topics could discuss muscular fitness and metabolic conditioning.

Exercise and Sport Psychology Track: A focus in exercise and sport psychology could cover the basics of health psychology and behavior change with an eye to health promotion and fitness programs. Students might also study some of the psychological theories and methods used to enhance performance in sports, business and persona. Other courses might explore motivation and the links between mental health and exercise.

Geriatric Exercise Science Track: A focus on geriatric exercise science emphasizes aging and the older adult from the point of view of prescriptive exercise and motivation. Coursework could explore the psychological, social and physical aspects of well-being as well as the impact of regular exercise on body systems.

Corrective Exercise and Orthopedic Rehabilitation Track: A focus in corrective exercise and orthopedic rehabilitation could examine movement impairments and dysfunction. Students may study the epidemiology of common orthopedic injuries to the shoulder, low back, hip, and knee—also, assessment of these injuries for the purposes of corrective and post-rehabilitative exercise program design.

Adaptive Sports Track: A focus in adaptive sports could introduce students to the historical, sociological, public health and legal aspects of Paralympic and adaptive sport movement. Students may learn how to assess a Para athlete and manage an adaptive sport program. Adaptive sports and activities may be discussed in-depth. Students might examine rules, biomechanics, physiological demands, injury epidemiology, injury prevention, and high performance factors.

Take the Next Step

We have discussed some of the sponsored Online Masters in Physical and Occupational Therapy programs above, but there are more to discover. Easily compare online masters degrees in athletic training, kinesiology, assistive technology and more right here. Find a school and program that appeals to you? Fill out the on-page form to contact schools directly!

[i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv]

Read Less
  • California State University, Northridge

  • University of the Southwest

  • California Baptist University

  • A.T. Still University of Health Sciences

  • University of Western States

  • Indiana Wesleyan University

  • Lasell University

  • Gardner-Webb University

  • Nova Southeastern University

  • Union Institute and University

  • McMaster University

  • Shenandoah University

  • University of Wyoming

  • Belmont University

  • University of Texas System