California Occupational Therapy Programs Online

Online Occupational Therapy Programs may appeal to busy adult learners who want to prepare for licensure as Occupational Therapists or current OT therapists looking to enhance their career. By making coursework and assignments available anywhere with an internet connection, occupational therapy online schools could provide a convenient way to study advanced concepts and prepare for NBCOT Exams.

How to Earn an Online Graduate Degree in Occupational Therapy

Why Consider Online Occupational Therapy Programs?

In many occupational therapy schools online, students complete the same credits as the on-campus OT program from anywhere in the world. This work-friendly setup generally provides significant flexibility.

Also, some online occupational therapy programs have students finish their assignments in their own time in preparation for live classes. In these sessions, one has the chance to study with faculty and fellow classmates.

The same format may also be used to create online office hours. As such, students earning their occupational therapy degree online may feel they are able to set their own pace, stay motivated, and foster some important connections.


71 % of Staff Occupational Therapists hold masters degrees, 5% a professional degree.ii

What Degree Is Required to Practice Occupational Therapy?

Online occupational therapy programs are offered at the masters and doctoral levels. Either of these occupational therapy online degrees are considered by the American Occupational Therapy Association as an entry-level degree for practice.

That said, most individuals enter the field with a masters degree in occupational therapy.iii Those who want to refine their clinical area of expertise (e.g. pediatric occupational therapy) or pursue a career in research and academia might continue on to a PhD or clinical doctorate. ii

In addition to an occupational therapy degree, occupational therapists must hold a state license. To obtain a license, students must graduate from an accredited OT program and complete their fieldwork requirements.

Next, they must apply for and pass the NBCOT® Certification Examination.i After this, an individual may apply for a state-issued license and pay a fee in the state or jurisdiction in which he or she wishes to practice.

Popular Occupational Therapy Online Programs

OT Online ProgramsDegree AwardedFormat
Masters in Occupational TherapyMSOTOnline
Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human ServicesM.S.Online
Doctorate Occupational Therapy DoctorateOTDOnline
Doctor of Health ScienceD.H.S.Online
Master of Health ScienceM.H.S.Online

Occupational Therapy Online School Requirements

Students who apply to occupational therapy schools online usually need to have earned their bachelors degree from a regionally accredited college.

While there are online OT programs for students with a background in occupational therapy, other programs are for students with any major. These online occupational therapy programs may require students to have competed coursework in human anatomy, abnormal psychology, sociology, and statistics.

Also, those who apply to occupational therapy online programs may have to show a specific cumulative GPA, furnish reference letters, and write a personal essay.

By contrast, students who apply to a post-professional (Doctor of Occupational Therapy) online program are usually occupational therapists who have earned their masters degree. 

How Long Are Occupational Therapy Online Programs?

The average full-time student may be able to complete an entry-level masters occupational therapy degree online in about two and a half to three years. ii Post-masters, it may take a full-time student about three years to complete their Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD).ii 

In addition, some occupational therapy schools online offer two-tiered degrees. For example, a dual-degree program in which the student earns a bachelors degree and a masters degree could take about 5 years. Or, an MS/OTD in which students flow from their masters to a clinical doctorate might take about 3 years.

Online Masters in Occupational Therapy Programs

Most entry-level masters in Occupational Therapy online programs are available in partially online formats. Students in these programs may meet on evenings and/or weekends as well as take some self-directed, online courses. As a result, students might feel they benefit from the ability to schedule and pace themselves while still interacting with peers and faculty.  

Online MSOT Degree Requirements

Students in online Masters in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) programs are typically required to take a series of courses and complete two levels of fieldwork. Also, some occupational therapy online schools place an emphasis on collaboration through inter-professional programs.

For instance, they might meet with design students to create an assistive device or adaptive clothing. Then, while off-campus, they might complete other projects through their school’s online platform.

Course of Study

Many online occupational therapy masters programs entail the completion of about 72 credit hours which includes fieldwork as well. While it is likely that course names vary, a generalized sample is listed below.

  • Functional Anatomy
  • Clinical Skills
  • Assistive technology design
  • Psychosocial Interventions
  • Environmental Dimensions of Occupation
  • Rehabilitation

Compare Programs: Earn a Degree in Assistive Technology

As an alternative to an  occupational therapy masters degree online, students who want to develop the skills and know how to work with those with physical disabilities might consider an online Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services. Applicants are generally required to have a bachelors degree in any major from an accredited institution as well as meet school-specific requirements.

Course of Study

Some programs may require completion of 30 course credits, a capstone project, and a brief residency. While course topics may vary, a sample of topics follow.

  • History, Law, Policy and Assistive Technology
  • Functional Biology
  • Medical Conditions That Affect Quality of Life
  • Counseling Methods

Online Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Programs

There are two types of Doctorate in Occupational Therapy programs that students may find in online or mostly online formats. These are the Doctor of Occupational Therapy (ODT) and the Doctor of Philosophy in Occupational Therapy (PhD).

Both programs are generally designed for occupational therapists that also have an earned master's degree. However, some occupational therapy schools online may offer a Bachelor to OTD program for experienced occupational therapists who have earned a Bachelors in Occupational Therapy but not a masters.

Online OTD Degrees

An online Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy (OTD) is a post-professional, non-research-based doctorate in occupational therapy. It is intended to establish advanced clinical expertise and leadership in the practice of occupational therapy.

Course of Study

In some universities, an online OTD program is a 36-credit program in which students may be exposed to the latest tools and clinical methods. Also, OTD programs often help candidates enhance their clinical and analytical skills, apply evidence to practice, and build a professional portfolio.

The professional portfolio is a student-directed terminal project. It usually includes data that documents a student’s theory and competency, along with scientific evidence that supports their practice.

Online PhD in Occupational Therapy Programs

An online PhD in Occupational Therapy program may provide current occupational therapists with the knowledge and skills to pursue a career as researchers, scholars, and educators.iv Unlike the OTD degree which is a clinical, practice-oriented doctorate for the advanced clinician, the PhD is research-focused.

Course of Study

In some universities, the online PhD in Occupational Therapy is a 42- to 52-credit program in which students take advanced coursework and complete a dissertation.

Pursue a Career in Occupational Therapy

The course of study found in online occupational therapy programs may enable graduates to pursue a career path that empowers individuals to overcome or adapt to dysfunction.

Occupational Therapists may work with injured, ill, autistic, or disabled patients to help them manage their daily activities. OTs are employed in hospitals, physicians’ offices, schools, nursing care facilities, and home healthcare services.ii

As the population ages, demand for OTs is, and will continue to be, on the rise over the next few years.ii

Accredited Online Occupational Therapy Programs

Universities that offer Online Occupational Therapy Programs may be regionally accredited. Also, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®) is recognized as the approval agency for occupational therapy education by both the United States Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Check with individual occupational therapy online schools or accrediting bodies to learn more.

Find Occupational Therapy Online Programs in California

Scroll through the programs on this page to find occupational therapy online programs that align with your interests. Or use the menu bar to filter the list and look at occupational therapy online schools that offer programs at your preferred level.

SOURCES: [i] |[ii] | [iii] | [iv]

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