Selecting one of our top 30 occupational therapy accredited programs may be a game-changer for you and your family, getting you into a fulfilling career that makes lasting impacts on the people with whom you work.
Getting an occupational therapy degree online can lead you to careers that help people solve problems of everyday living and improve the ability to perform daily activities for those dealing with illness, injury, or disabilities. If you’re looking for a vocation that is not only a job but also a passion, keep reading to learn more about becoming an occupational therapist.
Top Options for an Occupational Therapy Degree Online
Several top-ranked occupational therapy programs offer online degrees that provide flexibility without sacrificing quality. Boston University’s online OT allows students to complete fieldwork locally and emphasizes evidence-based practice.
Other leading options include the University of Kansas, Eastern Kentucky University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Towson University, and the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
|Cost Per Credit
|Program Length (Years)
|University of Kansas
|Eastern Kentucky University
|University of Wisconsin-Madison
|University of Alabama at Birmingham
|Samuel Merritt University
|Bay Path University
|Houston Community College
|University of Nevada, Las Vegas
|Thomas Jefferson University
|Texas Tech University
|Grand Valley State University
|Loma Linda University
|George Washington University
|New York University
|Mary Baldwin University
|St. Catherine University
|University of St. Augustine
|Rocky Mountain University
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics to rank the best online degrees for occupational therapy. Multiple factors determine each school’s ranking, including affordability, the student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online.
See our methodology page for more information about how the rankings for the best occupational therapy online schools were devised.
1. Boston University
Boston University’s Occupational Therapy Doctorate is for post-professional occupational therapy students for personal and professional growth. You must finish 33 to 37 credits to graduate. You can take the online occupational courses two at a time, each lasting seven weeks, which you can adjust to your schedule.
The coursework is divided between foundational classes and core classes. This includes evidence-based practice, contemporary trends in occupational therapy, health care management, social policy and disability, and health promotion and wellness. This also provides practicum and capstone components, both of which are completed entirely online.
2. University of Kansas
The University of Kansas offers a variety of further education degrees for occupational therapists, including an Occupational Therapy Doctorate (OTD), a Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate, and a Ph.D. in Therapeutic Science. The OTD consists of 112 credit hours and must be completed within four and a half years of starting the coursework.
The online OTD at Kansas requires extensive fieldwork, including practicum and internship experiences. Among accredited OTD programs, KU’s is among the best in the nation. Applicants usually have a research-based master’s degree and/or a professional license.
3. Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers a Bachelor’s-to-Occupational-Therapy-Doctorate (OTD) and a Master’s-to-OTD. It requires the completion of 40 to 43 credit hours, 12 of which can be transferred from another program. The Master’s-to-OTD is 40 credit hours long, and the school allows 12 transfer credit hours from another institution.
Additionally, you must have a license to practice occupational therapy to be eligible. Like the Bachelor’s-to-OTD, the Master’s-to-OTD has three yearly start dates and proceeds in an accelerated eight-week format that you can adjust depending on your schedule.
4. University of Wisconsin- Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers an entry-level online OTD that focuses on four core areas of instruction, including practice, research, and wellness. You’ll finish 97 credits over a three-year program to gain proficiency in these areas.
Coursework includes studies in leadership roles, designing occupation-based wellness programs, and promoting health and wellness. Fieldwork is also a large component of this program. You’ll accomplish level one and level two field assignments as well as a final capstone project.
5. Towson University
When you already have a Master’s in Occupational Therapy, the 33-credit-hour Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Towson University can help you pursue personal and professional commitments. This is a part-time program with two courses per semester. Depending on your schedule, you can accomplish the online coursework in as little as six consecutive semesters.
To finish the doctorate program, you have to participate in a capstone project spanning two courses. Some of the coursework requires you to attend classes synchronously, which may make completing this program challenging if you have other obligations, such as work.
6. The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers a Clinical Doctorate in Occupational Therapy specifically for experienced occupational therapists. This program is the only one of its kind in the state and allows you to select one of three tracks: low vision rehabilitation, healthcare quality and safety, and general.
Each track consists of 15 credit hours of coursework over the course of four to seven classes. The core online curriculum, no matter the track selected, consists of 25 credit hours of coursework among eight courses. You can finish this program in two years after taking two classes per semester.
7. Concordia University- Wisconsin
The accelerated Master of Occupational Therapy program at Concordia University-Wisconsin allows high school graduates to earn both a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation Science and a Master of Occupational Therapy in as little as four and a half years of full-time study. However, the program is relatively selective, admitting only 24 students into a cohort.
The Blended Master of Occupational Therapy program is a unique program if you’re finishing an undergraduate diploma in occupational therapy online and want to cut some time off earning your master’s. The Transitional Master of Occupational Therapy program is for certified occupational therapy assistants with professional experience and an associate’s degree.
8. Samuel Merritt University
Samuel Merritt University offers two degrees for occupational therapists: a master’s degree and a doctorate. To apply, you should have at least a 3.0 GPA over the course of your last 60 credits. You must also fulfill at least 60 observation hours in occupational therapy settings before applying, among other requirements.
While pacing your schedule, you’ll also participate in simulation-based learning and get field experience in community participant labs. When you choose the doctoral program, you’ll need three years of full-time study to finish the requirements. This includes taking online classes during the summer, as well as a six-month internship.
9. Shenandoah University
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University will give you everything you need to become an evidence-based scholar and leader in your community. The program is held asynchronously, so there is no need to rearrange your schedule. The program has one start time per year, which is during the summer semester.
The institution offers one- and two-year tracks. Either way, you’ll take online classes in Advanced Practice and Writing in OT, Leadership in Action, Occupational Science, and Advanced Quantitative Methods. The program is 30 credit hours, with 21 credit hours taken through the school and nine hours transferred from your master’s program.
10. Bay Path University
Bay Path University offers a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy program for those with either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s in Occupational Therapy. The Bachelor’s-to-OTD program features only 54 credit hours, including six classes of master’s-level coursework and the traditional 36 credit hours that make up the Doctorate in Occupational Therapy.
The program comprises eight core courses and four elective courses for a total of 36 credits. Occupational therapists can concentrate on six areas, including options in administration, advanced general practice, autism spectrum disorders, mental health, and productive aging.
11. Houston Community College
Houston Community College offers an online Associate of Applied Science that teaches you how to become an occupational therapy assistant. The college admits only 20 to 25 students into this program every year, so admission is competitive. Graduates of this program have a 100% pass rate!
Completion of this program, which is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy (ACOTE), allows graduates to become certified as occupational therapy assistants. Since this is an associate’s degree program, you can finish your studies in around two years. This is an experiential-learning program, so you’ll have hands-on experience throughout your studies.
12. Creighton University
With 100% of OT faculty having doctorate degrees in their discipline, it’s no wonder Creighton University provides one of the best occupational therapy educations available. The faculty members who teach the occupational therapy curriculum are highly respected. In fact, several of them are Fellows of the American Occupational Therapy Association.
The intensive online degree program requires students to develop a capstone project before graduation. When you have already earned a graduate degree in occupational therapy, you must accomplish 42 semester hours to finish the program. Meanwhile, you’re required to complete 54 semester hours if you have an undergraduate diploma.
13. University of Nevada, Las Vegas
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, is a two-year program comprising 36 credit hours of coursework. You can expect to take two classes each semester if you wish to accomplish this online doctorate in two years.
You need to develop a capstone project consisting of a research project, professional paper, or case report. You should have at least a 3.0 GPA in the last two years of study if you want to apply.
14. Thomas Jefferson University
The Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from Thomas Jefferson University is the ideal online degree if you’re looking for the ability to receive grants. The school has Advanced Education Grants available to students who show promise in management or diversify the student population.
It requires completing 46 credit hours if you have an occupational therapy undergraduate diploma. You must develop a capstone project and participate in a clinical fellowship in which you gain increased experience with patients.
15. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
The Post-Professional Doctor of Occupational Therapy from Texas Tech is a relatively new degree that began accepting students in January 2020. The advantage of enrolling in a new program is that you will benefit from cutting-edge and up-to-date information in the field.
You’ll need to take 27 semester hours to earn your doctorate if you’ve previously earned a master’s diploma. Elective courses include insurance reimbursement, management, and wellness promotion, to name a few. Classes may only be available once per year.
16. Grand Valley State University
The Post-Professional Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Grand Valley State University is the only clinical occupational therapy doctorate offered by a public institution in the state of Michigan. You can finish the six semesters in two years of full-time study.
It includes 36 credit hours and covers subjects such as occupational science, public policy, and advocacy for the benefit of patients. A unique feature of the program is that it isn’t pre-set for each student. Rather, your individual interests are considered when devising your area of study.
17. Loma Linda University
Loma Linda University offers a Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD) and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitative Sciences. About 53 quarter units should be completed to finish the doctorate. It combines theory, research, and practical experience to produce well-rounded graduates.
As a student, you’ll design and develop a research project, culminating in the submission of a completed research paper for publication. While this project may seem overwhelming, it’s divided into four capstone courses.
18. Radford University
The Occupational Therapy Doctorate offered by Radford University gives you the choice of concentrating on education or administration. In the first track, you’ll learn how to teach other occupational therapists and impart valuable experiences. Meanwhile, the administration track teaches you how to be a leader in organizations.
It’s designed to be pursued on a part-time basis and can be completed in as little as eight semesters. The two tracks also feature the same classes in research and project design during their last two semesters. It consists of 36 credit hours, regardless of which track you choose.
19. The George Washington University
George Washington University offers an Occupational Therapy Doctorate that aims to teach you in-depth theories while emphasizing real-world, applicable changes and benefits. It consists of 36 credit hours and is based on the clinician-scholar model. You’ll need around two and a half years to accomplish the degree.
The total tuition is around $35,280. This is an entirely online program that does not require you to attend any on-ground residencies. However, before you apply, you should already have an undergraduate diploma in occupational therapy.
20. New York University
The Doctor of Occupational Therapy for Practicing Occupational Therapists from NYU is offered by the prestigious Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. This is a terminal degree offered by a first-class institution. NYU allows you to take classes from other affiliated universities.
The degree includes 36 credit hours, although half of the required credits can focus specifically on what interests you. You can focus on topics like clinical management of the upper extremity, school-based intervention, and assistive technology, to name a few options available.
21. Barry University
The online, distance-learning Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program from Barry University is specifically for NBCOT-certified occupational therapists. It is divided into two sections, each with 18 credits, for a total of 36 credits. One section focuses on the core courses, and the second half focuses on interdisciplinary electives in advanced areas of health service.
At the end of the program, you need to finish a capstone coursework. In addition to the required coursework, during the second year, you’ll accomplish a 16-week residency emphasizing specialized clinical practice, research, administration, leadership, and instruction.
22. Mary Baldwin University
Mary Baldwin University offers a well-rounded, Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program. The objective is to help occupational therapists advance their careers by expanding their skill sets in patient advocacy, teaching, and leadership.
While this is well-suited for you if you want to advance your competency in patient care, it also opens other paths, including academia and research. Admission comes with the additional requirement of 12 extra credits of prerequisite work. It includes 10 classes and 30 credits, all of which are done online.
23. St. Catherine University
St. Catherine offers its Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate to those with a graduate diploma. This is perfect if you wish to become a catalyst for change in health or community settings. It emphasizes developing practical skills to advance your profession.
It begins in the summer term and spans 28 months. There are 36 credit hours, which you can complete entirely online. However, an in-person campus experience is required to interact with patients.
24. Columbia University in the City of New York
Columbia University’s Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate heavily emphasizes the importance of clinical experiences. Although the coursework is done online, most of the teaching occurs in a clinical setting. It takes two to three years to complete.
With an undergraduate diploma, you must complete 72 credits, while those with a graduate diploma can cut the coursework to 36 credits. You must also write a research-based paper. The portfolio summarizes your experiences, including those in continuing education and the capstone project component.
25. Gannon University
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate at Gannon University produces leaders in occupational therapy. You’ll learn to collaborate with other health providers and advance the profession. There are 12 classes in the coursework and 34 credit hours in total.
You can complete your doctorate almost entirely online with part-time study. Although no residency is required, there is one capstone course that requires an on-campus visit. Additionally, you’ll take a course in Entrepreneurship for the OT Professional to help you build the skills required to start your own business.
26. Chatham University
The 30-credit Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate (PPOTD) at Chatham is for you if you wish to enrich and further your practical skills in occupational therapy. It requires less time commitment and focuses predominantly on real-life skills. Most students can complete the coursework in as little as 16 months.
Like most online occupational therapy programs, the coursework consists of 30-39 credits, and you’ll take two classes per semester. All classes are online, and there is no residency requirement. The faculty works with you to devise a course of study that aligns with your professional goals.
27. Quinnipiac University
Quinnipiac University’s Doctorate of Occupational Therapy focuses on practical skills that can be used in real-life settings working with patients with varying needs. It trains you to either work in the field, engage in therapy with patients on a daily basis, or be an educator who passes on your knowledge to other occupational therapists.
While the bulk of the coursework is completed online, there is a weeklong residency during the first summer. The coursework also includes 32 credits and typically requires two years to complete. To successfully graduate, you must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0.
28. The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences
The Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate from the University of St. Augustine emphasizes various skill sets. It provides training in areas like administration and program development, among others. While you can complete the coursework entirely online, you can also participate in in-person training.
There are two options for specialization: Executive Leadership or Teaching and Learning. What’s more, there is an option to certify in ImPACT after completing the elective Concussion in Sport class. Depending on your education level, the program is either 35 or 60 credits.
29. Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions
Rocky Mountain designed its Doctorate of Occupational Therapy for modern, employed students such as yourself. On average, the workload is around 15-20 hours per week, so you can continue working in your current employment. The number of credits in most tracks is 36, with 30 credits in the accelerated track.
The program has eight tracks, including Pediatrics, Hand Therapy, Education, Aging, Advanced Practice, Assistive Technology, Health and Wellness Coaching, and Leadership. You don’t need to have GRE scores to apply. However, admissions require an OT license and either a graduate or undergraduate diploma.
30. Salus University
The Doctorate of Occupational Therapy program from Salus University prepares you to become a leader in occupational therapy. Here, you can collaborate with other health and wellness professionals. You can select from several areas of focus, including Low Vision Rehabilitation, Health and Wellness, and Remedial Vision Rehabilitation: Pediatrics and Acquired Brain Injury.
It consists of 30 credit hours, with the majority of the classes conducted online. However, you will need to visit the institution twice for in-person residency. You can pursue this doctorate through a 16-month track (two to three courses per semester) or a 27-month track (one to two courses per semester).
Why Should You Study Through an Online Occupational Therapy Program?
Pursuing an online occupational therapy degree has several advantages compared to traditional on-campus programs.
- Convenience: Online classes allow flexibility to complete coursework on your own schedule. Even blended programs with some in-person requirements arrange for students to complete fieldwork locally to gain confidence in interacting with patients.
- Self-discipline and persistence: An online program requires self-discipline to complete assignments and stick to a schedule. This persistence mirrors the commitment needed as an OT to motivate patients through incremental progress.
- Multitasking: Online students need to balance coursework with other responsibilities for their personal and professional growth. You’ll multitask in OT practice when juggling patient observations, documentation, and planning.
- Affordability: Online OT programs can be less expensive through lower tuition or fees. Students have the same financial aid options as traditional students.
What Will You Learn With an Occupational Therapy Education Degree?
To obtain a license to practice occupational therapy, you’ll need at least a master’s degree (e.g., a master of science in occupational therapy) from an accredited school. These classes give you the foundation necessary to comprehend and integrate the more advanced knowledge you’ll use every day as an occupational therapist.
- While working toward a degree in occupational therapy, you’ll take many science courses, including classes in human anatomy, neuroscience, and research methods, among others.
- OT-accredited programs include other classes like health and wellness promotion, neurorehabilitation, and occupational assessment.
- Accredited online occupational therapy institutions that offer a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy typically require that you have already completed a Master’s in Occupational Therapy.
- Doctorate programs focus on teaching you research, writing, and management. These programs are for occupational therapists who want to learn advanced techniques and become leaders in their professional community.
How Much Can I Earn as an Occupational Therapist?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), occupational therapists can expect a median salary of $92,800 per year. The vast majority (86%) of occupational therapists have at least a master’s degree, with 14% of OTs having only an undergraduate diploma.
Nevada and California have the highest median wage for occupational therapists, at $109,010 and $105,760, respectively. However, nine out of the ten cities with the highest wages for occupational therapists are in California.
Medical and health service managers earn slightly more than $101,000 per year. New York has the highest median salary for medical and health service managers, making just over $155,000 annually. Washington, D.C., isn’t far behind, with an average yearly salary of $151,370.
What to Look for in an Online Occupational Therapy Program
We connected with Kelsey Ludeman, an Academic Success Coach at the University of Houston-Downtown, to hear her insights on what students should look for when searching for an OT program online:
“A quality occupational therapy program begins with the proper accreditation. Ensure that the school is offering an ACOTE®-accredited OT or OTA educational program. This will allow you to take the required NBCOT® Certification Examination after completion of the program.
Another key factor in program selection is to identify the requirements to enter the program. Many fully online occupational therapy programs are designed for those already working in the industry and seeking advanced degrees of study.”
Weighing these key factors can help you find the right online OT program based on your goals and educational needs.
- Accreditation: Verify the accreditation status of organizations like the ACOTE. Graduating from accredited programs signals a quality educational foundation and is required for certification.
- Delivery method: Some online programs offer synchronous lectures scheduled at specific times. On the other hand, asynchronous programs allow students to complete work on their own time.
- Location: Even online, some programs require limited campus visits for immersive learning. Factor in whether travel to campus is feasible when selecting schools.
- Fieldwork: Look for programs that assist in arranging quality fieldwork opportunities, which provide vital hands-on clinical experience.
- Faculty: Research the faculty’s qualifications, experience, and research focus to ensure a strong educational foundation.
- Student outcomes: Review licensure exam pass rates and career placement after graduation to evaluate coursework effectiveness.
- Cost: Compare tuition costs and financial aid options across desired schools.
Why Is It Important to Get a Degree from an Accredited Program?
Accreditation sets a standard of education for occupational therapists and standardizes institutions. Many different accrediting agencies are responsible for overseeing this process. For example, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognizes seven regional accrediting bodies:
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
The American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) has an accrediting arm, the Accreditation Council for Occupational Therapy Education (ACOTE), which is the accrediting agency for OT programs in the United States (as well as programs in Puerto Rico and abroad).
The accreditation status of programs is important for you for various reasons. First, accreditation ensures the classes meet the professional standards of occupational therapy. Second, to sit for the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy exam, or NBCOT certification examination, you must have a degree from an ACOTE-accredited institution.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Challenges of Choosing Online Programs?
Among the challenges of online OT degrees is that they often take longer to complete. They also require students to coordinate fieldwork at approved facilities to practice with mock patients. These can mean extra time, effort, and tuition costs.
How Much Does an Online Doctorate in Occupational Therapy Cost?
Tuition for online occupational therapy doctorates ranges widely from approximately $13,000 to over $28,000, depending on the school. Expect to prepare a budget for distance learning resources and potential laboratory fees.
How Long Does It Take to Graduate From an Occupational Therapy Program?
Most online occupational therapy graduate programs take around two to three years to complete for full-time students. However, this still depends on the required credits and course load.
What Are the Admissions and Basic Requirements for an OT Degree?
Key OT master’s admissions requirements are a bachelor’s degree, a minimum GPA of 3.0, and prerequisite classes. Some institutions may also require letters of recommendation, essays, transcripts, and potentially an interview.
What Can You Do with an Occupational Therapy Doctoral Degree?
Occupational therapists with doctoral degrees typically work as occupational therapists, while those with PhDs tend to pursue careers in academia or research. Occupational therapists, the most common career path for OT doctoral graduates, expect a 23% job growth through 2031, outpacing national job growth.
Do Occupational Therapists Need a License?
Every U.S. state mandates occupational therapists pass the National Board of Certification in Occupational Therapy (NBCOT) exam to get licensed. Therapists should also meet state requirements like an accredited degree, fieldwork, application, and fee to gain licensure before practicing.
What Are Occupational Therapy Certifications?
Occupational therapists can pursue advanced certifications from the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA) to specialize in treating certain populations or conditions. Key requirements are 3,000 experience hours and renewing credentials every five years through 1,500 practice hours and professional development.
Can I Be an Occupational Therapist if I Complete an Occupational Therapy Online Degree Bachelor Program?
An undergraduate diploma in occupational therapy online doesn’t qualify you to work as an occupational therapist. You must have at least a graduate diploma to practice as an OT. However, an online bachelor’s degree will help occupational therapists develop foundational knowledge and skills they can build in a graduate program.
Why Would I Want to Pursue a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy?
Pursuing a Doctorate in Occupational Therapy is the highest degree you can hold in a subject and shows that you have the expertise in occupational therapy that many others don’t. Doctorates in occupational therapy often focus on teaching students leadership and research. Higher education often leads to higher pay from current and future employers.
Knowing which occupational therapy programs offer the best online degrees can help you make an informed decision that leads to career readiness and success. Opting for one of the highest-ranked online OT programs will provide you with a respected degree, extensive fieldwork opportunities, and a network of accomplished faculty.
When interested in pursuing higher education, check out the Top 30 Fastest Accredited Online Graduate Colleges and The Top SACS Accredited Online Colleges!