Occupational Therapy Degrees
Students in occupational therapy programs learn how to use the intervention methods of occupational therapy to learn how to assess and treat people so they can take part in their daily activities throughout the course of their lifespan.
Occupational therapy shows you how to treat people who are injured, have permanent disabilities, or are ill (e.g. cerebral palsy) and help them learn to use adaptive technology like wheelchairs. Also, you might be instructed how to help specific groups like children, those with autism spectrum disorders, or the elderly.
Occupational Therapy Degree Requirements
To be admitted to graduate-level Occupational Therapy Programs generally requires students to have earned a bachelors degree at a regionally accredited college. Also, students typically must complete specific coursework if their degree is not a Bachelors in Occupational Therapy. Occupational Therapy Prerequisites might include courses such as the ones listed below.
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Introduction to Psychology
- Abnormal Psychology
- Life Span Development or Human Behavior
- Statistics or Applied Biostatistics
- Introduction to Anthropology or Sociology
Aside from transcripts, most universities ask for reference letters, an essay, and resume of work and volunteer experience. Some schools do require a minimum GPA or GRE scores for certain programs.
To be eligible to sit for the NBCOT certification examination, one must graduate from an ACOTE-accredited program.ii
How Long Does It Take to Complete an Occupational Therapy Program?
Full time students may be able to complete a masters in occupational therapy program in 2 to 3 years.i Occupational Therapy doctorate programs may take about 3-years post-masters.i Some schools also offer a dual-degree program in which the student earns a bachelors degree and a masters degree in 5 years.i Or, a school might offer a two-tiered masters/doctoral program that might take a full-time student three years to complete post-bachelors.
Occupational Therapy Masters Programs
The Master of Science in Occupational Therapy (MSOT) program is a professional entry-level degree for students who have earned a bachelors degree in a related field. MSOT graduates may be eligible to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam. They must then pass the NBCOT examination to become a registered occupational therapist (OTR). However, a successful pass of the exam does not equal a state practice license. The state license is required to practice occupational therapy where it is issued.
Some MS in Occupational Therapy programs entail about 69 to 80 credits of coursework and supervised fieldwork. Aside from foundations of occupational therapy, courses often draw from multiple disciplines. Students are likely to take courses from the sciences and human services fields, for example. Course names vary, but below is a list of sample topics.
- Mental Health Evaluation and Intervention
- Analysis of Human Activity
- Health Advocacy and Administration
- Pediatric and Geriatric Intervention
Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy Online: Professional Insight
“My degree in Occupational Therapy has afforded me countless opportunities to advance in the profession as a clinician, administrator and educator. It has enabled me to grow through engagement in scholarly pursuits which in turn has directly impacted changes in my clients. Occupational Therapy is a wonderful profession that remains client centered. I truly enjoy helping to restore client independence through engagement in meaningful activities.”
- Stacy Rumfelt OTR/L, OTD, CHT, CLT of Orthocarolina
Some OT schools offer a joint masters and doctorate program. The masters program typically prepares students to take their certification exam, while the doctorate program may develop a clinical competency. Often 90 credits, this type of program may help students interpret and put into practice current research trends.
MA/Post Professional Masters in Occupational Therapy (OTTH)
The MA in Occupational Therapy is a post-professional program. It is designed for individuals who earned their Bachelors in Occupational Therapy from an approved professional occupational therapy program. This type of program may be more accelerated, in that it may entail about 30 credits, which a full-time student might earn in one year.
Also, while they may take a series of core courses, students in an MA in Occupational Therapy program may get to tailor their degree to interests through several electives. Orthopedic evaluation and intervention, pediatrics, special education, and assistive technology are a few examples.
M.S. Assistive Technology
Students who specifically want to work within disability services might opt for a Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services. Assistive Technology (AT) professionals help, train, and empower the populations they work with, such as children, young adults, seniors, veterans, and others.
Occupational Therapy Doctorate Programs
The clinical Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) degree is a post-professional, non-research degree designed for practitioners who aspire to define their area of practice and build a professional portfolio. Some OTD programs are designed for currently licensed occupational therapists who have a masters degree.
OTD Course of Study
As a practitioner-focused, terminal degree, an OTD may entail about 31 to 36 credits (a variable). As part of their program, students may take part in clinical fieldwork or a clinical residency. These experiences tend to help them with their terminal project (portfolio), which may be used to advance evidence-based practices in their chosen emphasis.
PhD in Occupational Therapy
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy is a research-based terminal degree. Students typically take courses, and use their research to prepare and defend a dissertation. This type of program might suit an individual who wants to pursue a career as a researcher or faculty member. As a result, PhD students may develop grant writing and research skills.
Accredited Occupational Therapy Programs
Occupational Therapy programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education which is part of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
Do You Need an Occupational Therapy Graduate Degree?
At the graduate level, accredited Occupational Therapy programs instruct students in a course of study necessary for a career as a licensed occupational therapist. Per the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE®), the masters and the doctoral degree are considered the entry-level degree standard for practice as an occupational therapist. As a result, most occupational therapists enter the occupation with a masters in Occupational Therapy degree.i They might then use the doctorate to refine an area of practice, such as pediatrics.i
The path to licensure as an OT requires students to earn a masters degree from one of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTE)-accredited Occupational Therapy Programs. Once students have completed their courses and fieldwork, they are generally able to take the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam.i After the exam has been passed, they may be eligible for state licensure; all states require occupational therapists to be licensed.i
Potential Career Outlook
Occupational therapists work in skilled nursing facilities, home healthcare services, offices of other OTs, hospitals, and schools. Per the BLS, employment of occupational therapists is estimated to grow 27 percent from 2014 to 2024. i They also report that the median annual wage (May 2016) of occupational therapists was $81,910. i Associated career paths include Industrial Rehabilitation Consultants, Assistive Technology Trainer, Pediatric OT, and Early Intervention OT. iii
Occupational Therapy Program Formats
Students can choose to attend OT graduate school in a classroom setting on campus, or attend an accredited online Occupational Therapy program. Use the menu to find accredited OT schools with on-campus programs by city, state or country. Or, refine your search for online OT programs.
Find 239 Occupational Therapy Programs
Browse the listings below to find OT graduate programs or use the filter above to narrow down your search. Contact the schools directly to learn more and apply today!
[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/occupational-therapists.htm | [ii] aota.org/Education-Careers/Find-School.aspx
Jefferson College of Health Sciences
The online Doctorate of Occupational Therapy (DOT) is a post-professional terminal degree designed for currently practicing Occupational Therapists with interests in becoming educators, clinical leaders, program developers, and/or clinical researcher...
This low-residency program is for occupational therapy clinicians and/or academicians who want to enhance their careers and advance to professional leadership.
- Portland, MEPortland, ME
University of New England
Our Master of Science in Occupational Therapy prepares you in occupation-based, client-centered critical thinking and clinical reasoning for occupational therapy practice.
California State University, Northridge
The Online Master of Science in Assistive Technology Studies and Human Services is a two-year program that prepares you to assess clients’ needs and to apply the assistive technologies that improve the quality of their lives.
- Bangor, MEBangor, ME
The graduate program in Occupational Therapy is geared for those students who have already attended a 4-year program.
- Twin Cities, MNTwin Cities, MN
University of Minnesota
This program offers academic study and clinical education to prepare occupational therapy clinicians and researchers.
- Fort Myers, FLFort Myers, FL
Florida Gulf Coast University
The program prepares graduates to practice as generalists in the profession of occupational therapy.
- Milwaukee, WIMilwaukee, WI
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The Department of Health Sciences offers a Master of Science degree program in Occupational Therapy.
- Saint Louis, MOSaint Louis, MO
Washington University in St Louis
The Program in Occupational Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine is the one of the top three graduate Occupational Therapy programs in...
- Johannesburg, South AfricaJohannesburg, South Africa
University of the Witwatersrand
The University of the Witwatersrand is located in the largest metropolitan area and the industrial and commercial heart of South Africa.
- Loretto, PALoretto, PA
Saint Francis University
The Saint Francis University Master of Occupational Therapy program is a two-year entry-level master's degree program.
- Goeteborg, SwedenGoeteborg, Sweden
- Indianapolis, INIndianapolis, IN
Program is offered in a full-time day format and completed in two years.
- Ithaca, NYIthaca, NY
Ithaca College offers a Professional Entry-Level M.S. degree in Occupational Therapy.
- Erie, PAErie, PA
The Occupational Therapy program engages students in the teaching/learning process to enable them to demonstrate excellence in the entry-level therape...
- Birmingham, ALBirmingham, AL
University of Alabama at Birmingham
- Exmouth, United KingdomExmouth, United Kingdom
Enables you to enter the occupational therapy profession with research experience as a highly skilled and valued practitioner.
- Allendale, MIAllendale, MI
Grand Valley State University
Master of Science in Occupational Therapy...
- Brisbane, AustraliaBrisbane, Australia
University of Queensland, The
- Norwich, United KingdomNorwich, United Kingdom
University of East Anglia
This MA aims to enable people to fulfil, or to work towards fulfilling, their potential as occupational beings.
- Weston, MAWeston, MA
The entry-level Master of Science in Occupational Therapy is a 74 credit hour program including two 12-week field experiences.